I am now turning some age in February where I have been deemed an old fart. I’m not being elusive about my age, I simply can never remember how old I am. However, I do remember that it happens every year on February 5th and for the most part, I like to relax with Klee and do nothing that day. No fanfare, no parties, no big todo, just a relaxed day, doing everything I do on just about every other day. I celebrate “me” a lot whether it is my birthday or not. This has led to the disappointment of some very good friends who love to celebrate birthdays and me.
This year is going to be slightly different. I’m having a party.
Well, February 1st will be my birthday bash… February 5th, I’ll be relaxing and doing nothing, so it’s a win-win for everyone.
I decided that the birthday party would be a fun art-stravaganza thing where Klee and I could show our latest art and jewelry, and have some really cool art reveals. We also picked a location that is eclectic and just plain awesome! Dolce & Gelato is such an amazing place full of unique personality and fun.
Some people look at my life and say that I am lucky. I create art for a living, have a successful studio business, am married to my best friend, and have a large following of fans and art collectors from all around the world. I really love the work that I do, and I spend a lot of time feeling ridiculously fortunate to be in that position.
As much as some people like to say that I’m lucky, luck had nothing to do with it.
I do believe that sometimes timing, circumstance, serendipity, and privilege play into the choices you make, but even then, your deliberate action determines the course of your life.
People don’t get to do what they want for a living, get awards, come out in newspapers, or get the things they want in life simply because they are lucky. I feel like it is insulting to tell someone they are lucky when they achieve something awesome in life. Luck rarely has anything to do with what actually goes on behind the scenes.
I personally get inspired by stories of long rejection runs. For example the story of Haim Saban, who spent 8 years pitching Power Rangers. Whenever Saban presented the Power Rangers pilot, network execs would ask, “Why do you embarrass yourself with this?” Eventually, someone picked it up and the Power Rangers has been a tremendous success for 30 plus years.
J.K. Rowling was rejected by about 12 different publishers.
After just one performance, Elvis Presley was fired by Jimmy Denny, and told, “You ain’t going nowhere, son. You ought to go back to driving a truck.”
Stephen King’s first novel, Carrie, was rejected 30 times before it was published.
Steven Spielberg was rejected by the University of Southern California School of Theater, Film, and Television, THREE TIMES.
Rejection has everything to do with opinion and nothing to do with fact. Power Rangers was rejected by networks because it looked cheap and there was nothing else like it out there to compare it to. They could not SEE beyond the scope of what they knew and based their rejection on popular opinion. Rejection is simply an opinion based on the limit of that particular person’s imagination, or they just don’t like your particular brand of stuff, either way, rejection is all part of the game.
Most times, the success that you see is just the tip of the iceberg. What you see accomplished is only a tiny proportion of what that “lucky” person TRIED to accomplish.
If by “luck”, you mean putting yourself out there — all the time — into situations where you are probably going to be rejected, fail, or make a fool of yourself, then yes… you are on the right track.
A lot of people ask me how I got to where I am in life. As if there is some secret formula or answer to getting lucky. Usually, I tell them, “The hard way.” I honestly don’t feel like it is supposed to be easy, I think the suck is all part of the journey and what makes it so beautiful.
To illustrate what I mean, here’s a list of just some of the things I have been rejected for over the last 10 years. See if you can find the inspiration behind the rejection or failure.
I was rejected the first time I entered a juried gallery show.
Launching my art career was a failure for 2 years.
I was rejected for at least 143 commission projects.
I was rejected from the first gallery I approached.
I failed at launching a YouTube channel for about 5 years in a row.
I was rejected the first time I applied for a juried art festival.
I failed at traveling the country, still have several states to go.
I was rejected the second time I entered a gallery show.
My first 4 websites were epic failures.
I’ve been rejected for large community art events.
I’ve had at least 19 large art proposals rejected.
I’ve been rejected from art conferences when pitching as a speaker, I would put the number close to 60.
I have been rejected by many award judges. I’ve won 5 out of 500.
I failed epically the first time I showed my art at my own event.
I have been rejected by at least 200 businesses that I have approached with my art.
I was rejected by a museum for a proposal for an art and music event.
I’ve had countless art that has been rejected.
I’ve had countless art failures, just about every day.
I was rejected when I tried to talk to people at a black-tie event (one dude even turned his nose up at me).
I’ve been rejected by art cliques who don’t like that I’m from out of town.
I was rejected when I applied for Twitter verified (I know how ridiculous this makes me sound).
I am rejected most days by commentators on YouTube who don’t like my BRILLIANT videos.
I have been rejected by art associations who think my work is sub-par.
I have been rejected by many collectors when I show new forms of work.
I have been rejected for several large mural proposals.
