Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Year's Resolutions: Take Baby Steps (or Say NOPE!)

Happy 2014 everyone!

We hope you all had a safe and fun NYE, whether that meant sleeping through it, raging at some club, or playing board games or painting, we hope it was good for you.

This is the time of year when people often make resolutions about what to change.  We all want improvements in our lives (human nature, who doesn't?), but we think that often times we go about things the wrong way.

Two suggestions:

1) Scale back your resolutions into something absurdly simple.

2) Practice vulnerability and embrace who you are as enough.

Now, the explanations.

1.  Changing resolutions into something that fits who YOU are, and making them realistic.

Monkey keeps reading about how successful people wake up at 6am to get in some reading and crucial work done before the day starts.  Monkey is not a morning person.  Instead of fighting his nature and trying to do what others do, he has realized that he's much more likely to do work late into the night and then sleep in.  Instead of fighting who you are, embrace it and figure out how to mold advice into something that is possible (and easy) for YOU to do.

For artists, often we may say that we want to create more.  A typical resolution is to "draw everyday."  Well, if you're having trouble drawing once a week, maybe a new resolution you can make is "draw every week."  Make a resolution something that is REALISTIC.  If you work two jobs, are raising a kid, and have to check her homework every night, then it's probably not super realistic that you're going to be able to focus on your craft every single day.

Why not instead focus on doing something every week, or if you want to really prioritize the art making, maybe your new resolution could be "Pick up a pen and make a single mark in your sketchbook."  While this sounds incredibly easy, that's the whole point.

This is how habit formation works, and while making a masterpiece or a finished piece might be too intimidating, making a single mark seems almost stupid.  But that's the point.  As you keep making a single mark, or writing a single word of your novel, or painting a single brushstroke, you'll find that since you're already started, you'll probably want to keep going, just for a bit.  After a while, working on your craft, no matter how small, will be such a habit that you'll be creating more and more and you'll have integrated it into your daily life.

2.  Embracing yourself as "Enough."

Like we said earlier, it's in our nature to want happiness, and we often think that maybe we have to change to get it.  While often we can change (and need) to change our behaviors in order to change the results we get, we also need to recognize that we, as human beings, are good enough as we are.

In our hyper-media-saturated world, we often hear about other who are richer, happier, better looking, etc. etc. etc.  Since we're always being sold something, we often think that we aren't good enough or skilled enough or ____________ enough, and that we need more.  However, real happiness can't be bought.

Especially if the resolutions you were considering are thing that you think you need to do to be a better person, we highly suggest reevaluating them and seeing what it is that you're really after.  It's very easy to get caught up chasing the carrot, when really you've had some lettuce in your pocket the whole time.
Like we always stress, you should create art for you, not for anyone else.  It shouldn't be for the fame, or the recognition, or the love, or the chance to meet sexy people.  Creating art should always be about doing something that makes YOU happy.  Creating should always be about creating, not the end product.

Yes, fame and fortune are nice, but embrace the artist that you are RIGHT NOW, and you might find happiness is a lot closer than you think.

Best wishes for a happy 2014.  Keep your head up, and let's have some fun creating this year!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Monkey + Seal is BACK, baby!

Howdy everyone!  Whew!  Long time no see!

First off we'd like to apologize for falling off the blogging bandwagon this year.  There were a lot of changes in our lives this year, and unfortunately, since we always talk about taking care of your artist self and sustainability, we had to follow our own advice and thus the blog suffered.  We wanted to let you know that we are bringing it back (!) in 2014, but with a few changes.  

1) Monkey will be writing here much less frequently.  He'll be focusing his energy and writing over at his new project: Lift Off Art.  He launched Lift Off as a way to really focus on the psychological issues that artists face as well as the marketing and business aspects of it.  Monkey will still be around here (obviously, as it's Monkey + Seal), but if you're a reader interested in progressing forward as an artist, we recommend you go and subscribe to the Lift Off newsletter and blog.  

2) Seal will be holding it down over here at the good ol' M+S blog, but we realized that with our schedules as artists and teachers, we can no longer commit to the weekly post.  We'll post when we can, and will send out a newsletter when we do post.  

Cool, thanks for being understanding!  

Anyway, today (versus tomorrow), we thought it'd be prudent to talk a bit about 2013.  We're always big fans of creating a review of your year in order to remind yourself of all the stuff that you have both accomplished and also stuff that you need to work on.

