Friday, January 21, 2011

Monkey + Seal in a show tonight!

Hi hi everyone! Tonight (Friday, January 21 if you're reading this some other day than when we're writing this), Monkey + Seal are going to be in another gallery show!

We're both participating in the "A House of Cards" show opening from 7-11pm tonight at Big Umbrella Studios, located at 906 1/2 Divisadero St (at McAllister), SF, 94115. If you google it, make sure you look for 906 Divis, as the .5 sends you off someplace else.

If you're local, bus lines 24 and 5 are literally about twenty steps or less away, so we recommend coming via public transportation (because street parking can get sort of tough).

Anyway, Monkey just hung the show last night, and he is pleased with the awesomeness and variety of styles that will be showing. Both of us will have new work, and Monkey will have some suuuuper old pieces up that no one has ever seen before!

There is also going to be poker, a tarot card reader, and three different food carts. It'll be a spectacular evening, so we hope to see you there!

Psst - we won't be able to be there until 8pm, so if you'd like to meet us, wait til then! Yay!

PS - If you'd like to see some behind the scenes photos of the gallery getting ready for the show at our last Wednesday Nite Artgasm, check them out here!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Saving Your Ideas

As an artist, you can have too many ideas. Often we find that we get inspired to do a million projects at once, and the hardest part might be sitting down and focusing on one idea. It's been shown that the brain cannot actually truly multitask (it cannot process two things at once - you actually have to shift back and forth between multiple tasks), so the more tasks or ideas or projects you are trying to juggle, the less focused you'll be on any single task. Monkey especially has a problem with this, and will have to-do lists that fill up entire sheets of paper.

While having too many ideas is generally a good problem to have, it is still a problem. How do you know what to focus on?

Over here at Monkey + Seal, we write it all down. Seal is an enthusiastic fan of journal writing - she's been writing nearly every day for the past ten years. Monkey is less organized, jotting down ideas on old envelopes, post-its, or any other scraps of paper and stuffs them into his sketchbook. The reason behind our cataloging of ideas is that many times it's just not the right time for the idea.

Whether we have more pressing projects to finish (either freelance work, or other deadlines to meet, or a project for a specific event), or perhaps the idea just isn't fully flushed out yet, we don't want to simply let the ideas dissolve in the foggy murks of our memory. We collect and cherish these ideas, but acknowledge that maybe the timing isn't right, or we don't yet fully have the entirety of the idea developed. Sometimes we'll even start a project, and realize this a bit too late, and then we'll shelve it for the time being.

When we do have a bit of time, or are looking for new inspiration, we'll often revisit the old. By looking back through our records, we sometimes find ideas that, while they did or didn't work at the time, it might be the perfect project now. Additionally, revisiting your old "best work" can inspire you in new ways.

Recently Monkey has started to revisit a few projects that he had started nearly two years ago. While his laboriously hand-screenprinted book, at the time, was the best he could muster, he is now slowly working on rewriting the entire thing in order to add more depth and will eventually republish it as a fully illustrated work (or collection of works).

Even if something was your best work, you've lived and experienced new things and grown since then, so reinterpretations and reworkings are always new possibilities. New interpretations and new directions can spring up when looking at older work and older ideas. It also allows you to take an objective view regarding themes or patterns that crop up in your collection of works. What was the running theme of your work a year ago? three years ago? your lifetime?

By documenting all of your ideas to live on and incubate through pen and paper, or digitally, you can now figure out which ideas (just a few for now!) that you should currently focus on. Which ideas are the MOST compelling, or the MOST pressing? Follow your instincts and cultivate those few projects that you can wholeheartedly follow, and you'll have made the right decision.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Defining Success

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day! While we still have to work on paintings and such today, we'll be taking extra time to contemplate the awesomeness of this great Civil Rights leader who kicked tons of butt and really fought for the changes he wanted made in the world. We hope you will too! Anyway, on to the talk about success:

When we think of success, we generally think of people who are well known, rich, famous, or leaders in their fields. We think about great contributions to humanity, or ground-breaking innovations, or work of cultural significance.

When we think of success, we generally think of all the people we admire, people who have what we (think we) want, who everyone else is heralding as being successful.

But what does success really mean for you?

This is a very important question that can help align (or realign) what your goals and hopes are. If you want to be successful, the first step, before taking any action whatsoever, is figuring out the answer to that question.

Does success mean money? If so, then would you be successful if you just worked your way up a Fortune 500 and made a boatload of money? What about if you managed to pull off an armored truck robbery?

Does success mean fame? If so, would you be successful if you were famous as a Hollywood actor? What about if you were famous for blowing up a city?

