Quick post for some aspiring artists like myself:
If you don't know what the title means, it basically says "You're greater than me"
I get a lot of emails, snapchats, and messages thru every other social media platform asking the same question "how do I become like you?" Now I get the question is directed towards "How do I gain a little more success" and not "I'm gonna kill you and steal your identity" but there's one thing you have to realize if you want to succeed in this business. BE YOUR FUCKING SELF.
I know I probably sound like an asshole for saying that, I'm not trying to deny you advice (check my other blog post for random articles) but art is about finding what your work means and ultimately learning about yourself. Also, the art world is quite possibly the weirdest business in the world, so giving you exact advice on what helped me may not help you, it may make things worse.
While I know (from personal experience) a lot of times you start out and you're doing dumb ass commissions and things that make you want to stick a pencil thru your neck, you have to do your own work. Everyones always trying to be like someone else, find out what that person is doing, when in reality you're wasting so much time because you'll never be them. But they'll never be you and thats what art is all about!!!! No one pays for your work and says "Oh I love it!! It looks just like blah blah blah's work!" THEY PAY FOR YOU AND YOUR VISON! Some people hate on celebrated artists like Jean Michel Basquiat or Jackson Pollock but THEY DID WHAT THEY WANTED! They never tried to be anyone else, that's what makes a great artist. Awareness of self and confidence to show it.
I know it's scary trying to find your own style/confidence, but art is just like any other job. It takes work. It takes 25 failed pieces or 50 actual paintings to start to get comfortable and figure out WHO YOU ARE. It takes hours and hours and experimentation and failure and everything under the sun to get to that point, but it's totally fucking worth it.
At the end of the day you waste too much time trying to be other people. Being you will always be greater than being me.
Don't be fooled, although this list might look organized, these thoughts/notes/personal challenges are disgustingly random.. This list is really for me to look back on at the end of this year and see if I did the things I wanted to. Putting it on the Internet just holds me a little more accountable than a note I'll lose track of in my phone within 7 hours. So, sorry it's not exactly for you but you can keep reading if you want an inside look at what goes on in my head. Good luck.
Explore my fears
In 2016, I felt very controlling over myself and my art. As if when I started doing well, I didn't want to do anything to ruin or mess that up. No experimenting, trying to be more creative but simultaneous holding myself to a certain level. In the past few months I've experimented a lot with abstractions and different techniques. But before then it was almost like saying "ew no I hate ______" to a food you've never tried. I think I was more scared that I would try it, and that I would like it. Because naturally everybody is scared of things they don't know about. But I said fuck it. In 2017 I'm probably going to be using so many different techniques I could start using an alias. Or two.
Not more hours in the day, just more paintings. Like a lot more. This kinda ties along with the fear part. My usual pieces take me around 5-10 days. Because of the level of detail and attention I give to a painting, it can be mentally draining. And I have the attention span of a puppy so Things start to get old very quickly. I'm usually working on a maximum of two paintings at a time. Usually just one. That has to change. It's not about making more money. It's just about making more art in general. That sounds cliche as hell but seriously just making 2x the work I did in 2016 might satisfy this hunger. I want to clamp 10 canvases together and sell them individually. Maybe do a series of 25 12x12" paintings. I really just want to complete more things. If you're an artist, you know the feeling you get when something is finished is what makes everything worthwhile. My job title is artist, so hopefully that gives me a pass to do whatever I want.
Create a name.
I don't mean this in the sense of becoming a celebrity. I just think building a certain genuine reputation helps a lot with art. I think this generation is somewhat lacking when it comes to interest in art and being someone heavily involved in helping that interest grow is only done when a lot people know you/your work. I'm also a strong believer in the true success of an artist depends on how their work and influence lasts after they're done painting/dead. Which isn't fun to think about but it's a fact. I plan on having a lot more shows, taking on more big projects and hopefully people will take a liking and appreciate my work! And if they don't, who cares? :)
Learn from my past mistakes (and make a shit ton of new ones).
