It’s kinda funny. Back in high school during what is colloquially known as the “Coming Home” dance here in the states we had a competition for a king. I on a whim decided to put myself in the running for such an, ahem, prestigious event and was nominated to the top 10.
Part of the procedure for this event was writing a short bio of ourselves as well as describing ourselves in three words. I, being a smart ass, simply wrote down “A — renaissance — man”. The joke was lost on the 500+ crowd here in Toledo, OH, but 15 years later I find myself now in a position to start becoming an authority, and perhaps more especially, a guru on how to become a renaissance man.
But that’s where I’m at here on Flawed Masterpieces, a blog that started out as a knockoff of BirthMoviesDeath.com writing amateur film reviews before eventually re-realizing my own passion for poetry and photography, and as of late filmmaking, music composition, and recording, and of all things drawing.
It’s kind of weird. Throughout my youth and early days of college, my passions and interested varied widely and never stayed on topic for very long. While everyone else seemed to be devoting themselves to careers and very narrow and specialized fields, I was busy learning how to play guitar and drums while writing entry level thesis and a liberal arts undergrad here at the University of Toledo.
As the saying goes, there’s a season for everything, and the older I get, along with my ever-receding hairline I realize that while these passions came and go they’ve started to come back in a manner I never thought possible.
Take for instance composing. During my early 20s, I dabbled in music compositions for orchestra suites and piano. But it all could be traced back to my early education as a violinist in grade school and eventual singer in my high school honors choir.
That accumulation of talent and learning led me to experiment with classical composition using major and minor notation, and led to my first true piece of legit music back in 2009. Here’s a recording of my first composition played through Finale Note Pad.
It’s not much, but relatively soon after this was composed I swiftly began writing my own orchestra suite.
Perhaps you think I’m tooting my own horn, but what I’m getting at is what once in my life seemed like amateur dabbling in various genres and art forms have become quietly and very passionately my life’s work. And I know there is more to come.
After giving up my batshit wild dream of being some famous composer while teaching English in South Korea, I spent the next 8 years hopping from career to career while basically giving up with all the arts altogether.
But then one night I posted a poem from 2004 on my very wet behind the ears film blog that was this initial site and found myself slowly gaining an audience.
Keep in mind, I had not written a single poem between 2006 – 2014.
Three years later now and I write 5 -6 poems daily while composing at least one score per day, as well maintaining a healthy appetite for all things art. It’s truly astounding that fields that I thought were merely detours in my future as an English teacher have now become all-consuming of my life.
Which is why I find myself writing this article.
Lately, on the side, I’ve been dabbling in Internet marketing and website design, with an emphasis on SEO optimization.
And one thing became very alarming for this website. What the hell was my niche?
Yes, I write a ton of poetry and post the occasional photograph, but what exactly are Flawed Masterpieces about? To quote my about section, it’s an exploration of art to its furthest boundaries, but how does that get me ranked in Google’s almighty search engines?
As if afraid of repeating in the footsteps of Emily Dickinson’s ghost and being doomed to a life of obscurity, it hit me.
My niche is quite simply, how to become a renaissance man.
And honestly, the only way I can share my wisdom is to teach others what I’ve learned and continue to learn throughout my youth. Which is this:
Identify Your Passions and Talents
I don’t care what anyone says, but everyone has talents and abilities that are worthy of being championed and put on display for the world to see. But the only way anyone will ever even start on the road to becoming a modern Da Vinci is by recognizing their own talent and seeing the beauty in it.
Which isn’t to say everyone will be a famous painter or published poet. But then again, why not?
All it takes to be officially published in 2017 is a free WordPress blog. Write your article, send off your poem, or scan your latest doodle and hit that damn submit button, and watch as your audience slowly grows.
And from a marketing perspective, with a growing audience of currently 2+ billion people on the Internet, now is the time to start taking your mindless hobbies seriously and recognizing the value in what you see yourself doing.
Which leads to my next point:
Ignore Your Inner (As Well As Outer), Critics
No matter how much people rag on your work or passions, no one is harder on yourself than quite simply yourself.
And while that is an eye-rolling cliché, it has proven in my own work to be true to the point that I would simply give up on whatever I was doing because I always felt inadequate about my artwork.
Look at it this way:
There is now famous cartoonist on the Internet using stick figures to make political points on elections and getting tons of views and followers. Literal stick figures.
If ability seems to be holding yourself back, maybe now the time is to ask yourself if maybe what you can do is your ability, especially if no one else is doing it.
And once you figure this simple mindset out, you’ll start seeing potential in all of the areas you’ve ever dreamed about dabbling in.
Forgo Money and Just Do It
Da Vinci spent years traveling the riverside of Italy painting portraits and studying engineering.
Ben Franklin spent his early 20s telling people he wasn’t crazy as he slowly grew a modest print business into a then media empire.
And what these other renaissance men did in their free time was simply chase what aroused their passions and more importantly curiosity, without always trying to improve their work or make money off it.
And while making money isn’t a bad dream to have, the truth is you’ll never grow as an artist if you never even try to do something.
So stop asking yourself if you can make money off your dreams and passions and just do it.
Start a blog, go out on the street and start strumming a guitar, or send off your latest poem to a publisher and just do it.
And while we’re at it, quit thinking about how you’ll become rich and famous and just recognize that you already have the talent. Fame will come. The money will come. An audience will come.
So what is holding you back?
Growth As A Renaissance Man
In my own personal growth as an artist and renaissance man, I’ve seen myself find success in not only growing a modest WordPress following but as well having the honor of being published in academic journals as a writing tutor, teaching a high school English Class why Shakespeare can be fun, and as of late reigniting my own passion for composing.
Just to give you a glimpse of my own growth as a Renaissance Man, here is another composition I made soon after my first.
So again I ask you, what is holding you back?
Now is the time little wing to set your aim and fly…