Friday, October 15, 2010

Monkey = APE?

This weekend, Monkey + Seal will be showing at the Alternative Press Expo (aka APE) at booth 532 (see map below)!!! We'll be showing alongside other SF Zine Fest co-organizers Family Style (booth 207) and Two Fine Chaps (booth 305) and Goteblud (booth 428).

There will be plenty of other awesome exhibitors as well, and the workshops this year will be all focused on creating comics! Monkey will definitely be trying to sneak away to go check some of those out!

Monkey will be showing off his new crude/rude/crazy comic "The New Tweeb Bible of Sensitive Emotional Feelings about Sensitive Feelings, or, Wholesome Parables to Live Your Life By, also known as (A.K.A.) The Nu Mortality (on Sexy-time with Animals), a Collection of Comics by Rick Kitagawa," which possibly has the longest title for a mini-comic ever (and actually has nothing to do with bestiality). He'll also be selling some new postcards of his art, and of course we'll have our screenprinted shirts and ties, and Seal's fine art prints.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Is your life and your art meaningful?

Creating Meaning:

Seal here.

What is your purpose in life? It's a loaded question, but once you figure that out, you will find the passion and drive in your art to overcome any obstacle. So, isn't it important enough to know?

Most people, Seal too, confuses meaning with goals. Goals are things you want to accomplish. Meaning is why you want to accomplish these goals. Is your life meaningful? In other words, is your life full of meaning? Is there a reason you get up every day?

Many people have come to Seal with frenetic passion and exclaim their goal: I want to make a comic, a novel, a book, a painting about ____ (blank). My next question usually consists of genuine encouragements and then the dreaded question: "why? what drives you to write that particular story? ... what is your purpose behind this work of art? what is this story REALLY about?"

Recently I wanted to do a painting about an ancient wasteland inhabited by old robots. But when I ask myself why, it took me awhile to find the answer. At first it was, "oh, I don't know. Everyone loves robots and ancient ruins. It looks cool." So I kept asking "why do I want to do this painting? What is the drive behind this painting?" "Why is it so important?" Eventually, I came down to the following answer: I wanted to depict my experiences of abandonment growing up in a household of working parents.Having also survived civil wars in the homeland country, they were emotionally drained and detached towards my sister and me." This was, of course, a far cry from my robots in a wasteland. . . but is it, really? Now that I understand the "meaning" and reason behind this painting, I can fully let my passions out. The robots become something more. It is a statement about myself. It also becomes easier to complete. Because every day I look forward to meeting and conversing with myself within the painting.

I think people often get the wrong idea when I say meaning. They think their meaning has to be "deep" or "grandiose." Monkey can draw monsters and it is still full of meaning. Because he is living truthfully to who he is. He is genuinely doing work for himself and living life with intention and honesty about what he wants to do. He faces his art head on, without apologies or compromises. When he is not drawing or painting, he comforts Seal and supports her dreams. They go on adventures and discover new things. Sometimes they hit a wall and overcome it. He also works passionately for equality and justice by donating his time to teach workshops or donating proceeds from his art. These are some of the many more reasons for why he exists on this earth.

It is simply living day to day with intention. Sometimes, the meaning in my day is as simple as: I would like to make someone laugh, then I draw a squiggly drawing of a penguin inside of a toilet bowl. Sometimes, it's something along the lines of I want to make my friends happy with a delicious meal, a dish I've never cooked before (so I have to research new dishes and learn something new). Those are the day to day meaning. You also need to know what is the overarching meaning to your life. For me, I create art that tell a truth about myself, whether literally or allegorically, in hopes that it resonates with people. It is my meaning, to also lead other people to their dreams. So I also hope to mentor and be mentored by other artists. Meanings sometimes change. As teenagers, (not all of us) but probably we had hoped to learn as much as possible, find friends, and a person to love and be loved. As adults, we tend to want to pass on our knowledge and experiences. As I grow older, sometimes it's simply to share more time with Monkey, friends, and family.

