I’ve been a creative human for as long as I can remember, and a full time creative for about a decade now. Recently, and many times throughout the years, Rafi and I have talked about impostor syndrome. You know it? The feeling like, even though you’re passionate, authentic, dedicated to your creative endeavors, and growing and evolving each day… that somehow you’re just not enough. That secretly you suck, and that it’s only a matter of time before everyone else discovers your suckage. I suspect most everyone has felt this at one time or another.
If left unchecked, that feeling can really thwart your efforts to share who you are and what you do with the world. I’m guilty of overthinking what I share and say on here, for fear of judgement … analysis paralysis. I’m guilty of the same when working on my art, and especially where music is concerned.
Real-time example, ready?: I second-guessed myself immediately upon embarking on sharing these thoughts with you… and then spellcheck informed me that my spelling of the word “judgement” in the paragraph above was incorrect… so being the human I am, I googled it, and found that both “judgment” and “judgement” are acceptable spellings, but “judgment” is more widely accepted these days. I’ve always spelled it “judgement” so I’ve left it that way, but secretly feared your judgement not only for my chosen spelling, but for my humble human opinions on the topic of impostor syndrome. Who am I to talk about this? I’m just a person with my own thoughts on my own experiences, who, by the way… also misspelled “Impostor” at the beginning of this blog and had to go back and correct it. I think you see what I’m getting at here, all of that happened just trying to share this with you.
The thing is, there’s no rule book for creative and entrepreneurial humans. We’re all just trying stuff and doing the best we can, whatever the best is for us right now. This is one of the reasons I try to share all kinds of things with you guys, my creative family. Not just my creations that I’m proud of, but my failed experiments, challenges, life stuff, thoughts from my brain jar, small victories, and everything in between.
So I wanted to take this time to say this to myself and to you, beautiful human who is reading this. If you are doing something, anything, that you’re passionate about, and making any effort to share it with the world, to put it out there, and to grow as a human and a creative, THAT makes YOU a badass.
You may not be at the level you aspire to yet, I know I’m not, but I’ve realized it’s a lifelong work in progress. You aren’t doing it wrong, and you don’t suck. You don’t have to get it perfect out the gate, just play and try to remember why you love what you do. Try to remember why you love who you are. You are unique, you are beautiful, you are contributing to the whole in your own special way, and you are most definitely enough.
I think ultimately, this is a long-winded high five from me to you, and from me to me. Let’s keep going and bring our awesomeness into full view for 2021 and beyond. Say it with me: “I’m real, and I’m spectacular.”
Life happens so fast, and opportunities often come our way at lightning speed. I don’t care if we’re talking about a creative opportunity, a personal goals opportunity, a career advancement, the chance to see or do something new, a moment to look at the stars, or the opportunity to visit with a friend you haven’t seen in a while.
I’ve really learned something this year, and I intend to own it. That is, to try my best not to be so wrapped up in what I’ve got going on, so absorbed in my very important things, or so embedded in my daily schedule (or how I think my schedule should be) that I don’t, can’t, or won’t seize those opportunities, big or small, when they come.
In light of the current state of things and our “new normal”, seizing the will to simply get through a day can seem downright daunting. To paraphrase a rogue artist friend, “These days things seem to take twice as long, are twice as hard, and can leave you feeling twice as tired and burned out.” Wherever your seize the moment barometer is at present, it’s okay… believe me, it’s more than okay.
I’m not saying you’ve gotta do everything, be on point at all times, be a superhero, or anything like that… but I am saying, be aware of the excuses that you know are bull-garbage and start taking the time for the things you do want, for the things you don’t even know you want. Embrace being flexible and adaptable. Start saying “Yes. I’m here.” for the moments you’d regret to miss, for the moments you don’t even realize you’d regret to miss until you regret you missed them.
It’s never the right time, you’re never dressed appropriately, you never prepared as much as you’d hoped, there will never be enough hours in the day, something in the house always needs your attention, things never happen the way you think they’re going to, and you’re never going to be 100% ready or comfortable.
Your heart will always be racing, your shirt will always have that wrinkle, your lizard brain will always be searching for an “out” an “exit strategy” or a “rock to crawl under”. Show up anyway.
None of that stuff matters when you’re in the moment and the life stuff is happening, and you’re fully present, and for better or worse, you’re like “Wow, none of that stuff matters!”
I know, that last bit was redundant. Let me say it again. “None of that stuff matters.” Sorry, not sorry.
