March 18


I’ve been on a bit of crisis in the past few days. Luckily, I managed to find a therapist that could help me work through the whole thing. I thought that mental health services wasn’t covered by the Korean national health insurance system, but luckily I found a couple of places that are willing to work with it. Many English-speaking clinics here are targeting private insurance companies so they could charge more, making it difficult people to find help.

The last time I went to a therapist, a Korean doctor, she prescribed me with so much drugs that I wasn’t able to function normally. It was good to be able to freely vent out my issues, but my doctor didn’t really equip me with coping strategies to help me in the future, just drugs to numb me and help me sleep. As for moving on, I had to come up with my own strategies, which, looking back now, I’m not sure was really healthy.

I’m hoping this time, it works out better for me. Some prescription drugs would probably help me, too. It’s been getting really, difficult to focus lately. I just need some help.


Let’s talk about NFT and art. Well, I’m not going to explain what it is. There’s already enough material out there explaining what NFTs are. What’s disconcerting to me is how much material CBC.ca has been pushing out about NFTs and painting them out as a democratizing force for artists. Did someone at the news organization buy a bunch of NFTs? Are there artists there selling their NFTs?

With COVID and the lack of opportunities to show works in galleries, I’ve been showing a lot of my works online and in magazines overseas. I’ve been participating in online shows and being more aggressive with my own SNS art account. This doesn’t necessarily pay off in more sales, but I imagine it’s what many people are resorting to now. But the danger of having work out there is that anyone can basically just take your work. I’m not heavy into selling prints, but really, if someone wants a print of someone’s work so bad, chances are, they can just take a high quality image and print it themselves. The control and ownership of an image is what makes NFTs attractive to me. I think if it’s cheaper and less environmentally taxing, artists should be marking their works and making it more difficult for people to steal them. Much like people who produce pornography, artists need to protect their work. Art and artists are devalued enough as it is, and works of art are easily moved, traded, and given away online. Something has to change that. Turning works into NFTs will hopefully give artists more knowledge of where their works are outside of Googling their own names or doing a reverse image search.

Getting into the NFT market however is another thing. Using blockchain technology and turning works into NFTs require gas fees. Last time I checked, gas fees are ridiculously high, and rates are getting worse as the hype over NFTs increases. Say minting an NFT costs $50. If an artist has a portfolio of 50 images, that’s $2500 he’s already lost on art that already exists with no guarantee on returns. And while people say that the world of NFTs is currently the wild west for artists, artists will still need to sell their works based on their names and reputations (not on the quality of their works. More on this.). Smaller and unknown artists will still compete with more well-known and established artists who already have a more comfortable foothold on the NFT market and can afford to turn more of their works into NFTs. It is not spreading democracy in the art world. It’s dividing artists even more and making it more difficult for newer artists to compete.

And yeah, since we’re talking about blockchain technology, I shouldn’t forget to mention that it takes a huge toll on the environment to mint NFTs. Blockchain technology is resource-hungry. I can just imagine thousands of processors working overtime minting virtual objects that may or may not be assets in the long run. People have estimated that minting NFTs takes anywhere between weeks to years of an average person’s electricity consumption. No wonder it’s so expensive! Now multiply that to several NFTs.

My biggest problem with NFTs is that it turns artists into gamblers and treats art not as art but as speculative commodities. Will my work make it big in the NFT market? Who knows? Let me invest some money into it and see. Well, that worked out. Now let’s turn more of my works into NFTs. With a considerable price to pay to get into the NFT market, artists would be more concerned about the attractiveness of their works as an investment, not as artworks. And I wouldn’t blame them. Celebrities could probably turn non-artworks into NFTs and compete quite well against true artists. As of this writing, Jack Dorsey turned his first tweet into an NFT and is selling it for $250,000. And as for valuing and appreciating art. Forget that. They’re all investments now.

“That’s a wonderful picture. It truly is amazing. I love how colors are so surreal without digital manipulation. Is it an NFT? Why not? You could probably see its price quadruple in the NFT market.” And then the conversation turns more into investments and speculation rather than art.

I read an account of one artists who said that with NFTs, he earns a 10% cut every time his work is re-sold. That’s great and all, but then again, did he make art or did he just make a commodity that’s traded? What was the point of the piece originally? Did Warhol ever demand or wish for a cut every time someone sells his work? If I sell my work, it’s gone. It’s not mine anymore. I have no connection with it other than it’s birth. To wish for a cut every time something is sold speaks of a weird greed which could be justified by some people, I’m sure, but not artistically.

