Something I think about very frequently is what being a "man" means. I think the meaning is different to every person. Similarly, I think a lot about what being an artist means; I think that means something different to each person as well. Everyday I feel like my own personal understandings of both of these identities evolve and expand.
Recently, I discovered the artist Anjimile upon the release of his new album, Giver Taker, and it has made me feel empowered, sad, heartbroken, happy, blessed, and most importantly, thankful to find an artist who makes me feel so much, and one who speaks about very relatable situations and feelings.
One theme of this album is being trans, as Anjimile is a queer trans non-binary person. In songs like "Maker", he rejoices in his realization and ownership of gender "I'm not just a boy, I'm a man..." In songs like "In Your Eyes", he addresses homophobia and questions from family/others and how that affected his perspective of his own self, "Tell me what you have to say/(have you always been this way?)/I can't run and I can't hide/was my body denied?"
There are other themes, like addiction, spirituality, love, and more. It is such a fantastic album, I can't get over it. And the song Maker is a sort of empowerment anthem for me. So I had to make some art about it.
Here is a portrait of Anjimile with lyrics from "Maker," made with Procreate, Illustrator, and (briefly) Photoshop. Below is some more about Anjimile from Rolling Stone article Anjimile's Joyous Becoming, which is a very fun read.
"The movement in the chorus — boy to man, man to god, god to maker — 'I don’t know where the fuck that came from, but when it was written I felt it strongly to be true,' he continues. 'I very much link my queer identity to my spirituality, and I think that’s where the progression came from. The boy to man thing, for me, was a movement of maturity. Man to god represented a transcendence from the idea of gender as an identity to my spiritual being as the thing that’s most important. And then…'
Anjimile stops suddenly. Then lets out a magnificent laugh. 'I’m sorry,' he says after a moment. 'I feel like I sound like a hippie.'
This is the exact tone that gives Giver Taker its power. It’s a deeply spiritual record — unabashedly holistic music for chaotic times. Spirituality, for Anjimile, is 'deep, honest feeling,' and the vulnerability required to project that isn’t insignificant. The same goes for anyone who wants to receive it as a listener, to say nothing of the sincerity required all around. Getting that open, that earnest, is a lot, but maybe, as Anjimile does, you’re supposed to laugh. Not as a defense mechanism, but because deep, honest feeling is beautiful, and beauty brings joy.
As for that final leap in 'Maker,' from god to maker, Anjimile explains: 'At that period in my life, the only good thing I was doing, the only positive impact I was having was sometimes writing songs that were good. I was looking to being a maker, and to my creativity, as a lifeline.'"