It’s just, those unexpected things are often the best experiences and the most cherished memories. I’ve practically built my art career on them. My most favorite times spent are almost exclusively them. Relationships are sometimes made, strengthened, weakened, or broken on them. Pivotal life goal moments are born from them. Last moments spent with a loved one sometimes hinge on them.
I’m hella guilty of avoiding, excusing myself, offering great reasons why I couldn’t. Hella. Guilty. But then, I’ve also had so many moments of absolute bravery, total adaptability, fearless seizing, utter appreciation, full presence, total awesomeness.
I’m a self proclaimed “Recovering People Pleaser”, so I have to be careful not to do things that really aren’t me, just to please others. But conversely, I also have to be careful not to use that to excuse myself from life as it’s happening, just because I don’t think I’m prepared in that moment for whatever is going on.
I say this as someone who is also a recovering “Grade-A Worrywort and Victim” once highly prone to lengthy bouts of self-pity, anxiety, regimented micro-management, stubbornness, and self-sabotaging obsessive-compulsive behavior. I no longer identify with that person, but I can’t pretend like those tendencies don’t exist within me. So I keep an eye on myself, a compassionate eye (because I’m not trying to punish myself when I have less than good moments), and a willingness to call “bullshit” on my own behaviors and thoughts.
We only get so many days. I intend to spend less of them worrying, prepping, planning, avoiding, and making excuses… more time being present. More of that life stuff. Why? Because for me, the alternative is sameness… stagnation… numbness… coasting through the days waiting for some indeterminate future scenario in which I stop that and start living. For me, just coasting on auto-pilot equals “why even bother” and I personally don’t find that state to be very good for my health, emotional well-being, or getting up in the morning.
Show up. Be flexible. Pivot. Adapt. Run outside in your jammies because someone needs you. Answer the phone. Take the interview. Bring your portfolio to the client. Have the hard conversation. Pursue that hair-brained idea. Call your mother. Kiss your person. Grab their ass. Grab your own ass and tell yourself you’re gorgeous. Watch a storm, even if emails need correspondence. Wear that outfit. Take a breath and look at the sky, even if laundry needs folding. Step outside and sing the harmonies to Bohemian Rhapsody at the top of your lungs, because your neighbor happens to be caterwauling the lead melody at the top of his lungs from his porch. Make coffee with a blowtorch because your power is out. Stand up for what you believe in, however you can. Vote. For pete’s sake, vote. Question your motives. Question your excuses. Ask the questions you’re afraid to ask. Ask them of yourself and others. Sit and listen. Listen to ambient sounds. Listen to a friend. Listen to an adversary. Listen to your thoughts. Listen to your own heartbeat. Don’t listen to your lizard brain when it tells you “I don’t have time. I can’t help there. I’m not that person. I don’t have answers. I don’t matter.”
Just show up. Life shows up everyday, and it’s not always golden opportunities, unicorn farts and rainbows. Sometimes it’s some messed up shit, and that’s still an opportunity to decide and show who you are. Your bravery, your bad-assery, your inconceivable, unconditional love, your ability to laugh, your ability to cry, your ability to speak, your ability to hear, your blowtorch coffee making skills, your now huge collection of cloth face masks, your compassion, your “Make It Work” moments, your fucked up clothes you only wear when no one’s going to see you, your adaptability, your resourcefulness, your passion, your weirdness, your light that shines so bright it could melt the faces of onlookers (in the best way possible, of course).
Life will continue to show up every day. Decide now, and every “now” going forward, who it is on the other side of the door when life comes knocking. I don’t know what that personally means for you, but I strongly suspect that you do.
So take your now, and live the crap out of it. Take care of yourself, and one another. The world needs you, and you deserve nothing less.
Some of you may already know that Klee and I have a secret band called “Better On The Drums” and although neither one of us plays drums, we thought the name would remind us not to take ourselves too seriously. Something you may not know is that Klee has been a musician for a long time and has an impressive resume, playing venues like The Double Door in Chicago or The Key Club in Los Angeles.
Klee first got on stage with her band when she was 19 years old and it was the first time she had ever put herself out there like that.
It was terrifying… I remember before going on stage the very first time, hoping some force of nature or unforeseen event would cause the show to be canceled so I wouldn’t have to face my fears. The terror and exhilaration of getting on stage though, the lights, the huge sound, the energy of the crowd… letting go and giving it everything you’ve got… there’s nothing like it.
My favorite story of Klee putting herself out there with music despite the odds, goes back to her school years. She was a painfully shy person… in fact, she is still a painfully shy person. As a child, her favorite pass-time was standing on her bed singing into a hairbrush to the music blaring out of her pink boombox. Years later in choir class, she was told that she was a weak singer by her teacher. Because she was shy, some of the other girls in the class would use it as ammo to pick on her.
