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Episode 1: The Burden of Creativity

Have you ever had a project that seemed never-ending? One that required countless revisions and left you feeling frustrated? Imagine working on it for a whole week, thinking it was finally complete, only to have your teacher say, “Start from scratch!” And to make matters worse, the deadline is just three days away. How do you cope with the pressure?

As an artist, finding inspiration can be an unpredictable journey. Sometimes it strikes when you least expect it, leaving little time to refine your work. It’s like trying to hold back a river while you desperately try to capture every idea. The weight of expectation can take its toll on your mental well-being, causing immense stress. I still remember my first day as an architecture student, full of enthusiasm and dreams for contributing to the beauty of my country. Little did I know that the road ahead would be paved with challenges and self-doubt.

The Plight of the Ants

Ants, like artists, face their own unique struggles. Their study schedules are in constant flux—busy one month with projects, only to find the next month devoid of any leisure time. Taking on a permanent part-time job becomes an impossible feat. As they invest in their artistic pursuits, their finances dwindle, making regular overtime unfeasible. Their jobs usually involve mural painting, T-shirt design, or newspaper illustrations. Sometimes luck smiles upon them, granting opportunities for architectural or 3D drawings. Yet, financial instability remains a constant companion. It’s no wonder their clothes often bear the marks of their toil, dirtier than those of their peers.

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But every profession has its own hardships. Architecture is no exception. The pressure to study is only a fraction of the pressure faced in the industry itself. Demanding clients, exacting managers, and unpredictable weather conditions during site visits become part of everyday life. However, these challenges are merely stepping stones toward growth and excellence. Strangely enough, the strict words of our teachers become a source of warmth and gratitude. They push us to become better versions of ourselves. For that, we are forever grateful.

Finding Solace and Love Amidst the Chaos

To alleviate the burden, schools often provide extracurricular activities such as guitar clubs, dance groups, social work initiatives, and calligraphy classes. These clubs become a safe haven for ants, allowing them to express their creativity and find solace in like-minded individuals.

As for earning a living, creating murals, designing T-shirts, and crafting various items require tremendous effort. However, seeing their creations being used brings only a fleeting sense of fulfillment. Ants long for the day when their work can truly make a difference. Unfortunately, societal expectations often dictate that they should follow a more conventional career path, such as becoming construction workers.

Yet, ants everywhere share a common passion—an unwavering love for their craft. They immerse themselves in their artistic world, navigating its joys and sorrows. The phrases “night owl” and “unbearably dirty” are not meant to belittle themselves, but rather a lighthearted way to acknowledge the sacrifices they make for their art. Some even proudly declare, “If I’m an ant, so be it!” Behind those words lies a deep sense of dedication and a burning desire to fulfill their artistic ambitions.

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People may view ants as peculiar, but I believe they are simply problem solvers who follow their passions in their own unique way. They are committed to carving out their own path, despite the challenges they face. Their resilience and determination inspire us all.

Posted by Binh Thu (pseudonym: Con ants), a third-year student at the Department of Interior, Ho Chi Minh University of Architecture.

Ants and Scandals

The Struggles

Love for Art

To learn more about the unique world of art and the challenges artists face, visit Caravansarai.