Recently, investors burnt a Banksy and turned it into an NFT. These people are morons. First off, artwork doesn’t have to be turned into an NFT to have it exist forever. Diego Rivera’s Man at the Crossroads is still studied to this day no thanks to blockchain technology. Also, making or treating art as investments seems to really go against the spirit of what Banksy does. The man travels the globe and makes wonderful art for free. To willfully destroy artwork and turn it into a digital commodity is like ghoulish capitalists turning wonderful artwork into wasteful nerd coins. And no, it’s not elevating art into a different form. The burning of the piece is not art in itself. This is not conceptual art. This is dumb greed.

“Yeah, but Banksy shredded his own art in an auction before!” Yes, he destroyed it to make a statement. The people who burned the Banksy are hoping to start a trend and rake in profits. What’s their statement? “NFTs are now a thing. Come on and invest on NFTs!”

Again, I’m not against certifying digital works and giving them secure signatures. It’ll be nice to have some sort of virtual permanence to digital works. But the way this whole thing is developing reeks of speculation and greed. And when someone says, “anything can be turned into an NFT,” then not only does it lower the bar for art (down to a celebrity’s hangnail), it makes art nothing more than gambler’s token. After all, “you can bet on anything at the stock market.”

 

March 31


I’ll probably be retiring my website soon. I don’t really get so much out of it recently, and quite frankly, it’s more of a temporary repository of my thoughts and art progress than anything else. When I apply to shows, I think people respond more to my CV and the images I send, not really my website. One of the only tangible benefit of having a website is that it exists and the professionalism it suggest. Other than that, there are far better ways to showcase one’s work.

So yeah, I think I’ll just be relying solely on Wordpress and Instagram for my web presence sometime soon. Godaddy hasn’t been the best domain host and server either. They are very generous in the beginning, but they add so many costs later on to things that really should be free. If anything, the biggest hassle to giving up my domain would be giving up my email address. Also, it’ll be just a tad more difficult to find me on the Internet. Unless people are looking for me, they won’t know that I exist, which I guess is true for most people in the planet, and I really shouldn’t be an exception.

Joseph Reyes

Artist

 

April 7


So therapy is going well. It’s going slowly, but well. I feel for my therapist who has to put up with my drama and listen to how much I hate myself. It feels good to just have someone there to vent my woes to, someone who just happens to able to prescribe me anti-depressants.

It’s going to be a long crawl to wellness however. After each session, I feel more and more awful about myself. I KNOW he’s supposed to help me, and we’re coming up with strategies with how to cope with my awfulness, but most of the negative things I see about myself is reinforced in my head after every session. So how he is helping? He’s listening, giving me advice, telling me that I might be right about my scum-of-the-earth nature, then prescribing me medication. God bless him for that. God bless that it’s covered by my insurance as well.

One thing I gotta say though, the most important skill for psychiatrists, and really for anyone during a conversation, is the ability to let someone speak until they are finished. Too many people are not really listening and are just really waiting for their turn to speak. I can see it in their heads sometimes, probably because I do the same thing, too. Halfway through their point, I’m already rehearsing my response in my head. This is why writing about my problems or making art are such convenient outlets for me. Neither talk back. However, neither give me advice or provide me drugs either.

Anyway, everyone needs to talk to a therapist. Everyone. It’s been a while since I’ve talked to a therapist and yeah, I could think of a couple of times when I did without therapy when I really shouldn’t have. 

April 23


It’s weird to actually have a perfectly good and normal day. Looking back, it’s rare to have an objectively good day, a day I could just repeat over and over again. Maybe my medication is finally working, but I genuinely felt that last Sunday was a good day. I wish I took more pictures of that day. The sun was out, people were nice, no depression or anxiety, things were great.

Then Monday came along and I have to deal with new problems at work. Good-bye, serotonins! It was nice knowing ya!

Thinking back, it’s hard to remember many pure, perfect days… perfect holidays that I just want to re-live over and over again. I think I’m not alone here. People have a few perfect days that they re-live in their minds. Last Sunday wasn’t particularly special, but it was just a good, anxiety-free time. And in this day and age, at this stage of my life, that’s a big deal, I guess.


Been suffering from artist’s block lately. It’s been a week now and I haven’t been inspired to draw anything. I hate this. I hate this as much as the nagging need I have to draw or make art when I’m inspired by an idea. It’s always nice to finish a piece and finally be able to walk away from it, admire it from a distance. But afterwards, there’s the gaping hole where art-making should be.