Luckily, she kept singing. A few years later, she tried out for a band as a vocalist. This band in particular was looking for a male backup and lead, so they said no. A short time later one of the band members heard Klee singing harmonies to a song playing on the radio and they added her to the band. This was the beginning of Klee’s public journey into music. She went on to play a few hundred live shows, work with several bands, and collaborate on music projects.
She also traveled to Los Angeles and stood on the same stage as some of music’s icons. The Key Club in Los Angeles has hosted Prince, Axl Rose and Tracii Guns, Mos Def, Van Halen, The Go-Go’s, Tina Turner, Motley Crue, Sonny And Cher, and The Doors.
“We sat and ate lunch at the famous Rainbow Room before the show. We were meeting with a record exec from Rockefeller Records and were about to play the biggest show of our lives to date. I was picking at my sandwich (the sandwich was just ok, and honestly I had too many nerves to eat), and listening to the exec explain that he would see how we looked on-stage, consider our most recent album, take a look at our marketability and be in touch. I remember thinking, is this really happening?”
Klee continued her amazing career in music, eventually leaving the band and joining another band. They embarked on a tour to the west coast and played music at the Oregon Country Fair and other venues on the west coast.
This is around the time that yours truly came into the picture. My music career up to that point was strumming a guitar badly for a few months. I had always wanted to write music and play an instrument, and while we traveled the country we did just that. To say that Klee is the guiding force of our band is an understatement. She has inspired, challenged, and provoked musical things from me that I never thought would be possible.
For a little while there, as we were navigating the art world and being able to make a living from what we do, regrettably music took a back seat. If there was ANYTHING I could change about how I got my art career started, I would have definitely made music as much of a priority as my art.
I am happy to announce that we are currently re-recording some old songs, recording some new songs, and writing music again. Klee is also working on some special and fun customizable music projects that will allow for our followers to have something custom. We will announce more when ready.
This morning I woke up excited about getting into my newly remodeled studio. Yesterday, I had planned to design some t-shirts and instead found myself hammering and cutting wood all day. The result of all that sweaty manly labor is a roomier studio that I can’t wait to get messy with paint.
Today however, I have t-shirt designs to knock out. This involves a little sketching here and there, but mostly involves sitting on the couch with a laptop on my lap… whoa! Is that why they are called laptops??? Who knew?
The start of my day was interesting. Earlier this morning I brewed some coffee and set up my recording equipment. I have been recording a couple of chapters every day since I accidentally deleted 100 pages from the audiobook. By the way, if you are recording an audiobook, might I suggest NOT deleting 100 pages worth of recorded audio like a noob… or a champ (I’m working on being kind to myself about my epically stupid mistake… it’s a work in progress).
Usually, my morning ritual of audiobook recording is an epic race to beat the Blue Angels practice run before I finish said chapters. This morning I had a slightly different struggle. I was experiencing some annoyingly loud borborygmus.
What is borborygmus you ask?
Klee and I call it “inside farts” or a rumbling or gurgling noise made by the movement of fluid and gas in the intestines. Honestly, I’m usually not that aware of it unless it is especially rambunctious… which it was.
It seemed like every time I tried to record a sentence, my intestines chimed in… So I recorded one chapter today and decided to move on to the next project.
Since I had put off designing t-shirts and listing them in lieu of studio remodeling, I decided it was time for some designing. I’ve been putting off updating the t-shirt page on the website which said “Coming soon August of 2019” for no other reason than having to update the website… which is tedious.
So today, we played some music and created some art. Mine in the form of t-shirts, and Klee created furry Agoggles. It’s been a good day.
We’ve been fachunking our way through all the little projects which has helped us immensely with our emotions. With things being the way they are, staying creative or productive can be challenging… or showering for that matter… Little things like the dishes are not going to clean themselves, so I fachunk the dishes. I just say fachunk it “Can I get a hell yeah for the dishes? Hell! Yeah!” and I fachunking love it… kinda… well more than borborygmus.
Not sure what Fachunking is? Watch this video where we explain it:
I have been very busy lately juggling a full-time art career, YouTube media studio, weekly podcasts, commissions, writing a book, art shows, giving presentations, gearing up for the holiday season and maintaining a happy & healthy relationship with my wife Klee. She is running her side of the business as well, and it is easy for both of us to get lost in the overwhelm of to-do lists, meetings, and deadlines.
First off, I’m not moaning about how busy I am. Often when someone complains about being too busy, it is actually a thinly veiled boast disguised as a complaint. I have, admittedly, worn the “busy badge” in the past during moments of insecurity. This is where you make it a point to illustrate how your life cannot possibly be silly, trivial, or meaningless because you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day.
