There's something you've been wanting to do, but don't have the time, money, skill, knowledge....insert reason here _____...

What Are You Waiting For?

There's something you've been wanting to do, but don't have the time, money, skill, knowledge....insert reason here _________.

The question is, What are you waiting for?

For a lot of people, they just don't know where to start. They get excited about all of the potential of an idea, but then it breaks down because they get caught up in the uncertainty of details that are not currently relevant. I'm going to share a brief story with you. See if it sounds familiar.
A few years ago, my brother wanted to start a company and understood the potential of his efforts was going to require extra personnel at some point in time way down the road. It would be a service oriented business that would have a regular interval clientele with a very identifiable revenue stream that he'd already proven he was capable of earning, by working for someone else. We sat down and discussed his potential, his skills, and his local business opportunity. Then I did some research and shared what I had learned.
I told him all he needed to get moving was a license to offer the service he was planning on offering and customers that would utilize his skill. That's it! So we gathered resources sent him to a class out of state to get his license and he came home, license in hand, excited and ready to go. He was pumped! I indicated our next step would be to go find very specific local customers so we could maximize his potential for early income. He agreed and let me know he'd been thinking about exactly who to go after first and why.
Weeks went by and I never heard anything from him. When I asked him if he'd gone to the places we discussed, he looked at me and exhaustively said: "I don't even know how to do payroll." Immediately I asked, "What does that matter?" "Well" he says "If I'm going to have to hire people, I'm going to need to know how to do payroll."...
I was floored. I explained that he should not worry over that detail at the moment, because he needed to get a single gig that would pay him anything at all first to get him going. Then once everything got to the point he'd need to hire extra people, we'd hire an accountant to handle payroll and that would be that. So I sent him on his way to go make contact and again didn't hear from him for several weeks. When we crossed paths, I asked him if he had any gigs yet. "Man, I don't know how to do taxes" was his response this time.
I realized at that moment, he'd never start because he was too worried about the uncertainty of irrelevant matters for the current situation. I knew that he was worried about how things would unfold, but indicated that we'd take baby steps and I'd be there the entire way. I'd also written a business plan that covered most of these points and went over it with him before ever sending him off for that initial license. Sadly, anytime I talked to him, it would always turn to the things he didn't know how to do that would only be relevant once he got to a large enough scale that it would matter. Because of the frustration and uncertainty of things to come he wouldn't ever take the first step.
I love my brother to death, and truly want to see him be independent but he just couldn't get over his own worries and the uncertainty that the idea of potential success brings.
So my question to you again is: What are you waiting for?
My next question is, does it matter? Can you start yourself on your path with a phone call, sitting down and practicing a skill, or simply even just finishing that project that's been sitting around forever. Is there something you've put off because you got worried about something completely irrelevant based on a mental projection of success that revealed a roadblock you were unsure how you'd manage it?
If so, Do it. Start. Just start. It seems so simple a statement, but put all of the doubt and uncertainty aside for a moment, and just start. 
(This was originally posted on my LinkedIn)

Is it even necessary anymore? Why spend all that money just to come out confused and enter the workforce later than others who jumped...

Should I Go to College...

