As a musician, I’ve been lucky enough to have worked with many notable producers and other musicians. I was really super fortunate. Meeting all those people was such a fantastic ride, to put it mildly. I am forever grateful.
In the early 1990s, I met well-known producer and musician Geza X. He produced one of my band’s early demos. Geza is known for more than just being a producer and creating the original west coast punk sound. He’s also a very intelligent renaissance man.
I will never forget the day I met him at his Los Angeles recording studio, City Lab. I came in before the rest of the band to set up my drums as he prepared all the microphones around my drum set. And just before, he handed me his business card. In big letters, it read “Geza X.” Below that, where his title would be, it just said, I can do whatever I want.
“Oh my God, I said. “I love this!” And so we began talking up a storm from there for the rest of the afternoon. I’ve kept that business card for years because it reminds me that it doesn’t matter what we do as artists. And you can’t put us into a box.
Whenever I feel like I’m supposed to be doing only one thing, like painting about one subject or only using one medium, I am reminded of Geza’s business card.
I’ve always been free to try whatever I wanted. That reminder relieves me of any outside doubt or shame. The “shoulds” of the art world that tell us we need to perform in a box. Fuck that. We should just do whatever we feel like doing. Who cares about being “uniform?”
Trying everything helps us to find ourselves. Doing whatever we want is part of being an artist. And being an artist is all about freedom in the first place, correct? Isn’t that what it means to be an artist?
Geza is one of the original punks, and that is one of the fundamental ideals of punk and art. Rebelling against the status quo. Shifting the norm. Disagreeing with the fucking man. Freedom from mediocrity. This is why artists should try it all and not have to conform to consistency if they don’t want to.
What I’m saying is, until you find what it is you want to do, do everything you want to do. I mean, if that makes sense.
Picasso did whatever he wanted. He worked in countless media. Yet, anyone can spot a Picasso no matter what he made. And I can give you dozens if not hundreds of examples of other artists, both living and dead, that have worked in numerous media and created a variety of subject matter. It never mattered what media they used or what they were painting. They did what they wanted, and you can still tell it’s their work.
Another random example is Diebenkorn. I have always loved his work with a passion. He’s a master landscape painter and figurative artist; he’s made interiors and extraordinary abstracts, and his drawings are complex.
I think of Tibor Jankay, a lesser-known artist from Hungary that Hannah and I collect. He was a great teacher and the art chair at Pepperdine University. He painted in many different subjects and was a master draftsman. He also did ceramics and large sculptures and had a distinct hand.
I can go on with a list, but I’m not going to. This is just to point out that it doesn’t matter what you do. An artist is an artist, even if they’re just thinking about what they’re going to do next, washing the dishes or taking a nap.
That’s how I see it, anyway. I hope you do too and value all your efforts, whatever you do. 🙂