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Bryan Espiritu: On inspiration through life, death, and deadlines
Creative director, founder — and human. Each month on TCC, Bryan Espiritu reflects on the daily grind of what it means to be a creator.

As a creative, my fear was never whether or not I would run out of ideas. It was always that I would run out of life to live to create the time necessary for me to see all of my ideas through.

Inspiration, for me, comes from life. It comes from the sound and shape of words, how buildings aline with one another at varying distances, how being alive through good or bad has made me feel, and what those feelings look and sound like in my head.

I never worry about a shortage of inspiration. I worry mostly about my ability to endure everything my life exclusive of creativity decides to throw at me. Because it’s been helpful, but lord knows it’s also been hell.

I’ve lived with mental health issues my entire life. They started when I was 7 or 8, and have ranged from debilitating anxiety, to panic attacks, bouts of schizophrenia, and multiple suicide attempts, all of which are sitting restlessly under the tattered umbrella of lifelong depression.

My mental health has filtered my view on society, my view on myself, on the value I have for love, connection, and creation. And it is also the catalyst by which I utilize my multiple channels of output: painting, writing, graphic design, illustration, performance. I rely on it to keep me safe from demons, and it relies on me to do the same.

Work / life balance is a real thing. But I would rather lose work than lose my life.

I have a deadline tomorrow for the biggest art/design contract I’ve ever been signed on for. It is for the biggest brand I’ve ever worked with, on one of the largest scale stages I’ve ever been on. This is the culmination of my body of works creative incarnate. Yet, last night I almost admitted myself into a hospital in fear that I’m either suffering from the most frightening episode of paranoid schizophrenia I’ve ever experienced, or extremely fatigued to the point of complete emotional and psychological exhaustion.

This is the reality of my experience. I cannot credit my passion for creation to anything more than I can accredit it to pain. But I am realizing now that a line needs to be drawn before the pain becomes a permanence.

I said once that, “Discipline is a ‘yes or no’ question, answered 1000 times a day”. Our endurance as creatives is tested by this regularly.

“Should I go to bed now and work on this tomorrow?”, “If I keep painting while I’m exhausted will I ruin it?”, “Is it okay that I’m missing my sons birthday?”, “Does this Buzzfeed quiz need my urgent attention?”.

Whatever the questions are, it’s necessary to balance which demon we are responding to – the one that fuels our creativity, or the one that feeds the rest.

Work / life balance is a real thing. But I would rather lose work than lose my life. And when you’re battling like I’m battling right now, that’s the realest of my concerns.

I have never been worried about my inspirational well running dry. But it is possible that I may drown if I don’t keep the necessary distance.

It is dangerous to confuse, “Can I do just a little bit more?”, with, “Can I endure just a little bit more?”. One may push you further, but the other one can push you too far.

Be well.

Love & Above,

Bryan Espiritu