As I look back on my professional history, one thing is clear. Every job, I have ever had has been incredibly demanding. Every real job that is, when I was scooping ice cream at Coldstone’s Creamery it wasn’t that demanding. Since then there has been a clear pattern; high stakes, fast pace, intense time investment.
It started at my father’s house and carried on from my time in the Army, and at American Apparel, up until now with all of the MZK Projects. I have become accustomed to burning the midnight oil and grinding it out until the job is done. At 12 years old I remember working in my front yard, pulling weeds by flashlight because my father said I couldn’t go in the house until I had finished. He locked the door and would check my work periodically until it was satisfactory. Only then could I get a pass inside for dinner. It was 9:30 pm by the time I was done. Thanks Dad.
Just this past weekend I was up until 6:30 am on a work bender cranking out a magazine layout for another endeavor I hope to pursue. I laid down to go to bed as the sun was rising and I wasn’t even tired. I couldn’t even sleep more than 2 and a half hours before I had to get up and dash of to host my acro yoga group at the park. Everything was okay though because the big acrobatic motions in acro are reflexive and physical. It’s not like I was going to be doing my taxes, that logic was revealing. I was making a great justification for not getting the amount of sleep I needed to function optimally because of what I was going to be doing the next day.
This isn’t just me, this is all of us, artists and entrepreneurs. Whether we have a ridiculous editorial deadline 12 hours away or we need to prepare an investor deck for a big meeting. Maybe you broke your algorithm and your presentation is tomorrow. ( Silicon Valley, anyone? Ok just me. That’s fine.)
Point is, its not that my jobs are highly demanding of me. It is that I am demanding of myself. The whole time I thought it was my boss that was making me work crazy hours, but it was myself. No one told me I had to cancel my plans with some Tinder date and binge work all Saturday night. No one but myself. No one told me I have to repeatedly bail, flake, and dismiss my friends to get everything I want done. No one but me.
Some say it is self discipline and work ethic, others say it is passion, others may even say it is necessity. I mean to be quite honest, I probably should have been up looking for clients or trying to research investors. But no, I was working on a magazine that probably isn’t going to make me any money for a little while.So that cancels out necessity.
To be honest it is probably a combination of all of these things, the perfect storm of inspiration, adrenaline, and determination. Its all the stuff they take about in documentaries after someone is successful. I wonder if the quality of my work was worth not taking a break to complete it.
As artists we often have trouble with capturing momentum, so we pull all nighters because we fear not having the drive to do it a moment later. We view these moments of creativity like flashes that must be captured when present. But maybe that is the problem right there.
After getting back to my work, I found a million typo’s and even some major aesthetic issues that I didn’t fix because I was so intent on getting the work OUT and on paper. (Even in this very blog post there are tons.)
It served me well to refine, but I looked at it with a different mind. On second pass, I look at my work with an entirely different perspective. It is the analytical mind that takes over and that is how I know I needed to rest.
If you are laying in bed, tossing and turning with an idea. Then get up and act on it, or drop it on a bedside notepad. That creative surge may come when it wants to and you really should seize those moments for those great gems. But do so without fear.
Creativity is a product of your diet, just like everything else. You are in full control over what ideas you consume. Your idea consumption effects the quality of your idea output. So before you freak out about how infrequently your brilliant ideas are, ask yourself when the last time you experienced something new or read something that really challenged your mind. It doesn’t have to be pleasant or even thought provoking, it just has to stir you up. (See Dynamite)
As far as sleep,if the next day you need to be on point, get your rest. If the next day is not as important push through.
Your analytical mind needs rest, to capture the details, work with precision, and make perceive depth, gradient, spelling errors, and nuances in color.
Your creative mind can be more useful even on less sleep, when your critical brain is tired from the day, you may be in a drunken sleepy state or giddy. The lack of rest to your critical mind actually helps get inhibition out of the way so you can open up your mind to radical thought.
