welcome to the garden
Hello! Welcome to the garden, where good things grow.
I'm sitting in a coffee shop in Los Angeles near Park La Brea as I write this. I have a decaf oat milk mocha to my left and the ambient ramblings of tattoos and weather to my right.
Over the past few years I've started to really tighten up my creative output and hyper-focus on putting out only the best quality that I can muster up with the skills and experiences I have at the time. What I thought would be an exercise in discipline and a refinement of my practice has morphed into an obstacle that heavily restricts my output unless it's my absolute best work. What's the point of putting something out if it isn't my magnum opus? Furthermore, what's the point of making anything at all if I have a glimmer of suspicion that it won't be as good as the last thing I put out?
On the surface, it seems like a good exercise. The pursuit of making your work "good" seems like it's the way to go. As an artist, it should benefit us to consistently evolve our style and refine our craft to ensure that we're always getting better. As a viewer, it assures that you'll never have to waste your time with a "bad" piece of art (whatever that even means).
In reality, this discipline has ended up all but stopping my creative output all together, and has constantly left me frustrated that I may never be able to top certain pieces of mine. I spend a lot of time reflecting on the limited work I've put out and the feelings that arise are heavily dependent on my mood at large, which itself is heavily dependent on my creative output. If I'm actively creating, looking back on my work is validating because the pursuit of "good" requires me to look down on the things I've released prior. If I'm not actively creating, the reflection turns bittersweet – feelings of longing for the creative freedom I'd felt in the past combined with fears that I may never feel that again. This cycle has left me severely detached from the liberating feeling of creativity and has instead made me associate my practice with harsh self-judgement. In short, I never want to make anything anymore and it sucks!
Four years ago I fell into a similar trap. I was fed up with my inaction and the dissonance I felt between the grandiose ideas I was having versus the work I was putting out (or the lack thereof). After countless nights of frustration, I decided to do something about it and ended up with Cyan Summer. This project was the culmination of the mantra that my journals must be sick of by now: less thinking, more doing. The point of this project was to do anything and everything that I wanted to with no regard to validation or quality. Photo series, music videos, short films... whatever! Dye my hair and take a trip to LA if you want to! This is your life, baby!
And you know what? It worked. It really was an active summer for me, and the publicized, branded statement of "I'm Jake Jaramillo and I am working" actually opened up some opportunities & introduced me to people I would've never met otherwise. I ended the summer feeling satisfied with my output and closer than ever to my work & practice.
That was four years ago now. Fast forward through dropping out of college, moving back home, experiencing a global pandemic, and getting deep into an unfulfilling career field... and here we are. My creative output is once again limited, I am once again frustrated, and my journal has once again become friends with the mantra of less thinking, more doing.
So here's the part where I tell you what all of this is.
My website, my YouTube channel, and my Instagram page have all been my most front-facing showcases of my work and I've been quite fearful to put something on such a public platform that's something as small as a photo walk I took. They are not representative of the more grandiose ideas I have, but they are still a part of my practice and little things that I care dearly about. I've never really had a place to put any of those things, so they've ended up dying on my hard drives or temporarily leaving my practice all together.
Instead of letting my creativity slowly slip away from me, here is my solution:
This is the garden, the grounds for us to play around. The goal of this little corner of my website is to promote a healthy dose of creativity and create a space where I can create completely freely. I want to share all of the little things that help my practice and actively contribute to a larger body of work that ultimately says nothing more than "I am Jake Jaramillo and I am here."
Additionally, this is also a space for me to connect more with you guys. I've grown so distant from the people who care about me & my work and I'd love nothing more than to come back to what really matters. To you, the reader & my friend, I am so glad you're here and I'm sorry we've been so distant for all this time. Let's kick things off again – dance like we used to, ya know?
For the record, all of this is very uncomfortable. I am not a writer and I am not good with words. But there are so many things I'd love to express that work best as words. So, as uncomfortable as it is, I'll be doing my best to write my little letters to you and get over the extreme discomfort I feel about writing more than, like, ten words at a time.
On top of that, I feel even more uncomfortable sharing work that isn't "good" or "meaningful" by my own standards. Like, is there really a point to sharing photos I took on a random Tuesday walk? Nope! Not really! But that's kind of the entire point! Take the "good" out of my practice and let the "quality" develop naturally through authenticity & consistency. That's all I really have control over, and right now that feels so extremely liberating.
Moving forward, I'm going to be writing more of these little letters and sharing the little projects & works that don't warrant a fully publicized entry in the showcase of my work. I'm considering this a documentation of the evolution of my practice in real time, and I'm hoping there's some value in that to other creatives like you.
To kick things off, I've started taking my camera out to breathe again. I went on a short walk on a cloudy day in Los Angeles and have put the photos up for your eyeballs to enjoy.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. I love connecting with all of you lovely creatives out there, so please feel free to reach out on instagram or whatever with anything you've got – I love to hear your stories and the struggles we all face with this weird little thing we've got going on.
I hope you're doing well. Welcome to the garden!
I love you,