One way to know what your meaning is to ask several questions, here are some to begin with:
  1. what makes me happy?
  2. what do i look forward to every day?
  3. what are some things I truly enjoy doing? (time passes and you don't even know it)
  4. what are my gifts (art, intelligence, listening, etc).
  5. how can I utilize my gifts to get genuine satisfaction out of life? (it can be simply, entertaining people, fighting for a cause, using your gifts to donate to a cause, teach aspiring artists, etc).
Making meaning is scary. It means that you matter. You matter to the world. And what you create matters. That's scary because it also means that you are charged with the important task of making a mark in your everyday world. However big or small.

I'm a firm believer that each individual is put here on earth to do a task. Most likely this task is something that only you can achieve. Only your voice can reach and say your story. Will you take this challenge?

"You decide to matter, to live a principled, creative, active life in support of your cherished ideals, to manifest your potential, to do work,[ . . .] do not presume that your life matters on a cosmic scale or that your efforts will move mountains [although, they might] But in short, it is to make your life meaningful at least to you." - Eric Maisel

For further reading:

Fearless Creating by Eric Maisel

Monday, October 11, 2010

Gotta Do What You Love

Creepy? Disturbing? Monkey hopes so.

Monkey here:

After a long talk with Seal late Saturday night, I came to the realization about two things - I am extremely lucky to have a strong support system in place (ie Seal + friends), and that I've been unconsciously preventing myself from doing the type of art that I really want to do.

From an early age I've always been fascinated and enthralled by monsters. I had a huge book (similar to the size of my collegiate calculus textbook) about nearly every film monster that graced the screen until the mid-80's. I was reading Stephen King at 7, and the illustrations from the Scary Stories trilogy haunted my dreams.

Even to this day, great horror films are some of my favorite films ever. 28 Days Later and Let the Right One In are masterpieces. I also have a place in my heart for films like Aliens, Tremors, Predator, The Fly (1986 version), and tons of B-movie horror flicks. I do take offense to some of the more recent slasher/torture-porn films in the last decade, but for the most part, no matter how bad a horror movie is, if I have the time, I'll watch it.

However, when it comes to art, I've been struggling with the notion that I have to make art that really touches people on a deeper level. I felt like I needed to really say something; to inspire or empower. I wanted to make a difference in the world through art. And until recently, I thought that this was in stark contrast to the horrific material that I was really longing to create.

Eve helped me realize that I was creating the dreaded false dichotomy - I was making it an either-or situation when that really wasn't the case. I could paint monsters and demons and still say something meaningful, or still reach people at an emotional level. I thought I needed to be more clever or funny or wise than everyone else through my work, when really I just want to paint a bunch of scary monsters.

Whether or not the work I produce in the future has lots of symbolism, metaphors, and deep social commentary doesn't really matter. Eve pointed out that horror and tragedy are art forms that are centuries old - people still liked them for a reason. These pieces can act as a catharsis for the audience, allowing them to feel horror, fear, and sorrow without really having to go through the terrible acts that cause it. The viewers can feel relieved after the film is over, thinking "I'm glad that wasn't me," and can be thankful for what they do have.

Additionally, I've decided that changing the world through art doesn't necessarily mean inspiring the next generation of leaders through my artwork per se. I can sell t-shirts with my designs on them to raise money for charities. I can donate paintings to charities for auctions, and teach classes for underprivileged youth. There is lots and lots to be done, it's just a matter of finding my own way to do it.

I've realized that the hardest thing is releasing the rhino. It takes looking at it from a new perspective, and not getting boxed into the way that you think things have to be. I can just draw child-eating mothers and swamp beasts and demonic cults sacrificing towns and still be able to make a positive change on the world. I've found that your own mind tends to be your biggest prison, and it's all about figuring out what key fits to let yourself free.

I hope my story will help in some way..if anything, if you're dealing with your own personal cages and dichotomies and thoughts on what your art should be or what you think the world wants - you're not alone.

In the end, you have to create for yourself.

Thanks to Eve and everyone else who has been really supportive in my pursuit of art. I realize how lucky I am and I hope that everyone can find that support for your work. Keep on keeping on, and we can all change the world together.