We had the good fortune of connecting with Adrian Ramirez and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Adrian, do you have some perspective or insight you can share with us on the question of when someone should give up versus when they should keep going?
How to know whether to keep going or to give up?– That’s a great question, and I think it all comes down to decision-making. When I think about what it means to “give up,” I find myself wavering between failing and moving on. I think “giving up” as a concept is stigmatized because people associate that with quitting. Although it’s accurate in many cases, I believe that we as creatives, professionals, and people, would benefit from identifying when it’s time to give up on something and move on. Sometimes, we lose interest in a project. Sometimes, our ideas turn out to be not as exciting or fulfilling as we had initially thought. And sometimes, we don’t play to our strengths and end up laboring over things that ruin the creative process. When these things happen, we need to make decisions. In understanding when projects/ideas/relationships are no longer serving us, we’re then empowered to make space for the things that do. Knowing when to quit is a skill, and it’s one that I think everyone can learn and take advantage of. When I think about what it means to “keep going,” a few words come to mind: Perseverance, determination, and discipline. These are important in no particular order, but I would argue that they are a prerequisite when faced with situations where you may have to push yourself beyond your abilities and exit the comfort zone. Usually, whenever I’m confronted with that predicament, it’s typically during moments of resistance. These moments can manifest themselves in different ways like having to stay up late to complete a project that’s taking longer than expected; dealing with a computer program not operating properly and there’s a deadline that needs to be met; or even when prospects/clients aren’t being clear or reliable in their communication. These are just a few examples, but the point is that frustration is bound to creep in along the road. From my experiences so far, contextualizing the question and keeping the end-result in mind helps provide perspective. It reinforces the WHY in what I’m doing, and knowing that the frustration may stem from HOW, WHAT, or WHERE often provides clarity. My relationship with frustration is a volatile one, admittedly. Sometimes it gets the best of me, and in those moments, I do give up. It’s an emotional response, but I’ve realized over time that if I revisit whatever issue I was running into, it’s a signal (to me) that it’s important enough to see it through. Plus, taking some time away from the problem usually helps me find a solution or an alternate route in the end. Then, there are those situations where I feel stuck, and the question of whether to give up or keep going pops up again. In those instances, I have to be completely honest with myself and ask tough questions. For example, I always ask myself: Am I making progress? Is what I’m doing resonating with my values? Am I having fun? Am I helping others? Would I rather be doing something else? If the answer to these questions above is “No,” then I need to reassess what I’m doing. If the answer is “Yes,” then I know that I’m moving in the right direction. Questions like these provide a feedback mechanism when the work itself can’t. For me, I need this feedback because it’s something that says that I’m developing and improving or that I’m veering off course. It’s a way for me to check-in on myself and make sure that I’m channeling my efforts to the things I love or that spark my curiosity. The main takeaway of giving up has to be the knowledge gained. What did I learn from trying? If I made the decision to give up, it had to either be because it didn’t align with my primary areas of focus, or because the end result wouldn’t have been worth the effort. However, I think it’s important to not give up at the first sign of adversity because doing so would prevent me from growing. Sometimes the lesson is in the challenge and not in the outcome. And if the lesson allowed me to develop skills, qualities, and traits that ultimately helped me become a better person, then “giving up” wouldn’t have been the worst decision I’d ever made.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Most of my work to-date is predicated on the intersection of curiosity and discovery. I don’t have a formal art education and I haven’t been an “artist” for very long either; although I’ve always considered myself to be a creative person. Being completely self-taught in nearly every medium I’ve worked with/in, I’ve had to rely on trial-and-error as my source of truth. Lots of frustration, but also lots of moments where I feel inspired to continue down a path that I have no idea where it might lead (at times). I’m in an exciting place right now because the inflow of ideas doesn’t stop–and I love that. I feel so privileged and grateful to be able to chase these ideas regardless of where they take me. Artistically, I feel free, and that’s one reason why I keep creating. I’m looking forward to my continued growth as an artist and carving out a space that is uniquely me.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
There’s so much to do that it’s tough to pick. Phoenix is growing like crazy and there are new spots popping up all the time. However, there are those spots that have been around for a while that never disappoint. Places like Crescent Ballroom, Hanny’s, and Valley Bar. You can’t forget some of the fire taqueria and Mexican spots either. Some of my favorites are Taqueria Mi Casita and Tortas El Rey. If my friends were visiting the area for the first time, I’d definitely make it a point to have them check out an Arizona sunset from a mountain top. I don’t think there’s anything quite like it.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There are so many people I’d mention, but for now, I’d love to shoutout stARTem. It’s an organization that offers creative opportunities for students to discover their purpose by integrating art into STEM fields. Megan Epley is the founder of the organization and I’ve worked with her on several occasions to help students find value in solving problems through their art. website: startem.org
Other: Clubhouse: @adrami