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Swimming Lessons.

November 6th, 2012 1 comment
Galapagos

Learning.

Hello, Creative Beasts! How have you been? I’m thinking about you, and wishing wonderful things for you all. Today is a big day for us, here in America, as citizens make there ways to the polls to cast their votes to determine who will serve as the president of our nation for the next four years. There is excitement in the air, and also, a good deal of tension, to say the least. But you know what? It’s okay.

Above all else, what I hope that people will remember and hold in their hearts at this time, is that no matter what happens, there is a bigger picture. As human beings at the end of the day, we are all still simply human–whether we are democrats or republicans, Christian or Buddhist or Jewish or Muslim, male or female, gay or straight–we are all humans, living together on this planet we call “Earth.” And when all is said and done, our needs and desires are all pretty similar. We all have our very basic needs of survival, and beyond that, I think it’s very simple: we all hope to experience love and joy at some level.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve thought a great deal about things like fear and anxiety, failure, unrest, anger and conflict–and then conversely–peace, love, joy, harmony, progress, faith–and what it means to be enlightened.
As my faith in greatness has grown, I’ve learned that our fears are mostly unnecessary. That said, I still fall prey to fear on occasion. Yesterday, for example, I felt some anxiety about the upcoming election. It felt like I had a pit in my stomach, a tightness in my chest, and at times, I felt short of breath. I had to work through this. Some of it, I talked through with friends, and at other times, I just dealt with it quietly on my own. Today, I feel much better.
Struggles and Challenges
We all know people who are battling something, and at times in our lives, perhaps we are the ones who are fighting and struggling. To these people, I want to express how much I love you–and care. And I’ll just come right out and say that I know that this might sound like a crock of shit. It’s not. Here’s the thing:  Let’s look for a moment at the various struggles people face–for example; maybe it’s a fear that’s holding you back in your career, or perhaps a relationship with another person, or an unhealthy desire. You may see it as a problem, but it just might be your gift. It most likely means that you care about something very deeply–and that means that you have a soul. So while you might sometimes feel like you’re being eaten alive… take a deep breath. This is a good thing!
The Back Float
I believe I was six years old when I took my first swimming class. We lived in Seattle. I will never forget my instructor, Nancy. I couldn’t pick her out of a crowd, now, but I do remember she had long, brown hair, freckles, and was pretty in a fresh-faced, earthy kind of way. She looked like a swimmer… because she was one. I liked her.
It was a sunny, summer morning in the outdoor municipal pool, and the lesson of the day was one in back floating. As little kids, when we are first learning to swim, we are often facing some exciting moments. We take huge gulps of air, and shut our eyes tightly before we plunge into the water. It’s both exhilarating and a little scary, at times–until we become more familiar and comfortable with what we’re doing. Back floating was a very new experience, and that day, I think I was more scared than I was excited about it. I had to put my trust in Nancy, and truthfully, I was only semi-comfortable with that idea–at that moment.
“Okay, Trish. I need you to lean back, and I’m going to hold you up at first,” Nancy said.
I tried doing what she told me to do, but for some reason, I struggled. Leaning into the water, I could feel the tips of her fingers under my back as I looked up at the sky. I must have turned, when I said, “No, Nancy; I can do it, I can do it.”
I think I said it several times before she grabbed my roughly forty-pound body by the shoulders, and dunked me below the surface. She just as quickly pulled me up, blinking and sputtering; feeling a little shocked and upset. She looked me in the eyes, and said, “Now. Are you going to say ‘No,’ to me again?”
I wanted to start crying, but I tucked my lip in and held back my tears. Looking back apologetically, I said, “No.”
“Okay,” she said with a calm smile. “Let’s try it again.”
That day, after quite a few failed attempts… I learned to float on my back. I was so happy and proud of myself. I couldn’t wait to show my parents.
I wanted to share this story, because it’s an important lesson that has stuck with me all of these years. I believe we will have many moments like this in our lives–and at many different levels… if we are lucky. (And let me add that I really don’t believe in luck.;)) Cherish these lessons. You will learn to swim, back float, and much, much more. Have courage… and have faith, peace, and love, Creative Beasts. And as always, SEIZE THE PREY.
p.s. Thank you, Nancy–wherever you are–from the bottom of my heart.

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“Is my life coming together, or coming apart?” Great question. …Activity vs. Achievement.

