Friday, January 28, 2011

Still Small? That's Okay.

As Seth Godin pointed out a week or so ago, when Google first launched, it was in obscurity. It didn't make the New York Times until a year after, and it was basically just a sideline. Now, they are synonymous with "online searching" and every product they release makes headlines.

Many times we aspire for that "big moment" where we make headlines and shoot into international stardom. However, everyone has to start somewhere. Many other of the largest internet companies (ie. Paypal, eBay, etc.) all launched in the shadows before becoming household names.

The thing is that if you focus on the big splash and making huge waves out of the gates, that's what you'll be focused on. Instead, if you slowly build your name consistently and with a high degree of awesomeness (measured by quality and work ethic, if you were wondering), people will come to know you as substance over flash and bang and you'll be the ones to outlast all the trend-followers.

We can often get impatient, as it can take years to finally build up your name. But if you're following your dream and doing your best, with a lot of hard work and a little luck, you'll make it.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Choose Your Own Life Adventure

“One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree. Which road do I take? she asked. Where do you want to go? was his response. I don't know, Alice answered. Then, said the cat, it doesn't matter.”

- Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland

Choices and decisions: we make them all the time. Should I accept this freelance, gallery, craft show? What kind of art medium best fits the story I want to tell? Should I pursue art? Get a day job, internship, or go for a studio job? The choices presented are endless. On top of the everyday anxiety, artists are also have the high pressure to produce work that is new, challenging, and full of personality. We are constantly having to choose, What is my next creative project? What is my art style? Do I create what is popular or the obscure projects that I want to work on?

Sometimes we choose consciously with intention, but for most of the time, we are unaware of the decisions we make or why we made them. Days, months, years, past by and we are wondering what it was we dreamt of in the first place, what we hoped to accomplish, why we are not where we want to be or have accomplished the things we wanted to do. Hopefully, you are one of the rare creatures that knows what they want all the time and live by your intentional choices.

However, for most of us, when it comes to our dreams, our art, our life, we float randomly through life. We continue to live.
We "choose" to do illustrative art, but in fact, in reality, we want to make films. We continue to make art, but absently with chaotic energy that dissipates because we have not CHOSEN our rightful place and meaningful task as an artist.

I'll take whatever is on today's special menu please or I'll have what he's having or I'll have the usual, what I always have before. Then when the steak and potatoes arrive, we complain "This is not what I ordered. This is not what I was expecting." My hunger is physically met, but my taste for life remains unsatisfied.

Of course, like Alice, we want the choice at the fork of the road to matter. We may "not know where we want to go initially," but in reality, perhaps in the deepest recesses of our hearts, we already know the answer. You already know the choices you are meant to take.

Like Alice, although we answer with, "I don't know." We do know. We honestly want to be directed "home": the place where our creativity and abundance soar.

So how do we get there? How can you become more attune to the choices that are presented to you? How can we become more conscious of our choices and make for a meaningful art? life?

Luckily, we are all born with the innate ability to tune into our heart's most desires. As children, we knew what we wanted and what we didn't. "No" was one of our favorite words. We drew clear boundaries. We said, "This is who I am and what I want." We did everything we could to get it. We cried, threw tantrums, reached, kicked, wail, screamed, our mind was a tunnel vision towards our choice desires. As adults, it becomes more complex. We no longer have the privilege and knowledge to simply choose. We have to navigate through our emotions, socialization, negotiations, compromises, and juggle many different priorities. But here are three facts that will help you get closer to your inner genius and decision-making:

As a artist and as a human being, we are always presented by choices and regardless of how the situation looks, we always have the agency and courage to make a choice towards our heart's desire.

2. Explore all options, your choices may not be an either / or option only. As artists, we have the gift to "think outside the box."

3. When you are presented with choices, and one of them is your heart's desire, your physical body cannot help but respond. You get excited, your heart races, your eyes dilate, you feel at ease. Your body is your best magnetic compass. You are filled with energy and excitement. It is crucial to look for this physical response.

So, what choices, what forks in the road have brought you to where you are today? What choices lie in the present? And potentially the future? (Are they towards your ultimate goal?)
"The artist is the only one who knows that the world is a subjective creation, that there is a choice to be made, a selection of elements." - Anais Nin

Monday, January 24, 2011

Hold Your Head Up High

When you are facing a tough problem, the first instinct is to bury your head in the sand. Like an ostrich, it's a lot easier to just keep trying to hide from your problems and hope that they go away. However, it usually just ends up making the problem worse.

It's been a tough day over here at Monkey + Seal. We'll spare you the details, but a culmination of a lot of stuff has been building up, and we've been doing our best to sort of ignore some issues. It is never easy, but making tough calls and facing your problems head on usually end up working out.

We know it's gut-wrenching, and your throat gets dry, and all the negative voices and self-criticisms in your head start shouting, and it's just a huge crap-tacular wave of emotions, but every time you keep your head up high and stand up for yourself, it'll get easier.

That first step towards wresting control over your own destiny away from fate and back into your own hands (although was it ever really not in your own hands?) is a big one. But by taking that step, you'll find that each next step is easier and easier. If that step seems too insurmountable, let loose a battle cry! Turn up some fight music to get yourself motivated. Get something to act as a sword to wave around before you're ready to go. Or heck, go mediate and quiet your mind, or do some yoga and clear your thoughts. Whatever works to get you to remember that no one controls your future besides you.

So keep your head up high and face whatever might be troubling you head on. Yosha!!!!!