It took me a while, but I made it. I showed up. To myself, to my inner child, to my values. I worked hard to build a career in tech, engineering and conflict resolution and I enjoyed almost every bit of it, but deep inside I was simply too scared of jumping into the world of art and creativity, of my own projects, of being more 'me'. I was scared that it wouldn't be enough, that people wouldn't actually enjoy it, that family and friends would raise their eyebrows. That little voice in my head saying there was nothing wrong with my previous career. That little voice asking if it's really worth it to jump into the unknown and lose our company's prospects and growth, the financial stability, or the vision of a more peaceful international arena that I was trying to work towards.
I had began the Friends of Virginia project as a side thing I loved doing in my free time. Who wouldn't enjoy receiving thoughts from all over the world about our daily lives and the world, about our hopes and our fears, and then drawing anonymized answers and sharing back with the community? What started as a small personal project, became a fast-growing community of friends and friends of friends who were completing the Friends of Virginia survey and reading each other's illustrated answers (you can read the full story here).
People in my network began connecting me to other great humans, with whom I began working on commissioned illustration work. We crafted a beautiful children's story with Daybreaker, illustrated a large-scale intimacy survey with Cambyo, and designed the narrative and branding of a new field of study being born at MIT, Cryptoeconomics. And before I realised it, I committed on August 2016 to become a full-time art entrepreneur by my next birthday (16th March 2018).
What I wROTE
ON MY NOTEBOOK
(without really knowing why or how)
That sentence marked the beginning of a three month-long handover period at the startup I helped build over the last two years, final work trips to Barcelona and Somalia, and a growing excitement for whatever was next. I'm somebody who will always try to have plans and projects lined up, and that's what I did, but something was asking me to free up and see what happens. So I dropped some of the illustration projects I was preparing for, and said yes to an art residency in Iceland, a emotional rollercoaster trip to Brazil, and a family reunion in New Zealand. In just under two months, life took me in the craziest of unexpected turns, and I have had the privilege to not have to return back on a Monday morning to my desk and my tasks, and instead I've been able to push life in all directions, better understand my boundaries (and then push them), and experiment with other forms of art beyond illustration.
On top of it all, I decided to move to my grandfather's home in Northern Spain, in a small village of 170 people and about 10,000 birds. Six generations have lived there and it was now empty as my grandfather is long gone. My cousins live in the village and farm the land: broccolis in winter; wheat, potatoes and courgettes in the summer. Since I moved in three weeks ago, I have repeatedly lost track of time working and drawing, preparing my upcoming projects, and going for walks. Some mornings, I walk to my cousin's farm and cut a fresh broccoli and cook it for lunch. Sometimes I'll pick walnuts on the way home. My aunt is teaching me a lot about culinary traditions in our region. The town mayor has given me the keys to a beautiful hidden chapel for me to do something beautiful in it: an art installation? the recording of a live EP? an experimental dinner? The opportunities are infinite.
So this, dear reader, is how I showed up, and all that life provided in return.