The Gate Keepers (and you)

For many aspiring artists, it can feel overwhelming how many GATEKEEPERS exist: publishers, producers, gallery owners…seemingly keeping you and your dream as distant cousins rather than close friends.

BUT–especially with the handy invention of the internet–it’s easier today than ever before to get your work out there. Yes, this also means there’s a TON of people out there doing the same, but at least you don’t need a $100,000 grant before posting on Instagram.

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And here’s the important bit: you can’t get onto that elusive gallery wall or that magazine page if you don’t–

a) make art, and a lot of it, including “bad” art

b) put your work out there, again and again.             …and again.

So here’s my excellent advice: Don’t wait for someone else’s permission to MAKE your art, and don’t wait for someone else’s permission to SHOW your art.

You may not have a million dollars or a book deal or a fancy financial backer, but that does NOT mean you have to wait until you do. Don’t allow yourself to get stuck in limbo.

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I recently decided to shoot a scene from my latest script. I got myself a (relatively) cheap camera and I’m just going to go for it. For now, I’ll record the audio on my phone, using a selfie stick my roommate left behind as a makeshift boom pole.

I’m not planning to make Casablanca. I don’t even plan to show ANYONE. All I want to do is mess around, practice shooting/audio/editing, and get a fresh perspective on my script. …Maybe even have a bit of fun, who knows?

In order to make the most out of the time I have with the actors, I’ve carefully planned out establishing shots vs. close ups, angles vs. straight on, etc. And here’s when it hit me: visualizing the scene, especially one moment when the shot cuts from medium to close up on an actor’s face, my chest and hands got all tingly.

It wasn’t even a serious moment in the script. It was a silly moment. But that’s when it really hit me: good gracious I love doing this. 

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I love writing. I love costume design and casting. I love editing. I love cinematography. I love planning how to make a moment special onscreen. I love working with actors to get the best out of them, and under the right circumstances I even enjoy acting.

Not everyone makes it big in their dream career. But I figure that if you can make a living—or even make time on the weekends—to work on something that makes your fingers tingle when you think about it, you’re doing something right.

This is not to say you shouldn’t still do pitches or submissions or cold calling, only that WHILE you’re illegally climbing over gates and knocking on those doors, keep making art, posting art, feeding your creative soul… And don’t fall into the trap of thinking you can’t “get going” until someone else gives you the green light.

Just remember: the less money you have the more creative you have to be!

***

Feeling stuck in your creative process? Did your second grade teacher tell you you couldn’t draw? Do you believe art is only for people with “natural talent”? Do you want to stretch yourself creatively?

I offer Creativity Coaching, which is personalized, one-on-one coaching tailored to whatever you are personally struggling with around your creativity. Whether you’re just starting out or are a professional artist, we all get into creative ruts.

Contact me to inquire about Creativity Coaching or set up your first session.

What Makes You All Tingly?

or: How to Determine your Dream Career

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Once upon a time I was working on my laptop in a doughnut shop, planning a short video for a client. It was simple: a five-minute walk-through of her studio so her viewers could get to know her and her style of art.

As I was innocently sitting on an uncomfortable stool, imagining what the video could look like…I started getting this tingling sensation in my chest and hands. I drifted off into glorious fantasies of cutting between shots of colored pencils and water colors. I imagined when I would cut to a close-up and what music I could play over the video intro. I smiled as I cycled through potential fonts in my mind’s eye.

These could be most mundane things, to the wrong person. But to me, it was delightful and exciting as I thought about playing short samples of some of her favorite songs to listen to while she paints.

This past year, I’ve looked at quite a few blogs on creativity, and read more quotes than I thought humanly possible about success and failure.

My main take-away is this: those who achieve success—for the most part—worked unbelievably hard and failed quite a bit. But they kept at it, and that’s what made the difference.

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How do you become an amazing painter, sculptor, or accountant? You practice. A lot.

How do you succeed in a competitive field when the odds are stacked against you? You try. A lot. And when that doesn’t pan out, try some more.

And finally: What is the best remedy for dealing with all the bullshit and painful rejection?

Doing it for something that makes you tingly.

***

Feeling stuck in your creative process? Did your second grade teacher tell you you couldn’t draw? Do you believe art is only for people with “natural talent”? Do you want to stretch yourself creatively?

I offer Creativity Coaching, which is personalized, one-on-one coaching tailored to you and your creative process. Whether you’re just starting out or are a professional artist, we all get into creative ruts.

Contact me to inquire about Creativity Coaching or set up your first session.

What are you AIMING for?