I have been rejected for large international commissions.
I have had my ideas rejected by people who are in charge of an art event.
Each one of these was a blow, and that’s not even the full list, we’d be here ALL day.
Being rejected or failing is shit. It’s hard not to take it personally, and to keep going when it feels like a consistent barrage of ‘nope’ and ‘EPIC FAILS’.
But the only way to do the awesome stuff is to put yourself out there. To put yourself in a place where you might get rejected, constantly. To be in a place where you might fail big.
Everything doesn’t always come up roses, and I am not told yes every time I want to do something. That is ridiculous. It is also ridiculous to quit just because you failed, or get your feelings hurt because you were rejected. That’s why I keep going — ALL the time. I apply for things, I try things, I put myself out there. I make a huge effort to go for almost everything that piques my interest and pushes at my comfort zones.
I’ve been at this for 10 years and can tell you that it takes time to get to a place where you will have people call you “lucky”. Years upon years of rejection and failures that don’t ever end. Sometimes it will feel overwhelming, and you’ll have to become your biggest cheerleader to get through. But that is how you get there, you just have to do it and quit stalling to avoid failure and rejection.
Success means that you failed and were rejected more than anyone else. Growth means that you will always be facing rejection and failure throughout your career. If you are not, then you are not growing.
I’m not going to tell you to learn to love rejection because it really sucks. I will say, however, if you aren’t getting rejected every now and again, then you’re not putting yourself out there and you are not being as awesome as you can be.
Only awesome people know the sting of rejection and embrace it.
Today Klee and I were talking about the art stock market on our podcast. That’s the name we coined for the big-ticket commodities art market that you see blasted all over the news and in documentaries. Considering the amount of press that gets focused on large art auctions and big-name galleries, it’s easy to think that you are not actually an artist until you’ve somehow made it there.
It got me thinking about the way that people perceive the art world in general. When you think about it, what people call the art market in the media, is only about 1% of the actual art market. There is no mention of the everyday people that make up the art market, the real art market, the real world.
The real art world is made up of one-on-one interactions, and I think we forget that sometimes in this media blasted quick paced world. It’s not about how much money the art sold for, or how wealthy the collector is, or how much prestige the sale brought the artist. Honestly, the corporate companies I worked for would print out prestige in the form of “You did real good.” certificates, and I would put them in cheap frames and hang them on my wall as a symbol of how important I was. I feel like we miss the point when we confuse success with awards and accolades. You can add them to your resume, but I feel like we’ve lost the point of what it is all about.
It’s about the friendships developed, and the relationships we establish as artists, with the people that connect with us through the art we create. It’s about the creative process and the astonishing ability to face rejection every day and share your art with the world. It is about the collector who proudly displays your artwork on their wall, or wears it on their body, or listens to it in their car. It is about that connection that would not have been possible if that individual artist did not break through the barriers of fear and share their creations with the world. It would not have been possible without the vast amount of humans out there who buy art because of the value it has to them, not because it has market value.
As an artist who had to make his own way, I have trained myself to see the world quite differently than I used to. Where I once had hopelessness in an impossible art career system, I now see the opportunities, the misdirections to be avoided, and the hope for everyone to pursue their creative spirit.
I think it is easy to forget in this world that is so focused on money and success, that we artists create because of the love of creation. We create to express ourselves and bring back a childlike sense of imagination, wonder, and feeling into our world. Creations that can remind us all to pause and appreciate.
Have you ever looked around at the expression that people make when they aren’t putting on a happy face? I believe it’s called “resting bitch face.” In my opinion, this is what happens whenever you aren’t feeling happy or confident and you try to fake it.
I know you’ve heard the saying “fake it ’til you make it”, and I’m sure there are times where that comes in handy. I know I’ve used that philosophy before, but when it comes to happiness, I feel like there is an extra ingredient that needs to be added.
Understanding that happiness is a choice. You have to genuinely understand that you choose in that moment to be happy or not, despite what is going on around you.
It’s like a wrapper of dove chocolate with its little motivational sayings. At that moment you can see it as something that you enjoyed in the past, but is now gone forever. You also have the option to appreciate the experience you had of chocolate sweetness, and the extra little token of love written on the wrapper. It’s your choice to make, and one makes you happy and the other may make you sad. Just like you can be happy about this bad analogy or upset that I just wasted a few seconds of your life.
Happiness really is a choice you have to make. Many of us get it wrong: We think that happiness is a byproduct of something good happening to us, success, be it a high-paying job, a successful business, raising a family, or achieving a goal.
Ever heard of this old song?
If I have the money, then I will do the things I want. Finally, I will be happy.
