Choose your own adventure….
I enjoy flying. But I’m not very good at it.
First starters, I’m no good at sitting still for too long. Then there’s the whole thing about just sitting in a chair watching a movie… traveling at crazy speeds…at 35,000 feet!
But I always go with it. The excitement and free alcohol overrules. I associate getting on a plane with a sense that a real adventure is about to happen. Once you’re up, you’re up. You can’t just get off. You can’t turn around. In the words of the great Hunter S. Thompson: “Buy the ticket, take the ride.”
We were on our way to New York from London. My manager and I, while taking full advantage of the complimentary Bloody Marys and discussing World Domination, were handed slips of paper to fill in at our convenience before landing. All the usual details plus a multiple choice survey to check the reason of our visit (and to check if we had ever been arrested, involved with espionage, sabotage or terrorist activities).
The purpose for this mid-July trip to New York was to paint. I was taking part in a few group exhibitions and also had plans to paint walls, canvases, and any other objects I could find along the way. The question was, which box should I tick?
Business, tourism, or other.
The truth was, I didn’t know. The fact is, I never know. As a full time artist, I am ‘never not working’.
This was business and pleasure; work and play, in equal quantities, and very much part of an ongoing journey. As I contemplated my decision to classify the purpose of my trip, the title from the selected journals of Dan Eldon was ringing through my mind: “The journey is the destination”.
The sleepless flight and free alcohol gave me hours to fill my sketchbook with notes and drawings. The not-so-reclining chair became my studio in the sky. Surrounded by sleeping zombies -all plugged in and self-medicated to numb themselves from the fear of falling- I found some clarity in this non-time, non-place, to consider (and tick) my reason for being.
The next few weeks mixed business and pleasure seamlessly, like a carefully crafted cocktail of fun and games with chasers of paint, sweat and tears. We worked hard and played even harder. The business of pleasure; the pleasure of business. Both are essential. Both should be played in harmony. The personal and professional, the serious and the hilarious. The trivial and the profound.
New York, and Brooklyn in particular, is a wonderland of Street Art; an al fresco gallery of international significance. The trip was a good trip. Full of so many good things, people, places, food, sunrises, hamburgers as big as your head, and enough booze tequila mocking bird. NYC really is all it is cracked up to be; I’m sure a English man sees it through slightly romantic eyes, but to me, the biggest apple was most delicious, and left me with a sweet taste in my mouth.
I flew back to London after a few weeks, doodling all over the Customs and Immigration form, and confidently ticking the box marked ‘Other’.
No one at Customs checked my form.
by DAVID SHILLINGLAW