If you follow me, you know that I've been a big fan of urging you on to try new things, to push the boundaries of both concept and style. We talk about trying out aquarium configurations that mimic natural biotopes (without being held down by that "biotope aquarium" tag, of course).
I am constantly questioning the way many aquascaping competitions are being judged and run. I realize that, if you want to swim in "their pond", you need to conform to their guidelines if you want to win. It's a reality. What I despise is that many hobbyists are reluctant to enter these competitions and showcase their creations because they fear the criticism.
That's just wrong, IMHO.
Look, I'll be the first to tell you that if something sucks, it sucks. No sense in sugar coating it. We all have our tastes and sense of style, unique to ourselves. Sometimes, it catches the fancy of others. Inspires and motivates them to try something similar.Tannin is based on a love of a more natural, more earthy, more "organic" aesthetic, and not everyone likes it. That's fine. But it doesn't mean that we're not going to stop doing what we do.
It's who we are. And you, our ever-growing global community, are adding to the "body of work" with botanicals, helping to define the aesthetic, the vibe, the feel. There are no rules, other than the biological/chemical ones that nature imposes upon us.
So, when you enter an aquascaping competition and the judge rips you because you didn't embrace the "proper ratio" or mix of plans, textures, colors, whatever...Don't be dismayed. Don't feel that you don't "have it" because you're being criticized for not meeting their standards or expectations. Rather, feel good because you've met YOURS!
And if it resonates with others, so be it. That's a beautiful thing.
This is called being authentic. And, in my opinion, it's what's lacking in the "competitive" aquascaping world. Talented hobbyists are feeling bound by the tastes of the people who judge these things, and create aquascapes to satisfy the current tastes and attitudes of others.
You aren't going to change the judges' minds. You aren't going to get the prize, either. On the other hand, your idea just might stimulate some other hobbyist, somewhere in the world, who's grappling with an idea. You might provide inspiration for other people to break the mold of sameness that is pervasive in many corners of the aquascaping world. You'll be branded as somewhat of a "disruptive force", a contrarian...a bit of a rebel, I suppose.
Yet, sharing something different is important. A bit scary, I suppose.
However, you will be making a statement, right? Sending a message. And you'll be sending a bit of a message to the world. the message being that there are many different approaches to 'scaping. And many different ways to interpret what "beautiful" is.
Think about that the next time you hesitate to enter one of those competitions. Think of the big picture. Think of the other hobbyists who you will serve to inspire with your courage.
So I say, send that message. Push those limits. Open those minds.
And Stay Wet.