Motivation Monday: Halloween Edition

Maybe it’s the time of the year.

Maybe it’s because I haven’t posted anything in over a week and I needed to stretch out and do something before I lose more followers.

Maybe it’s because I re-opened my t-shirt shop with a couple of new designs, and one of them was a design that I’ve been preparing for a couple of months, but it wasn’t completely finished until I found a technique that woke it up a little bit and I’m probably going to reapply this technique on future designs.

Like it? Buy it here.

Maybe it’s because I could stop saying to myself, “It’s only a matter of time before they reboot this” when I recently heard the news that they are finally remaking The Crow. My only hope is that they will be closer to the source material this time. Nothing against the movie, I had the movie adaptation on video. Watched it so much that the tape broke.

Maybe it’s all these things that prompted me to make today’s post, but since it the season for all things horrifying (Ebola hysteria notwithstanding), I thought this quote was particularly motivational.

“The Crow” was an independent comic produced in the late 80s. It’s a dark series involving darker characters and even darker story line that was inspired by truly unfortunate and even darker, real events. I’ll spare any spoilers for the one or two of you who haven’t read it yet. I will say that the antagonist of the story isn’t the most virtuous of souls. He is, however, one of the most tortured. Vengeance does that to a guy…especially for a guy that just came back from the dead to kill the people that killed him and his fiancé…

Anyway, today’s motivation quote appears at the end of the book, as the hero returns to the afterlife reunited with his beloved. This quote has always stuck with me. First, in a paint-my-fingernails-black-and-listen-to-The-Cure-while-I-lock-myself-in-my-room kind of way. But later, especially in these days of striking out on my own, I’ve reinterpreted it as a way of saying, “it ain’t over, till it’s over”.

Nothing is over until you say it is. Nothing. Not your life, your love, your wisdom, your empathy. Nothing. Yes they may come with bullets and crude weapons, they may come with a “cease and desist”, they may come and liquidate your entire department while promising you that if another position opens up, you’ll be the first in line and then 8 months later, advertise for that position in the want ads and “forget” to CALL YOU AND OFFER IT TO SOMEONE ELSE. ARE YA HAPPY, YA BASTARDS?!!!

….sorry….

While you still draw breath, you still have a chance. Poker players refer to this as “a chip and a chair“; so long as you have those two things, you still have a shot at the jackpot. It ain’t over till it’s over. Don’t give up. You still have a shot and so long as you are still walking and talking, you have a chance. You’re not dead yet.

It’s only death if you accept it…

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WDYDWYD Part 1

Photo courtesy of Kyle Harmon

I’ve never been to Burning Man. It was one of these phenomenon that arrived a little too late in my life for me to truly appreciate. Were I a younger man with literally thousands of dollars, weeks of time, and an abundance of unused brain cells at my disposal, I would make that yearly pilgrimage to the middle of the desert not giving a flying cuss as to my motivations for doing so. Sure, I would have gone. But, I’m not that younger man anymore. The older man is failing to see the appeal in it.

I didn’t have Burning Man when I was growing up. We had The Grateful Dead when Uncle Jerry was still alive. Back then, it was different. Back then, it was all about freedom and love…and…music and…expressing yourself…and…oh, never mind.

Honestly, the much-hyped festival has hardly crossed my mind in years. That is, until recently when I was reminded of one the movement’s rallying cries: WDYDWYD? I’m sure there are one or two of you out there that are nodding in recognition, but the rest of you are all like, “Does he know he printed a typo… in all caps?” Stick with me, explanations in the form of long winded posts are coming.

~***~

Got knocked down again last week.

Strange feeling, this. This feeling that all of your progress gets swept from underneath you. Perhaps it’s some psychic payback from some botched employment from years ago. Perhaps it’s the universe letting me know that this is how it’s going to be when I strike out on my own. I’m hoping that all the bad stuff is getting out of the way early so the rest of my endeavor would provide smoother sailing.

Here’s to hoping.

I took some time off. Partially because I needed to regroup. I needed to regroup because I spent a lot of time on some t-shirt designs that I thought were at least slightly unique, only to be told that all my hours of planning and constructing and publishing that I needed a note from a live author and a dead author in order to continue using a concept; I wrote a Stephen King quote in Quenya. Granted, I should have researched further to find out that the quote I used was in The Shawshank Redemption, but it didn’t matter because the quote was written in a fictional language. It didn’t matter because at the end of the day, nobody cares!

Nobody cares.

You can read this? Man, you’re good!