March 28th, 2012 No comments

Dare to Dream: a T_Haus self-portrait.

Hi, Creative Beasts. This question is one that a friend of mine posted on facebook, recently–a Creative Beast, living in New York. I ask myself this question often, it seems, now, and it feels a bit like what I imagine log-rolling to be. We are living in tenuous times, my friends, that is one thing for sure. Even so, we must have faith, that indeed, it is coming together. We can make it happen, but we must believe that this is so–and make it so.

So then… the big question is:

How do we make it so?

Yes… so… how do we turn our wantem-so-bad-we-tastem-dreams into realities? I’ve been thinking long and hard on this one, and maybe–just maybe–herein lies the rub. What I mean by that is that maybe at times, we over-think things–which can then, put us into a tailspin, or worse yet–paralyze us. We get so overwhelmed by the possibilities before us, that instead of making a choice and acting–we do… NOTHING. Ugh. That said, I’m guessing most of us have something that we’re trying to realize… something that is challenging us in terms of gaining traction and momentum. So what are the steps, particularly if you’re feeling like you’re mission is something akin to spinning straw into gold? (And the truth is that once we really set our minds to it, the mission will ideally become more real, more manageable, and achieveable).

…Do you ever think that you give other people some pretty darned-good advice, now and then? Do you ever wish you could just give yourself the same quality of advice–and then follow it? Could it be, that we need to be better consultants to ourselves?

Over-thinking = activity. NOT achievement. Stop agonizing over things that are out of your control.

Here’s the deal:

I don’t think I’m the only Creative Beast who has gotten herself stuck in the hamster wheel of life. That said, how do we get out? We need to jump, right? You have to make a move, other than the uphill climb on the exercise bike to Nowhere. Because here’s the deal, again: you’re working like hell and getting worn to nothing–FOR nothing.

Figure out your options. 86 the ones that won’t help you. Employ the ones that will. But then, again, how do we choose??

Okay… so this may be the tough part.

Making the right choice.

Let’s think about this for a moment. What kinds of choices are there? There are practical/realistic choices, there are gambles, and then there are some choices that include elements of each. The old saying goes, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.” Now, while this has been proven over and over, we have also seen examples of fools who put all their eggs into one basket, only to see the basket wind up on the ground–eggs destroyed. Even still, to not make a decision, is probably–the worst decision.

Can we balance it out?

I think we must. Find something that works for you that will keep you going… keep you afloat… a lifeboat, if you will. Dream careers don’t always start out that way. Look at the creative people around you. Some of the successful ones make it look easy. Usually, this is due to long hours–in most cases, years–of hard work–and plenty of mistakes along the way–that most of us never see. But if you ask them, they will tell you their stories. Most truly great people have battle scars. It’s part of what has made them great. So, that said, we must choose wisely, but not too cautiously. Remember, if we risk nothing, we gain nothing.

So what’s in a lifeboat?

And how long can it sustain us? A lifeboat will have what you need to survive, but not indefinitely. It’s a short term solution. You need it to get you to a larger vessel–or to land. A “lifeboat” could be an interim or temporary job, or a series of gigs… it’s a step to help you along. Just don’t get too comfortable, because that’s when you will suddenly find yourself up Shit Creek with–you guessed it–no paddle.

Distractions

Mostly try to avoid them. I say “mostly,” because sometimes they can’t be avoided. Stay on track. Stay focused. Keep your eye on the prize. Occasionally (and this is probably more appropriate when you’re feeling a bit more… caught up or ahead, shall we say), they are a good thing, but be sage about this.

The Bigger Picture

This would be your dream–and the vessel to the other side. I think the key is, here, that you want to have some idea as to where you’re going. Again, choices will present themselves, and like my old friend Bob Seger said in his song, Beautiful Loser, you need to “Realize that you just can’t have it all.” Figure out which dream you want most, and stick to it like there’s no tomorrow because, guess what? There might not be a tomorrow. But as long as you’re on the road, you can change your path, any time you choose. Right?

Break it down. Then build it up.

Every story is the sum of its parts. What are the parts? What parts are doable right now? As you begin to check things from your list, you will begin to see things take shape.

The Thing With Dreams…

They keep changing. So be flexible. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t continue to go after what you want, but if you’re too rigid, it can hold you back. Few things in life are black and white. Be open to the changes and possibilities, eh?