This is only with energy as a constant. If you need energy then you should rest, but that is not so much about sleep as it is recuperation. This is all my experience, and I want to leave that out there. We’ll be presenting more formal studies on energy and rest as a resource in August with Citizens Of Culture, so I hope that will be informative.
Simple rule I live by is this. When I need my analytical mind the next day, I pack it in even if I am tired. If I can make due, or need my creative, broad strokes mind the next day then I push through.
Sometime you have to take the time to land, before you crash.
Firmly rooted in the present, carrying wisdom from the past, but looking to the future.
@gingerleila is a beast behind the lens!
I always end up working on the weekends.
No such thing as too many good people in one place.
I am not what you would call a health nut. I am not an ardent gym goer. But I am in better shape now than I have ever been, the reason why is my body philosophy. My goal is just to stay fit.
The standards I have set for my diet are pretty basic. I eat balanced meals cooked with real food. Its about as simple as that. I just limit the amount of processed foods I eat but there are definitely some GMO veggies I’ve eating in the last week.
I know it is not the best food possible, so most of the time when people come to my house I just offer them a simple snack, water, or juice. When I know I am going to be pot lucking or cooking dinner or brunch for others, I make the extra effort to buy the organic stuff, but it’s not something my budget can really sustain at the moment to be quite honest.
I’m not going into all of my work out habits and everything, I just used my diet to illustrate the casuality of my perspective. I am not a fitness nut just someone who values staying fit.
It all comes down to this one moment, when I met a woman who looked to be in great shape, but because she was a smoker, couldn’t walk a single mile, or up a flight of stairs with out being struck with fatigue. She may have had other issues but the point that I got was that looks can be deceiving.This point was further illustrated when I watched this 325lb guy do a full split after dancing for a minute and a half at a dance audition. He was incredibly fit, but he just looked “overweight”.
I began to re associate my ideal body to something that had more to do with function than form. A vision of health, based on what you could DO with your body and not what it looked like necessarily.
Being muscular, lean, or in shape is great, but if you are not in good condition to tackle life’s obstacles then being skinny and having muscles is nothing more than a fashion statement. For example, if I can’t dance, with a woman for at least 30 minutes without a break, I know I am not fit.
Anything beyond meeting the needs of my body, lifestyle, and environment is gratuitous. I thought it would be fun to do handstands, so I learned them but it doesn’t really serve me any purpose beyond recreation. Its like being really good at drawing, its a hobby.
Anyway, I digress, the point is that I look at my life, and the demands that are placed on my body and they match up. I don’t like driving, but I love riding my bike, so I have to be in good enough shape to do that. If at any point my physical condition keeps me from doing the things that I love , I know I need to make a change.
When I look in the mirror, I will always see imperfections, I’m not very tall, I think my knees bow in a weird way, and my complexion isn’t even all over my body BUT I’m okay with that stuff. Because when I look in the mirror I see a body that get’s me to the dance floor and lets me express myself. I know am strong enough to lift my father or grandfather if they become injured or unconscious, and those are some things I consider when I deem myself “fit”.
I think everyone should have a body philosphy, and live by that and forget about the rest.
We are all beautiful.
Keep your head up. ⬆️
Start Spangled banner Remix. Happy 4th of July
Shout out to @briggs for showing everybody how he gets down in Paisley Sockwear!
I must be in the months before my “big break”. My future must be as wide open as my refrigerator because the rumble of my stomach is only muted by the busy-ness of my mind.
This place must be where the enlightenment lives. I am like the Tibetan monk, who through the act of depriving his body of its most basic desires finds the window to his spirit, I too can achieve this. Or, could also be that my brain functions are impaired because of a poor diet, but let’s look at the bright side.
As I cope with the decision to fill my gas tank over my stomach yet again, I find solace in the fact that I am not the first to travel this path. It is the tumultuous coarse paved by all the artrepreneurs before me, that in many ways we all must travel. I also remind myself that even in these vulnerable moments I immensely privileged. I bask in the knowledge that the hunger I feel is self-imposed. It symbolizes the hunger I have for a brighter future. My decision to fill up my gas tank, or pay my electric bill, over buying groceries exemplifies that commitment.