In today’s world, the most anyone is able to do is just catch a quick glance at what you’re wearing, like it, dislike it, acknowledge it, and move on before they get accused of staring at someone’s chest. I honestly don’t think that people will stop someone on the street who is wearing my shirt and say, “HEEEEEYYYY!….Hold on a minute!…is that a Stephen King quote?” For a while, I was thinking that it might have been better if I left a few things out of the description of the product. Maybe I shouldn’t have name-dropped and played dumb, “Uhhh, I made this. I don’t know what it is…anybody want it?

The rules stipulate that I can’t use a quote for monetary gain if the author is still alive and the only quotes I could use are the ones in the public domain, or if the author has been dead for at least 70 years. If the author is still alive, you need to ask permission. Fine. I made a mistake. I don’t think I should have been censored for it, though. I didn’t see what the problem was and I told this company so, which also turned out to be final correspondence as I yanked all my designs from the site and shut down my store.You could say I threw a tantrum. I did. I’ll admit it. I picked up my football and went home. Not because I felt I was unjustly scrutinized…well…not entirely, anyway. I did this because several other designers on several other websites (including the one I just left) are doing and have been doing the exact same thing, but on a grander, perhaps more professional scale, and no one bats an eyelid. I contribute my ideas, and I’m told that I’m breaking the law. How can other people do it with impunity, and I get crushed?

All of a sudden, I’m back at my grade/middle/high schools where I’m getting beat up because the color of my skin was a threat. All of a sudden, I’m making a point about the First Amendment and expression at a previous job, only to be
told I was being ridiculous. All of a sudden, I’m told by the woman that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with that the business plan that we both came up with was a bad idea and it’s all my fault that it didn’t work, and that was the reason she was leaving me.

All of a sudden, I’m left with nothing but great ideas and good intentions of which no one cares. Just like always.

I took some time off.

“Chewie, is that you?”

I’m a freshly minted father. I’m an old father with a fresh coat of paint. For the passed few days, I’ve been sitting in front of my screen trying unsuccessfully to type with one hand while I cradle a baby and a bottle with the other. I found it more important to look into my boy’s eyes and to kiss his chubby cheeks and to have little conversations about whatever’s on his little baby mind then to scream into a vacuum and ultimately get nothing done anyway. Of course, these days, he takes a lot of naps and when he does look at me, he looks at me with this little disappointed look. I know, in the grand scheme of things, he’s just moments old and he is still working on focusing on things that are a few inches in front of him. But I can’t help but think I see my own reflection when I look at him, and it chills my bones; this disappointment feedback.

I haven’t posted anything in days, and I hadn’t planned on it either. I needed a break, and that involves doing a whole bunch of nothing. Take the time to breathe. Get my bearings straight. Clear my head. Start fresh when I’m ready. Before I took my sabbatical, I engaged with fellow Google plussers by inquiring if anyone knew of a place where I wouldn’t be scrutinized on a daily basis and conduct my business peacefully. One of the answers came back in the form of a question. +Deborah Chezem asked:

I wanted to respond. I really, really did. I had every intention of going through my back-story one more time and probably give her all the links to my posts that pretty much say the same thing over and over again. I could have gone that route, but a memory from back in my Facebook days came back and painted the question in a different color. What are my needs? Why am I doing this? To put this another way…

Why Do You Do What You Do?

Am I doing this for the right reasons? Are my intentions correct? Is there such a thing in regards to this?

More on this later…

Upon Staring at Something a Little Too Long…

Have you ever wrote a word down, perhaps in the middle of a sentence, and you are confident that that’s the word you want to use. It’s correct in it’s spelling and usage, but for some reason…

…it…just…doesn’t…look…right.

Maybe it’s because you’ve been staring at it for so long that the meaning of the word itself has been lost, so much to the point that you forgot why you put it there in the first place, has that ever happened to you?

…anyone?…

Okay, just me. Moving on.

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been, among other things, creating new designs and polishing up some old ones, and putting everything on t-shirts. After a few marathon sessions of uploading everything to CafePress, I have a feeling I’m turning into something resembling this…

I have researched my competition, and have decided to cast a wider net; take a chance and apply designs on items other than t-shirts. Take every design that is black and white and apply a little color to it and see where that takes me.

I started with this…

Just a little totem of positivity that I introduced a few posts back. It seems to work for the most part, although for some of the dark shirts, it might not. But I can’t be hindered. I need to take chances and make mistakes, something has to catch on. It’s not that I’m worried, because I’m not. I’m enjoying the process. Honestly, I’m having a good time.

Then, I went out on a limb and tried something new…

“Hope is a good thing… and no good thing ever dies.”