"Why would you want to make mistakes?" If you're making (honest) mistakes, it means you're trying. It means you're testing yourself and you're willing to learn. Although I've been fairly cautious of what I've done in the last year, I'm still self taught so I'm always learning. Always making mistakes. But learning how to fix them really a practice that will put you ahead of everyone else. Being willing to fail will bring you success. Being scared will keep you in the same place. Im sure 60% of the projects I'll work on this year will end up in the trash but I guarantee you the other 40% will be my best work yet.
If you're still reading this by now, you're pretty cool (and also just a tad weird because I've basically been talking to myself). This isn't really a New Years resolution. I actually fucking hate New Years resolutions. I'm sorry but If you have to wait till January 1st to start changing your life, you have the wrong mindset. If you want to change something you start ASAP. But hopefully you can take something from all of this. Im excited for this new year and to have your support throughout it.
Hello again. Over the past few weeks, I've asked my followers on social media to send me some questions so I could do a Q&A. As much as I honestly want to write 5-10 articles a week, my schedule doesn't really allow it. So I figured each question could be like a mini article. Instead of guessing what topics to write about, questions coming directly from you guys makes it more satisfying to read because they're direct topics.
1) "What’s one piece of advice you would give your younger self when you first started as an artist?"
BE QUICK BUT DON'T HURRY. I've said this quote before but that's because I meant it. Whenever you quit your job to paint pictures for a living, you tend to internally freak the fuck out. You rush projects, force ideas and think the world has ended because you don't have your own museum by the first month. It's very easy to get down on yourself when you're scrambling around. Good things take time, eventually you'll also learn to work smarter, not harder.
2) "How do you overcome artist’s block and prevent losing motivation to create?”
This answer kind of stems from #1. Everyone is bound to run into a creative wall, it happens, it's natural. I'm really big on not forcing ideas or concepts and letting them develop how they were supposed to. I've created a little fool-proof (for me) cycle for when the creativity isn't there. I take a day or two off and study. Like study everything. I'll study artists, random techniques, and just the bare principles of art. I honestly used to think some of that stuff was kind of boring, but learning all of the new info and experimenting lets your brain unwind and usually tends to send a new wave of creativity. It's like rekindling the flame and you get a whole new lesson in art which naturally makes those uncreative and unmotivated spans shorter and shorter.
3) “How does the actual art world differ from the art world of social media (i.e Instagram)?"
This is an amazing question and very delicate. And in terms of length in making art that's for sale, I'm not exactly the most qualified. Let me start by saying that I can honestly appreciate alllllll art. I respect anyone and everyone that makes art and is willing to share it with the world. *Disclaimer* This is a general answer and there are way too many circumstances and individual intentions that change this answer 82378 different ways. In my opinion, the art world and social media world of art differ by your intentions. Example: Are you trying to be an artist that hangs in galleries around the world, or are you wanting to do it as a hobby or part-time gig? There are artists on IG that have hundreds of thousands of followers, they make realistic drawings of spider-man and Adele (still impressive!) but unfortunately you're not going to see it in a big gallery, winning historic and creative accolades or creating a movement.. They might not care, and that's absolutely okay. There are also artists who create masterpieces that bring in an amazing amount of money, recognition and influence but have maybe 3-10k followers. They might not even have instagram. But in the art world, they are the person mentioned early with hundreds of thousands of followers. There are so many different ways you can spin this answer but the main point is level of committment, do you want to be a professional or keep it at a hobby? Either way, don't stop creating.
4) “Do you feel a certain type of pressure to deliver a better painting than the last? If so where does that pressure come from?”
Of course. Every minute of every day. I'm a ridiculously competitive person. Probably way too competitive to be an artist honestly. It will probably end up getting me in trouble because I always want to be the best, and in art technically there is no "best artist". BUT! What keeps this obsession (somewhat) healthy is that I'm always competing against myself. I'm not trying to compete against 10 different artists, because guess what? I'm not them! I won't ever be them. But the good news is that they're not me either. You can get very tangled in the ropes of jealously and drown in a river of second thinking when you start comparing yourself to every artist around you.