The problem with all that boasting is that it has a tendency to make you feel even busier than you are. Us humans tend to believe the things we tell ourselves, while also inadvertently making others feel overwhelmed too. I finally came to the conclusion that it wasn’t helping to gripe about it, in fact, it was making the overwhelm worse. Besides, if you’re genuinely that busy… are you sure you can spare the time to be bitching about it?
Another unhealthy way I started to give into “being busy” was paying too much attention to the rapid pace that the world seemed to be heading in. I began realizing that the urgency-addicted culture that I lived in was having a huge impact on the way I lived my day to day life, and that was an eye-opener for me. I was convinced that just a bit more speed, time, productivity and I could stay in control. I started to grow unwilling to tolerate the discomfort of slowing down. Taking a break, even a small one, even for good reason, started to seem unproductive.
When you find yourself on this treadmill of urgency, it can feel unacceptable to slow down. As it turns out, the idea that you need to go full throttle all the time is completely unproductive. Your mind and body need breaks from what you are doing or you will end up burning out pretty quickly. I now take a 15 to 30 minute break every 2 hours, even during the busiest workdays. Believe or not, I get so much more done now than I did when I pushed through, and my days are less stressful and much more enjoyable.
A to-do list can be both a blessing and a curse. It is a trackable list of tasks that fuels the ambition of getting completion in a day, but adding one more item to the list feels effortless, so it’s dangerously easy to over-commit. I feel like I used to have lists that were a mile long, and when I didn’t complete them, I felt like a failure that day. I then went into the next day feeling like I was already behind.
I now have a cap on my daily to-do. Instead of an open-ended list, I only allow myself to schedule 5 items for the day. If I complete the items on my list, then I’ll add additional stuff that is small and easy to do. If I do not finish my list, I add the incompleted items to the top of the next day. I also have a Fantastic 4 list that I write about in my book, but that involves special tasks that are designed to break large overwhelming projects into tiny chunks.
Most importantly, remember that life is short and you don’t want to spend these precious days feeling overwhelmed and stressed out. It is something I remind myself of every day as I sit silently for ten minutes, battling the voices that like to say I’m being unproductive.
Give those voices the middle finger, and enjoy your day.
Along with our creative careers, Klee and I also do YouTube Videos. The videos are mostly geared towards artists, but also have a lot of life advice that we have picked up the hard way, mostly by living life as career artists.
When you are an artist, you live a life full of fun things like constant rejection, people thinking you do drugs, people feeling sorry for your life choices, banks denying you for a home loan (while smirking at how cute it was that you walked into the bank in the first place), people thinking you should get a “real job”, and general disapproval of your status as a contributing member of society.
Don’t get me wrong, being a career artist is amazing, but not everyone looks at us in a healthy light, and if you don’t have your thoughts in the right place, it can destroy your emotional state. I’ve seen people crumble after one rejection and give up.
That’s why I think as artists, we can have an advantage in living a happy life, because we have to face rejection, find our inspiration, manage a business, manage a stream of income that is unpredictable, create product that is considered a luxury to most of the world (even though I will argue that owning art is one of the healthiest things you can do), deal with our own insecurities, and constantly have to push ourselves out of our comfort zones in order to stay relevant… I know, I’m not selling the concept, but bear with me.
As an artist you have to face your fears, if you run away from them, there really is no way to make a career of it.
So, here are the 3 rules that I would say apply to everything in life, but also to having an art career.
Be authentic. Paint or create only that which interests you, in the way you choose to paint or create it. Don’t change your approach to gain sales, popularity or acceptance. You will never do your best work if you do. In life, you will become trapped in a version of you that isn’t real. It is much simpler to be yourself, that way you can surround yourself with people that you don’t have to put on an act for.
Compete only with yourself. Avoid competitions, contests and measuring yourself by how many shows you’ve gotten into or awards you’ve won. Seek validation internally, you will never please everyone. Don’t ever compare yourself to anyone on any level. You are the most perfect version of you that exists in the world. It’s when you try to be someone else that you’ll think you see flaws in something that is inherently perfect.
Remember that it takes a lifetime. You can’t just sign up for a workshop or go to an art class once a week and expect gallery representation and collectors to follow shortly thereafter. It takes time. Be patient in life, but take every opportunity you can to smile, laugh, love, show your art, and have fun. You may get rejected, but that’s all part of this wonderful journey we are on. If rejection doesn’t bother you, then you are halfway there.
