Why An Artist Needs A Break

Why An Artist Needs A Break

Some things I've come to discover as an artist

Artists are some of the most mentally active people around, although not all are the most physically active (what are 'sports', am I right?). It is an artist's job to create and recreate and it becomes a vicious cycle, so all artists are always under some pressure to come up with their next masterpiece.

Unfortunately, it's not always that easy. Just like other professionals in their field, artists need a break every now and then to rest. Athletes are given time to heal when they injure an ankle, so to equivocate the equation, producers of creative content need time to put their minds at ease when they find themselves losing grasp of their creative control.

Our minds work in very interesting ways, and most of the time overexertion isn't the best answer. We too need time to get back into the mindset for a proper work environment. Artists create some of their best works from personal experiences and draw from those happenstances which can take quite a toll.

Part of the problem comes from the media source outlets. When gossip magazines constantly harass the most prominent artists of our generation, claiming that an art maestro is taking a hiatus from their career to live their life, it always comes across as a negative thing. The question it ultimately comes down to is 'why?'

The general public interpret 'breaks' as quitting rather than simply taking a time out. If the masses are able to begin to distinguish the difference between taking time for yourself and giving up completely, then the perspective on hiatuses could potentially change.

Similarly to elementary and middle schools, very few kids have the ability to focus on schoolwork for six hours a day, so all students are granted a recess and lunch to allow them to recuperate. This way, when the students are pulled back into the classrooms, they will have rejuvenated their ability to maintain an expected level of focus.

If young children in the American school system can learn about the incorporation of mandatory ten-minute free periods, then why shouldn't everyone? We, as human beings, are constantly learning and need the same free intervals to allow ourselves to refocus.

According to Time Magazine's 2015 February edition on sleep, experts determined that people aged 18-64 require 7-9 hours of sleep a night. With very few adults actually receiving the recommended amount of sleep per night, many find themselves lackadaisical and lethargic as a result of their sleep deprivation.

With artists being so mentally active, and getting so invested in their works, it can be an especially difficult combination. With the amount of time and effort that each creative endeavor requires, the effect on your body can be disastrous. Time away is almost part of the job description of a creator.

There needs to be some premeditated balance between rest and work. Time off can and should be exhibited as a positive behavior considering the benefits it holds for health. In addition, to create something new and unique, something never before seen, a healthy state of mind must first be achieved. In doing so, and taking proper precautions, the art will mirror that of the creators mentality in the time of production.

Artists are constantly being compared to their previous works. I've heard it said that an artist is only as good as their last piece of work, but why should that be the case? The question as to why art is judged in the first place is beyond me, but why should an esteemed and prominent artist lose all acclaim for a piece of work that was unable to live up to its hype?

We need time to create, to come up with brand new content. Otherwise our work will become trite and will recycle our already-utilized thoughts and ideas. Everyone wants to create the next masterpiece, their Magnus opus, but without taking a break and giving our brains the necessary amount of time to regenerate, artists will eventually hit a brick wall.

These walls, should we push ourselves far enough to hit them, set us back further and prevent us from developing any art altogether. We need to start taking preventative measures to ensure that we never get to that point. Giving your body rest is essential for both a healthy lifestyle and an increase in the production of content.

Cover Image Credit: Jana Brike

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Green Day and Donald Trump

Why Rock Music and Politics Are Forever Intertwined

Why Rock Music and Politics Are Forever Intertwined

Green Day performing at the 2016 AMA’s

Since Green Day’s album Revolution Radio was released last October, just a month before Donald Trump was elected to be President of the United States, the band has received a barrage of opinions on its political involvement, specifically its support of politically left ideologies and candidates, mostly negative. The band’s frontman, Billie Joe Armstrong, has often been criticized for stepping outside of life as a musical celebrity and speaking about politics. However, this is hardly without precedent. Green Day itself has already come under fire over a decade earlier for the release of American Idiot just before the 2004 presidential election, criticizing the Bush administration and its decision to go to war with Iraq. But it goes back even further than that.

Rock and roll as a genre began evolving from African-American blues and jazz, genres that began by combining African musical tendencies with western instruments. Blues was often known for discussing the darker aspects of life, often related to living as an African-American in the South. For example, Billie Holiday’s song “Strange Fruit” speaks to the terrors of lynching and other race violence that black people in the U.S. often experienced. Bringing these topics to the forefront of Black American culture and doing so with European instruments in itself was a rebellion against the harsh segregation that was rampant throughout the whole country.

Rock music continued to act as a vehicle for rebellion as it became more defined into what we now recognize as rock today. Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode” became an instant success in 1958, despite his race, and Berry’s music continued to be discuss a major that was growing in the ‘50s and ‘60s: consumerism. Although rock had its origins in American race problems, rock music began to evolve into a more white genre as Elvis Presley took center stage and the title “The King." As rock and roll grew with the British invasion (featuring the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and more), instead of becoming a more commercial genre it retained its rebellious nature, although no longer in the context of race relations. Instead, it became more based in white social structures, going against the nuclear family lifestyle that had been the norm during the ‘40s and ‘50s. Additionally, when hippie culture began rising and peaked during the Vietnam War, much of rock music was based in free love, free substances, and harmony. In a time period when gender norms, strict etiquette, and nuclear war were all tied together, rock and roll instead became a fluid idea, which resulted in many genres being created.