Something happened. Whether it was on purpose or not, I felt the need to steer my ship in the direction of something hopeful. As if I needed some psychic healing and the only way to get it was to send out messages of hope. As if every message I interpret, gets me closer to feeling…I dunno…better? The feeling closer to having air in my lungs rather than feeling like I’m drowning? The feeling like a future isn’t as murky as it once was? Hope? The above is a quote from Stephen King, and it’s translated into Quenya to the best of my ability (somebody, please feel free to correct my grammar). This one feels good. This one feels like I’m onto something.

After I exhausted every possible product to put that design on, I decided to venture further into this. The next project, I feel a little iffy on. This one, I may need a second opinion.

This is a derivation of a quote from Antonio Porchia; an turn of the century Argentinian Poet whose concise; almost haiku-like poetry has influenced many of his contemporaries. Blah blah blah, read the article.

I don’t think I have a real question at this late hour as I finish off this post. I am, however, looking for opinions. I’ve been staring at this for too long, and it’s losing its meaning the longer I look at it. Is this too vague? Should I even bother? I kind of like it, and it means something to me, but that doesn’t always mean it’s a good idea to act on it. Please let me know what you think, and thank you very much.

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!

What I’ve Been Working On.

Blog’s a little lonely these days.

I’m sorry, hon. I’ve been trying to craft a living out of nothing. I know you’ve been lonely. My typing fingers aren’t as accurate as they used to be either.

But here’s the thing…

I’m still unemployed. This isn’t the first time that I’ve been chucked out like the trash for one reason or another. But this is the first time where I’ve decided to not rely on someone else to hire me. This is the first time where I decided to go my own direction, the first time where I make my own future, to actually contribute to society. I love to write. I also like creating things. I want to do what I love, but in order to do that, I want to do the thing that I like.

But that’s old news, blah blah blah…heard it all before. This is what I’ve been working on.

Latest design. I’m still falling in love with this style, and every project I’ve been working on having been gravitating around it. However, these days, I’ve kind of been throwing in the towel because finding the resources I need have become scarce (damn you, Shutterstock). So instead of spending hours looking for stuff I already have, or finding a way around getting the good stuff for free without getting busted for it. I decided that if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Details will come soon in my Portfolio page…eventually.

Anyway, I spent all weekend sweating over the smaller details while diving headfirst into some sort of philosophical conundrum. Today was dedicated to actually putting it together. I’m okay with it. Trying to figure out if I want this as t-shirt material or not. Anyway, it’s late and I’m tired of looking at this for the day.

Taking any and all advice and criticism. Thank you very much.

Does This Rant Make Me Look Fat?

You Have Been Warned…

Yesterday, I went on a tear. A fire was lit underneath me and I couldn’t stop writing. One right after another, little things that keep bombarding me from news outlets. I mean, forget that Kiev is probably going to go the way of Syria any time now. Forget that Pussy Riot was publicly flogged in the street by government thugs while the Putin administration scratches their collective noggin and wonders out loud why nobody likes them. Forget about this winter’s weather and how it made 1963 look like a passing shower. Forget about Elk River and how the company responsible for poisoning most of West Virginia with impunity suddenly went magically bankrupt when called out on it. Forget about all that. There is only so much yelling-at-the-tv type news that I can take before I make that turn into madness. Living in Florida, there’s only so much one can take. On this particular day, there were three things that pushed down that straw ever so gently on top of that camel.

This is the first….

Photo and Story from the Associated Press, published in the New York Post, 12/19/14

 A Utah mother, while shopping in a mall with her 18 year old…well…young man, became so enraged at a Pac Sun display of t shirts that showed scantily clad models, that she did what every other normal mother of an 18 year old young man would do… Went into the store and purchased every last t-shirt on display…about $600 worth in total.

Now, granted that this is Utah. This is a state where bikinis are…shall we say…out of style. This is a state of Ultra-Conservative Mormons who have a history of considering Rolling Stone, Cream, Tiger Beat…pornography (thank you Jello Biafra). This is a state where Victoria Secret is close to being outlawed, but Abercrombie & Fitch still have their half naked male models displayed all over their walls and nobody bats an eyelid. This is a state where gay marriage is considered icky, but a man marrying multiple wives at the same time is a-ok. Utah is what it is and a tiger can’t change it’s stripes overnight. All you can do is just shake your head. Still, I can’t help thinking back to 2003.

…Does anyone remember the whole “Freedom Fry” thing? Around the time when ‘Murica REALLY started losing its mind?

In 2003, President Bush officially declared War on Terror at a UN Security Council Meeting. The French Minister of Foreign Affairs (which only sounds sexier than it actually is) declared in no uncertain terms that France will not support an invasion of Iraq. Upon hearing this, a lot of people in this country got a little bit unamused. Fox News fanned the flames of xenophobia and dredged up centuries of distrust towards the French (because, y’know, that’s what they do) by shouting their oh-so unbiased reports on Freedom Fries and Freedom Toast and Freedom Kissing and Freedom Ticklers and on and on… but one item they “reported” on caught my attention.