So what’s my dream? Mostly to have the chance to live a creative life. More specifically, though, I have a huge desire to tell the stories of other creative people around the world, and that’s really where I want www.CreativeBeasts.com to go. So what’s been holding me back? I could say time, money and lack of resources, but I wonder if that’s really true. All the issues I’ve mentioned are ones that I’m trying to solve. I’ve been told that every problem contains its own solution. I like this concept.

What’s your dream?

Sharing your story takes courage and faith. Here’s one from my friend @MarkFairbanks about his creative journey that I think you’ll enjoy:

http://www.translatordigitalcafe.com/2011/11/getting-comfortable-with-being-uncomfortable/

Also, be sure to check out Hugh MacLeod’s (@gapingvoid) book, Evil Plans.

Tools and Techniques

Mind mapping

Listmaking

Meditation

Sleep

Exercise

Bravery

So. What do you think? Share your ideas. Let’s help each other out. Isn’t that what it’s all about?

Peace and love, Creative Beasts. And of course–SEIZE THE PREY.

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On becoming a Creative Beast: It’s a bit like death and dying. And then truly living.

October 8th, 2011 2 comments

There are two ways you can push yourself to get what you want:

The first is centered around breaking unhealthy patterns. This requires awareness, focus and discipline. It takes practice. It takes catching yourself every time you’re about to do that thing that keeps you from getting closer to where you need to be. It takes preparation, which will allow you to be proactive instead of reactive. It will give you the strength to remain calm and steady at the helm when a storm approaches. It takes meditation.

The second involves going one more step every time that you think you can’t do it. This sounds simple, and in a way–it is. This is where faith enters the picture, and where fear exits. Believe you will succeed. Then make it so.

These two forces oppose one another, spar, dance–and then, when the moment is right–make perfect love. They are the yin and the yang. They form muscle. They produce brilliant, magical children–or inventions. They create alchemy.

There is a third part to this equation, and that is the pursuit of something better. It helps to remember that at the end of every day, it comes down to you. As my friend Hugh MacLeod says, “Remember who you really are.” And as William Shakespeare said, “To thine own self, be true.” Once again, these words sound quite simple on the surface, but dig deep, and you will come to see that their wisdom is boundless. Becoming self-actualized is rewarding and empowering. That said, in the first story of Spider-Man (go ahead and laugh–but it’s a great story ;)), he learns what turns out to be his greatest life lesson: “With great power comes great responsibility.” Every day we are faced with opportunities to make choices. We are presented with options. There are plenty of things we can do–but either way–our choices are beholden to the laws of causality, also known as “cause and effect.” What you choose to do can mean the difference between finding peace and creating harmony or unleashing demons and wreaking havoc. Every choice serves something. And the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Only you can determine for yourself whether the choice you make is right or wrong–but at the end of the day, you will know the truth.

So how is finding oneself like dying and living? Giving up the old ways can be hard, and as we say goodbye, their is a loss that we must recognize and come to terms with. But this death is good, and it and makes way for a new life… a better one. Embrace it, and fear not. SEIZE THE PREY.

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Creativity and Our Responsibility to the World As We Know It.

September 12th, 2011 No comments

Hi Creative Beasts. It’s been seven months since my last post. I feel like I’m going to confession–except I’m not Catholic–or anything even remotely close. So why do I feel like I’m having a “Come to Jesus” meeting with you all? (And I would be the one getting called.) I’ll do my best to explain. There are few things that I’ve learned this year… or perhaps that I’m beginning to learn about life–and I’ll add the caveat that I am referring to none other than my life. Because mine is the only one that I’m living, as far as I know. Heh. However, I feel it necessary to make this distinction because what I’m about to share with you are simply my thoughts, for what they are worth, and you’re free to digest or eschew as you see fit.

A dear friend said recently, “Just when we think we know it all, we realize we know nothing.”

My first reaction to this statement was a bit flippant, and was something to the effect of, “Well, either way, we’re pretty much fucked, aren’t we?” It’s a dog’s dinner, as they say. But in all honesty, I get the point, and yes. Time after time, and throughout the course of life, we find ourselves coming back to the place at which we–at the very least–feel like everything as we once understood it to be, is now completely and utterly topsy-turvy. It’s humbling.

2011 has been a strange, and both brilliant and beautiful year along with some trials. It’s late, and perhaps one day I can follow up and expand a bit more on the joy and pain of it all, but for now, I’ll just share some of the things that I’m trying to learn, and that are maybe bringing me home, so to speak.