In a realistic portrait art class, this wouldn’t fly:

Realistic Portrait

Grade: F+

In a draw-something-in-three-seconds-which-looks-semi-human-but-also-kind-of-like-a-duck class, I’d do fairy well.

Grade: B – –

But I love that little guy. I feel an emotional attachment to him. Does he have arms? No. Does that matter? Hell no.

Keep on rockin’

Meditation, in the form of Comics

…and badly-drawn comics, at that.

I bring this up because I just started an Instagram account for my weird drawings and unwelcome thoughts, but with hashtags like #depression and #mentalhealth I started seeing a lot of people who post inspirational sayings and little daily encouragements.

I’ve never been that much of an optimistic person, so although I enjoy reading these posts, I doubt you’ll see me post something like that anytime soon. What’s more, although I wouldn’t be surprised if inspirational sayings were healthy and helpful to a lot of people, there’s something about them that doesn’t quite work for me.

I don’t feel better. And the more vague or generic they are, the worse it is. I like my fantasy with a little reality, and for me, the journey towards mental health does not always involve daisies and sunshine.

If it helps you, great.

***

At first I wasn’t sure about making my comics so depressing. I thought maybe they would encourage me to wallow and feel sorry for myself….even spiral into depression.

But the opposite occurred.

I constantly have the thoughts which turn into my comics whether I want to or not, but WRITING THEM DOWN allows me to see those thoughts in a form which is not inside my own head.

I got to laugh at them. I got to see my thoughts as separate from ME.

As someone who has MANY TIMES started and stopped meditation, I have a complicated relationship with it. It literally took me years to realize that meditation wasn’t STOPPING THINKING (my Westernized belief), but OBSERVING THINKING in a neutral way.

Whenever I meditate, I often get swept up in random thoughts, and then the negative self-talk joins in, kindly informing me: You’re meditating WRONG. Do it BETTER. Do it perfectly the FIRST TIME.

To come full circle, I realized that my comics were a physical representation of my meditation process. There were my negative, neurotic, unhelpful thoughts…right there on the paper. And I was observing them. Just observing. And gaining some very interesting and much-needed perspective.

Who knew my little scribbles could be so enlightening?

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“I love Rejection”

This was posted on facebook when someone shared my blog. I thought the comment was also worth sharing: “I LOVE rejection. Means I hit a nerve…”

What an interesting way to look at it, Diana.

The comment made me want to share my favorite type of rejection/reaction to my work, the doesn’t even know how to react:

“It’s very…creative.” (said with disdain)

“I don’t even know how to respond to this.”

and

“Are you being serious?”

Share your favorite rejections below!

A Sensible Life, Part III: The Best Advice I’ve Ever Heard

I’m sure you’re dying to know how my quest to find a sensible career is coming.

My subconscious has a tradition, whenever I am either in the midst of a significant life change, to give me extremely violent nightmares.

Well, lately I’ve been having extremely violent nightmares. They’re usually quite intricate, with a full-blown plot and lovable characters (who die gruesomely yet poetically).

And of course, there is one exception: sometimes I get violent, bloody dreams when I’m about to make an incredibly stupid decision. It’s like a helpful compass.

I may become a therapist yet…but not yet. Not yet. I have unfinished business to do first.

***

I sat down with my parents the other day, and kindly shared that I would still be needing their money, but for different studies that I had previously mentioned. It was something I’d never asked for money for before: something not sensible.

They just listened.

I said something along the lines of, “I’ve always loved art…and creativity… But this goes against every fiber of my being. I’m afraid that if I put money—your money—into schooling which has very little guarantee of a job after graduation, let alone a lucrative career, I will end up losing what’s really important: my money. And then I won’t be able to pay for rent, or food, and I’ll die of a combination of starvation and humiliation.”

Silence.

So I awkwardly filled the silence with, “A career is not something to fiddle with. A career should be sensible. Sensible.”

To which my dad responded, “I’ve always thought it’s best to have an un-sensible life and sensible shoes.”

Thank you, dad.

Sensible Shoes_1Sensible Shoes_2

 

A Sensible Life, Part II: School for Therapy

I recently decided to go to school for therapy. By that I mean: go to school to become a therapist, not use school as a form of therapy.

It was a mostly logic-based decision as far as a career was concerned. I’ve always had interest in psychology, (and much more recent interest in helping people), so my choice wasn’t completely out of left field.

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On a separate note, I was recently struck with an idea for a short story:

The main character is a therapist, who gives up on his creative dreams. Soon he finds himself—day in and day out—tasked with supporting others to follow their dreams instead of settling for second-best.

