Up in the Air

Wowza! Time’s a flyin’ by these days. Last week was a blur and I missed this Monday’s post. Things are generally on the up and up though. I’ve spent a lot of time getting comfortable with my power tools; it’s becoming quite fun actually. My makeshift driveway workshop is a magic cloud of sawdust that spits out strange art and small furniture. If I could spend every day just building things, I might not be unhappy. That’s not to say that I am unhappy, but I’m discovering that there’s a lot more to being an artist than making art.

From the moment I had a few finished pieces, they were supposed to fly off the shelf and into loving homes. Unfortunately, knowing that deep down, every wallet-carrying biped has a closet physiological need for what I make, doesn’t cut it. I am charged with the indomitable task of getting even a fraction of you to acknowledge, embrace, and satisfy this need. It should be alright though, I have a marketing degree. Ha! That weapon has long since slipped out of my holster. What I am armed with is the internet, a vast network of friends and acquaintances, and the (underrated) satisfaction of actively developing a passion. I’m learning to exploit this arsenal as I’ve reached a point in my projects where I can no longer ignore the fact that sooner than later, this all is going to have to become profitable if I’m to keep it up.

Now I actually have to make decisions on where I need to spend my time, as opposed to jumping from task to task like I have been, as impulse dictates. I’m beginning to establish a rough order of operation but it requires quite a bit of work. It goes a little something like this: network online, produce a respectable inventory of “complete” and varied art, network online, disperse art around the city in appropriate restaurants and places of business, network online, design and build new creations to maintain interest and variety, network online, rinse, and repeat.

Meanwhile, I have to strenuously smother the fire within that rages to distract me with such mundane endeavors as inducting pen acrobatics into the transcendental “Desktop Olympics” and making a video to prove it.

If you have a unique Desktop Olympics talent, please don’t hesitate to share it in a comment below. These games are up and coming, you know. Plus, face it, this is likely the best chance you have to become an Olympian.

I’m beginning to come to terms with the fact that I won’t always be able to corral such wild creative tangents. Although frustrating at times, it’s a gift really, to be so cheaply and easily entertained. As long as I can manage to return to focus and be generally productive overall, I’ll let some distractions fly.

Let’s see, where was I…

As I get deeper into my projects, I am able to pick out more and more of the amateur mistakes that I’ve been making and confute some of the preconceived notions I had about doing what I’m doing. For example, I know now that art does not sell itself. And a piece of art is never completely finished; it’s done enough to let go of. And often when people ask if they can help, they’re all talk. And it’s not uncommon to doubt the work that you do, or question its likability. Nor is it uncommon to doubt the possibility of making even a temporary living off a glorified hobby. And creating an online presence for yourself is incredibly time-consuming and cannot be half-assed.

As I gain momentum though, I thrive on the positive feedback and the gradual changing of attitude of those that surround me. Certain friends and critics are coming around with the realization that I’m actually serious about this. The skepticism remains, but slowly but surely it’s being drowned out. And with that, my spirit is high.

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Action Reaction

As I get increasingly excited over Wall Woes, IMPARTWORKS, and my other projects, these topics find their way into more and more of my everyday conversations. When somebody asks me what I do, I proudly tell them about the blog and my art, and their potential moving forward. As it turns out, if there exist two job titles on this planet that impart upon people a sense of skepticism and utter faithlessness, they are “blogger” and “artist.” Given the brevity of my surfeit of prior “career moves”, it’s possible that within my group of friends it’s a simple case of me having cried wolf one too many times. However, I’ll go out on a limb and say that “blogger” and “artist” are two terms not generally synonymous with profitability anyway. And since money is the only measure of success recognized by the majority of my friends, I’ve been graced with more than the recommended daily dose of raised eyebrows and disinclined “Oh…that’s great. Good for you”s.

That said, I’m still super stoked about where this is all going. If anything, I’m even more driven now thanks to all these sticks in the mud. Now I have something to prove. Also, it’s becoming more and more evident that in this stage of my “independent” career move, I need to surround myself only with those who are unconditionally supportive of what I’m doing. The fact that these people are so few and far between is actually a big advantage as this frees up a great deal of time and energy for me to work on the things that matter. If I didn’t have reason enough to distance myself from distractions before, I certainly do now.

