Out of the Comfort Zone

Out of the Comfort Zone

It all started a few months ago when one of my Instagram followers, Zui, messaged me and asked if I wanted to put my art up in Freeman Alley in NYC. Of course, without a second thought, I immediately said, haha, thank but no thanks. Because, well, never done street art before (I mean, I love and appreciate them but never participated), and then I thought I was way too old to do street art with the "kids." Zui was friendly and encouraging, saying, "Hey, whenever you are ready." I thought to myself, um, that will be never."

A few months passed, and my Guggenheim piece was featured on Guggenheim's social media. And the positive response was phenomenal - beyond my wildest dream! (I will write a piece on that later). As a new artist, that really boosted my confidence. My lovingly (and biasedly, I am sure) supportive family kept saying I should do the street art installation. Like, come on, how cool is that! So with fresh halo of validation of the Guggenheim post, I said ok, I can do this! (or can I...?). The journey was not straightforward. There was much self-doubt, and yes, I can, and no, I can't. But I have had so many amazing people help guide and advise me along the way - Zui, the fantastic people at Toronto Image Work, The Printing House, friends in NYC, and, ahem, YouTube. After another round of agonizing self-debate, the hammer came down, and I was definitely doing it. I figured the robots would suit the vibe of the graffiti alley best. I did a few dry runs, didn't overthink it. Packed up and ready to go to NYC!

My good friend Cuan, a hugely talented creative, got roped into helping me with the installation. Honestly, I couldn't have done it without him. We set out excitedly from Brooklyn to Freeman Alley in Manhattan on an overcast Sunday with the artwork, buckets of paste, and all the auxiliary supplies. Then the reality of NYC (and our lack of foresight) hit us like a hammer - that Sunday just happened to be St Patrick's Day (annual parade) AND the NYC half marathon. With 3 out of 4 bridges between Brooklyn and Manhattan closed, we just kept saying to each other: it will be fine...we can make it... haha...

Well, we finally did make it. The original plan was to install when the alley was relatively quiet. Given that it was the first time doing this for both of us, we figured it would be less embarrassing if we messed up and could exit quietly. But destiny had a different plan; we ended up working through the opening of Freeman's restaurant brunch time, where people were lining up outside. But at that time, we were too engrossed in putting up the robots to pay too much attention to the gathering thongs of people.

What started to be a bit of a mess up on timing ended up being the best possible outcome. People were so engaged and so complimentary about what we did! They were taking pictures of it, in front of it, group photos, selfies! Every time someone took an interest, Cuan would push me forward and say here is the artist (while I was trying to hide ). And people actually wanted to take pictures with me!

The old saying goes—better try and fail than not try at all. The whole experience was so surreal in the best possible way. I am so glad Zui pushed me outside of my comfort zone. Not only did it give me new validation of my artwork, but I also met so many great people along the way. Think I am ready to do another one now!


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