Even financially, I have options, to take on client work or a full time job and work on my business at night or odd hours. But I’ve been there before. I know the feeling of tiny knives being pushed into your finger tips with every key stroke pressed in pursuit of a dream that it not my own. At least for now, if I am going to suffer, I prefer it be for the chance to create a future of my own design.
I’d rather subject my body to temporary discomfort than the long term pain I’d cause to my spirit. Some say that timing is everything, and it must be. my time. To be the broke artist entrepreneur throwing caution to the wind, living the life so many metropolitans pursue. The story is at this point, so common it is cliche, but it is a chance I have to take.
It is a risk I have never felt comfortable taking. I have always felt good about having “my shit together”. Even while making strides part time to build my other businesses I quietly misjudged those artist and freelance friends that I saw wading in the struggle to build something from scratch. I was afforded the freedom to creative beautiful art without the desire to have it sustain my livelihood. So where I was able to take so much risk with my creative ability, I never risked it ALL. That began to form a philosophy about art and entrepreneurship, but it was a philosophy that was endorsed by the corporate paradigm. My philosophy is not changing.
This arduous period I am living in now is the door I must walk through to transform. This lonely (albeit spacious), apartment is my cocoon. And my reemergence is at this point, a matter only, of time. I am literally pit, against the base of my instincts now, and must fortify my mind to overcome physical discomfort and fatigue if only for a few more weeks, months or years.
People ask my about my socks, and about my dancing, and those are outlets that I cherish as a part of my personal creative expression. They are not however, a manifestation of my purpose. And it the acceptance and acknowledgement of this purpose that is allows me to make sense of everything else.
The real choice, is not gas tank or gut, but it is to choose to fulfill my highest calling, and risk falling to my lowest depths in order to do it. It is with Citizens Of Culture that I hope to do this. I believe my purpose, if it could be described in world terms is nothing more than a facilitator. A facilitator of information exchange, connection, and inspiration. All of the skills I have acquired since a young child seem to point to that duty. It is one I joyfully accept.
Society is a construct that makes us apply our purpose in a particular way. This causes a conflict of interest between my desire to fulfill my personal purpose and the obligation to convert my skills into some form of commodity or skill. Apparently the translation is, for now media and marketing. Which are two words that abhor. The real choice is how much tolerance I am willing to grant society to influence my purpose. And again, I am privileged to be obliged any choice at all. For now, I will tolerate very little influence, and will do everything in my power to exercise my abilities in the most organic fashion possible.
This is all sounding very noble, i suppose. Maybe you are an artist or entrepreneur as well, and you are eating this all up with a smile. Maybe because you believe in me, or you are having, or have had a similar experience, or perhaps because you have not yet decided to risk your lively hood for a chance at a new one.
But this is not noble,but more basic and self-serving, in many ways it is even egotistical. For as much as I claim, “I am laying it all on the line.” I am taking a very irresponsible risk, that can have long term repercussions if I am not successful. My perceived “right” to fulfill a personal calling is inherently individualist. My passion be hind disrupting institutional paradigms is in part, a simple response to disenfranchisement from the paradigms themselves.In many ways innovation can be a tool of revenge but I’ll write more on that later.
While I am staring down the path of the lonely artrepreneur facing an unknown tomorrow. I am not without fortune.Lucky for me I have nothing but time and coffee. To sit and ponder and plan, and work, and work, and work, and work.
Lucky for me I have a community of artists and entrepreneurs to bounce ideas off of and share experiences with. I am surrounded by people with similar ideals and goals to collaborate with. Not-so-ironically this is exactly the community I hope to bolster and support with my work.
So when I look in my refrigerator and the only thing that stares back at me is the light bulb, I can only perceive it as I perceive myself…
…full of light, and potential.
I don’t know how I end up in these situations!