The goal should not be to get famous or rich, just to enjoy your precious life as much as possible. If you get rich and famous in the process, that is just bonus.
The other day I was thinking about working on a special piece. I started sketching it out and thinking about the meaning. Someone being pulled in so many different directions that he becomes a puppet to the world around him.
While talking to Klee about it, I broke down and my eyes started tearing up. The only reason I didn’t go into a full sob was the fact that I was so surprised at my emotions.
Listen, I am a grown ass man, and I’m not embarrassed to cry, or admit that I cry, but this actually caught me off guard.
It made me realize that something had felt off. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but deep down I knew something was bothering me.
For the most part I’m a pretty happy guy, in fact our following online knows us for our upbeat perspectives on life and being artists full time.
Over the last few years I had developed a public image of a guy who’s genuine, creative, happy, upbeat, and loving life. But recently I had been a little stressed about some things… and I didn’t feel like myself. Worse, was the idea that I had never been that guy and that my entire life was a sham.
Luckily, Klee was there to talk sense into my confused brain unit. She told me that the only reputation I had to uphold was to be the real me. She said I have a really hard time being anything not real, so I have nothing to worry about.
I guess sometimes you may try to bury things inside, but they’ll always come up to the surface for you to look at and face head on. So next time you cry during a cheesy commercial, think about that.
I was allowing myself to feel like I was less than who I am, and that everyone was pulling me in different directions. I have done a lot of work on myself for over a decade, to make sure I am comfortable with who I am, and that’s who everyone sees.
Whether it’s in a YouTube video, a blog, a work of art, it will always be me… So, if anyone expects anything different, then they’ve never looked at any of my stuff before.
Moral of the story… Just be you, it’s way easier than not being you.
As an artist, I work from home, in my studio, on my laptop, at the easel, and sitting on the couch sketching. We have a YouTube channel, Patreon account and other social media where we connect with many people online, but few “real-life” interactions.
Luckily, Klee and I share an art career and get to spend that time together in the studio, but sometimes we can spend over a week inside. There are times when talking with the cashier at the grocery store is the social highlight of our day.
In a world where so much happens online, we have to be careful to not neglect the importance of real face-to-face connection.
I find that sometimes things can feel a little disconnected when you don’t venture out much. Listen, I love our studio time, and I totally thrive as a hermit… but sometimes it can go too far.
If you’re going through a tough time, you might feel especially inclined to isolate yourself, but it’s only going to make things worse. I find that even when I don’t want to be around people, it’s important to surround yourself with people you love, and people who inspire you.
So next time you are feeling a bit down, or you are stuck in your head, go outside. Interact with humans, have fun, and live an adventure with people who inspire you.
Then, once you get your fill, go back to your creative hermit hole inspired to create your next masterpiece.
Valentine’s Day is coming! Whether you are shopping to spoil those you love, want to splurge on yourself, or don’t believe in celebrating a hallmark holiday, the lead-up to Valentine’s Day is rife with sales and specials.
You’ll find everything from free desserts to naughty items, and it can be a whole bunch of fun. I personally like the idea of taking a day to remember the people you love most and celebrate that love.
Klee has designed something special for this 2019 Valentines day. It’s on sale for 20% OFF until February 10th 2019.
The symbol of the open heart is as timeless as it is cherished. Representing love in all of it’s various incarnations: romantic, family, friendship, passion for life… it reminds us to keep our hearts open and to give and receive love to the world around us. This pendant necklace is a beautiful and simple representation of a universal and powerful symbol.
I start with solid 12 gauge sterling silver which gets hammer formed, soldered and shaped completely by hand into a beautiful and unique open heart with it’s own rustic texture, no two are ever the same. After the hammer forming, it gets meticulously refined, filed and polished by hand, to ensure that it is beautiful and long lasting. Finally it is placed free floating on your choice of chain for her or cord for him to complete the design.
This necklace is made to order and each one is unique, just like your love.
-Hand formed solid sterling silver rustic heart pendant with hammer texture. -Heart pendant measures 25mm (1″) across when measuring from the top of each arch to the opposite flat side. (please expect very slight variations as these are hand forged). -Stamped on backside with .925 sterling stamp. -Free floating setting allows the heart to move freely on the chain or cord and flip around.
The rustic free floating heart is my representation of unconditional love. It is not tethered or restrained. It is kept close, but free to move as it will. It can be sometimes rough-hewn and even bumpy at times… but it is real, tangible, textural, unique and beautiful.
Happy Valentine’s Day from both of us! Although we try and celebrate the people we love daily, it’s nice to have an excuse to announce it to you! We love you!