1) As creative beings, we have a responsibility to our worlds as we know them. Otherwise, why are we here, really? I think this is the biggest question I’ve been asking myself, lately, and it’s not the first time. But maybe it’s the first time I’ve gotten an answer that I’m a little closer to being satisfied with. My answer is that we need to be honest with ourselves about why we pursue the things that we do, and hopefully, somewhere in the creative process, and in the pursuit of something more, is the desire to make the world a better place.

Some of us work long hours at stuff that sometimes doesn’t make us happy and sometimes even eats at our souls, when we know in our hearts that we have something better to offer up. There’s this sense that there is a bigger picture happening–something greater taking shape–something to be a part of, or perhaps even take hold of and then bring to a higher level. That brings me to number two.

2) If you have something better, then do something better. Quit settling. It’s kind of like “the glass is either half-full or half-empty” thing, but frankly, it’s more than that. See, if there are areas in life in which you’ve been settling or compromising on for a while, then I believe this to be a more urgent matter.  You may need a fire under you–to help rekindle the one in your belly. It may be more beneficial to look at it this way: you can choose to start living, or you can just keep on dying. And if we face facts, every day that we’re alive, we’re another day closer to the end. That’s just the nature of things, so we may as well make the best of it, eh? Either way is correct, but your approach can really make a difference as to how things turn out. You can do something, or you can do nothing. It’s up to you. But if you choose to do nothing, then it’s probably best not to complain.

3) Love begins with you. Be kind to yourself at every opportunity. This can be hard. Creative Beasts are so self-admonishing. At times, we are painfully so. We observe, and we criticize, and we create based on what is formed from these interpretations. But very often, we are most critical of ourselves. We want the ideal. We seek perfection. This can be costly. It all starts with you. What you create inside is what is then reflected to the world around you.

4) Go forth with the mission of making something better. Maybe it’s just you that you want to improve upon. That’s okay, and in fact, it’s perfect. If you can become the best “you” that you can be, you can and will change other things for the better.

5) Don’t be afraid to let things happen. This is how some of our most amazing journeys will begin and by which we will be transformed. At some of our most terrifying and painful moments, we must simply remember to let go and have faith. It will be okay.

That’s it for now, Creative Beasts. Much love, and as always… SEIZE THE PREY.

Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans. – John Lennon

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Love, Inspiration and Why We Create. Happy Valentine’s Day.

February 14th, 2011 2 comments

Yes, Creative Beasts, today is Valentine’s Day, and love is in the air. Are you feeling it? I hope so.

What is love? It’s a feeling so powerful, that it’s almost impossible to wrap your head around it. While we may not truly understand it, we instinctively know that it is good. It can change things, and it can move mountains.

The word inspiration, literally means, “taking in the spirit.” When love’s arrow strikes our hearts, we are gifted with a new energy, and perhaps an altruistic vision that frees us to be brave and expand our horizons–and maybe even improve the world, if only just a little bit. Make no mistake that as confusing and even confounding as it may seem, at times–it is always a gift.

As humans–and as Creative Beasts–we are vulnerable creatures, and yet as Creative Beasts–we are already familiar with the concept of baring our souls. That’s just what we do. It comes with the territory, it’s part of the job description, etc., etc. When it comes to matters of the heart, however, we tend to get better at armoring ourselves as time goes on. How does this affect us and what we do? I think that generally, it’s fair to say that our work becomes more refined and better crafted because of practice, wisdom and dedication, and yet think of how much gets lost when edges become worn, in terms of our ability to feel. Whatever shape or form your creativity takes, part of its magic comes from a raw power–and part of that raw power is love. If you have it in your life, it is a very good thing. Be grateful. Recognize it. Use it. Respect it. Its energy will move you forward.

To see a world in a grain of sand and heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palms of your hand and eternity in an hour.

– William Blake

Happy Valentine’s Day. SEIZE THE PREY.

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Creativity, Work and Community: Feeding the Need.

February 4th, 2011 3 comments


A Russian friend of mine once told me, “There is saying in Russian: ‘It’s better to have a hundred friends than a hundred dollars.'” Words to live by, perhaps? While it never hurts to have a hundred dollars in one’s pocket, having a strong community of friends is something that is difficult to put a price tag on. It’s amazing how it often seems to go, that when you give a little, you get a lot.

