When I rang the buzzer to his building, I wasn’t sure what I was expecting. I just knew I would be taking my clothes off. I was excited to see myself through the eyes of an artist whom I respected. I felt that the respect was inherent on his part as well. When artist David Aronson opened the door, he also seemed nervous, which I found endearing, though it did nothing to calm my nerves. He was anxious to be interviewed and to talk about himself. In many ways we were expressing equal vulnerabilities — his passion as seen through my eyes and my body as seen through his.
I had never conducted an interview like this before. Typically, Millennial Minds has been written in the third person, an exploration of young entrepreneurialism in the age of social media. And I love writing the series; meeting these successful people and hearing every unique detail about what shaped their path in following their dreams. But this time was different because I was going to conduct the interview without my clothes on. And, naturally, because of that I could not write the piece the same way. Once I became part of the subject’s work my perception was skewed.
I was drawn to interviewing David Aronson because of the abstract and indistinguishable facial expressions of the vast number of women who have agreed to pose for him. His appeal to a millennial audience would lend itself well to my purpose. His social media presence and nonchalant edginess made him a perfect subject for the series. And his art explored and appreciated the female form with out judgment. The pieces were beautiful, but very rarely seemed sexual to me. (And I should not generalize, because Aronson does not exclusively paint naked women, but they do dominate his portfolio.)
I wanted to bring more artists into the Millennial Minds melting pot. It became clear to me that David’s pursuit of his creative ambitions is quite different from all of the other entrepreneurs whom I have interviewed. Typically, this series has shown how its subjects work tirelessly to make their dreams their sole source of income, their livelihood and their passion at once. Aronson had an alternate and equally captivating perspective.
“I think a very common misconception that people have, that I would want to do this full time, that that is the ideal. I do jobs for hotels, or for corporate offices that are painting jobs, but it is so corporate that it takes a lot out of it. I would give the advice to get a completely noncreative job,” David said.
Aronson works three days a week, 14-hour days, and paints when he is off. He finds this schedule conducive to the creative lifestyle, as the typical 9 to 5 setup is exhaustive and leaves him feeling unmotivated in his time off. To him, working is integral in allowing him to live the life he wants (traveling, renting an immaculately decorated East Village apartment and Brooklyn work studio), but he has been creative in securing a position that leaves him free to truly delve into what he loves on a consistent basis.
Like the other Millennial Minds’ subjects, David has built the life he is most inspired by via unconventional means. But unlike the rest, has incorporated a less inspirational work component to allow for that. To me, this was a revolutionary concept that seemed embarrassingly obvious once he had explained it. It is a message that Millennial Minds (and I as its author) have been remiss in exploring. In general, the purpose of the series is to inspire our peers to follow their bliss, whatever the means. And as singularly fascinated as I have been by the concept of entrepreneurialism, Aronson’s work and life balance is just as unique and captivating. It lends itself to a wide portfolio of work that he feels tirelessly inspired to continue to create.
For aspiring artists, actors, dancers, musicians, and writers like myself, I think the lesson here is that no matter what you love, you can let it be at the center of your life while supporting yourself. For many people, that is what seems to be missing within the confines of a traditional 40-hour work week.
At this point, it seemed apparent to both of us that I should remove my dress. I nervously wiped my clammy palms on my thighs and committed myself to explore what it meant to be the subject of my subject. That experience in and of itself does not relate the same way to the message of this series, so you can read about that in this article.
If you would like to pose or purchase art from David, give him a follow and a direct message on Instagram @DavidAronson, or email him at email@example.com.
If you or someone you know would be a great feature for Millennial Minds, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.