“What’s one characteristic/trait every artist or creative should have?"
Confidence. It's essential. It's 70% the reason I am where I am. So many people are scared to put work out there because they think it's not good enough or someone will hate it. If you don't put your work out there, how are you supposed to grow? You'll never be able to please everyone, get the fuck over it. < Example of my confidence. I'm not afraid to say what I want in the manner that I want. I don't like making personal decisions based on others happiness. And I'll make damn sure I never make art to make sure everyone is pleased. That's just me. Everyone is different, but everyone can use confidence successfully in art.
If you noticed, this is only part one. I plan on doing a few more Q&A posts so leave any new questions and feedback below!
FACT 1: STARTING IS HARDER THAN STABILIZING.
A lot of people say that the easiest thing about being successful is just starting, but with art its almost the complete opposite. You deal with lack of ideas because of the lack of experience, the struggle to find your own style, identity and the fear of being rejected stops people from putting out work on a daily basis. With art, its truly an all or nothing thing, so facing all of these problems in the very beginning is terrifying. If you look at my Instagram feed you can see the crazy amount of changes in a short amount of time. Even though I mostly got positive feedback on everything I put out in the beginning, I knew changes had to be made because I could tell it wasn't my style. I think thats one of the biggest problems that emerging artists face because its very easy to get discouraged when you have no fucking clue what you're doing. You're just making things with your hands/computer/whatever it may be and cross your fingers someone might like it. So getting to that point of stabilization and confidence in your own work allows you to go through the obstacle course of the art world. Expect to trip, fall and fail. Just don't forget to get back up and keep it moving.
FACT 2: YOU'RE NOT EVERYONE'S FAVORITE ARTIST.
I know I've talked about this before but it's important. Maybe you've found your own style and have an insane amount of confidence in your work, but getting the first negative comment can mentally take you back to square one. And it hurts. For example, at one of my first shows I was doing a live painting and a couple had came up to me and said, "You have a lot of potential and it looks like you have a clear understanding for where you want to go." At this point, I was smiling ear to ear because there is nothing better than hearing feedback from people in person while they're looking at your work. Directly after that they said, "I would never think about hanging it in my house though, we just aren't big on this style." I just kind of stood there and tried to cry and make it awkward. Jk. I cried. A lot. That was one of the first portions of negative feedback that I received but it was also one of the best pieces of information I could've gotten. It taught me that no matter the amount of potential you may have or skill you possess, you can't make people to like your work. Like its not gonna happen. Sorry. The bigger that you get, the more situations you'll be put in to experience different variations of feedback. That comment alone really helped me grow as an artist because it taught me to appreciate all styles and opinions of art.
FACT 3: YOUR SUCCESS IS SOLELY DEPENDENT ON YOU.
Now that you know the art world isn't so friendly sometimes (a lot of the time), don't make the mistake of taking it as a personal attack. I've spoken to a lot of artists who had received negative feedback and thought that their career was over before it even began. Don't let things like this get into your head because nothing positive comes from negative thinking. Being an artist is a dream job, you get to be your own boss and bring your ideas to life and inspire people that relate to your work. Don't make the mistake of thinking that time is on your side. One of the reasons I'm successful (so far) is because i work seven days a week, 10-15 hours a day but for me its never really "work". There will be days that you won't feel like working on a certain project or events in life come up that you wish you could go to. But if you choose to stay and create, these are the moments that can separate the good artists from the great artists in the long run. Because the great artists literally just love creating. A lot of people that try to be artists like to blame the slower rate of their success on everything else but themselves. We all have the same amount of hours in the day and if you choose to use them trying to play the victim, you're wasting your time. When I started out, I was using tubes of $2 paint and random brushes I had gotten from my grandma. I knew there was no sense of complaining because time is always better spent learning and being productive.
FACT 4: ITS 100 PERCENT WORTH IT.