Is it even necessary anymore?
Why spend all that money just to come out confused and enter the workforce later than others who jumped in right after high school?
I have been working with students at a local high school this year and they've been asking me these and other questions. Positing several "what if" statements and in the same breath pointing out the negative possible outcomes of attending college to share with me their reservations in pursuit of higher education.
I have mixed feelings on this. I went to an art school to acquire an art degree and the ability to be a creative in the video game industry. I had the wrong intentions and mindset going in for my degree. It was very often you could hear me arrogantly boast "I have more raw talent in my pinky than most of those people out there do in their degree!" I was half right, but I was oh so wrong and my pride cost me a lot more than that degree did.
At the time I began college, 3D animation was only just becoming a thing every school started building programs for, and I was advanced for what I'd known at the time. However, while I was busy telling everyone how awesome I was and playing video games during class, the rest of my classmates started studying more and more, and sitting down with the teachers and learning more. They’d practice into the wee hours of the night trying to learn and be the best they could. Before I knew it, I was so far behind, my wounded pride wouldn't allow me to admit my deficiency, and I graduated with far less skill and absolutely zero talent as compared to my fellow classmates.
I was so certain all I needed was a piece of paper, confirming what I had already convinced myself to be true, so I could run off and start the most epic studio of all time! A few friends and I were indeed working on building a studio during my sophomore year and continued well after I graduated and in all fairness I could get those guys to make some bad ass art as an art director for our studio. Sadly, my own artwork took a back seat in favor of trying to be the business guy, and I didn’t practice, and didn't admit that I was a terrible artist.
Even though I’d been told I shouldn't have a degree two days before graduation (Thank you Mr. Buffalo, I REALLY needed to hear that.), my young pride and self-assurance was so strong, that I wouldn't actually grow to begin to understand that statement and finally sit down to learn art until just three years prior to the publication of this article. Sure I worked my butt off learning program techniques, and filter setups, I could work from imagination and my composition was something I was naturally good at; What I was really good at was the “fake it til you make it” mentality.
A little too good…
You see, I openly blamed my school for my lack of understanding the principles of art and the inability to apply the core principles of animation that I had been taught. I haughtily threw my teachers under the bus and blamed them for my failure to draw the way I’d always wanted to. I trashed my school that I fought so hard to go to in the first place and tarnished the good names of some excellent instructors for the sake of my ego. Then slowly, over time, the arrogance started to fade, I started to see myself as I was: a dreamer with no discipline and no hope of actually making a life doing that which I’d longed for my entire life. The depression crept in and sat heavy on my chest as I toiled away in retail hell for five solid years.
In the meantime, I did practice, but only half-heartedly and I watched video tutorials and bought books assuming each next one would give me the key to unlock the creativity that burned so deeply inside of me. I took paying gigs knowing I did not know how I was going to create the art and would B.S. my way through the project citing and regurgitating the information I’d been consuming expecting that each new project would be the one. The one project that would launch my mega career and everyone would shower me with praise and job offers. It never happened, those moments that I convinced myself were just around the corner never came to pass.
It wasn't until I sat down and had an honest conversation with myself about who I was and what I wanted, faced my demons, and admitted that I was a confirmed and bona fide slacker, that I actually began to learn what my teachers sought to share with me 10 years ago.
This write up serves as a reminder to all who desire something in life. You can have it, if you believe it and go after it. You can learn if you practice obsessively. You can grow, if you listen well. Teachers have a gift they want to share with you. They see your potential and even though you throw on a mask of self-assurance and talent, they can see right through it and actually see your potential for greatness and your current soul crushing self-doubt. They look beyond what you are showing them to what potential you really have and that’s why they get angry and frustrated when you don’t settle down and listen.
It also serves as my apology to Alex Buffalo, Brian Immel, Richard Harrington, Christopher Reese, Patricia Kreup, Kay Christy, Michael Davidson, and Judith Desplechin who were among the more active teachers that were trying to get me to let my guard down in order to be able to learn what they wanted to share. They saw my potential and fought for me even though I would not fight for myself. Unfortunately I was a complete doorknob and missed the opportunity to truly learn from these amazing individuals. Not a day goes by that I don’t sit down to work and hear their encouraging words play in my ears.
The funny thing is, all these ten years later, I am just now beginning to understand what drove them to want to teach in the first place. I now have students of my own, for entrepreneurship, spirituality, and design and graphic principles. I see the vast potential that lies in our future generations and I want that. I don’t even care about my own success anymore. I only desire helping others to achieve their own and to discover personal freedom.
So, to the question of whether college is the place for you, I cannot answer that. You have to decide that for yourself. I can tell you, there are tons of free resources and information online, but at the end of the day nothing beats having a teacher who possesses the ability to open your mind. You have to approach it the right way, and admit that you may not know all that you think you know, but the sooner you let your guard down, the sooner you'll truly soar!
**TLDR: Wasted my time in college because I thought I was hot shit. Pissed teachers off that were actually trying to help me by ignoring them. Took forever to pull my head out of my ass only to realize what a huge opportunity I had missed. Now I'm becoming a teacher and am paying my dues in the same way. I can't answer the question about college for you, it was just meant to make you think and open your mind.**

(This was originally posted on my LinkedIn)

This actually used to be one of my lead-ins with new customers to take them off guard when they first walked into my commission based r...

I'm a Salesman. Not a Psychic...

This actually used to be one of my lead-ins with new customers to take them off guard when they first walked into my commission based retail store and asked. "Do you know what I need?"