2013 started out pretty tough. We had a lot of crazy personal stuff happen early on in the year, including bad family health diagnoses, deaths in the family, and close calls making rent early on in the year.  Monkey also had a trip to the ER, and both of our wallets got hit pretty hard with some dental emergencies (don't forget to brush and floss, kids).  However, we also read a lot of great books by amazing authors (Geneen Roth, James Altucher, Danielle LaPorte, etc.) that changed the way we think about life and creating and overall we feel like we had a great year.  

Some of the 2013 highlights are:

- Seal finished work on the Japanese animated feature "Space Pirate Captain Harlock."  The film was released in September in Japan and will be coming to US theaters early next year (so soon!).  You can check out the trailer below (but make sure the English subtitles are on, if you don't speak Japanese).

-Monkey became a sponsored artist for three different art material companies: Crescent Cardboard LLC (a very inauspicious name for the world's leader in mat board), Savoir-Faire (the sole US importer and distributor for Fabriano, Sennelier, Cretacolor, and other high-quality international art material companies), and KRINK (uber-aggressive graffiti ink markers and paint pens).

-Seal also joined the ranks as one of Savoir-Faire's demo artists too!  Woo!

-We did our usual circuit of craft/art shows and had a blast (as per usual) vending at APE, SF Zine Fest, and Bazaar Bizarre SF Holiday show.  We also tried some new shows (for us) including the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival and CthulhuCon (LA chapter) and the Lower Haight Art Walk.

-We had a bunch of awesome live paint opportunities and cool gallery shows.  We participated in group shows at Modern Eden and 111 Minna, and live painted for Oracle, the National Association of Asian American Professionals, and of course, Big Umbrella Studios.

-Seal worked on producing art assets for two different film pitches for a Norwegian film titled "Cargo," and "The Good Citizen" by Khmasea Hoa Bristol.

-This year teaching became a big thing for us, as we taught a team-building art workshop for a team from Apple, Monkey started Lift Off Art, and he also became an instructor for the Academy of Art (he will be teaching two sections of LA 291: Designing Careers next Spring).

-Seal continues to work on two short films (one animated, one live action).  Seal's been working as a Production Designer for two years and a half on LaNoria, an animated film, and as an Art Director on an untitled live-action taking place in San Francisco. La Noria is moving towards the animation phase, and the live action film is currently in post production.

-Monkey started developing table-top games, and is currently collaborating with a friend to playtest one of the many different ideas.

-Seal shifted her focus toward two of her own film ideas, "Skyace Wasteland"(some of you might have already seen and own her early concept art) and "The Ogre and The Daughter," (both working titles) and is currently editing the scripts and producing pre-production visdev assets.

-Seal also took up a position as a Lead Artist for a mobile communication start-up!  Phew!

-Monkey's screen printing business, The Lords of Print, took off, with live print gigs at the Moscone Center, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and many more!  It keeps him busy!

-Seal went to the CTN animation expo and met up with some of the top names in the industry!  Woo!

-Monkey got to go on some cool business trips, including Minneapolis (snow!), and Miami's Art Week (sun!).

So all in all, we feel like while we're going to take a few punches every year, we're really thankful for all of our opportunities and support we've received this year and we can close it the year feeling really good about it.

Next year (tomorrow!  Gads!) has a lot of stuff already going on for us, so we're looking forward to a lot as well:

-The first film Seal worked on three years ago, a feature animated film for Unicorn Studios, is slated for an international release next year!

-Monkey's new gig as instructor for AAU (if you have to still take LA 291, he'll be teaching sections LA 291.16 and 291.20 on Mondays) starts in late January!

-Monkey will be teaching his Artrepreneurship 101 course at the Fine Art school at AAU!

-Expect to see Monkey + Seal at your local Bay Area artist supply store doing demos!

-We're looking to expand our craft show circuit to include WonderCon and Maker Faire, among others!  More shows! Better booths!  And new products in development!  At least, that's what we're hoping :)  Perhaps a new shiny website (although realistically, we've been talking about this for years...)

-New art books and comics in the works!  Gah!

-Just MORE ART.  Monkey + Seal are both doing a lot more speed paints, so look forward to those!  Sharpen that saw!  Practice practice practice!

ANYWAY, we're definitely looking forward to start back up the writing, and we want to thank you for your patience and your support all these years.  We hope you'll continue to read, make art, and follow us on our journey.  Hope you have a safe and happy NYE tonight, and stop by tomorrow for our first post of the 2014!

Much love,
Rick + Eve