After you get past some of the hurdles of becoming an artist, accepting the fact that not everyone will like your work and taking full responsibility for your art and its success, you'll learn that being an artist is one of the most rewarding jobs out there. It makes all the early mornings, late nights, trashed projects and moments of self-doubt seem very small when you get to experience the effects that your art has on the world. Hearing that you've inspired someone or even seeing different ways to look at your own art via peoples opinion is really fucking awesome. Sometimes the hardest part of being an artist is getting through those moments of self doubt and humble beginnings. No one is created equal and no painting/drawing/pottery style is way better than the others. I've had the chance to speak to some super successful artists and the same thing they all have in common is just the love for art.
I get a lot of questions about my painting process, whether it’s about where my inspiration came from or how long it took. So I’m hoping that I can talk *so much* that I can hoping to answer a fair amount of questions thru this post as well as explain the specific process for this piece ("Mind Grown"). I’m almost certain this thing is a grammatical nightmare but I’m an artist not an english teacher so deal with it.
Inspiration. This is easily one of the hardest questions to answer, and it’s probably the most common one I get when it comes to my process. “How did you think of this idea?” Generally I have two ways of creating concepts, one of which I use a lot more than the other. The first usually includes me sitting around and I randomly get a verrryyyy small piece of an idea. Usually a visual spawned from a subject or meaning. From there it gets weird. It’s a combination of my mind racing ridiculously fast and someone mentally sorting thru things like a file cabinet like a wild animal. Imagine me explaining that to you in person. You’d probably call the cops on me. Btw when this happens I can usually knock out like 2-5 solid concepts in a matter of 10 minutes. I don’t like to force these moments because nothing good ever came from rushing. Be quick, but don’t hurry. The second method is like a 2nd grade version of the first method and I only do it when I’m really struggling to think. I take paper and scribble random words/visuals that have been on my mind, and the notes grow more detailed/organized as I keep thinking. With this concept; it was method #1. I don’t think I even wrote anything down about it.
Research. I don’t like being the same as someone/something else. As soon as I have a concrete idea I’ll research for a couple hours. Blatant google image searches seem to be the most helpful because it provides the largest amount of results. I’ve said 17287 times but with art unless you’re doing some absurdly abstract art it’s pretty hard to be COMPLETELY and UTTERLY original. Even abstract can seem familiar sometimes. I don’t sweat it if there are subtle similarities in small details in other art. It’s fucking art. As long as I personally feel that I’ve had my take on the concept, created a new direction or gave new life to it, I’m satisfied. If I can create a different energy/represent or connect a different message with it, I’m satisfied. There are always small details for the concept that I can’t fully decide on so I’ll run them by a very very small ground of people. They get mad because 99.9% I stick with my original choice, but I really just like hearing their point of view.
Preparation. I get a lot of emails about available work, but with this piece it was different. This idea was important to me so I wanted to make it a pretty big size and do it ASAP. I decided on 6x4’. A lot of people want paintings but a 6ft painting isn’t exactly in everyone’s budget and even if it is they might not have space for it. The craziest thing was that maybe 40 min after I came up with concept I got an email from a new collector wondering if I had anything around 6x4’. I personally emailed them back with the concept and they responded asking how quickly they can lock the concept down. (For any collector that is reading this; that’s usually how I work. So even though usually everything is sold, my mind is usually has like 2-5 pieces that haven’t been made yet.
I wanted this piece to be the center of attention wherever it was so I decided to split it up as a 3 piece.
***I really tried to film a whole time lapse and was excited to be able to post it. So we put up two separate camera angles and then shit hit the fan. One of the guys who helps me with videos and production had some projects come up that were a little more important and then some files got lost. So all I really have is the first 18% of it. A choppy 18% at that..
Here are some questions you may have been asking during this sad excuse for a time lapse:
What are you putting in the background? I see you spraying things and then covering them up. Secrets don’t make friends.
Why does the footage start when the figure is white? Is that a stencil?