In response to the reaction I’ve been getting, I’ve decided to conduct a little experiment. Starting today, for one week I’m going to refrain from any and all physical contact with my world of friends outside of a work environment and focus solely on Wall Woes and company. I’m challenging myself to actively address the challenges, needs and goals set forth in Laying the Foundation. I’m genuinely curious to see how much I can accomplish in a week. I don’t know what I’m capable of since I’ve never been focused on anything for longer than 38 seconds.

Laying the Foundation

I’m diving head first into an undefined career. I have no plan to speak of, which I like, but I’m starting to feel like I could use some direction. I’m going to attempt to establish this on my own by getting my bearings. After all, I can’t very well decide where to go if I don’t know where I stand. Let’s see what I’m working with.

Challenges

  • I have the attention span of a goldfish in fish bowl of coffee. If I don’t have several different but related projects to fall back on when my focus lapses, I run the risk of abandoning everything.
  • I have decided to be my own boss, but I have very little experience in the fields of self-employment that I’m committing to. This has led me to jump ship on several of my previous business plans.
  • The list of things I would like to accomplish in my lifetime is growing faster than the list of my accomplishments. Again, this has led me abandon projects in the past.
  • I am something of a social butterfly, but my success is going to rely enormously on my ability to set time apart for myself.
  • Time, money, and life as I knew it.  Making drastic changes to attitude demands a notable adjustment to lifestyle. To really change speed, you’ve gotta shift gears. However, as I’m making this transition I still have to support myself which requires, at least temporarily, that I maintain some old practices like my current serving job. So the real challenges here are balance and time management because I have to give my new projects the attention they need while riding out my old lifestyle to get by.

Life Clouds

Alright, I’m ready to tackle all of that. Almost. There are a few more things I need to consider. I have some basic needs that, if not met, will hinder my ability to manage the challenges. If I can’t satisfy these, forget the sunshine, it’s the lightning bolt for me.

Needs

  • Mental stimulation – I need to expose myself to the types of challenges and environments that demand my focus and spark my creativity. This includes spending time outside!
  • Diversity – On par with my first challenge, I need several varied projects that each have the potential to blossom into opportunity. On top of keeping me engaged, this will serve as job security.
  • Expertise – I need credibility, and for that I need to be an expert in something. This takes time, so my projects need to maintain a common thread despite their differences in nature.
  • Health and fitness – I do my best work when I feel good. I feel good when I’m in shape and eating right. This is so easy to ignore, but it’s as important to my success as the actual work I do.
  • Mobility – I enjoy having the freedom to travel, so every opportunity I take advantage of needs to allow room for that eventually.

Now my plate is filling up, but there’s still something missing. What is the ultimate goal? It turns out, that’s a tough question. The life I think I want is constantly evolving, as is my understanding of the life I have. This is part of the reason I am not devising a set plan of action. Instead, I’m relying heavily on the short-term goals because those will always be more relevant to me at any given point, and will allow me more flexibility.

Goals

  • Set goals often. By habitually setting short-term goals with strict deadlines, I’ll be forced to stay focused and “git ‘er done,” so to speak. In addition, I will be rewarded with a recurring sense of accomplishment.
  • Get organized. If I’m going to be busy, I have to be organized to maximize my efficiency.
  • Ask for help when I need it! (Help!)
  • Sign up and get familiar with more social media and networking sites. As much as I dread this, I know it’s the best way for me to get exposure.
  • Have this blog up and running by the end of May, 2013.
  • Have fun! If I can’t enjoy it, I’ve chosen the wrong path.

Now, to prove that unconditional commitment I was talking about…

Gem

We all have dreams that crystallize our hopes for our greatest achievements, happiest moments or desired pleasures. Most of us find our dreams at the end of sentences beginning with “If only…” Sometimes our passion makes us bold enough to live out one or two. The challenge for all of us is to place our dreams within the “big picture” — the overview of our lives — and believe that we can fulfill them. Our dreams are the chunks of coal from which we will cut our diamonds.

Bob Rotella
sports psychologist, author