‘Every artist needs to find a balance between generosity and selfishness.’

I watch my friend, Rob Poynton, closely through the Zoom screen as he teaches me a new word in Spanish. I roll the sound around my mouth like a marble, testing its form. My tongue assumes new shapes as I mimic him tentatively. Bon. Da. Do. So. And then again, more emphatically. It surely needs an exclamation point, this new word. “Bondadoso!” There’s a joyful spirit in the sound of it, which is wholly appropriate because it loosely means kindness and/or generosity.

That we can find words in other languages that do better at describing a specific feeling is always fascinating to me. The new joy of having ‘bondadoso’ in my life is that, like all words that don’t have an exact equivalent from one language to another, it means more than its direct translation. It’s more than kind, too insipid; more than generous, too worthy. ‘Bondadoso’ has a kind of emotional onomatopoeia, it just sounds fun. Rob and his Spanish wife Bea concur. He writes in an email,

“‘Bondadoso’ means something more than ‘generoso’ or ‘amable’, it has a different feel to it, a kind of ‘roundness’ is what I would say. It suggests to me a kind of warmth, goodness. So kind of ‘loving generous’.”

I recently watched the documentary ‘Street Art Boy about the artist Keith Haring and I was struck by how ‘bondadoso’ he was. No matter how commercially successful he became, he was always joyfully giving away his art, through posters and public murals, or making it affordable for people via t-shirts and badges. Haring got me thinking about how I might be more ‘loving generous’ in my work, which has led to me trying an art gifting experiment.

Read the whole essay over at Medium.