"How should I know, I'm a salesman, not a psychic!"
It was sort of a play on the old Star Trek Dr. McCoy phrasing of "I'm a doctor, not a...". However it has come to mean something entirely different to me over the years. Originally it was a leading joke, something light hearted that would let customers know I was on their side, and that I didn't already have in mind what I was going to sell them. We'd all have a giggle and then I would help the customer empty their wallet on tons of things they didn't even know they needed, which had actually been picked out before they ever stepped foot in my store.
(I was still a salesman after all) ;)
That was a long time ago and I've no need to be that type of "non-psychic salesman" these days. In recent years However, I've found myself uttering those very same words, just in response to many different questions under entirely different circumstances.

  • How do I know what game to make?
  • What designs should I use on this product?
  • What product should I make my art for?
  • Do you think it'll actually sell?
  • Will my design still be in style by the time this gets printed?

We are called on to follow a process known as "futurecasting" formerly simply referred to as "market forecasting". We have to know what the mass market trends are, what emerging trends will be coming up, what trends are on their way out, and what trends are likely to stick around. We study what the general market trends currently are, look at advancements in technology, study color guides and past color trends. We look at everything from design in eras gone by and concept art from artists who dream of the future and then (usually pretty accurately) determine the next big trend before it ever even happens. A lot of us find ourselves on the same wave length and it's what actually ends up driving the trend!
Pretty spooky huh?
Project development spans months, and years sometimes. Think about one of the last movies you saw. How amazing were those special effects?! How awesome were those gadgets?! Every bit of that was planned YEARS in advance. Yet you didn't actually get to purchase it until the movie was released (around the same time of the commercial product release). Yet, there it was, a really cool tech piece that you want now, and you will likely go get to stay on top of the digital trend.
Those clothes in the movie...?, same thing. Someone futurecast those with the help of a clothing designer and several other futurecasting creatives. The looks then bleed out onto runways, and into commercial designs for everything from clothes, to cars, to gadgets, and furniture. It dictates way more than you even realize at first.
It's an amazing mix of intuition, research, and honed practice to sniff out the next big thing. Some call us psychic, some call us trendsetters, we know what's going on before it happens, we're the cutting edge. Sometimes you nail it on the head, Sometimes you miss. Either way, you ship it, and move onto the next big thing.

In reality, artists, game creators, entrepreneurs, art directors, web designers, commercial artists and others in commercial product development, are not called on to be psychics. It's not far from it though if you think about it.
So why am I sharing this and Why should you?
There are a lot of young artists, designers, creatives, technopreneurs, entrepreneurs, etc. all of whom are dreamers. They have big ideas but have no understanding of these concepts and so they flounder along until they finally discover them for themselves or it's taught to them by one of the bigger companies they eventually get to work for. I can personally say these concepts were never taught to me and college and if they had been, I'd have accelerated my understanding of commercial product development a lot sooner. I further believe It's our duty to inform those walking the path behind us and to empower them with the right types of tools and strategies that aim for growth in all of human existence.
(This was originally posted on my LinkedIn)

Understanding your perceived value can mean the difference between being an Artist or a starving artist. Often, younger and more inex...

