When I resigned from my position as a creative director at the start of 2015, I was faced with a few difficult questions to answer:
Who am I now? What do I want? Where am I going? How do I start?
Is it worth it?
None of these questions had easy answers. But I chose to trust whatever truths were going to surface in my gut. And when the answers finally arrived, I still had so many doubts about the direction I wanted to take my life in.
So I made four promises to myself:
Feel It All.
Coming to the fork in the road, this time, I drove straight through it.
I've spent too much of my life being defined by labels (American, Korean, Artist, Filmmaker, Gay, to name a few) and listening to direction from both peers + well-wishers, and even from some naysayers (Seriously, wtf was I thinking? I guess I wasn't).
But none of these labels or choices made under outside influence have ever made me more of myself. They did the opposite. They isolated me from my truth.
Truth: I have never been happier than when I have listened to my heart + my gut, regardless of failure.
In 2014, I found myself unable to sleep most nights. I would lie in bed until around 4 AM. And at this juncture I would give up. I'd pull on some jeans, my boots, a sweater and I would go wander the streets of Seoul.
Just me, my footsteps, the distant sound of cars in the night like the ocean, and occasionally some whiskey.
I was directing music videos for some great artists, I was a creative director and I wasn't homeless or struggling to eat. There was so much to be grateful for... So what was wrong?
It was simple. I wasn't operating at 100 percent. I had come to Korea to find myself as an artist + filmmaker, to experiment + to build Neon. To do me.
But I was afraid to keep it 100. I was afraid of facing myself in the mirror and possibly failing. Maybe my crazier ideas (AKA the ones that bring me to life) would somehow always knock me on my ass. I didn't have the confidence or the answers. So I played it safe and gave up before I even tried.
That was the problem: It was simple. I broke a promise to myself and it was keeping me up at night.
Taking a trip home to NYC for the first time since 2012 was all I needed to remember who I am and where I'm going. BFFs + family will do that <3
So when I got back to Seoul, I ventured into the unknown. I decided I would resign from my current position. I would begin freelancing. I would finally start writing my next feature film in earnest. I would focus 100 percent of my energy on Nick Neon.
This is the beginning of that journey.
On April 12, I will be a 28 year old man. I have accomplished some amazing things that I am very proud of... But I would be lying if I didn't confess that even when I was "following my dreams," I was still basing my decisions on security, on other's opinions, on what the road well-travelled promised me.
There was always this silent regret, wondering why I wasn't brave enough to go further when I knew I could... if only I didn't care what others thought of me.
Nickyneon.com is my answer. It's so much more than just some website to promote my work. It's going to be home.
A place to pool my professional, personal + emotional journeys in life. Because, for me, as an artist. There is no separation. Art + Commerce are lovers for life. It is impossible for me to make Art without personal experiences. But I'm also tired of feeling guilty for trying to make a living out of Art. And I'm done pretending like I don't struggle with it all. Or that I have every answer. Because I don't. I'm winging it like I was at age 17. I'm winging it like the rest of us.
Some days I do feel ***Flawless (Thanks Bey). But some days I feel like a bag of potatoes in the trunk of some dead grandpa's parked Honda in Iowa. I am human. I make mistakes and I am always learning. And I now feel great pride in the process, in my journey. Growth.
This site is going to be my life-long, ever-evolving record of the space where everything meets. This is me operating at 100 percent.
If you cross my path or this site, I hope you're following your personal truth. But if you aren't, I hope I can encourage you to change direction.
Life is too damn short. Serious cliche? Serious truth.
I have often struggled with how I'm "supposed to do things." Perhaps, I have never been one to be told what to do.
Or perhaps, I have always been open to the possibility that life is a custom-built experience.
And I am ready to build.
PS - If you're a free spirit following your truth or someone right on the verge of self discovery, I hope you'll join me on this crazy, wild ride.
Because I'm making magic until I die.