At first, it’s rewarding. But then it becomes too much…. And any client of his who decides to pursue their dreams, come what may, tragically gets murdered and stored under the therapist’s floorboards.

***

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Who can say where ideas come from? Sometimes inspiration hits at the strangest times. I may find the time to write this story while I’m applying to graduate school, or I may not. At least I know where my priorities lie.

P.S. The TWIST at the end of the story is that the therapist’s office was on the third floor, and he’s been dropping bodies onto the person beneath him for years.

Not very considerate.

A Sensible Life, Part I: Career Comparisons

12 Peter and Wendy - F D Bedford - 1911Lately I’ve been obsessed with becoming a “real grown-up” and choosing a career. But not just any career…a SENSIBLE career. One which has at least a 50% chance of leading to a “job-thingy.”

Should you be in a similar (sinking) boat, I’ve rated the following careers for your convenience.

I’ve personally considered all of these careers with relative seriousness.

Each job has been rated under the following categories:

  • Job Guarantee (after schooling)
  • Job Security
  • Job Respect (When you tell people what you do, do they say “Oh,” in that unsure, disappointed way or in that I get you, you’re a reasonable person who doesn’t take chances and I appreciate that sort of way?)
  • $$$
  • Glamour Factor
  • I Wanna Do That

The rating scale is from 0-100, with 0 being “this job has none of it” and 100 being “this job has it all, and I am a god of this earth!”

Jobs up for Consideration:

Therapist

  • Job Guarantee (after schooling): 81
  • Job Security: 82
  • Job Respect
    • If you wear glasses: 88
    • If you don’t wear glasses: 80
  • $$$: 78
    • Having seen a number of therapists throughout my life, I’m aware that they have a very respectable hourly wage. So respectable, in fact, I’d rather be a train wreck than pay it.
  • Glamour Factor: 66
  • I Wanna Do That: 66

Park Ranger

  • Job Guarantee (after schooling): 65
  • Job Security: No idea. I’ll say 64
  • Job Respect: 67
  • $$$: 38
  • Glamour Factor
    • For hippies: 78
    • For everyone else: 44
  • I Wanna Do That: 68

Lawyer lawyer-ruling.Billion_Photos.shutterstock-370x242

  • Job Guarantee (after schooling): 77
  • Job Security: 76
  • Job Respect: 96
  • $$$
    • As a Public Defender: 33
    • As one of those lawyers like you see on fancy detective shows: 100
  • Glamour Factor: 100
    • When you’re working the long hours and you can’t pick out which children are yours on the playground: 66
  • I Wanna Do That: No.

b88526235z1_20170110165215_000glbfdljq2-0-f90cirm0ctmucdtpjn2_ct677x380Mortician

  • Job Guarantee (after schooling): 89
  • Job Security: 94 (It’s a reasonable certainty that people will continue to die, no matter how long it takes me to complete my schooling)
  • Job Respect: 88 (“Sensible. Very sensible.”)
  • $$$: 63
  • Glamour Factor: 100
  • I Wanna Do That
    • Before I realized that most of the job was putting gaudy makeup on corpses and comforting whiny relatives: 99
    • After I realized: 44

Screenwriter

  • Job Guarantee (after schooling): 7
  • Job Security: 4
  • Job Respect
    • Movies that break the box office: 100
    • Movies no one’s ever heard of: 9
  • $$$
    • Movies that break the box office: 78
    • Movies no one’s ever heard of: 9
  • Glamour Factor: 96
  • I Wanna Do That: 92

Film/TV Director

  • Job Guarantee (after schooling): 7
  • Job Security: 7
  • Job Respect
    • Movies that break the box office: 100
    • Movies no one’s ever heard of: 12
  • $$$
    • Movies that break the box office: 87
    • Movies no one’s ever heard of: 6
  • Glamour Factor: 99
  • I Wanna Do That: 93

Whiskey_Fragrance_OilProfessional Alcoholic

  • Job Guarantee (after schooling): 100
  • Job Security: 100
  • Job Respect: 1
  • $$$: 0
  • Glamour Factor: 50
  • I Wanna Do That: 97

 

 

 

And so, we add up the scores of the choices above, and it seems I will be becoming…a broke blogger.

I knew it.

The Magical Solution to Everything

And that’s when I realized: If I wanted to survive, I was going to have to do something drastic.

I was going to have to…lower my standards.

Now, for some people, this is not a good idea. Some people need to raise their standards. But if you’re anything like me, your standards are impossibly high and anxiety-producing.

