A Pivot Point: When Funds Are Depleted & You Find Yourself Without A Plan, What Do You Do?

OK so I’m going to document this because I’m in a tough situation. I started working for myself as a graphic designer just over 1 year ago, but I did so without a game plan, without a business plan.

So now I find myself running out of money because I haven’t acquired a strong base of clients. Instead, I have been doing things that I am passionate about, but don’t necessarily make me money.

Yes, I have been working pro bono for many causes, some volunteer such as Quest, some honorarium, such as Olio, because I am seriously passionate about being involved in the creative event scene, and some just because I’m a sucker for things I love, such as shooting event photography, especially live music.

As much as I wanted to believe that all of this work of passion would get me somewhere not just soul nurturing, but also financially nurturing, I’m afraid I’m learning otherwise.

Now, I must accept the reality: love and passion don’t put money in my pockets. I must work.

I have nothing against work, I’ve been working incredibly hard, but now I must start working smarter. I must start valuing my time & my talents:

I have an entire lifetime of artistic experience, starting with drawing as a child
through to various pursuits including screenprinting in high school,
to spending 2 years full time in the college studio learning photography, illustration, painting, video, performance, sculpture, and art history & gaining my Fine Art Diploma,
to reading & writing & editing my brains out through a English Lit & Humanities Degree,
and most recently gaining graphic skills in a Publishing Program that taught me Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Dreamweaver, Flash, Final Cut, and a bunch of invaluable info about the printing & online worlds,
which lead to working for 5 years with a digital presentation company where I pushed my design skills to new levels, and added skills such as audio editing, After Effects, Premiere Pro, and tons of video codec knowledge.

Now, I have a ton of skills and experience.

I’ve also traveled throughout Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Bali, lived in Australia and Manchester England,
and not just been an artist,
but got battered bruised and worn by working along the way any way I needed to:
sweating & cooking in kitchens,
digging for landscapers,
grinding pipe for welders,
shipping & receiving for a fine furniture company,
picking vegetables for farmers,
packing for an organic delivery service.

I have a ton of experience, a ton of education, a ton of skills. But I wonder if I have simply lived a life, and not with a purpose?

My purpose has been to live life to the fullest, as all those self help writers and inspirational speakers encourage us to do. I have lived in the moment, falling in love with people, places, music, events, all in the moment, so much in the moment, that perhaps I do not look forward enough into the future to ask ‘where will this lead?’ Perhaps I trust too deeply that by living in the moment, by being truly present, all will be alright.

Now I find myself 36 years old and questioning where I am finding myself.

I even felt deeply unsure yesterday, I felt uncomfortable in my own skin, a feeling I hate so much. I hate feeling disconnected.

So in order to work through this pivot point, to embrace it with excitement (thx Pitre!) rather than fear or crippling doubt, I am going to write through it.
Sure, I fear that some people might read this and see it as self-important rambling; but if I don’t treat myself as important, who will?

I might also fear that expressing my weaknesses publicly could put me at a disadvantage for future employment. But it is a fake person who claims to be confident 24-7, besides, the people I respect most deeply are those who are honest. And I only want to work for those who will respect me for this honesty.

Because truly, what I am expressing is not weakness, what I am expressing is my need to share, to be honest, to be raw, to invite you to share the ups and downs with me. I hope you welcome my honesty.

By the way, one of the reasons I want to document my climb from this place of low income and no plan
to a place of financial success and a solid plan, purpose, and direction is that I will be setting up an artists’ resource space one day.

This is a passionate dream of mine.

I love to help people, and I feel like there is a serious void of help for those who are trying to make a success of themselves as artists. I want to help those who need to create, I want to encourage people to create, to express, to get all their shit out, whether good or bad, angry or sad, confused or theoretical, it should be expressed, and it should be shared. I want to help people who are in a difficult place of not knowing who they are or doubting their art, I want to give them options, I want to be able to point them in the direction of people and organizations that will help them, with financing, or with access to equipment & work spaces, to courses & workshops about networking and positivity and production and promotion. I want it to be a place that builds community, rather than a gallery that intimidates the average person.

I draw inspiration for this sort of space from the Vera Project in Seattle. And I hope to work with Behance because the creative community they are building is awesome and the articles they post as 99% are informative and inspiring. I want to share the knowledge that SitePoint provide. I believe that we are much too fragmented, and that much of our confusion and depression and loneliness doesn’t have to be.

Here goes:

I’ve decided tonight that my 1st step is to prepare for the worst, at least in the short term. I have very little money coming in, so I am going to approach the Food Bank. I need to call them Tuesday morning (Mon is a holiday) to find out my closest location for pick up. The number in Vancouver is 604.876.3601

I am also going to research everything that is free. This will definitely include gallery openings! Hello Thursdays!
Aiight, be back soon…

In the meantime, if you have any recommendations for how to survive while broke, or how to best develop a business plan, or just any life/career advice, I’d appreciate it. Even all you smart asses out there. Your attempts to poke fun will give me a laugh, so thanks in advance!

Big love.


Still Life, It’s Still Life, Life Is Still Here With Still Life To Photograph

Continually evolving, continually changing, continually challenging, continually learning.
Learning that I love photography but it’s not all live music and events.
At home, still moments are capturing my attention lately.
On a quiet rainy morning:
After dinner I was being watched (or, you say ‘tomato’ I say ‘eyeball’):
Stay tuned for more…


Lykke Li The Shark Finds Engaging New Voices On Superb Album “Wounded Rhymes”

I get very tired of myself very often, so I want to change – change skins, almost. I noticed that I’m like a shark: if I don’t move, I want to die.

Lykke Li in Exclaim!, when asked about the changes in her superb new album, Wounded Rhymes.

