On Getting Knocked Down Seven Times.

“I  fall down seven times, I get up eight.” In Quenya
  1. I’m still unemployed.

Outside of some random, nameless employer actually taking the time out of their busy schedule last week to point out in great detail how stupendously under-qualified I am, I would have the opinion that no one is hiring at all, and every employer is posting want ads to fill some sort of quota.

     2. Establishing entrepreneurship when you don’t even have a mission statement…sucks.

I have learned that you just can’t start a business solely on the premise of making a buck. I know this because every other post on my Google+ page tells me so. In order to succeed, one must have a plan. I had a plan

…at least, I thought I had one…

~***~
So, I opened my store. It was something I was planning on doing for a while, all I need was more product to sell and I could officially open. That was my goal. Upon finding more time on my hands earlier this year, I decided to devote some time into doing so, and it was good. Honest work, applying new found skills to something that I like doing. For me. Not anyone else. For me.

A few weeks passed, and there was no time to rest on my laurels. I need more designs.

But what?

What other idea did I have for sale? It took about 5 seconds for me to stumble onto my eureka moment. “I know,” I thought. “I’ll finish up those projects I meant to finish last year!”

The project in question is this…

(Wow…sorry, looking at this now, I’m just taking note of where I was a few months ago to where I am now. Which is to say I’m still nowhere near pro… Give me a minute… I just have to shake my head a little longer.)

I’m online doing a Google Search, or I’m window shopping on Etsy. I’m shuffling down the aisles at my local Flea Market. I holding back the bile as I shop at Wal-Mart. It doesn’t take too much of a stretch to figure out that our society is based on plagiarism in varying degrees; Every idea is a re-hash of something that had already came before it. The whole Twilight phenomenon, for example. There are sections at my local Barnes & Noble devoted entirely to pouty, insolent, post-pubescent vampires, or some variation on the theme. Good artists borrow, great artists steal, and there’s no avoiding it. Sure, as a creator/author/artist, you could blaze your own trail and with a little luck, your idea might catch on in five years or so. Might. In about five years time, you may be able to reap the rewards or your original idea, but in the meantime, you’ve got bills to pay. Why not cater to the broadest common denominator? Why not sell out just to survive? People do it all the time. It’s not like I’m going to be doing it forever.

Image courtesy of here

I got it in my head last year that I could manufacture a series of t-shirts that was based on the concept…CONCEPT… that every major kingdom in the FICTIONAL land of Westeros, as bloodthirsty and greedy as they may be, they may have had at one time, an institute of higher learning. Far fetched as it may be, it’s still a pretty good concept, and from what I see (and to back up my previous point) I am not the first one to come up with this. If you have a few moments, do a Google Image search on “House Stark” or any other house in this land made constructed by Mr. Martin, and you’ll see what I mean. Yes it’s plagiarism, but it has evolved beyond that. It’s an appreciation of form of art, which in this case is pop culture, by not imitating it, but by embellishing it, relishing it, and perhaps running with a concept. These are my thoughts, my mission statement in my head, as I take the better part of two weeks, gather up all of my notes and tutorials and web pages and sequester myself away in front of my computer to further my skills and perhaps, with any luck, to make some money.

Everything. On the page.

I don’t know which was the more challenging at times, finding and/or constructing the right vectors and designs, or the actual planning. It’s a routine that I was used to a lifetime ago in college, but it’s something I would have never thought I would ever to apply it to a livelihood. Years ago, I was entering the real world where they are more interested in numbers. I know it might be considered the grind to some people, and a fruitless endeavor to most, and I may turn crusty and jaded before too long, but I’m just starting. And even though I have yet to successfully get my name out there or make any money, for the time being, I finally like what I’m doing. I’m happy.

So, after applying my proboscis to a spinning wheel of stone for days, this is what I made.

 
Not bad, right? T-shirt worthy? I first started this thinking in terms of what kind of institution this is in relation to where they were located. For instance, for House Baratheon, instead of focusing on the obvious Stag-with-a-crown logo that every one else does, I instead decided to do research on the kingdom, like what does the population do, what is there main source of revenue, that sort of thing. Full disclosure: I never watched the show, and I’m only 1/10th of the way through the book so I have nothing tangible to work with.I would rather research the subject that I have no idea on rather than make stuff up. I had very little to go by other than the geography. They are a coastal kingdom, that’s pretty much all I’ve found. Coastal town equals fishing town equals maritime culture equals naval academy. Right? Not too far removed and not too far out that one would scratch their head trying to figure it out. I’m looking for originality. I’m looking for my niche in this world of one-offs and subtle borrowing. I am being careful by trying to be original.
Turns out, the company that I’m selling my work through doesn’t see it that way. It turns out that the company I’m submitting my work to, feels that blatant rip offs of intellectual property by an established, albeit independent designer, is more noteworthy than a designer who is just starting out who actually puts thought into his designs. I’m reading this email from the company as I’m putting color to my work so I could expand the line a bit; perhaps adding a bumper sticker or two would do the trick. I’m reading this as I’m taking more notes to remember the hex number of the colors I’m using. I’m reading this, and I whisper to myself, “keep going.”
All at once, I remember all the times that I stood up for something, anything, and…
  • was told to shut up
  • was beat up in a school yard
  • was told I was being immature
  • was informed that I didn’t know what I was talking about
  • was told that my services were no longer needed
  • was ignored and/or ostracized
  • had my life threatened

I remember all those times, and they just pass right over me. It would be right about this time that I would throw a fit, and go sulk for years.

But not this time.
Now is the time for getting up. In the course of writing this blog, I have discovered a handful of websites that would gladly take my business. Just because I’m unable to do what I need to do with them, doesn’t mean I can’t go through someone else. It’s not the end of the world.
I read the bad news email, I finish my project, and I stare it my page full of notes and sketches I remember every single time I was knocked back. Then I think to myself, “You know what? I’m glad they slapped me down. Because I know I’m better than this.” I’m better than all of this. Instead of pandering, I could have been spending all this time making something unique and different and genuine. I don’t need to rely on pop culture to get my point across. Collect what you did, remember why you got into this to begin with, take a deep breath, close your eyes and do the only thing you can do in this situation…
…Turn the page…

 

I used to fear the blank page. Now, I welcome it.

I have to remember, constantly remember, to look for opportunities where I would have seen defeat. As I was writing this, I’ve made another sale over the weekend.

I got knocked down, but I got up again…

…you’re never gonna keep me dowOOOOOHHH NOOOO! LOOK OUT!

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