Thursday, I had the serendipitous fortune of running into some dear friends at the local cafe. We shared great conversations that gave me fresh ideas on approach, and left me feeling inspired and energized. That’s what I would call a good day. It’s what I would also call “invaluable.”

First, was coffee with Stanley–an old friend who was once a photographer, now a painter–always an artist. We talked about the struggles and challenges that creative types face, and how communities come into play. Artists and creative thinkers of all kinds are typically afflicted in some way, with both a need to create, and the standard animal will to survive. The need to create, or to transcend our existence as we know it, can lead us to all sorts of places. Some are dark and deep, some are thoughtful and fresh, some maddening, and others, though more rare, are brilliantly spectacular and enlightening. In many instances, creative journeys are solo ones, and thereby lonely. You work at your craft, whether it’s painting, writing, making music or developing theories. Sometimes you hate it. Sometimes you don’t know why you do it. Other times it thrills you. And feedback can equally be a bitch. Something–anything, at times–is rewarding. Someone can say, “Man, you suck. Give it up!” And maybe you’ve been waiting so long for any kind of commentary, that even that can evoke a feeling of gratitude.

“Wow. That guy hates me,” you think. …Cool!”

Stan and I talked about the varying value of different communities. What is a community? “Sharing, participation and fellowship” is one definition. For some, that can exist at the local tavern, but then that begs the question, “What is it that ties folks together?” Hopefully, it isn’t alcohol, though in some instances, that is clearly the case. With creative minds, I believe it is the underlying knowledge that we all struggle with a similar form of craziness, and part of that is the need to create. From time to time, this may actually end up surfacing as a clinical diagnosis such as bipolar disorder, A.D.D. or obsessive compulsive disorder. Interestingly enough, these so-called disorders are generally regarded as problems that need to be corrected. And yet, isn’t it interesting that many of the world’s most gifted–and frequently celebrated people–are in some senses, and for all intents and purposes–a little bit crazy? So what’s their secret? Stanley and I agreed that mostly, it’s work. Blood sweat and tears. Hours and hours of working one’s craft (which, by the way, is one way in which O.C.D. can come in handy). Work is the difference between the ones who break through to reach a certain level of alchemy, and everybody else. Van Gogh, Picasso, Einstein and Edison all approached their work with a manic level of intensity. Stan said that the value in having the chance to do the work you want to–or maybe that you were meant to, in life–is golden, compared to having a bunch of stuff, such as four car garages, lawns to mow and more TVs than you know what to do with. So it’s mostly work, and maybe after all the time you’ve spent preparing for some moment to arrive–a little bit of luck–and then there’s friends… community.

Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.
– Thomas Alva Edison

So what happens to the others that take a less obsessive approach? All kinds of things–and sometimes–nothing. Some join into the corporate dynamic and make that world work. Fantastic. Some flop around like fish without water, going this way and that. Some cling to the bar community because it helps them to feel more… normal. Some find a way to neatly blend different worlds, which is remarkable. Whatever the case, it’s safe to say that the balancing act is usually rather precarious, and hey, finding one’s groove can take time.

When Stan and I parted ways, I was on my way out the door, when someone called my name. I turned to the table I had nearly passed. It was my dear, long-time friend, Fred; a graphic designer, artist and wordsmith. He beckoned me to sit and chat, and it was then that I decided that this day was meant for creative friends and conversations, so I did. He started by asking me what was up, and where had I been… usual ice breakers. I said that I had been laying low, and then added–“Well… I’ve been sorta poor, lately.”

“What? You’ve been boring?” he asked, wide-eyed.

“Ha. No, I said, ‘poor.'”

“Oh, I thought you said, ‘boring!’ I’d rather have you be poor than boring,” he quipped with a grin.

That simple statement made my day. And it led me to decide that I will never again in my life, state that I am or have been poor. I may not have a hundred dollars in my pocket to flit, but my friends–my loved ones–my community–make me insanely wealthy. My humble and deepest gratitude to you all.

What else? Oh, yeah: SEIZE THE PREY.

p.s. Febuary 7, 2011: I subscribe to http://GapingVoid.com/ to receive Hugh MacLeod’s daily cartoons via email, and this one, entitled, “The Hunger,” came in today:

http://bit.ly/gMkFOr

…I can’t help loving that it’s right in sync with my post, here, down to the very titles. Hugh has inspired me with his cartoons and words on countless occasions, and I am seriously excited to get my hands on his new book, Evil Plans, to be released February 17th, 2011. Congrats, Hugh!

