2018: The year of the minimalist.
‘a person who advocates or practises minimalism.’
It was July 2017 in Reykjavik, Iceland that my cousin and I talked in great depth about the concept of minimalism. The conversation was in reflection to a 2016 documentary released on Netfilx called Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things. The short film follows self-proclaimed minimalists Ryan Nicodemus and Joshua Fields Millburn who after climbing the corporate ladder earning the big bucks soon quit their jobs in search for a happier life. It follows them travelling across America to share their own experiences of minimalism and spreading the message on how this mindset has improved their lifestyle and overall happiness.
They question; How might your life be better with less? Examining the many flavours of minimalism by taking the audience inside the lives of minimalists from all walks of life including families who have downsized their apartments, entrepreneurs, architects developing tiny homes and affordable living, artists, journalists, scientists, and even a former Wall Street broker who was earning millions of pounds in his early 30’s but still couldn’t find happiness. All of the people interviewed are now striving to live a meaningful life but with less.
What I found most poignant about this documentary was not solely the concept of minimalism, what it actually means and the definition of a minimalist, but also the bigger picture – the global impact of consumer culture. It questioned the “compulsory consumption” in western society and why we, as humans, feel the constant need to fill a void with material objects, new models of electronics and constant updates on fashion trends in the strive for happiness. This notion of mindless consumption goes hand in hand and is facilitated by the constant advertising that engulfs our senses, subconsciously brainwashing us to make us think that we need the next new thing, an updated model, the newest release of a phone or the latest fashion accessory in order to feel valued. Society makes us believe we need these things, no-one else. This all leads to the environmental, social and psychological wake that follows this behaviour. The many topics discussed in detail include architecture, tiny house living, fashion, meditation and neuroscience.
2017 was the year more than any previous where I have had a personal epiphany towards a more minimal existence. Perhaps this stems from moving house 13 times in the last 11 years (which certainly makes you want to own less) but overall I have felt happier and cleansed with less ‘stuff’ around me. Over the past few years when buying a new item of clothing I have always taken one item from my wardrobe and donated it to a charity shop. A one-in one-out ethos. I don’t know how or where this idea began but I have always felt the need to discard something if I added something. Similarly to bags and shoes – I only own a few. This has many perks, not only is this cheaper to maintain but it takes me ten minutes to get dressed on a morning which ultimately allows for a simpler life with less choices and distractions.
I also must consider my life as an artist, my work as a practitioner is minimal, clean and aesthetically clinical. I find simple, effective and clean aesthetics very appealing. Perhaps because there is less fuss, noise and stress to comprehend and deliberate.
Another reason I strongly believe in minimalism could be that I have never found myself in financial debt and I have always bought within my means, often spending less money on material objects in order to save for experiences such as travel and adventure to which I hold greater value.
Shortly after our Iceland trip, Victoria begin project; @thelook365 documenting her ongoing journey of minimising her apartment. This has mainly targeted her over filled wardrobe, igniting a pledge to not buy a single item of clothing for a whole year, and to sell or donate what is never worn. She documents her outfits on a daily basis via instagram, often wearing clothes that have been in the closet for 5-6 years. She cleverly injects new life into a garment which previously was given a use-by-date, saving herself money, time and stress. She also unsubscribed to constant emails from retailers about clothing sales and offers to tackle the constant temptation to spend. This re-affirms what the documentary stated about how at the turn of the century we have gone from a two season fashion year dressing for either cold weather or warm weather, to an astonishing 52 season fashion year feeling the need to buy, reinvent and update our wardrobes weekly.
We throw a huge amount of money at things that we feel we need but do they actually add any value to our lives? Thinking realistically, you can’t control making any more money than we do already, but you can control spending less money on average after each pay cheque. What do we actually need in our lives to be happy? What brings us value?
Back in 2010 I could fill a four bedroomed house with objects, clothes, furniture, pictures, books, vinyl, cameras and art equipment but now in 2018 all my current belongings can fit inside my small car. For me putting minimalism into practice has brought about a sort of peace and contentment. The film quotes that human identity should be defined by what one does and not what one owns. I strongly agree.
In fact, 2018 is the year that I will find all my valued belongings fit inside of a backpack.