Thursday, May 6, 2010

Getting off the rump

To steal a worthy topic from the ever-awesome Chris Guillebeau, we gotta get ourselves in motion, people. Often, our sometimes crap-tastic situations are blamed on others, or other external forces. And sometimes, which I think a lot of forward thinkers fail to mention, it is these outside forces' faults. However, as Chris points out here, a lot of it is our own failings, our own fear, and our own inaction which really causes us to miss out.

Now, let me explain this from the Monkey + Seal point of view. In this crazy world we live in, there are most definitely circumstances that are out of our control. Things like the genocide, murder, rape - terrible stuff like that is not something that you bring onto yourself with the Law of Attraction. Monkey + Seal are very understanding of how traumatic events and our upbringings are extremely difficult to work past - socialization is a huge factor in our day-to-day lives (partially because we don't even realize it).

But (and this is the big But), we can take ownership of our agency and turn bad situations around by doing the most you can do every single day. What you can do is different from what Monkey can do, or from what Seal can do, or from what Barack Obama or Kobe Bryant can do. It's not about changing your entire situation in a day (although we'd all wish it was so easy). What brings about change is doing what you, not anyone else, can do in a day. If all you can do to work towards a clean house is just wash a single dish, then do it. If you're looking to start a business, and the only thing you can do today is to google unreserved domain names, then get on your computer. No matter how small or insignificant, if you start today and keep at it, eventually you'll be surprised at how much you've accomplished.

We are all about sustainability over here at Monkey + Seal. Even though sometimes it looks like we're totally overworking ourselves in an unsustainable manner, we don't push ourselves to the point of burning out, and if we do, we know to take some recovery time. Yes, sometimes you have to push yourself to meet a deadline, or to go above and beyond, but for the most part, we like to practice sustainability, as we are artists working with socialized norms that are detrimental to our dreams. If we push ourselves too hard and too fast, our pasts can catch up with us and paralyze us in emotional poop-storms. We've since learned to recognize when we're going outside of our means and to step back and take a night off (or at least to take a break).

So I just want to advise people to take action. It doesn't have to be earth-shattering at first, but as long as you are taking constant action, things will move into place for you.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Submitting to Art Shows, Not Submitting to Fear

Monkey is especially proud of that headline. So on Sunday, Monkey + Seal prepped their artwork and submitted it to the Academy of Art's Spring Show under the Illustration and Animation schools. Monkey is actually going to finish submitting today (since the Fine Art department's submission process has a later due date), but we wanted to talk a bit about submitting to shows.

The thing that we never could understand is why more people don't submit to the Spring Show. It's free (so it doesn't cost much, just the cost of the mounting materials), so why not? We know that it is really competitive, but regardless of how low your chances are, your chances can't be lower than zero, which is what your chances are if you never turn anything in.

This year, Monkey + Seal have faced some rejection - we didn't get into Renegade Craft Fair, nor were any of our pieces juried into Spectrum 17. But we realize that rejection is part of being an artist (and of life in general). Unfortunately, most people in life don't get everything they try for, but if you never try for anything, you won't get anything at all.

You cannot submit to the fear of rejection. You have to go into each competition with your eye on the gold - aim for the sun and hit the highest peak sort of thinking, you know? Monkey, who has never been selected for the Spring Show always says "Let someone else tell you that you're not good enough." If you can't bring yourself to believe in your work, then why should anyone else? Like we have said in past blog posts - it is all about finding your audience. Sure, you shouldn't submit a painting of a dragon to a landscape competition (or a landscape to a dragon competition) but you have to just power through your fear of rejection and keep moving forward, keep submitting, and keep getting your work out there.

Additionally, Monkey + Seal prefer not to dwell on the negative - sure we didn't get into Renegade or Spectrum, but there's always next year, we already had one successful gallery show this year, and now we're doing a gallery show in collaboration with Hyphen magazine, we just released our first e-book, Monkey is pushing himself to create and post a piece of art every day, and Seal has a freelance project for an upcoming animation studio. We're also helping to organize the SF Zine Fest and have applied to the Alternative Press Expo.

All in all, it isn't about comparing the good to the bad and weighing out your year - it's about choosing to focus on the positives, the accomplishments and accolades, and learning from all the missteps and failings. Finding this balance is definitely not easy (as we both can attest to), but it is what we strive for, and what keeps us going at all hours of the night. No fear, dear artists, no fear!

Monday, May 3, 2010

7 Ways to Make Ordering Wedding Invitations Easier (and Cheaper)

The descriptive (yet lengthy) title of Monkey's first e-book is "7 Ways to Make Ordering Wedding Invitations Easier (and Cheaper)."

Monkey has been staying up until 3-4am every night for the past week making sure that this guide was ready to release on Sunday, and he managed to actually get it up for download by Saturday afternoon. Huzzah! Many thanks to everyone who gave/is giving feedback, and especially to Seal whose Narrative Theory/English degree helped out a ton!

Anyway, feel free to go to to download "7 Ways to Make Ordering Wedding Invitations Easier (and Cheaper)" today for free!

Now, since that project is done, Monkey is starting brainstorming his next guide(s), as well as working on some new projects for the Alternative Press Expo (which we just sent our registration in for!).

We both just finished submitting our work to the Academy of Art's Spring Show, so cross your fingers for us that we both get work in! Woo! More on submitting on Wednesday - so don't forget to stop by in a few days!