Nothing I do is ever good enough. I make lists upon lists of things I have to do, but I practically have to force myself into making a list of things that I have accomplished or that I’m proud of.

Part of the reason for this is because my hand already hurts from writing and I would rather relax than make another bloody list. On the one hand, it makes sense. But on the other, if I actually do take the time to reflect on what I’ve done and the incredible amounts of time and effort it took, it really is impressive.

Do I find it impressive? No. I just keep thinking that I could have done it faster or better. I dwell on what I didn’t do, or how other people are doing what I’m doing much better.

…but lowering my standards? When your standard is perfection, you’ve got nowhere to go but down. And when you finally take one baby step down, things start looking up.

I believe this “lowering of standards ©” can work in practically every aspect of life: exercise, personal hygiene, what have you…

So feel free to be amazingly inspired by this post. I could write more, but I think this is good enough, don’t you?

Marry Me

I’ve been thinking for quite some time now what career path I should take. And I think I’ve finally cracked it:

I’ve always wanted to go into a creative field, but held myself back because it wasn’t ‘practical.’ I need safety. I need security. And the arts, um…don’t give you that.

That’s why I’ve decided the obvious answer is to marry somebody either up-and-coming as a doctor or lawyer, or someone who’s already super rich.

“Gold digger” has such negative connotations…but yes, that’s exactly what I’m talking about.

I’m not picky, though. I’d settle for a producer at a major production company or maybe a movie star. Someone who loves me for me and also doesn’t mind me doing exactly as I please while they support me.

So if anyone knows a human-person who matches this description and is looking for a not-so-attractive, depressive type who doesn’t like to socialize or have sex, tell them to call me.

My Latest Ingenious Idea

I’ve been feeling absolutely terrible lately! And then I realized something…

  1. I thought I had to make art in a particular way
  2. I thought I could only make art when I was inspired
  3. I thought my anxiety, depression, and indecisiveness was getting in my way

And that’s when it hit me: make art about it! If I feel like I can’t get out of bed in the morning…make a comic about it.  If I’m struggling with feelings of inadequacy, write a terrible poem about it! The worse I feel, the more likely something interesting will come out of it, and the more people will relate to it, because everyone’s just a mess pretending to be an adult with her/their/his shit together.

I know this is perhaps the most obvious idea in the world, but I’m taking full credit for it.

It turned my worst days and moments into something interesting. Unfortunately, this idea made me happy, and everyone knows you can’t make art when you’re happy, so I’m screwed.

I Haven’t Been Writing

Is rejection difficult? Duh.

And if you’re anything like me, after being rejected, you feel like your Rejectors are standing just behind you, looking over your shoulder as you write (or paint or juggle…), watching your every word and criticizing it.

Not just criticizing, though…laughing at you. Laughing at you with their successful friends and colleagues for thinking you should bother spending even another second trying to create something.

I was trying to stretch. Challenge myself. Put myself out there. Most unfortunately, I don’t regret it. Which means I’ll have to do it again. And again. Until I disintegrate into salt and dust because of all the rejection. And the laughing and pointing.

Ok, so I’m feeling mixed about it.

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What I had to do, was bravely take a break. I had to acknowledge that I was hurting, acknowledge that I was shutting down so I didn’t have to feel it. Depending on who you are and how you work, sometimes it’s best to get right back on the horse.

But I know myself well enough to know I had to be gentle. So I took a break, and I grieved.

And…as of one week ago, I got the call again. The I can’t help it I miss my characters I miss writing I can’t help it I’m just the tiniest bit inspired call.

I reminded myself that those who’ve read my writing and didn’t like it, most likely forgot about both it and me just as soon as they put it down. For some, that would be the opposite of encouraging, but for me, it allows me once more to “write with the door closed.”

And finally, finally, those annoying people leaning over my shoulder go away. And I get to write in peace for a bit. Yesterday I wrote a scene with a bunch of boys playing cards. Nothing groundbreaking. But I still wrote it.

And it was fun.

You Can Do Art

Cultivate your love for art by investing in supplies. Specifically, paper and a pencil. Ok, so maybe a 3-D printer or a light-box would be your idea tool, but until you can afford that, go for the paper and pen(cil).

If you can’t afford paper, steal napkins from your local coffee shop. If you can’t afford pens, go to free evens and accept their complimentary pens with the company logo.

Basically, do art no matter what. And don’t let someone else tell you you’re not talented, don’t have time, or that only llamas can draw. More importantly, don’t let yourself tell you that.

Have fun!

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