I’ve tried to force myself to make art before, to basically just power through and make something until it looks like something inspiring, but I’ve never been happy with the results. They end up looking like something that cringes me out months afterwards, which is far less time than my regular art makes me cringe afterwards. Usually, it takes two years.

Anyway, I hope the art gods are kind to me and bless me with inspiration soon. I want to make art. I have so much time I could be filling with art that no one will buy. 

May 6


Looks like my team won’t be making it to the playoffs. Or even if they do, they won’t be making too much of an impact. It’s frustrating how the Winnipeg Jets was doing so well about a month ago, only to have so many unnecessary losses recently. The team just has a problem with consistency. I never know what kind of team will show up on the ice. And unfortunately, lately, it’s been a lackluster team that has no business making it past the playoffs. I enjoy watching and following hockey. It’s one of the few things that provide me with an escape and brings me back to my hometown. Too bad they can’t maintain their momentum and not fall apart right before the playoffs. Whenever I get asked about hockey, it can be very challenging explaining Winnipeg Jets’ situation to people and why I’m still following them.


I produce a piece of art every two weeks. This goes towards my Instagram feed, and the self-imposed two-week posting schedule keeps me motivated to produce works. It also forces me to keep on thinking and re-thinking ideas for works. If I don’t post, I feel like something was missed, like I dropped the ball. I mentioned this before, but during the pandemic, Instagram is a godsend. It gets me to post my art, get instant feedback, and even introduced me to people online who I can shoot the breeze with.

There are a few things that bother me about Instagram however. First off, it’s part of Facebook. As much as I have disavowed Facebook and try not to use any products sold by the company, I’m pretty much stuck with Instagram at the moment. I get pangs of guilt every time I turn on the app and see “from Facebook.” This is the company that is causing so many of the world’s problems at the moment, the company that fuels vaccine trutherism, instability in the Middle East, the rise of racism and nationalism, etc. It’s horrible. And every time I use the app, I kinda wish they weren’t bought by Facebook. Which makes me wonder why even bother putting “from Facebook” and remind users about Facebook? That’s not going to make people go back to their old Facebook account. If anything, it turns me off Instagram.

Another is that it kinda demotivates me from looking for real-world gallery opportunities. With the pandemic and everything, it’s very difficult to have shows in the real world. Even sending out works is impractical financially and logistically. It takes forever to send things overseas, if the postal service will even allow it at all. And with the instant gratification and interaction I receive off of Instagram, it’s very demotivating to even try with real-world galleries, especially with many of my past shows bereft of interactions with patrons due to me being overseas.

The third thing that bugs me about Instagram is that, I feel like my work seen online is ultimately just content for social networking services. It’s not high art or anything. My works, which I tell myself is the product of self-therapy and a means to cope with internal as well as external stresses, a personal means of expressions free from the pressures of selling work as an artist, they are all just images used to keep people in social media. Most importantly, they keep me in social media. I’m creating images, maintaining a schedule, all to produce unpaid content to a social networking company that doesn’t care about my time.

I’m not saying I’ll be stopping posting works on Instagram soon. I’ll just feel extremely guilty doing so.


I remember feeling a tremendous amount of glee when Donald Trump got banned from Twitter. I myself was banned from the platform due to my language against Newt Gingrich and Laura Ingraham. When Trump got banned, I was like, “ha! To think Trump and I are now on the same Twitter boat!” And now I learn that Trump is now essentially blogging as well. It’s a bit of a letdown compared to his announcement of launching a new communications platform. Well, technically, it IS a communications platform, for Trump, the same way Wordpress and Blogspot are communications platforms for anyone who wants to blog. Again, we’re pretty much in the same boat, the same blogging boat. It’s like 2005 all over again and all of the kids are blogging.

Actually, it reminds me of an episode of The Office when Creed launched a blog at www.creedthoughts.gov.www\creedthought, which is really just a Word document a coworker set up for him, calling it a blog. I can just imagine an assistant at Mar-a-Lago just getting a Wordpress account and calling it a “platform.” Trump might think it’s actually an SNS platform much like Twitter because his blog entries are essentially tweets. They’re not long drawn out articles like on would expect from an actual blogger. Or perhaps this just give us a window into how Trump’s mind works. He can’t stand reading more than a page; he probably can’t stand writing more than a page either. He is only capable of thoughts or ideas in small chunks.