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?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Fighting for Equality

Our newest shirt: "Community:You're Not Alone"

Tyler Clementi, if you haven't heard yet, is one of many teens who have taken their own life recently as a result of anti-queer bullying. While the reasons that the media and the world has suddenly taken notice of the idea of LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Questioning) youth committing suicide is up for debate ( has a great take on it here), many are asking "What can we do about it?"

Well, there are a few things. You can make a video for the Dan Savage-created project "It Gets Better" and post it up on YouTube to let people know that it gets better. There is a huge community growing and it's inspiring to know that there IS a huge community out there and that it DOES get better.

For Monkey + Seal, we decided that beyond bullying, we need to change our culture of intolerance for the LGBTQ community, youths in particular. So, we've decided to do what we do best (make art), and donate 100% of the proceeds to the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR). The NCLR has a deceptive name - they don't just fight for lesbians, but are actually on the forefront of nearly every major legal battle that sets monumental precedents to pave the way for equal rights for LGBTQ individuals. They are setting the stage to make laws that protect (not harm) the LGBTQ community, and (in our opinion) will make the structural change necessary to make it safe for everyone to live in their own skin. Pick up your shirt today right here!

Thus, we are pleased to present our newest t-shirt design, "Community: You're Not Alone."
The design large pink triangle made up of smaller, pink triangles of various shapes and sizes is meant to represent the queer community's diversity of ages, ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations, and body types. The solitary pink triangle is the individual, who feels isolated and alone, when the reality is that there is a large community to stand with - it's just a matter of finding them and reaching out.

You are not alone and believe us - it does get better. If you or someone close to you are feeling like you can't go on, please call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-784-2433.

Monday, October 4, 2010

You Can Have it All and Then Some

“What we can or cannot do, what we consider possible or impossible, is rarely a function of our true capability. It is more likely a function of our beliefs about who we are.” - Anthony Robbins

Seal here:

What if I were to say, no matter where you are in life, no matter how old you are, what your economic or educational background is, you can have it all and then some?

I know the skeptics in us, will start its rampage of defenses: "Of course you can't have it all. I'm 50 years old. I am in debt. I have no money or food. How dare you try to get me to hope on something I cannot possibly be or have." You will think I am crazy. You may be even afraid to believe in what I am about to say, but I am saying this out of experience: The very thing your heart desires, is very possible and very doable.

We often discount the possibilities and our own potential to accomplish what we desire most, if we simply try. We are afraid of looking like fools on an "impossible grandiose quest," so instead, we obsess about the odds against us. Rather than working on the novel, a page a day, and finally getting it published, we research the trends and decide that there is no market for our art. We put the novel away and go back to our daily grind. We put a marker on everything and label it: "impossible." Going to art school: impossible. Meeting and dating a wonderful partner: impossible. Getting a gallery to curate my art: impossible. Finishing my art in time for the art fair: impossible.

Then let me ask you this: has this limited belief, thinking, and behavior gotten you anywhere? Has it made you happy? Or allowed you to take the next step that can possibly lead you EXACTLY to your dreams?

I don't blame you. This is an old human trick. Our very biological impulses has made it hard for our to change or grow. Human life has survived on in-action. We stay safe in the cave. We do not go out, because out there -- it's scary. So we say, it is impossible to go outside of the cave. There is nothing beyond this cave. So we stay inside. We remain as we are. And we rot.

But aren't you curious? About what's outside of your own cave?

Isn't it egotistical to define the confines and limitations of what is possible in this world by human standards? Humans are merely babies in comparison to the immeasurable universe. There are galaxies beyond our own. So who's to say, what is possible? So how about that art class you've been thinking about? Seems easier to do than riding to the moon, right?

I invite you, for even just a moment, to entertain the possibility of your dreams. To do away with the word "impossible." Whatever you desire, it is possible. It is possible within my budget. It is possible within my time frame. It is possible to accomplish just as I am right now.

Beethoven was deaf when he composed his final symphony, the famous European Anthem "Ode to Joy," one of the best known works of the Western classical repertoire.

I can't speak for all of us, but most of have ears, haven't we? We have legs to stand on. And Hands to create with. Even if we're poor, we have napkins and cardboards to write on. So what's stopping you?

“So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.” - Christopher Reeve

"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams, live the life you have imagined." - Thoreau

The road to recovering your dreams:
Try these activities for starter:

1.) Take one sheet of blank paper, write on the Title "I want/ I desire." Now fill up both sides of the page. Your wishes can be big like an "art job" or it can be as small as a sticker. No censorship. Just write.

2.) Now take one of those wishes/ desires and focus on it's possibility. Take actions towards that goal. If it's an art job, how about searching the internet? Do you know anyone in the art field? (Monkey and Seal count). How about making a portfolio to apply for art jobs? If it's a sticker, go to your local Wallgreens, and buy one for $1.

Just writing down your desires, invoke the possibility of the universe. You'll start to find that "all matter of coincidences" will fall towards accomplishing your dream, if you simply focus and take actions towards it.

Good luck and know that you're not alone!