This is an excellent album. I am especially impressed with the growth in her voice and delivery. Coupled with a much fuller sound, and a greater range of moods in the songs, this is an artist who may have already experienced success, but seems to be only starting to discover the potential of her expression.

Listen to “Youth Knows No Pain” from Wounded Rhymes, then go buy the album!


Has Anything Changed In 7 Years? (Or, learning from the past)

I discovered a container full of my old writing, drawings, and a variety of other things!

I found a few things I really liked, but a lot of the discoveries made me worried. I began to wonder:
Have I changed?
Have I grown?
Have I learned anything?

I’ll get to that. First, the backstory:

I’ve been wanting to own an amp
so that I could run my speakers through it.
I know, funny, right? Speakers but no stereo.
And it’s a crime, really, because I LOVE music,
I can’t even begin to describe how much I love music, how important it is to me, to my happiness, to my survival, to my inspiration.

Well, today, as I was cycling home, I noticed a neighbour having a yard sale.
I bought a big ‘ol amp for a few bucks,
and returned home all smiles.

Now the work to be done!
Connect my speakers – I have 6 total, thanks to donations from friends,
including a switcher, so I can have speakers in my kitchen only, or my bedroom only (which in itself is hilarious – I live in a bachelor apartment, so I’ll hear the music no matter what “room” I’m in)

I decided to place the amp under my desk, to be close to my surge-protected power bar. In order to make room for it, I pulled out a shallow rubbermaid bin. I thought it’d be a good size to set the amp on.
But before I placed it there, I wanted to know what was inside that bin. I believe I may have put it under my desk when I moved in here almost 2 years ago.
And I don’t think I’ve touched it since.

Wonderfully, it is full of all sorts of things that are whizzing me through recent-memory lanes:
My divorce certificate,
my proposal to SFU’s writing program (which was rejected),
a few forgotten drawings (which I’ll scan and throw on my Flickr page tonight),
my University transcripts,
magazine clippings of cute girls or cool graphic design.
And writing that just makes me chuckle and shiver at the same time.

I chuckle because when I find these writings, I realize how little I’ve changed.
I shiver because, goddamn it, these writings remind me how little I’ve changed.

For example,
something written about 7 years ago
(with my present-day comments following in brackets):

Remember these as inspirations in life:

  • continue to write down dreams, everyday, even if nothing but a glimmer, a whisper, a glance is lingering

(I truly feel the benefits of emptying my head first thing in the morning, yet I haven’t devoted myself to this practice since I was in my early 20’s)

  • exercise everyday, wrestle w/ Lucy, a game of frisbee, dribble football – anything to pump fresh blood through my body & free the way for improvement on all levels (yoga…!)

(exercise comes and goes.
I’ve tried boxing, weights, running. Currently, I’ve found great satisfaction from yoga, and am trying to practice it as often as possible.
Plus I love swimming. I swam length for the 1st time in months today. I plan on getting back into the swim of things now)

  • exercise the body, exercise the mind. Continue to write, to think, to question, to read, to progress. A balance must be met & at this moment the body is more fit than the mind

(right now, my mind is more fit than my body, but still the same quest for balance, and same knowledge that mental stimulation, mental challenges are critical to my happiness & growth)

  • meditate. Ask Lucy for help & take time to slow time down. Give myself a chance to sigh  – relax. release. refresh

(I’ve always struggled with my incessantly active mind. I constantly feel under pressure to be doing something important. Rest isn’t an option. But I have been (inconsistently) meditating)

  • buying music is never a waste of money

(Hallelujah! This has not changed, and thank god.
Truer words were never written, but this may have been the 1st time in my life, at the exact moment that I wrote those words, when I truly understood the priceless importance of music)

  • learn to type faster, w/ more confidence. This will help me not only w/ emailing & school, but always and forever in all aspects of life

(how true! Well, I can actually say that I accomplished this one!
Through school, both SFU and Langara, as well as working full time for ShowMakers for almost 4 years, I’ve been on a computer nearly every waking moment of my days.
I challenged myself in the early stages, to type with my fingers in the correct positions (rather than chicken peck).
Then I increased the challenge by forcing myself to not look at the keyboard. My type was an indecipherable mess for many months, but it improved, and I’m pretty damn good now)

  • take time to myself everyday – not just every few days & not just for a few minutes – get in touch brother

(ah yes, here is where I shiver a little – because I haven’t been respecting this knowledge like I should be.
The days I take time out for myself, I am happier, calmer, more focused. I know this, but I forget it so easily. There are always things to be done! My ideas! My art! So much to be done!
But when all I do is do, I burn out. Or lose focus. Or get depressed.
7 years later, I say again, “Get in touch, brother.”)

  • learn something new everyday – pursue my quest for French (& Polish) bilingualism

(okay, yes, this is lofty, to learn something new everyday.
Yet maybe it isn’t, because aren’t we learning everyday? Each day is never exactly the same as the last, even if it feels that way.
I must say: I tried Polish, took some night classes shortly after writing this, and it was really really tough. Even the instructor, a nice Poland-born lady, admitted to us that Polish is a very difficult language to learn.
Do you know that every noun has 7 different ways to say it? That even your name has 7 variations, depending on the circumstances in which it is said? And that one of those is when your name is being shouted?
Ha ha – that one killed me)

That’s one thing I found.
Maybe I’ll write about others.

It’s fascinating stuff to me.
And hell, writing this entry has truly accomplished what this blog is all about:
keeping me in THE MOMENT.

I was feeling pretty overwhelmed when I started going through that rubbermaid bin.
Feeling full of emotions, good, bad, and confusing.
Well, those emotions have every right to be inside me, but at least now I’ve written them down and I feel free. And grounded, somehow, at the same time.

Can we be grounded and free? Is being grounded also being free?