Yet, dissatisfaction and sadness often keep us from doing the things we want. We lack the enthusiasm and the vigor to do those things in the first place, because we think we are not happy. That can be exhausting.
I like to say to myself, I will decide to be happy now. Then I will do the things I want and be happy about it.
I still remember the excitement and ah-ha moment when I first discovered this. I thought about it for days afterwards, I contemplated it, in fact I still do. It has had such a large and profound impact on my life that I still talk about it, even after a decade.
Believing in yourself can be tough, but I can honestly say that it is my self belief that helps me really make the most out of this precious life that I am experiencing right now.
There are 5 things I remind myself of daily in order to really get the most out of life.
#1 Time is short
It might sound a little morbid, but the idea that our lives could end at any moment causes me to both evaluate the relationships that I am in, and really appreciate the people I love. It also reminds me that life is too short to spend any time worrying about something and not simply doing something about it.
#2 Be fearless in taking the next step
and enjoying life
Taking the right risk is one of the most important aspects of being happy in life. Always take the first step with optimism and a gusto for life. I knew a beautiful woman who was 88 years old, and one day I saw her riding on the back of a motorcycle. It was her first ride ever, she was smiling from ear to ear and said “If not now, when?” that’s been my motto ever since. As an artist, my entire career is one emotional and financial risk, and if I wasn’t willing to face those fears, I wouldn’t be enjoying what I’m doing now. Listen, if it doesn’t work out at first, you are always free to try it again.
#3 Time is going to pass by anyhow
Sometimes it seems like certain things I want to do are going to take such a long time to accomplish. In the past, I would quit before I even started because it was disheartening. I realized later that time is going to pass anyway, so you might as well chip at that wall.
#4 Don’t allow yourself to settle
I remember a while back looking at my life and thinking “That’s it? That’s all there is to my life?” I was miserable. What I didn’t realize at the time, was that I had a mentality that was putting me in a miserable place. I settled for things that were satisfactory, but not satisfying. My relationships, my job, my car, my friends, and my self esteem was satisfactory… Life didn’t become satisfying until I decided reevaluate my priorities.
#5 Take every day as a new chance
Today is a day for you to begin
creating your unique and fulfilling life. Today is the day to begin
to release all your limitations. Today is the day for you to learn
the secrets of your life. Today you realize you already have the
tools within you to do so… and if today was just eh, move on from
it, because you get 365 days a year to practice being awesome.
A few weeks ago I spoke at the Santa Rosa Art Association about the perils of being a perfectionist as an artist. If I’m honest, being a perfectionist when it comes to certain things is important. For example, if you are performing open heart surgery or are operating on my brain, I would hope you are the perfectionist vs the guy who thinks that leaving a piece of gauze in my skull is just how it goes sometimes.
For the most part, I’m talking about
perfectionism in the sense that it can be debilitating. Where you
encounter the following problems:
You can only start in ideal conditions.
You never feel like a piece is
You constantly get creative block.
You have lots of works in progress, but
not so much ready to sell.
You constantly dwell on past failures.
You compare yourself to other artists,
You never show your works in progress
to other people.
You are losing motivation.
Being perfect is exhausting.
Enjoy the video of the talk. I mostly tell stories that frame the idea that trying to be perfect is silly, because I don’t believe there is such a thing. Let me know what you think?
I created the “EMPOWERMENT” series based on self empowerment, as a tool to be used as a daily reminder. This is my social commentary on the way that people talk to themselves or the way they see themselves. I believe we all have the ability to feel confident and strong, but for the most part we have made it a habit to talk to ourselves in a way that makes us feel powerless.
In reality, personal empowerment is not something we feel, it’s something we do. Our sense of empowerment is a reflection of the increased personal value and self-worth that comes out of our experience of having real influence in our lives.
Empowering ourselves and creating change, which ultimately leads to the increased sense of personal value and self-worth we call the “feeling” of empowerment, involves some very specific steps.
Stop comparing yourself to others. Start improving yourself
People tend to compare themselves to others because at times it will make them feel better about their lives or something they are trying to do. For example I know a lot of artists that feel better about their ability to create art because they compare their art to stuff they consider inferior. This is a double edged blade, because they will also compare their work to other work that they consider vastly superior. When they do this it leads to a devastating realization that their work isn’t that great. The truth is, nothing is better or worse than anything else, it’s just our perspective which can change.
When you resist comparing yourself, you will be less engaged in judgement, and self-judgement, YOU WILL focus instead on your work – this alone will be empowering.
Taking responsibility means simply to be responsible for the way you respond to a situation. Most importantly, no matter how much you want to blame someone else for the way you feel, it’s important to remember that no matter what anyone does, you are ultimately responsible for how you respond to the given situation.
