Jesse Thorn gives some great advice in his article. I appreciate that he pulls examples from all types of mediums, so the reader will likely be familiar with at least one person on the list. Of the names I recognized, I feel like Thorn even undersold some of their accomplishments. I didn’t think I knew Jonathan Coulton at first, but it turns out he did the credits music for two of the best games of my childhood, Portal and Portal 2. These are some of the works he’s most famous for, and the article didn’t even mention it. Same with Killer Mike, Thorn doesn’t even mention the tremendous success he’s had as one half of Run The Jewels, his hip-hop duo with producer/rapper El-P.
I feel that recognizing these names help solidify Thorn’s points. It’s hard to believe these tips for success will be of any help if you haven’t heard of people being referenced, but having that name recognition makes it more believable. And it’s not like these are C-list celebrities either, I’ve known of Killer Mike since middle school.
I think it’s important to have people you look up to, especially as a creative. There’re a lot of people who I really admire and I look to for inspiration in what I do.
One of my biggest inspirations is the artistic collective Drain Gang. I’ve wrote about them briefly before, but to sum it up, they are a group of four from Sweden: three vocalists, Bladee, Ecco2k, and Thaiboy Digital, along with one producer, Whitearmor. They came up alongside another closely associated Swedish musical collective, Sad Boys, composed of Yung Lean, Yung Sherman, and Gud. These were just a bunch of Swedish teenagers who loved American hip-hop and wanted to do their own spin on it, so they started posting music online. They gained attention for having such a unique take on the genre, and even if their earlier work was objectively flawed, they all just put so much heart into it. Thaiboy Digital’s 2015 debut “Tiger” is all about his struggle with getting deported from Sweden, Ecco2k’s 2019 project “E” is an avant-garde take on issues relating to one’s own self-image and struggles with identity. These guys aren’t trying to follow trends, they’re putting out stuff that they care deeply about.
Of all the people in the collective, one of my favourites is Ecco2k. Not only does he make fantastic music, but he’s the creative director for the group, designing most of their merch and directing many of their music videos. I had the pleasure of getting to meet him after a show in 2022, and I figured he would just stop to take a picture and be on his way. Instead, when he saw my camera, he stopped and commented on it, saying it was the first camera he ever had. I said I loved all the work he’s done for the group, and I thanked him for serving as an inspiration for so many people like me. Although a small interaction, it meant the world to me that someone I regarded so highly would take the time out of their day to stop and interact with me.
I think this interaction really helped inspire me creatively. I thought about the impact this guy had on me, and how much his art made we want to create. I thought “hmm, maybe one day I can be that to someone else”. Ever since, I’ve had more of a drive to go out and make things.
Without knowing it, I’ve already done a lot of the things Thorn mentions in the article. Recently, I’ve been focusing a lot on #8: Connect with people you like. A lot of the people I look up to didn’t find success alone, they did it collectively, like Drain Gang. I’ve been trying to associate with other creatives who feel that drive to make things. I frequently collaborate with my good friend drainpercapita, and he and I are in the process of finding other local artists to work with on a project we’re creating. We’ve been linking with people who do music, video, visual art, and many other things. Everyone we’ve met has that same desire, to associate with those who share a common drive, but no one knows how.
The You Look Nice Today guys got together in the early days of social media, where people were still being authentic online. Now, the internet has become such an inauthentic, artificial hellscape that it’s becoming impossible to discern who’s in it because of a genuine desire to create, and who’s in it for a quick buck.
I want to foster a persona that, although laden with irony, shows a genuine care for what I’m making, and hopefully dripowensonline is the platform for that.