What’s interesting about rock music from an outsider’s perspective is that much of the music from the past 30 years or so does not have a lot in common. What makes both Metallica and Fleetwood Mac rock music? Even accepting that subgenres exist makes it difficult to fully understand. While obviously a lot of the genre classification is rooted in instruments, that’s not the whole story. Much of it is that rock music is about rebellion. Even though much pop music today uses the same rock lineup of guitar, bass, drums, occasionally a keyboard, and vocals, it conforms to musical standards already approved by a massive target audience. That is to say, pop music is made with the idea of appealing to a greater number of people. However, rock music is made with the idea of making people question things, question what is right and wrong, and what is ignored in current societal norms.

Rock music has always been about rebellion. Continuing through the ‘70s, the Sex Pistols began to draw more political ideology into rock music with their songs “Anarchy in the U.K.” and “God Save the Queen”, sending anarchist and anti-monarchy messages out to other rock fans. The ‘80s were filled with hair metal band after hair metal band fighting against gender norms following the second wave of feminism in the ‘70s. It was during these two decades that women began to lead more and more bands. Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac became a star, Joan Jett became an icon, and the metal band Girlschool was formed, challenging the idea that rock music was a man’s outlet for bad behavior. In the ‘90s, rock music became increasingly more political with the grunge scene placing the problems of Generation X front and center. And the band Rage Against the Machine was formed.

Rage Against the Machine at Vegoose, 2007.

Rage Against the Machine can be considered a front runner of bands making specific political comments, and using their platform as musicians to focus on making change happen in the world. And these musicians meant business. Guitarist for Rage Against the Machine, Tom Morello, holds a degree from Harvard University in political science and lead vocalist Zack de la Rocha is the child of the Chicano artist, Beto de la Rocha. Rage Against the Machine critiqued more than aspects of American society. In fact, it critiqued American society and government as a whole, and refused to perform in censored spaces. Rage Against the Machine, although a more extreme band than many others, laid the foundation for current artists speaking out about politics.

Rock music has always been about politics, and so it is not at all surprising that Green Day has been so outspoken about American politics. It’s more surprising, in fact, that they are an outlier in this, when rock music, with or without a Harvard degree in political science, is made to critique societal norms. Which is why it’s important that rock music continues to have a platform through which more social awareness is brought to the general population - so that we can continue creating a better world.

Cover Image Credit: Green Day's Revolution Radio

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A 5 Step Guide To Making Your Awkwardness Awesome

Embrace The Awkward Within

If you have had more than twelve years on this earth chances are you have experienced an awkward moment. The more you live life the more your chances of awkwardness increase, but some of us have had more than others. You may self-identify as an awkward person. (I myself do completely wear the "I-AM-AWKWARD" tophat everywhere I go.) I counted the number of awkward situations I found myself in just today and in four hours I had experienced four awkward moments. That is an awkward moment every hour!

So I have decided to write a short guide on "How-to" embrace the awesome Awkwardness that lies within because believe it or not, being awkward can be one of your best qualities! We often look at ourselves and criticize every "wrong choice" or moment that creates an awkward vibe but hopefully after reading my guide you'll be able to tap into yourself and become "Majestically Awkward"!

1. Lean Into The Jokes!

If you're anything like me and suffer from "foot-in-mouth" syndrome many things you say can cause people to make fun or joke about your behavior. Don't let your face turn red or your skin start to sweat, embrace the joke and laugh along with them. I embarrass myself at least three to four times a day it makes everyone feel better when you roll with the punches. (This does not mean stuff down pain if you are truly hurt!) My advice is to think of a joke to add to the moment and learn to not take yourself so seriously. Being awkward can throw off the moment, but with some jokes and laughter, each moment can seem endearing.

2. Forget Being Graceful, Just Finesse!

The gif says it all! Being awkward can get physical! I once fell down three flights of spiral stairs and still went to class afterward. You have to own the moment and then continue on. I know the feeling of heat in your face and stomach that makes you think "Oh my gosh everyone saw that!" but quiet that voice and replace it with one that says "yeah, I did that!" I have a friend that any time she knocks into something she says she was checking for it. She can bump into the door and then say "I was just checking the door." If spills are involved don't waste your time with tons of sorries just find the nearest cleaning supplies. In short finesse the situation.

3. When All Else Fails, Dance Away

I am a fan of this one because I am always caught dancing to some new song in public because I just can't help myself. So if I am ever feeling overwhelmed by the awkwardness I have most likely caused, I dance away. People are always confused by the movement but they normally respect it and chuckle. It is a fun way of acknowledging that the moment was a little too much for you and you just need a dance break.

4. Feel Your Feelings

Awkward situations can sometimes stem from pent-up feelings. This is why I am an advocate of feeling your feelings. Deal with what you can and move on. Don't bring awkward "I-can't-deal-with-my-feelings-syndrome" from one situation to the next. Take a moment to journal, pray or confide in a friend. Feel the moment and move on, it will shorten your awkward encounters by at least 1/2!

5. Remember To Be Fierce

This one is simple, but I will admit that it may be the hardest. Love yourself! Look at that awkward bumbling person within and encourage them to try hard at everything you want. Do it. Fierce. Power! Be the most awkward Beyonce you can be because you're amazing.

I hope after considering my mini-guide you feel encouraged and have some tips and tricks for maneuvering within this awkward situation inducing world. Stay Awkward Y'all!

Cover Image Credit: Elfster

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