Understanding Artist Valuation

Understanding your perceived value can mean the difference between being an Artist or a starvingartist. Often, younger and more inexperienced artists price their work solely on the cost of materials or a general guess of their print's value by looking at other artists and assuming they need to charge less due to inexperience or other presumed limiting factors. When doing what you love for a living leads you to cutting expenses and eating less food than normal, it's time to take some important steps in creating your artist valuation.
First (and probably most important): STOP UNDERSELLING YOURSELF!
If you and I were both to go to market with an equally appealing piece of art and you sold your art print for $15 while I sold mine for $35, who do you think would sell more at the end of the day? At first thought it would seem the lower price point would indicate more sales, but that is not the case. A $15 art print suggests to the potential buyer that you are not anyone of value and you are just there to hock prints. While a $35 dollar print indicates you believe in yourself and others should believe in you as well. It sends a message that your art is worth something and they'd do well to invest in one of your prints. Some artists sell prints for upwards of $90! If you are just starting out, $90 for a print may be a bit much to ask for. You need to find that sweet spot; Ask too much, and people will think you are narcissistic or over hyping yourself, ask too little and there will be a negative assumption of quality and it will haunt you. 
Second: Create valuation by limiting quantity
There is a general saying in business: People will pay more for what they can't have. Think about this for a moment and realize if you constantly sell the same print over and over, you are decreasing your valuation permanently. You are once again telling buyers it is not worthwhile to invest in your art or you as an artist because it will never be special. Conversely, if you sell a limited edition of a print where it is guaranteed that you will not release that print again for sale, you are creating a collectible market of your own work and telling your collectors and fans that you are going to be worth investing in. Your buyers will come back looking for your next limited edition and they will (most likely) tell others to invest in your prints as well.
Third: Boost valuation by utilizing your art in consumer product markets
When you think about some of the top artists out there today, the ones that come to mind are ones who are famous for having their artwork appear in consumer level products. They have a presence when their name is said, a certain mysterious quality comes to mind. This may be difficult to manage, but look for opportunities to align yourself with consumer markets with which you both identify and wish to participate. It makes no sense for me to make art for skateboards if I'm not a skater or don't know the market. By aligning yourself with consumer products, the public will start placing more value on your art. 
Fourth: Maintain valuation by selling originals and Giclée
If you work with a major game company and develop art for them using traditional media, often times, they will let you sell the original art to collectors. The same can be said for many other commercial art markets where it is not considered a work for hire project. When you do this, not only can you collect a little more money on the work you've done, but the market will begin seeing your other items as more valuable or at least as valuable as they've grown and you will maintain your ability to command a fair price for your work.
Giclée are super high quality prints that capture details traditional digital printers are incapable of. They cost more to produce but command higher prices from serious collectors who are not yet able to afford an original. If you are able to afford a limited run of Giclée prints they can earn you some pretty sweet income as well as further the valuation that you have been building with your earlier work.
Finally: Resist the urge to challenge the secondary market
It's not uncommon to see a secondary market marking up your initial prints or originals and reselling them for more. This is a good thing! This is building your perceived value. At first the reaction is to fight them and re-release your print so that people can buy your art at the prices you originally set forth. This is dangerous territory. You risk upsetting a lot of your most devoted collectors and plummeting your perceived valuation in a nose dive. 
Remember: "People will pay more for what they cannot have." If your work has entered the secondary market and is being sold, it proves that you are an artist of value. You are now able to raise your current prices and really make a living doing what you love. You will likely receive more requests for private commissions and, if you haven't previously, you may be presented opportunities in the consumer market. The secondary market is just important to building your valuation as the primary market, and you do not want to get on those folks' bad side either.
As with anything I tell my "Entrepreneurship for Artists" class participants: Don't take my words verbatim. Do your own research. Ask Mentors to help you understand some of these concepts if they go against your logic or morals and always do a gut check. There is a massive difference between being an artist, and making art for a living. You have to be able to see the bigger picture and think long term growth rather than short term gain. Let me know if this article helps. I love hearing from artists who are taking control of their art and making it a business.
(This was originally posted on my LinkedIn)

... have I been this disciplined in anything. I've tried and failed to build discipline in so many things over the years. My art, my ...

Never in My Life...

... have I been this disciplined in anything. I've tried and failed to build discipline in so many things over the years. My art, my guitar, drag racing, bowling, fishing, graphic design, business...etc. It's been so difficult to maintain focus between procrastination tendencies and fear of being judged by others that often times my attempts to build daily habits are over well before they even start. I'm writing this because I wanted to share a proud moment with you. One that I hope may inspire you to take action in your life and gain you a joy like you've never experienced.

I don't often display vulnerability because it can be considered a weakness in my business. However, the emotional nature of a journey like I've been on for just the past year cannot be ignored either. 

For the last year I've endeavored to do one thing every single day. Draw anything related to Fantasy art and become a better artist through the process. First I thought I'd come up with clever and unique story concepts and then illustrate them. It wasn't long until frustration settled in. I couldn't draw any of the things in my mind. (at least not to a level I was happy with)

I hated drawing because I was terrible and didn't see any growth happening! Add the words of one of my professors ringing out in my head over and over every time I sat down to draw: "Your anatomy sucks, your perspective is piss poor, and if you bring me anything you've drawn I can tear it to shreds in a matter of seconds! There is no way in hell you should be graduating with a degree." ... 

I'm gonna let that sink in for a moment...