I’m not sure how long this piece took me, I think around 8 days. I usually coat my pieces in resin, but due to the collectors lighting set up and reflectiveness of the resin it sounded like a really awful idea.
Here are some pictures of the progression of the flowers and in the collectors house.
One of the most common questions I get via social media/email is “How do I make it as an artist?” and the answer is pretty simple. Some people just like to overcomplicate it for their own reasons. A lot of you don’t know me personally but I’m a very passionate person when it comes to art and being successful from it. So if you think I’m being brutally honest just think of it as tough love <3. Here are five things you (and every other artist trying to make it) need to hear to be successful. Oh, and “successful" can mean different things to different people but basically in this context it means being able to support yourself and making a living from loving what you do.
Find your style - THIS IS SO F&%ING IMPORTANT. Please understand that you NEED your own style. Why? No one wants to buy or support artists that look identical to someone else. When you think of the best artists out there, they’ve all brought something to the table that wasn’t there before. It’s very hard to be original in art, almost impossible and I understand that. I’m not always 100% original. BUT, I’ve changed it around in some way or expressed the idea of the concept in a different manner. Experiment with different mediums and see which one you feel most comfortable with. If you don’t have confidence in the tools you use, how are you supposed make your best work?
Quit being scared - So many people won’t take the jump to be an artist because they hear the horror stories. They hear the failures, the embarrassing stories, the struggle. I’m not completely sure if you’re aware but that’s in EVERY SINGLE CAREER. If you want to be a doctor, years and years of schooling and insane amounts of debt. Doesn't exactly sound like a cake walk. Every career has its slow starts and struggle periods, and a lot of the time people don’t see the long term of how it could turn out. They focus on the short term, and short term tells them that if they can’t have it right now, they can’t have it at all. People also forget you’re doing what you fucking love for a living while you’re “struggling”. That’s a lot better than the 63% (studies done in my head) of people that hate their lives while they work to get further in their career (that they also hate).
Not everyone will like your style - So, say you’ve taken the big leap. You’ve put the time in, worked on finding your style and conquered your fears of failing. Now it’s time to hear the critiques. I have a love/hate relationship with this part. It can tear you apart or build you up. Art is ridiculously subjective. I love getting feedback. Good or bad. I’m at the point where I don’t take things as harshly as I used to. Some people will hate it, some will adore it. Either way, the art world can be very judgmental so take nothing to heart. Keep it moving.
You are a business - This is the thing most artists miss. And honestly, it kind of pisses me off. “I’m not a business man, I’m a business, man.” One my favorite lyrics/quotes from Jay Z. You’re an artist, which means you’re literally a business. I know soooo many artists that refuse to promote themselves on social media or take other opportunities for good exposure. Why? Because you’d be selling out? Because that's "not what a real artist does"? Haha…uhm it’s 2016, we live in a digital world. Chances are people will miss your publicly displayed art because they're scrolling thru my IG feed It takes money to make money. It’s painfully simple, pay for some promotion or shout outs somewhere and suddenly your work is placed in front of thousands of people. Let me break it down for you. Money = exposure. Exposure = more of your art bought/more people aware of your work. It’s never been about the money for me and never will be, but I’m not stupid either. 80% of the time you’ll make your small investment back AND THEN SOME. This also goes for supplies and tools. I know artists slapping 5k price tags on stuff who used the cheapest materials and its very apparent. The quality of your work will improve tremendously.
Nothing happens over night - I know some of this sounds like a motivational talk more than anything but thats just because I genuinely get excited about art and seeing people succeed. I’m sure some people are ready to sprint to their work space to create something. That’s really awesome but while you’re using all this energy, don’t forget that just like every other career that it’s a process. Nothing happens over night and nothing that lasts long will come fast. It takes work and dedication to your craft to put yourself in a position to succeed. ‘
***Posting more articles soon so send any topic ideas you have to my email and I’ll to post some neat stuff.
**Please refer to #1 for an explanation and step by step process on how I do my pieces!