old habits die hard
I made my first book in 1998 as a sketchbook for a trip I was very excited about taking to Kenya in Eastern Africa. I had this great idea to just “make my own” as a place to document everything I would see. I was then, as I am now, obsessed with documenting everything. I think only then I hadn’t really found the vocabulary yet that best suited the stories I wanted to share. I only remember small tidbits about what I wanted to accomplish when I made the book, small things like “I want it to lay flat on my lap while traveling so its easy to write and draw.” Or “I want it to have space for all the things I collect along the way.”
That book I made in 1998 isn’t a beautiful book by any means but it is a beautiful book. It is not refined (but neither am I still) and it never did open flat on my lap. It’s made with these clunky nuts and bolts and random fabric, but in that one book it kind of speaks to the kind of person I wanted to be. And more than anything, it is an honest attempt and that’s why I love it. It reminds me that everyone has to start somewhere. The best things are made by people who simply start. You don’t have to have a real sense of how or even why, just making the attempt is a great step.
On that trip I learned a lot about the kind of artist I was going to be as well as how I was going to live in relation to the world around me. During that trip I learned how to write haikus from an amazing woman (Stoney!) (pictured below writing), which basically means she taught me in three simple lines how to make sense of the world.
I spent most of that trip sitting on top of an old brown land cruiser staring out at the vast Kenyan plains, trying to remember what I was seeing as it was literally changing before my eyes. Trying never to forget. It was perfect. That was 13 years ago. Not much really has changed about me except probably everything and nothing. I still want nothing more than to make books all day that I can fill with all the beautiful things I see. I still communicate best in haikus and am most comfortable always behind a camera framing a world that’s just mine. Old habits really do die hard, but hopefully some habits just become beautiful distractions i.e. ways to navigate my world.
Here are some more images of the book that started it all, and some of my photos from that Kenya trip long ago. If you have never been to Kenya, I can only say this, there is no other place on this earth like it, and that I know for sure. xo e
“In Africa a thing is true at first light and a lie by noon and you have no more respect for it than for the lovely, perfect weed-fringed lake you see across the sun baked salt plain. You have walked that plain in the morning and you know that no such lake is there. But now it is absolutely true, beautiful and believable.” Ernest Hemingway