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Sticking It To You: Exit Through the Gift Shop.

January 14th, 2011 1 comment

If you haven’t seen the film, Exit Through the Gift Shop is a must-see for every Creative Beast. Seriously–it’s your homework. What a mind-blowing story, and how well told it is. It’s got me spinning on several notions: 1) Anything is possible (especially with a bit of work and muscle behind it) and 2) to complain about the things that stand in one’s way as a creative person is an absolute and utter waste of time; especially when there’s so much work to be done and 3) might of most kinds–is mightier than money.

Mr. Brainwash

What makes great art great? Is it partly great marketing? Is great marketing simply great art? This is a film about a shopkeeper cum filmmaker cum artist. From this portrayal of the life of Thierry Guetta, a.k.a. “Mr. Brainwash,” I would surmise that it’s all of the above. Based on his works as a painter/street artist, the idea that he has come up with something earthshaking is questionable. On the other hand, it can be argued that the act of successful reinvention is alchemy at its finest, and indeed, a fine work of art. When MBW is viewed from this perspective, he tends to turn the art world on its ear. The film tells a few different stories; one being the life of Thierry Guetta, two being the emergence of the street art movement, and three being the life that art has all on its own, and how human beings respond to it. Perhaps what is most fascinating is the movement–or rather the motion of the artist, himself. What is it about art–and particularly, what is referred to as “High Art”–that makes it valuable and so deeply coveted? Is it the idea that it generally deals with things that are intangible or unattainable? Is it that it holds something that is thought to be magical and otherworldly? If so, then of course, it makes complete sense that by virtue of owning a piece of such magic, one is thereby and in effect, made magical as well.

Banksy

Creative Beasts are, without question, splendid and magical creatures. Or are they? Through Guetta’s lens, the film takes us on the journeys of several great street artists from different parts of the globe. We are shown that part of what makes their work revered by so many, is the sheer fact that they are a bunch of wild outlaws using public and private property for their canvases and materials, which automatically makes for instant intrigue, along with imagery that often challenges the status quo at its core. Guetta, for the greater part of the film, is shown as an observer–recording the images and scenes of his world, and those of the street artists he follows, especially that of the great Banksy of London (director of Exit Through the Gift Shop). In the end, the story almost plays like a sting, orchestrated by MBW, himself. We are then left with the question, “Was it intentional on his part? Or is he truly a fool among fools who somehow manages to get the last laugh as he innocently steals the bag of tricks from the artists/magicians he is surrounded by, and then uses them to take the art world and greedy collectors by storm, thereby making a farce of the entire scene. In the end, he ingeniously confounds one and all. That, my dear Creative Beasts, is beauty to behold. Smile and get on with it. The rest is simple: SEIZE THE PREY.

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A New Year. A New Wave.

January 2nd, 2011 2 comments

Katsushika Hokusai - The Great Wave Off Kanagawa

I’ve never been very big on New Year’s Eve celebrations–that’s not to say that there haven’t been ones that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. My 2010 New Year’s Eve was quiet, reflective, and very low key. I spent the evening with a friend that I’ve known casually for a while–someone who until recently, I would have considered merely a friendly acquaintance. Recently, however, we’ve become close, and I have come to value our friendship. I call this friend, “Smiley.”

To provide a bit of backstory, 2010 has been a mixed bag for this Creative Beast, with some decent highs, and others that were… perhaps neither good nor bad. There were times that felt pretty bad, in all honesty, and they did set me back. Yet in hindsight, the simple knowledge that I was able to make it through these trials–some of which I wasn’t sure how I would get through–has led me to a better place. I surprised myself in more than one instance with my resourcefulness, my tenacity and my will–and when I managed to accomplish certain things on both a personal and a professional level simultaneously–I felt pretty good… albeit tired. My point in mentioning this, is not so much to toot my own horn, but to simply say that waves do come. Sometimes they can take us up, and other times, they can crush us. The best we can do is to prepare if possible, and then paddle like hell. Those who are able to maintain higher ground may consider themselves “fortunate,” or “blessed,” or whatever they want to call it. As for fishermen and Creative Beasts… ’tis a seafaring life–which sometimes resembles a monster, and other times, something extraordinarily glorious… which brings us back to the reasons that we do the things we do.

