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Birthday guest blog – “Not a trendy asshole” by Simon Dunn

Today’s guest blog comes courtesy of Simon Dunn at Seismik and if anyone can guess the song lyric that he’s chosen as a title for this piece, then you win a prize!*


woman in colourful outfit in black and white crowd

Standing Out from the Crowd, Melbourne Mermaid,

Four years, it soon comes and goes. You can look back at the work you did four years ago and see different meanings or no meanings at all. The work may take on new forms due to a changing cultural backdrop or it may stare back at you blankly, whatever relationship you originally had to the work lost in time.

So how do you future proof your work such that in four years time you have more chance of the work still holding stock? Heck, there are no guarantees, the only judge of such matters is not really yourself  but at the mercy of your peers. There is one key to longevity though I think – avoid trends.

It is not to purposefully avoid trends but to purposely trust your internal voice instead. On one extreme you will have the folk who sit there with the latest issue of Creative Review as some sort of blueprint for their current work and see that as fair game. The other end is to shut yourself off from all possible “over” influence and work, cut off in some secluded dark room with a tin foil hat that no media could seep into. There is no way to shut off all influence but you can guide where you get your influences from. Travel, read, talk

Is leaning towards trends a lazy crutch? I see it mainly as a lack of confidence in your own artistic view. Like some sort of body builder, repeatedly lifting a weight to gain muscle, if we don’t use, trust and FLEX that part of the brain giving you ideas and vision it will wither. Trust it, use it, train it and it will grow stronger. Go the easy route of conscious over inspiration and being “on trend” and your inner voice will fade, you become a slave to the trend bibles.

Remember the whole notion of following a trend means that by proxy you are not on trend. An article or piece (even online) you may find will have a history of research and creation probably born from a germ of an idea at least six months old. You base this as your research and your “on trend” work will then take probably another few months to reach its own end point. Your work becomes a dilution and is representative of a moment possibly nine months old. The originator of the trend or idea had a reason OR point to their work, their research and vision will have been born in part from their own personal experience and views. Copy that work and its misses out that personal story, it becomes hollow. Your work should be a reflection of you and your environment. By all means look at what has come before but join the dots, twist it, make it your own, put a part of you in it.

Stop following trends and your work is always ahead of the curve. Yeah you might stumble and fall quite a few times, but the work will be more honest and relevant. You become a contributor to the melting pot and that alone makes for a more interesting world for both yourself and those around you.. Nottingham as a whole is undergoing a massive spark of upthrust in the creative sector at present, a belief, a self confidence. Let’s contribute, not dilute. Let’s all ride this wave of confidence and self belief in our ideas. After the next four years have passed I hope we can all look back and see our creative output with a sense of authenticity, a sense in some ways of looking back at a diary where each piece of a work tells a story of the moment, not somebody else’s moment but your moment.

* We’re just kidding, we have no prizes available at all. Sorry – but if you think you know, tell us in the comments!