Oto Kano

How I Became an Artist

Creative Practice, Artist LifeOto KanoComment
Abstract art by Oto Kano https://otokano.com

I spent all of my 20s and then some in universities, chasing after what would make my mum proud - a PhD. My dad wasn’t in my life much so I guess i was extra keen to get parental approval. 

We hugged each other and cried when I passed my PhD viva with only two corrections. I got the PhD, and I became a lecturer. Of course my mum was so proud of me, but we both new it came at a great cost to my health.

I have Bipolar disorder. It has its own seasons, seasons which do not care at all for the academic year. So I would be in my deepest depressions when teaching was at its busiest. Trying to force my Bipolar into the academic year was literally killing me.

So I had to quit. For my sake. 

But what the heck am I going to do? Universities are all I’ve known all my life, including at home. Both my parents are lecturers and so I grew up putting academic study at my life’s apex. It was the only thing worth pursing. 

I was left empty. I couldn’t do the thing I spent my life getting to. I was an empty husk for two years, just coasting on working for a charity. In the mean time, my husband and I focused on working on our immediate goal of saving up to go travelling. 

We saved the money, and we went travelling. We went to all the cities we wanted to visit. Wherever we went we spent all our time in art galleries. Gallery after gallery. Painting after painting. I cried my eyes out in front of Van Gough paintings in Amsterdam, New York and Otterlo. I thanked my luck stars that my husband and I was standing in front of the Guernica in peace times. We sat in front of Monet’s lilies in Paris for hours.

I think I like art. 

So that’s how I got nudged into considering art as a course for my life. I followed my desires and art was where it lead me to.

I would like to add the anecdote that my dear mum cannot be more proud of me for being an artist. I mean, she is REALLY proud of me. It’s a kind of proud that is so much more than her pride for me achieving academically. I guess the moral of the story is that, your parents just want to see you happy. Even if they think they want something else for you. So you might as well follow your own curiosities.