There are many small opportunities throughout the day to take responsibility for your emotions, play around with the concept. This will put the power back in your hands and no longer let your emotions fluctuate depending on the people around you.
Do Something. Take Action!
One of the best things you can do to feel empowered is take action. Think about all those things you wish you did or that you want to do, but maybe you feel lazy or unmotivated. Whenever you don’t take action on it, it can have a devastating effect on your self esteem. Make it a habit to just take action and stop thinking about doing it.
Taking action means remembering to have fun, at least that’s what it means to me. Have fun!
There are lots of ways to empower yourself and create positive change in your life. These are just a few things I try to keep in mind daily, or remind myself if ever I’m feeling less than empowered. Above all, remember that you are a beautiful luminous being, and go out and rock this life thing!
I am very excited to announce that this year will be the second year of limited edition calendars to be released by me. There was such an amazing response last year that I am even more excited about this project!
Each series calendar has art that was carefully chosen by me in order to convey the message that I would like you to carry with you throughout the year.
This year, the first 50 orders will receive a free gift with their calendar!
Same as last year, I will be taking pre-orders online from November 4th – December 5th. Please make sure to order before the December 5th deadline, I had a few people that missed the deadline last year and couldn’t order a calendar. Also, these are pre-orders only, I will not have calendars with me at the market. Contact me if you want a calendar but are unable to prepay online.
You Can Pre- Order The Calendars On My Web Store.
All orders will ship by December 15th. Receive a 10% discount when you order 2 or more at a time. Use discount code at checkout: CALENDARS2019 and save!
Because I designed these calendars for myself and Klee, I also added a few non official holidays:
Along with all U.S. Holidays,
-January 13 – Make your dreams come true day
-February 16th – Do a grouch a favor day
-February 17th – Random act of kindness day
-February 22nd – Single tasking day
-February 24th – Tortilla chip day
-March 16th – Everything you do is right day
-March 19th – Let’s laugh day
-March 22nd – International goof off day
-March 26th – Make up your own holiday day
-April 14th – Look up at the sky day
-April 17th – Haiku Poetry Day
-April 23rd – Take a chance day
-April 30th – Honesty day
-May 4th – Starwars day
-May 5th – No pants day
-May 14th – Dance like a chicken day
-May 21st – Talk like Yoda day
-June 1st – Say something nice day
-June 8th – Best friends day
-July 3rd – Compliment your mirror day
-August 8th – Happiness happens day
-August 16th – Tell a joke day
-August 31st – Eat outside day
-September 4th – Eat an extra dessert day
-September 13th – Positive thinking day
-September 28th – Ask a stupid question day
-October 28th – International Observe the Moon Night
-November 24th – Celebrate your unique talent day
-December 19th – Ugly Sweater Day
-December 24th – Eggnog Day
I am excited to announce that I will be showing my art in the alcove at Artel Gallery in beautiful downtown Pensacola.
The show is called Sunflowers & The Nature Of Being. It is meant to ignite the spark within the imagination of the viewer as he or she explores the art, discovering a collection based on beauty, nature, and the human spirit.
I’m hoping it will be a window for self discovery, dialogue and inspiration. Show runs from Sept 4th – Oct 19th.
Join me for the reception on Sept 13th from 6 -8pm.
What: Sunflowers & The Nature Of Being Solo Show Reception
I recently created a piece out of recycled plastic bags and it was giant. Two things that have been on my to do list for quite some time was to create a life size sculpture, and create something awesome using garbage.
Crossing both of those off my list with this awesome Nature Of Being Sculpture that I created for the Artel Gallery show called “RECYCLE, REUSE, REPURPOSE… REPEAT.”
And guess what??!? I WON BEST IN SHOW!!! How awesome is that?!
Opening reception will be Thursday May 3rd, 6pm-8pm at Artel Gallery in Downtown Pensacola.
This sculpture is modeled after a series of mine called the nature of being. This series combines human beings with trees to create a beautiful symbol of being rooted yet consistently expanding towards the heavens. Connected, growing, evolving, expanding, and beautiful is the message that I want to convey.
In this piece I wanted to expand on that message, by using old plastic bags to create the form and pose. I wanted the piece to be dynamic, to show some distress, yet be fluid and organic in its movement.
The message is open for interpretation, but in my mind, it is nature reclaiming the world, and bouncing back from the brink.
What: Art Exhibition – RECYCLE, REUSE, REPURPOSE… REPEAT.
Where: Artel Gallery – 223 Palafox Place, Old Escambia County Courthouse, Pensacola, FL 32502
When: April 24-June 1st, Opening Reception May 3rd, 6pm-8pm
Why: Because it’s awesome! Come hang out with me during the opening reception!