Our point is that when we think of success, we generally think in really broad terms. Money, power, fame, etc. But, what we really need to do to achieve that level of success is to break it down into concrete terms.

Success is really a personal, subjective idea. What if you were rich and famous and powerful, but you hated yourself and your job and no one loved you? Would you be successful then? If so, would it be worth it?

To answer that question, be specific. Very specific. By being suuuuper specific you can then figure out individual goals and the steps to achieve that success. This way, you'll have a concrete path that you can stay on to make sure you make it all the way through ON YOUR TERMS.

Becoming successful on your terms (and no one else's) is quite important, as this is probably the only way that you'll make it and still be happy with yourself. If success is just an end goal, and that's all you care about, then you'll make sacrifices and choices that might get you to that goal, but you won't be happy.

Have a conversation with yourself. Ask yourself "What does it mean for you to consider yourself successful?" If you answer "To be a professional artist that makes a living off of their art," then you could follow up with "Well then how about being a sculptor that makes toilet bowls for a living? You'd be living off your art."

We imagine your reply to then be "No, I want to paint for a living."
"What about painting portraits."
"No, I want to paint dogs."
"Well, what about painting a series of chihuahuas?"
"No, I only like Pomeranians."
"So what about painting portraits of people's Pomeranians?"
"No, I don't want to paint what other people want me to paint. I want to be my own art director."
"So then you want to be a fine artist who paints Pomeranians?"
"Yes, but I want to paint them with coffee."
"Okay, so you want to be a fine artist who paints Pomeranians with coffee."
"And I want to sell a lot of paintings."
"Like 30 of them?"
"Hmm, enough to make a living off of them."

There. Now you know you're a fine art painter who paints pomeranians with coffee, and your measure of success is to be able to live off your sales of pomeranian coffee paintings. Your goals are much clearer, and now that you have a concrete goal, you can now start making the steps to reach that goal. Market research. Actually making the paintings. Putting together press kits and an online portfolio. Photographing the paintings. Etc. etc .etc. (Although to be perfectly honest, you could probably keep on going with that conversation and you could be even more specific, but you get the idea).

While you might not be into Pomeranian coffee paintings, you are probably into something else. Whether it's being a creative writer who ghostwrites for Stephen King, or a comedian who is featured in a major, top-grossing motion picture, or an illustrator who makes $80k a year and has a client list that includes the New Yorker and Wired, it's up to you. But define your own personal measure of success. It's the first step to being successful.

Now it's time to ask yourself: How do you define success?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

How to Save Money on Printing

Hey everyone, it's Monkey today.

Today, I'm going to go on about a website. Why? Because as artists and as business people, we are constantly trying to find a way to save money on supplies. I spend a large amount of time looking for the best online printers. By best, it actually changes depending on what I need. For quick turn-around times on order with good quality and a great price, I use PS Print. For high-quality postcards in small quantities, I go for For highest-quality everything, or for stickers, we say, but you have to order in advance.

Anyway, the reason I bring this up is that I happened to stumble across From what it looks like, they've partnered with some of the biggest online retailers, including both PS Print and Overnight Prints in order to give you discounts (and of course, make themselves some money). The site is totally free, and they do what's known as playing the margins. What (I assume) they do is promise large numbers of customers in order to get a large % of each referred sale (for this example, let's say 10%). Then, they offer you (and me, and everyone else) 9% back. So you need to print up some holiday greeting cards, and you use Ebates, and you find a coupon for an extra $20 savings. Then, you'll get kicked back an extra 9% on top of that. Sweet, you just saved some money. Ebates then gets your business, and they get 1%. Everyone wins, right?

So the pros:
*They give you $5 for signing up ($5! )
*They have a crapload of online merchants, including Target, Barnes and Noble, (print your own books!), PS Print and Overnight Prints, Best Buy, Office Depot, Staples, REI, Safeway (you can even buy your groceries...holy crap!) and tons more.
*You get access to pretty much everyone online coupon that store offers (if they offer coupons)
*They send you a check every quarter or so of all the money you've saved

The cons:
*It's an extra step to go to first, then go to the website you want
*They don't have every single store in the universe on there
*You get an email once a week or so about their featured vendors.

So in the spirit of fair play, I'll be totally honest with you. If I refer 50 people who make a purchase, I get an iPad. But like we say about all of our affiliate links - we don't represent companies who do shady things, or offer crap services. Soo, I would be greatly appreciative if you signed up via our referral link here: We love Monkey + Seal! We love ebates!

Also, we want to give you the option of checking out their site, affiliate free, here:

Cool, thanks a lot, and back to your regular scheduling of Monkey + Seal.