Where Colour Sends You
The unmarked path to ink making
I wonder if you have a friend like my friend Ani who the other night made me a golden African Peanut soup with quinoa on top and subliminal spices underneath that I could not name and yet were exactly the flavours that I was craving without knowing that I was craving. It was just the soup and glass of water that we shared, but it was so complex and sustaining and rich and simple that it was a feast. Maybe you have a friend that makes food in a way that is both familiar and unfamiliar. I hope you do. But it’s not really the food that is this feast. It is the way the conversation with your friend starts somewhere with, say, a backwards clock, and moves through fishing and hairline fractures and health and children and god and newslettering and waterlogged tinder-dates and ends somewhere totally new. Or, no, it doesn’t end. Your Ani is of course your Ani but I want this newsletter to feel like that for you. I want to just tell you what I am thinking and it’s so simple because if I just tell you honestly what I am thinking this week about colour it won’t matter if it’s well-written or a bit jumbled any more than it would matter what words you used when you and friend really get into talking.
It’s so simple writing a newsletter I feel like you should try it, I feel like everyone should try it. The simple formula is just to write something that is true, that is actually what you are thinking of that someone will read and be able to use in their own way. I want to trust you with my thinking out loud like a good friend who stores up your best ideas for safekeeping and also listens just as carefully to your false starts of ideas.
But it’s one thing to try to say exactly what you think and another to actually get to bottom of it and write it out. I tried to write you a letter last night and I erased the whole thing. It was a letter to you which attempted to sum up my whole life story. I wrote about how I started as a clueless 17-year-old who had never even drawn a picture and who was just following my nerdy engineer friends to a university that meant nothing to me, and I even chose my major based on how short the lineup was. My story moved from there through a series of studies and trainings, jobs and mentors and then years of doing the wrong kind of work, almost marrying the wrong woman, living in the wrong city, and the tale inkily spiralled its way to the present and the last sentence was something like, “And that’s how I realized that I have always been an inkmaker.” According to my in-house editor it was a decent letter. And there was a good section in there where my work had been dismissed by the admissions guy at the Art College and I walked home dejected with my portfolio only to meet 2 people over scrambled eggs that did see my portfolio for what it could be and how that breakfast changed the whole course of my life.
But you know that story. It is your own story. You are also an inkmaker. You have gone down the wrong path and gotten lost only to find that it led to a scary place that when you held out, or got the hell out, led to the right path. And in the winding you have learned how to look and not just with your eyes. You have learned to forage. You have learned how to put the things you found into a sack and then bring those things you found home. You have learned how to grind and intensify and filter. You have learned how to combine what you have found into something new. You have learned how wait while it simmers. You have learned how to package this new thing. How to label it. How to send it out into the world. You have seen people working with what you have made and have felt pride that you are connected to them. I think you are an inkmaker. I think you are nowhere near done. I could be dead wrong. Maybe you were born knowing what your path is, and you’re just this moment putting the final touches on your career and use this newsletter to download pictures for some corporate moodboard.
When I woke up this morning with the ruins of the letter I tried to write you last night I saw clearly that I didn’t want to tell you anything. I wanted to ask you something…
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