Smiley and I reconnected a couple of months ago by pure chance, at a hotel, of all places. I was coming out of a networking meeting, and he was working on a story in the lounge. I didn’t expect it, but we ended up chatting for a while. He was keen to bounce thoughts off of another writer, and I was pleasantly refreshed after an hour of interesting-but-standard shop talk. The script aside, he seemed to have a lot of fires going, which intrigued me. Everybody likes hot burners, and particularly during cold weather. Looking back, I think what was most compelling about Smiley, was the fire in his eyes. As we talked, we agreed that perhaps there would be an opportunity to collaborate on some ideas.

Time went on, and the more ground we covered, the more we realized our stories were rather aligned. We had each had our share of waves, both friendly and fierce. We agreed that it was good to have dreams and vision. All of these things brought us closer together, and at the same time, kept us somewhat reticent in ways. Still, I was inspired by our conversations.

New Year’s Eve, though quiet, reflective and low key, was also pensive, heavy and occasionally dark. And I was feeling funky to begin with. Somehow, roads were taken that led us off the gleeful, celebratory path–not that we were really on it in the first place. From setbacks to friends who had committed suicide, and from dislikes to disorders, we covered just about every cheery subject we could think of. By midnight, we were totally out of steam and in no mood for noisemakers or confetti; let alone, champagne. If ever there was a non-roll, we were on it. Smiley went on to say how much he couldn’t wait to move back east. I had very little left to say, except that if that was what he wanted, then he ought to make it so. Mostly, I was just tired, and thinking about having to go in to work the next day. We finished our nightcaps in what was ironically, yet another downtown hotel lounge. We parted ways with half smiles and a short good-bye, each of us somewhat apologetic about our moods.

So at this point, you might be wondering the reason for this post. Ha. The post is about waves, and how they keep coming. This can be good or bad, depending on how you look at it. A wave is going to take you somewhere, and that place can, indeed, be good… even great.

When I got home I was emotionally spent. One of the things I’ve never liked about the occasion–the anticlimax–had hit me in the face. “To hell with New Year’s Eve,” I thought.

In the morning, when I got up to take a shower, I looked up at the reflection of my Hokusai poster in the bathroom mirror. Yes, the image has become ubiquitous. So what? It’s powerful. Suddenly, it hit me, and suddenly, I was inspired again. “Fight harder. Ride the wave. Come back better.” That’s what it’s about. Pretty simple.

Smiley, my friend… this post is for you, and I’m glad we’re friends. Keep at it, and keep smiling. One way or another, we’ll get there.

Happy New Year, Creative Beasts, and by all means, SEIZE THE PREY.

p.s. It feels appropriate to add the lyrics, here. Feel free to sing along… Slainte.

http://www.lyricsfreak.com/w/waterboys/fishermans+blues_20145298.html

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Interview With Adrienne Pierluissi: A Multilayered Artist and Complex Creative Beast.

August 4th, 2010 3 comments

Hello, Creative Beasts. How are you? It has been a busy summer here at the T_Haus. “Crazy-busy,” one might say. I’m sure you know what I mean. That aside, “We,” here, at Creative Beasts have been working on some exciting, new and wonderful things.

“What things, T_Haus?” You say?

Interviews, my dears. I said they would be coming. You were warned.

Recently, I had the distinct privilege to speak with the fair Adrienne Pierluissi; painter, singer-songwriter, entrepreneur, mother, wife, gardener–and the list goes on. She is intensely passionate and focused in nearly everything she does, and it shows. Occasionally, you will even find her tending bar at either Palm Tavern or The Sugar Maple (establishments she owns with her husband and partner, Bruno Johnson–well known for their incredible selections of Belgian and American craft beers; not to mention fine scotches, bourbons and many more) located in beautiful Bayview, Wisconsin. But rather than me telling you about her, here she is, in our conversation–without further ado.

We’ll be talking more with Adrienne in the future. Look for her band, Assex (cool, smoky, jibaro-style jazz–with a bit of old-school punk mixed in), to be playing Saturday, August 21st at 9:p.m. at the Sugar Maple. She will be singing. I’m confident you will be moved. They are outstanding, and the space–like the music–is intimate. Normally, at this point in the post, there would be a sample of the music–and we’re working on that. For now, you’ll just have to trust me that it’s a show you won’t want to miss.

