In the early days of graffiti culture in the United States artists' had not only a great deal of notoriety with regard to their work but anonymity was in high volume which is why they received such an outlaw status. And this is why we all now know how much the late Ed Koch loved SEN One just to give an example. Their stories may read like folklore and myth to some who encounter them. But nevertheless they are captivating, humorous and downright entertaining to say the least.
All most certainly applies to George Colon. His story is just as worthy of a look as is any who pioneered the art form. Colon who has long held the moniker AIM - a acronym that reads out as art in motion - founded the Soul Stoned Brothers crew back in Willamsburg, Brooklyn in the early 1970s. His tale is one of how art basically kept his life from being terminated and of overcoming substance abuse issues.
Colon still paints, draws and creates but in addition to this he does speaking engagements about his life story while serving as an addiction counseling specialist. Recently he participated in The Fifth Annual is Hip Hop History? Conference at The City College of New York Division of Interdisciplinary Studies at the Center for Worker Education (CWE) last month. It was there where I was able to catch up with Colon who was able to dispense some sage advice for others who are navigating the rough currents of the art world. The only difference was that I did not have to hunt him down like Jack McGee after Dr. Banner which has happened in the past with others seeking him.
"Explore any ideas", Colon says. He urges artists' to be open to any possibilities that may come their way. George feels that far too often you will see that some creative types will limit themselves and focus on one avenue. In the end it will show up in their work in plain view and they will suffer for it.
2.Clear your mind
If you're looking for this list to read like a textbook or a manual think again. "Breathe and empty the mind allowing only the creative mind to create", says the veteran artist. You may think that AIM SSB is coming off like some sort of yogi or guru when he says this but in actuality he has a point. He often comes a cross those in the creative world who tend to be stressed out or bogged down by negative things that surround them. Or they sit at their space too long and do not know how to walk away and come back fresh. So his breath in through nose and out through mouth advice is not his way of ripping off Mr. Miyagi. It is something that has been passed down for generations of artists and as you can see with his work it has proven to be quite effective.
3.Let it flow
"The hardest part is letting go", said the carnival worker to Jennifer Lopez right before she bungee jumped in Selena. Does anyone remember that scene? Well basically that is what George is urging artists to do here. "Just allow the gift of creative mind to work", he states. Let go of any inhibitions that may prevent you from working is what is being said here in a nutshell. But the only way one can do this is if they take the advice given previously.
4. Do not pass judgement
This is a big one here because we live in a world of constant judgment, rejection and ridicule. We don't have all day to discuss these things nor could an entire article give us all the answers on how to handle them. But it is safe to say, however unfortunate, that the far too often cruel nature of our planet can crush a artist. But Colon offers that, "There is no wrong with the creative mind with good intention." This is a refreshing statement steeped in train of thought that there is no right or wrong answer. And that the more one passes judgment on the work of another in a negative light it will only come back to have an impact on their own.
5.Value what you do
This is a continuation of number four. Don't criticize the creative gift,embrace the gift and value it", Colon urges. In essence do not be your own worst critic because in the end you will become your own worst enemy. If you allow that to happen then absolutely nothing will be accomplished.
"Be yourself, thoughts of no one to enter, just you and your creative process", Colon advises. Do not use the work of another as a measuring stick or bench mark of your own he warns. It is one thing to be influenced by someone but it is completely another when it your work begins to look like someone else's. This is just like when a singer is told to find their own voice.
Again don't compare
Yet a second time Colon stresses this issue. "We are all distinct individuals,no need to trouble the mind with comparing", Colon says. It is essential that individuality is on full display when he you hear him speaking of this sort of thing.
Don't pressure yourself
"Allow yourself to create what comes to you with out the stress", George mentions. Finding an outlet or that can reduce the stress levels so that your work does not fail is key. Reading, taking a walk or meditating are possibilities. If you're not into those things make it a point to find something else that is not only constructive by stress relieving. Added pressure coming from within can lead to certain disaster.
Don't allow distractions
"Be free of all distractions that can interfere with the creative flow,serene space", adds Colon. I do not believe any interpretation is needed for this one.
Don't stop believing
Well Steve Perry would be happy with this one! "Do not trouble your your mind as not being good enough as that is debilitating,embrace your efforts and be pleased with your gift", Colon says. And again no interpretation is required.