"I'm an Americanist. I survive America, in spite of what it wants to do to people like me."~ Henry Rollins
Another young artist wrote me this morning asking about how to "make it" as a visual artist in the music industry. I remembered this video featuring Henry Rollins. It pretty much sums it up.
Ok, watch Henry's video now...then come back here and read.
I worked for many years hand printing all night to make deadlines, standing in darkrooms for hours on end at minimum wage, and later in my career, dealing with a never ending line of condescending, corporate whores who proceeded to art direct something inspired into meaningless drivel. I often wondered why I got into the art biz to only be living at, or slightly above, the poverty level. Yet, I didn't give up. I still worked my way up the ladder until I found jobs that were paying well, only to then realize the corporate work was very unfulfilling. I often hated getting up in the morning having to face another day.
My lucky break came in the mid-90s when I walked into the High Times NYC office to secure a t-shirt deal for the company I worked for. I bumped into Steven Hager , the editor, who saw my portfolio of Neo-tribal Native work and whisked me into a board meeting. The Cannabis Cup poster designed by Stanley Mouse had just been rejected by the Native American Judges due to some religious issues. Steve decided to gamble and Jeff Wood, the artist nobody had ever heard of, was offered the gig. My hero Mouse, whose art inspired me as a young kid to become an artist, had inadvertently handed me my first high exposure poster job. How's that for synchronicity? I flew home and three days later the poster design was finished and off to NYC. It was approved later that day. Steve also told me it had made the cover the magazine, a High Times first.
The interesting part of that tale is that I almost didn't make that trip. I was so tired of the corporate grind of ladder climbing office politics. I just wanted to walk on the beach where I lived and stare at the waves I never got to ride. I was so wrapped up in chasing money and playing my role. Meanwhile, my life as an artist, wannabe surfer and zen creative type was passing me by. I had fallen into the trap of doing what society programs you to do and less of actually chasing my dreams.
So here it was, another trip to NYC to play the role of Art Director...oh, fun fun. My enthusiasm was gone. I decided I would send the sales guy up by himself. He could handle it. When I told Judy I wasn't going, she insisted that I make the trip, if for nothing else a break from the office. Reluctantly, I packed a bag and flew out the next morning. I figured I could attend the meetings then have one of my friends around Woodstock come pick me up and get me out of the city.
I almost shut the door on opportunity because I was ready to give up. I went anyway. My future was set into motion and I didn't even realize to what extent at the time.
A couple of years later, I decided that it was time for me to quit the corporate world and dive head first into the world of gig posters. Was I crazy? Some of my friends and family thought so. I had worked my way up from darkroom assistant to a high profile Creative Director position at a multi-million dollar company, yet I was still unhappy. I was toast. I felt I had nothing to lose. Time for a leap of faith. It certainly wasn't going to be easy starting over from the bottom on a another career path, yet I was determined to make it happen. I believed more breaks would come, and they did.
My words to young artists are the same as Henry's. It takes tenacity more than talent to make it, and yes, sometimes you win the lottery. Was I intimidated stepping into filling the space my hero Mouse had left open for me? Hell yes. Fear is a great motivator, but it doesn't stand a chance against determination and tenacity. Tenacity will always overcome talent. There was no choice for me but to work very hard to achieve my dreams.
I still remembered those times I didn't know where the next meal was coming from or the long days and nights of slaving away for pennies on work that rarely, if ever, got any recognition. I couldn't allow myself go back to that, ever. Want to talk about a motivational reason for me to keep at it no matter how hard it gets? I remember my past and where I came from to get to the present moment. Martin Luther King once said, “If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk, if you can't walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” There you have it. That's motivation.
There will always be those better than you, more talented, and better funded. Your job is to stay the course, weather the storm and manifest those lucky breaks. The universe conspires to lead those who dream to the ability of fulfilling those dreams, only if they are willing to make the sacrifices to get there.
...and I'll leave you with some sagely advice from the good Dr. Thompson:
“No sympathy for the devil; keep that in mind. Buy the ticket, take the ride...and if it occasionally gets a little heavier than what you had in mind, well...maybe chalk it off to forced conscious expansion: Tune in, freak out, get beaten.” ~Hunter S. Thompson.
Saturday, November 16 08:20 AM | Meditation
They reported me to FB and I received notice this morning that I have been blocked from posting to my personal account. Due to FB taking this action, until the matter is resolved, I'll be posting through my blogger account.
I use FB as a vehicle to interface with my fans, friends, collectors and family. People post my art all the time. I have absolutely no problem with that. Share away, critique, whatever! I do have a problem with someone altering the art, especially high profile licensed pieces, and using it for their own purposes. I also have an obligation as an artist who produces licensed work to adamantly protect those copyrights for myself and my clients.
Yesterday is a prime example of one of the many things wrong with FB's social network. So, if protecting my copyrights is abusive, block me. FB can ban me if they feel it necessary. It will not change my mind on the matter. I will not cater to someone's crushed ego because they abused my copyright obligations, mocked my request to remove the image and got called out out as a intellectual property thief in return.
Due to this I'm going to consider the extent I will be using Facebook in the future. At the moment, I'm waiting to see how FB legal handles this. My reply to the "abuse report" was filed this morning. I have nothing to hide and everything was well documented.
...ahhhhh, the inkernets, and so it goes. There is still a smile on my face today.
First world problems, indeed.
Be Safe. Play nice.
Wednesday, November 13 09:05 AM