Finally, as you know, it wouldn’t be CreativeBeasts.com without a song. Adrienne, since we don’t have one of yours yet, this one’s for you. Here’s Nina Simone with Feeling Good. And I hope you are!

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Grab Yourself a Soapbox.

April 27th, 2010 1 comment

Madison Ave

In days of old in the world of advertising–many refer to it as “The Golden Age”–when major accounts were lost, heads rolled and the blood flowed down the glorious street known as “Madison Avenue.” Creatives and AEs alike commiserated over martinis that in weeks prior, would have served as lunch with the client. Oh, how the times have changed… Or have they?

Certain financial collapses in recent history knocked the wind out of many of the industry’s best and brightest, and that’s putting it mildly. But when the chips fell and after the dust settled, the light changed. Something was different… Or was it? Folks everywhere, from CEOs to CSRs and from CDs to JADs were talking. But it wasn’t over the phone or over lunch, or even via email. (O.K., well, yes; some of these things still do take place, thank god.) It was online via channels such as Facebook and Twitter. Texts. Tweets. Yelps. Etcetera. Communication changed. Mass communication–has changed. An aside, to many who may read this: it will seem akin to a brand new culinary student talking to Alain Ducasse about frying eggs. Hmmm. I am not a social media wizard by any stretch of the imagination. However, and as a writer, I do notice things from time to time.

That said, some things that haven’t changed in our world: creatives still bemoan their misfortune when they find themselves out of work… “But I DROVE that campaign. It was MY idea, MY design and/or MY COPY.” Or, “I’ve been kicked to the curb for some f***ing kid that designs hypertext links. He wouldn’t know a concept if it bit him in the f***ing ass. Do you know how many One Show Pencils I’ve won? I can tell you how many he’s won. That’s right. ZERO.” (See recent post at http://TalentZoo.com entitled, Advertising Agencies: Kiss Your Creative Teams Goodbye.)

Um… maybe it’s just me. Or maybe some of us have forgotten what it’s like to be hungry. It can hurt. A lot. But something else good can happen if you’re aware enough, scrappy enough, and once you’ve quit hanging your head between your knees. You get your edge back. Now, the truth for me is that I’m not where I’d like to be… just yet. On the other hand, I think there will always be a part of me that isn’t satisfied unless I’m dissatisfied. That is to say, I don’t know if I’ll ever be “Where I want to be.” I’ve heard some say that once you get to that place… the place that–before you got there–seemed so great–your perspective changes, and it wasn’t at all what you’d thought. Now, you want something else. Something better. I’ve also heard it said that getting fired makes you stronger. Tougher. If it doesn’t first drive you crazy… I wonder what Nirvana is like. I wonder if once you get there, you think, “Ehn,” …anyway.

This is the deal (and the part where I tell Chef Ducasse all about frying eggs):

Chef Ducasse

The landscape has changed. The world has changed. We are in a new era. Right now, the buzzwords are “social media…” “new media.” Oooh. Ahhh. Tomorrow they will be something newer. One thing that hasn’t changed? People. People still want to be wowed and excited and drawn in. They still want to be driven to ecstasy–and then held. In fact, maybe now, more than ever before. Frankly, so much (and I think many of you will agree, Creatives) in our world that lauds itself as “creative”–sucks. Maybe that’s why people are so bored and tired and are quite content in their own magical mini light-box worlds that fit in the palms of their hands. Maybe as a society and on the whole, we have become one great bunch of fat, lazy sods. Maybe I’m harsh. *sigh* Oh, well. But–my dear, sweet, lovely Creatives–and I mean this with all my heart–I know your pain. But I truly believe the answer does not lie in whacking the hypertext kid. Because The Man is, in effect, a junkie. He will find another hypertext kid. The trick, it would seem, is not even to try and figure out how to win back The Man. The trick is to figure out how to cut The Man out of the picture entirely. We’re talking Frank Lucas-style, Baby.

Frank Lucas, CEO Extraordinaire (a.k.a. American Gangster)

(O.K., well, maybe not quite that cold, and uh… illegal. But you get my meaning.) The trick, it would seem, is to become what some (Seth Godin) would call, a Linchpin. Relearn how to Fascinate (by Sally Hogshead). Or, as Hugh MacLeod would say, “Quality isn’t job one. Being totally f***ing amazing is job one.”

So, kids… Creative Beasts… have at it. Find a way. SEIZE THE PREY.

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