After the rash of banishing of the word French from everything on American markets, “Sorry, French’s Mustard, I know your product is named after a person and not the country, but you are going to have to change your name to ‘Billy Bob’s Kick Ass Yeller Hot Dog Sauce.’ Because ‘Murica, that’s why!” After all that madness started getting old, there was a movement by some people to buy all the Champagne they could and dump it out in the streets (sorry I couldn’t find a link for this. This actually happened, but it looks like all information on it has been wiped from the internet…hmmm). I remember seeing images on the morning news of these well dressed wall street types buying cases of really expensive French wine and dumping it into the streets like they were shooting for the same effect the Boston Tea Party did a long time ago. All the while, these well-coifed morons we’re laughing in the style of “Muaahhahahaaa…We sure showed them Froggies! Hehhehehhhh…” What you couldn’t hear in the background was the entire country of France laughing at them. “Ha HA, américains stupides! La blague est sur vous! Vous deviez toujours acheter notre champagne pour le déverser dehors. Ainsi remercie de tout l’argent comptant. Vous êtes un crétin complet!” Loosely translated it says, “You do realize that you had to BUY the Champagne in the first place in order to dump it out, right? Oh well…YES! oohhhh…[shake fist] I guess you showed us, what with you giving us a whole bunch of money…in…protest…soooo….GOOD LUCK!”

It would be one thing if they brazenly did a smash and grab job in every liquor store in their zip code; breaking in in the middle of the night and taking everything with a French label, taking it all to the nose-bleed section of a Wal Mart parking lot, and then setting it on fire. THAT would have made more of a statement. But they didn’t do that. This mother of an 18 year old young man could have made more of a statement by chucking paint balloons at the window thereby covering up all the naughty bits so as not to offend the eyes of her impressionable, young, innocent 18 year old son. THAT would have made more of a statement. But she didn’t do that. She instead choose to spend close to $600 of her own money, boosting this franchise’s revenue, probably enabling them to receive a huge bonus check and a pat on the back by the CEO, bringing them that much closer to opening another store nearby, all because she was protesting the so-called “indecent imagery” printed on the t-shirts. You didn’t make a stand against the tyranny of indecency, you actively participated in Capitalism. Congratulations! Way to stick it to the man!

Look, I grew up in the Eighties, and this whole uptight, conservative housewife act is nothing new to me. And

AGGGHHH!!! MAKE IT STAHP!!!

while I agree that sometimes boundaries can be pushed a little too far on things like pseudo erotic imagery on a t shirt, or unfettered access to 4Chan, or The Tea Party agenda, Justin Beiber, Miley Cyrus, Dance Moms, Real Housewives of…, TMZ, Birthers, Ted Cruz, Gangham Style, twerking, Hot Pockets, and the de-evloution of the English language in general, I also agree that shopping at the mall is gross. I however do not agree that shielding your 18 year old, [technically an] adult from images of boobies does anything for him. All it does is confirm that you still treat him like a toddler, and will probably make him not want to be seen with you. Ever. And honestly, did I mention that your son was 18? I don’t care if you live in Provo, Utah or Cairo, Egypt, if you feel that your 18 year old son is emotionally damaged from looking at something as innocuous as The Swimsuit Issue of Sports Illustrated or, god forbid, certain sections of a JC Penny Catalog, then he’s probably gay. Deal with THAT little nugget of information, Mrs. Religious Nutjob.

Oh mah goodn…I mean AAGGHH!! MY EYES!!

The mother is quoted as saying,  “I hope my efforts will inspire others to speak up within their communities,” So does every other shop and franchise owner in every other mall in America, ma’am. So do they…

Picture Credits:
Rant Ahead
Tipper
Kate Upton

Loaded Statement (Under New Management)

Loaded Statement

That’s right, I’m opening up shop today. New designs coming soon. I have an explanation behind my Grand Opening and I’ll blog about that soon. But, for right now, buy a t-shirt or a coffee mug!

 UPDATE:


Loaded Statement is dead. Long live Loaded Statement


AUTHOR’S NOTE: This was first posted back in 2011, it has been updated as of today since the explanation and subsequent blog about this never happened. We are no longer doing business as Loaded Statement. Come to think of it, we didn’t do much business as Loaded Statement anyway. Today, we are officially Forest City Design Company. New designs, better tools and a new vision. Think of it as being under new management.

Thank you all so much for your continued support!