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.”

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. 

Artist

Joseph Reyes

 

 

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.

March 10


My second book has been printed and I’ve sent initial copies to my family as well as to Library and Archives Canada. I’ll be sending it out to galleries as well as to people who really, REALLY want it, but right now, selling it online just doesn’t make sense for me. Due to the coronavirus, the Korean postal service, which is normally amazingly cheap and fast, has been crippled. Sending out one book to California, I was presented with two options: $2 regular with no tracking which might take two months to get there, or $24 express which will get there in a week. Before the pandemic, I could send packages to California using the regular option and it would get there in less than a week. Damn you, pandemic!

Book is done, so I could peacefully die now. Technically, my work is out there. It’s been out there for a while now. I don’t have children, but at least my art will hopefully live on for a bit. I’m not a rich person, and I don’t have much of value at all, but there’s always my art. My images, my ideas. For some reason, I keep thinking about Bob Dylan’s line, “...I gave her my heart, but she wanted my soul…” After my worldly possessions, my heart, and my soul… my art can live on past me.

And no, I have no delusion that I’m famous or someday will be famous. But yeah, at least there will always be some art somewhere that proves I once existed, no matter how unsuccessful an artist I become. 

March 4


Not my proudest moment, but I flirted with suicide last night. I’m not going to go into details, but I was in a really bad place and I just tested the waters, trying to see if I could ultimately check out.

The truth is, I’m actually a pretty awful person. Aside from being horribly cynical, I’m increasingly depressed, have low self-esteem, hedonistic, self-centered, no dreams for the future, not to mention I have a crippling sex addiction (which probably stems from low self-esteem and self-hating issues). Ultimately, I tend to be pretty shitty to the people closest to me. And quite frankly, they are probably much better off not getting caught up in my bullshit in the first place.

As I mentioned before, I’m only good in small doses. Anything more, and you get to see how awful a person I am. But that’s for people around me though. Unfortunately, I am the person I live with. The call is coming from inside the house. It’s awful. And last night, my self-loathing got to the level of low-stakes suicidal tryouts.

The thing is, coming out of it, I’m not sure if I’m happy I didn’t succeed. And I’m not sure I won’t try again either. I’ve been having suicidal fantasies for years now. I’ve been rehearsing different scenarios over and over again on my head, weighing the pros and cons, etc. I even wrote romantically about it a couple of times. But the dumb thing is, when I finally attempted one scenario, I came away with nothing. Just back to the fantastical drawing board.

Now, this isn’t a cry for help. This is just me writing things the way they are in my head. I’m an awful person who hurts others, and last night, I tried to hurt myself. That’s just the way it is. No lessons learned, no interesting insights. I don’t need people’s help either. And if you talk to me in person about it, I will wave it off and spin a different but far more interesting tale. Maybe I’ll tell you a long drawn out joke as a distraction. Ever heard of the suicidal moth? What about the systemic racism in the world of olives?

This is just my version of r/SuicideWatch, so don’t be too alarmed. And quite frankly, if I do succeed, the keyword is “succeed.” It would be a pleasant surprise that no one should be mourning over. BTW, this thing I'm in is no one's fault but mine. I screw things up, I make myself miserable, and I just make things worse. It's all me.