When less is not always more

Are you a minimalist trying to own fewer than 100 things and feel like something is missing? Then this post is for you.

When less is not always more minimalist art design on everyday items visual poems marine Ikebana poetry

I don’t remember when and how I first heard of minimalism, but the philosophy instantly resonated with me, mainly because as a polymath, I can easily get overwhelmed and distracted by new fields of knowledge and new things to create and make. Minimalism is the perfect tool I found to periodically declutter my stuff (and my mind!) and keep the essentials only, even as those essentials change.

Minimalism is about getting down to basics. Your basics. Whatever you deem essential to do, achieve and experience.

And in the beginning I think I minimized too much. I was on the go all the time, I was renting my place and owning 100 things at most seemed like a brilliant idea. Minimizing the quantity of objects I had was a tangible way to have more space (and headspace) for myself. It was only when I started minimizing my schedule as well that I realized less is not always more.

No two minimalists are alike.

Fast forward to 2022, I don’t rent anymore, but I’m still on the go and still do my best to fit everything I own into one backpack, even if I’m not always successful. What changed though is that I started to embrace that I need beauty in my life and experiences such as going to museums or art galleries just won’t cut it for me. I need to see beautiful art where I live and work and sleep. I also need empty space, I am still reluctant in housing paintings or sculpture and of course I still need useful things, but I’m more intentional with my purchases in terms of the aesthetic aspect as well. No two minimalists are alike and isn’t minimalism about being intentional with what you buy and don’t buy?

What I like about minimalism is both the destination (less stress, more visually appealing surroundings) and the journey (the periodic challenge to reflect on what is essential to me and cut back the rest). Minimalism has also proven to be the best instrument I found to minimize maintenance work like cleaning in order to make time for creative work like the visual poems you see on my website. It also influenced a great deal of what I create as marine Ikebana poetry.

Less is not always more

Many proponents of minimalism advise spending money on experiences instead of things in order to avoid bringing more stuff (and possibly clutter) to your home. Unfortunately, I reached a point where I minimized too much and I missed objects to be enjoyed for their beauty as well. My mistake was that I downplayed the importance of aesthetics in my surroundings and in how I spend my time, thinking that functionality is the only thing that matters.

Before I started this blog and made my first steps in minimalist art, I lived my life focusing on useful things only, at least as soon as I graduated from high school. I read non-fiction only (and I still do except for poetry). I graduated aerospace engineering, I worked a few months as an engineer and I quit a great job because I was so bored. I graduated medical school. I then worked as a research assistant in a functional neurosurgery clinic in Germany and quit that too as I realized I don’t love neurosurgery as much as I thought I would do. I got back to Romania, rekindled my interest for gerontology or the science of aging, did a residency in geriatrics and gerontology, talked with many patients at the end of their life, thinking I finally found my niche in doing medical research for life extension, but things didn’t work out too well and I wanted more control over my time anyway. That was the last job I had.

Since then and thanks to being a minimalist since a couple of years, I started to schedule more and more time for creativity only. I take a very long beach walk (usually of 5 hours) at least once a month to meditate and come up with ideas without being distracted by offensive odors or ugly surroundings. When I’m not designing visual poems for everyday items, I still keep up with medicine somehow by freelancing as a medical translator and I don’t rule out getting back to medical research if I could do that on a per project basis. Unfortunately, I didn’t find a (non-full-time) solution to this yet and I put it on the back burner.

And although as soon as I graduated high school, I dedicated my youth to studying useful things, my first career was in the arts (switching between ballet, painting and then music in primary and secondary art school) and I studied humanities in high school. Maybe sooner or later, I would have gotten back to my first love anyway, which is art, but it took me a long time progressing at a snail’s pace to create my type of art: marine Ikebana poetry.

After getting used to owning so few things as a minimalist AND living with non-minimalists, designing minimalist art aka golden ratio based visual poems on everyday items became my creative outlet. Although I like black and white which most people associate with minimalism, I included two more colors for a harmonious color palette: brown earthy tones and blue sea tones.

The hassle of ownership

The walls of my tiny home are still white just like they were when I used to rent and I thought a black print would make a good contrast.

So I bought a black print with the poem seen below (printed locally, not on Zazzle) and I hung it with special stickers for paintings. It worked, it looked good, but I was too worried it may fall off the wall over my toddler and I took it down in less than one day.

I never had wall art in this place and my husband couldn’t be bothered to fix it better (the frame seemed a bit too heavy to use 1-2 nails in the wall only and I was too tired to try to remove the canvas from the frame and display only the print), so I decided I’ll keep the walls white and get back to the basics: enjoy minimalist art, but on smaller objects which can be moved around and are useful or inspirational. Like this portable desk decor item below:

Or this white mug with a poem on it always sitting on my desk:

Or a decorative box to store all the smaller and necessary desk items which used to be spread around creating visual clutter. Not anymore.

If you’ve also been decluttering for a long time, you may have reached a similar point where you needed something back in your life. What was that? I’d love to hear from you in a comment below!

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