Friday, October 8, 2010

Releasing the Rhino

Monkey here:

So I'll be honest. I just came up with that phrase "releasing the rhino" right now, but I think it's pretty apt metaphor at what I wanted to talk about today. Plus, as part of Monkey + Seal, we like metaphors that deal with animals.

Many times, we carry around a lot of baggage. Whether it's familial responsibilities, loans, or a looming urgency to save the world, I know I tend to carry around a lot of crap that affects my art in negative ways.

I know that while constantly thinking about art as a business has its advantages, sometimes I get wrapped up in the money and that gets me thinking about my huge college loans, and that gets me worried about whether or not I'm good enough of an illustrator to get jobs, and etc. etc. etc., the downward spiral continues and then I start painting desperately to try and make money, rather than painting because it's what I love.

Let's call this huge force of negativity "the rhino." It's a stubborn, powerful beast that basically pulls you where you it wants to go, which is generally down and out. Whether it's money, or what you think your parents think of you, or what your peers think, or whatever it is, it can be frustrating and tiresome to fight the rhino. I mean, seriously, it's a RHINO for crying out loud, they're huge!

So, we have to learn how to release the rhino. I know this is hard to do, but it's the key to getting stuff done and being successful. The rhino can take what you, the real you, love, and turn it into something painful. If it's about acceptance and self-esteem, the rhino turns painting into just another thing they won't love you for. If it's about money, the rhino turns dancing into necessary, painful work. Once your love is turned into something painful by the rhino, it's hard to love it and you won't find that you enjoy it. At that point, why bother?

Well, you should bother because you love it. The pain isn't coming from what you like to do, it's coming from that giant rhino that's pulling you down and the straps are cutting into your shoulders and you're tired and grumpy and life stinks...because of the rhino!

So, cut it free. Release the rhino. How to do that is going to be different for everyone. Sometimes it's about taking a nap. Others it's yoga or meditation, or writing in journals, or playing a quick video game. Do whatever you have to do to center yourself and realize that to succeed at doing what you love, you have to love it.

It's not time to face the rhino yet. The rhino is like the last boss in the video game of life. You have to level up and gather courage and wisdom and experience and new tools and techniques before you can take on the rhino and finish the game and win your success. Just keep doing what you love, just to do it, and you'll find it's a lot easier to face the rhino later on.

In my case, I have to keep painting and experimenting and drawing because that's what I love to do. After I finish the illustrations and paintings, I then have the option to go and examine any business prospects - making prints, selling them at craft fairs, putting them in my portfolio, but that has to come after the art is done.

Are you fighting a rhino? Be honest. If you are, see what you can do about letting that beast go and get on with your love. How do you release the rhino?

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