Now try living with that thought every day for over 12 years and still trying to get better at art only to feel like you'll never measure up. I'm not trying to gain pity or sympathy, just simply setting the stage. Those words gave me fuel, and it took a long time for them to start burning, last year, I put my foot down. I'd been a professional in the gaming and independent product industry for over 5 years despite my inability to draw with correct proportion, perspective, or rendering skills.

I worked every day, and some days I wanted to give up. There were moments I felt I was actually regressing. Somedays I'd say wait, I drew better 3 days ago, what's happening? It was scary and I realized those were the days I had to work the hardest. I'm nowhere near where I want to be with my skill, but today I hit level 3 on, a site dedicated to structured gesture and figure drawing practice. It takes 70 hours to get that certificate and they only count 30 minutes per 24 hour period. To break that down:

To reach Level 3 (70h)

  • 30 mins / day - 140 days
  • 20 mins / day - 210 days (a challenge a day)
  • 10 mins / day - 420 days

So, OK... BIG deal! Why should you care? You should care, because YOU have the same capacity to do whatever it is that's burning in your soul. That thing you've given up on time and again. That thing that makes you sweat and fills you with excitement every time you think about how great it would be if you could do it. It's part of the growth cycle, and it shouldn't scare you. It should motivate you. The thing that you have bad days with and hate, if only briefly. Every bad day you encounter means you're one day closer to an awesome one where you are so invigorated that you can't think of anything else. 

Whatever you do, pick something you love and really want to be great at, then spend about 30 minutes a day working on it. It won't be long until that 30 minutes turns into 70 hours or more, but you gotta start! They say it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at just about anything. Clock's ticking. So, What are you going to become great at?

(This was originally posted on my LinkedIn)

So it's really funny. I hear this one a lot: "I would sell my soul to be able to...." - Draw like you do - Write like you...

I Would Sell My Soul...

So it's really funny. I hear this one a lot: "I would sell my soul to be able to...."
- Draw like you do
- Write like you do
- Make cards like you do
- Play music like you
- Think like you
- Make cool things all day
- Animate like you do
- Do magic like you
- Handle cards like you
- Perform like you do

Really???! Why?
You don't need to sell your soul if there is something you want so badly you can taste it. All I've ever wanted is to create amazing art, and I work at it daily. Hours and Hours of practice. Daily!!! I'll never tire of the pursuit because I understand that time is all it takes.
** Think of any magician that you've seen wow audiences with crazy illusions and misdirection (hundreds of hours of practice). Metal musicians that can make your face melt with sexy sinuous trills (hundreds of hours of practice). A classical violinist who can make your spirit soar into the heavens or make you feel as if an animated character you are watching is being propelled by the music itself (hundreds of hours of practice). Think of the animators who spend countless hours watching micro expressions on their friends and family's faces and trying to capture those little extras.(hundreds of hours of practice). How about photographers poring over old magazines and catalogues studying pose and composition or clothing designers who spend a lot of time dreaming up new trends and patterns. Even the bad-ass writers who make it to the top 10 on the New York Times bestseller list. (hundreds of hours of practice).
You have study and practice, then practice until you think you've got it and then study more. Then you study until you are brain dead with exhaustion and go practice until it hurts. Then you repeat the process over and over.
People often think that artists, musicians, writers, magicians, etc are some of the lowest drive individuals because by the time you finally see us in public, we're manic with our obsessiveness about our craft and appear brain deficient or slow to describe our ambitions. We spend so much time invested in practice and study, that we have little to no time for social proclivities. Beyond that, we contend with crippling self doubt and personal acceptance. We could give it all up and get a "real job" but why would we? We feel compelled toward a greater existence, a calling that won't stop hounding us.
Think about all of this the next time you speak with someone who describes themselves as an artist, a magician, a musician, a writer, or any other sort of creative. Take a moment and connect with them and ask of their pursuits, you'll find out just how ambitious that individual actually is, and you may even be able to help encourage them onto their next step.
If you want to be an artist, musician, writer, athlete, or any other thing that requires practice, stop complaining or trying to sell your soul, and start doing something about it!
**Note, this applies to all creatives - if I didn't mention your creative field, there is no offense intended or implied claim as to your being creative or not. I wouldn't have the space if I listed out all creative fields and examples for each so I just went with a few examples **
(This was originally posted on my LinkedIn)