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If you’ve done it once, you can do it again

Humans are complicated beings. But there are pretty much two different mindsets.

No, most people aren’t either or. They’re a percentage of each one.

You got a scarcity mindset. These people believe that if I win at something, that severely lessens your chance of being successful at it. Needless to say, these people aren’t exactly fun to be around. They won’t be happy for you when you start achieving awesome things. Rather, they’re way more prone to jealousy and bitterness.

When it comes to art, they’re the type of people who think that greatness can only happen once. Like if a musician nails a song, that’s it. He could never do it again that good. It’s perfect as it is and could never be replicated. Ever.

It’s a shitty mentality to have. I can assure you that great musicians can have epic performances of the same piece as many times as they want. Do you know why? Because for one, they’re great musicians. And for another, they never ever have scarcity mindsets.

The other type of mindset to have is the abundance mindset. They know you have unlimited opportunities for growth. If you’re awesome at something, rather than being jealous of you, I’m picking your brain. Or if I can’t get a hold of you, I might copy some of your tricks.

Applying the abundance mindset to art

I never fret that if I did something cute one time, I couldn’t replicate it. I think that’s the dumbest thing in the world to believe.

In my last article on cleaning watercolor brushes, I showed a painting I killed because I accidentally got gouache in the watercolors and Roxy ended up looking like a zombie.

Bad Roman. But you know what? Do it again!

prepping a pinup watercolor
redoing a painting I killed

Here’s the same painting redone. I just got done inking Roxy. Now, I have to draw the speakers and another kitten. Then of course erase the pencil lines before I begin to paint.

And just like this, I have the same painting.

When you have an abundance mindset, you don’t fret so much about mistakes. Imagine for instance if Tom Brady after losing a Super Bowl for his first time said “screw it! I never want to do this again.” And just quit.

He’s used to winning Super Bowls. Suddenly, he’s on the losing end of it.

He could have quit. And he’d have three less rings. (As of 2019 – they’re the favored team for this upcoming season so he might have yet another).

But love or hate the guy, either way, you have to admit he has an abundance mindset. He doesn’t have that negative scarcity mindset.

Too many artists I know, especially musicians, have scarcity mindsets. They think that if their sister band got big, then they’d have no chance. Like for some reason, their competitor succeeds so they can’t? That’s the dumbest thing in the world to think. If that’s how you think, you’re never gonna get ahead in the brutal world of art.

If you do something awesome, you need to know that since you’ve done it once, you can do it again. Change your mindset to an abundance mindset and your chances of succeeding in this industry will skyrocket.

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3 totally random artistic musings

The more I write, the more articles I will have just like these. They’re musings – things that inspire me. I’m quite sure they’d be useful to you as well, because it’s a good thing to share thoughts. You and I are human after all. And we’re both artists. It’s always a good thing to know how other artists think.

It’s OK to become obsessed with a color

Yellow. More specifically, yellow medium gouache. I’ve done three out of the last four paintings using this color as the primary color.

I’m about to have several paintings for sale at the local bar. And three of those paintings are using yellow medium gouache.

Why? Because I took a chance doing these gouache silhouette paintings and you know what? They work. They work big time. I love this color because it makes the black really stand out. Plus, it’s kind of a vague color. What’s in the background? The sun? Fire?

I had these gouache paints laying around collecting dust and I thought to myself “why not?” Sometimes, you just have to do things like that as an artist.

Well, now I’m going to use this color until I run out of it.

You need models who are good dancers

Well, not everyone paints humans. But I do. Specifically, beautiful women for my fantasy pinup art. If you’re new to this site, I use primarily two models – Allie (the blonde) and Roxy (the brunette). They’re both very close friends of mine and both excellent dancers.

You see, a girl who can dance can also model. Even better, a girl who can dance can do pretty much anything. Dancing is grace. Dancing shows character. Dancing shows that a woman likes living life.

I don’t like devoid personalities. I’ve worked with models in the past who may have well been good looking zombies. Because that’s as much personality as they had.

I got lucky. Neither of my current models are models. Of all the models I’ve worked with in the past before I started working with Allie and Roxy, I’m only friends with one of them.

Several of them I enjoyed their company. One of them I really wish I got to know better because she had a lot of brains and was a downright fascinating person. Another one made damn good soaps and lotions and I’m still a customer of hers.

But now that I’m a painter and not a photographer, dancing adds a whole different layer for modeling.

You want models who can dance
You want models who can dance

That image above covers the first two random artistic musings. That was the specific medium yellow gouache I was talking about. Both are of Allie, from live model sketches we’ve done recently.

Running is underrated

“What? What does that have to do with art?”

Last night, I drank way too much. We killed a bottle of Japanese whiskey (quickly becoming one of my favorite drinks) and on top of that, I split a small bottle of absinthe with two other friends.

Drinking too much though is no excuse not to get out of bed. The alarm still went off at 7AM and rather than not doing anything, I got up and ran. Yeah, I should have stretched. My calves didn’t feel too good afterwards.

However, running helped get the remaining alcohol out of my system so I could paint.

Heck, I don’t even like running. I do it because I don’t want to die. I hate doing anything cardio. I love lifting weights. But cardio? Hate it.

Running is probably best of the worst for me. So that’s why I run. It’s my favorite exercise of the exercises I hate but still have to do. If that makes any sense.

After the run, I pretty much came back to life. Stretched. Then got a lot of painting done.

I don’t like wasting days. Running salvaged this one for me.

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Art is for the soul

Art is for the soul
Art is for the soul

Why buy art? Why should you own art?

Well, let me ask this – why do you own any music?

Same thing.

Think of it this way. Exercise is for the body. Reading is for the brain. Art is for the soul.

You work out so you don’t die. Your body needs exercise. The more you exercise, the more you increase your chances of living a long, full life.

Reading will give you those same results. Except for your noggin. I’m sure you’ve met that smart guy or gal who’s well read. And it shows.

What about for the soul?

That’s great and all. But what about your soul? What really makes us human?

Opposable thumbs? Breastfeeding?

Or is it something even more complicated?

We made tools. We learned to control fire. We invented the wheel. And we eventually sent rockets into space and walked on the moon.

That’s great. Our greatest accomplishment as a species so far. Until of course someone walks on Mars.

On the other side, as humans, we need our Beethoven and our Tchaikovsky. But we also need our Leonardo and our Michelangelo. And more recently, I happen to like Waterhouse and Frank Frazetta.

That’s where the soul comes in.

If you really want to nurture your soul, create art. And be sure to support your local artists as well.

By the way, if you’re wondering why I use Romanian a lot, it’s because I’m learning it. My goal is to be fluent in 2021.

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Jealousy is poison for your art career

I thought “one more time.” And I co-formed a band, two guitarists, a bassist/vocalist, and a drummer. I played lead and rhythm and the other guitarist played rhythm and lead guitars.

We struggled. Barely got by. I was delivering pizza to make ends meet.

The most we ever made in one night was $43. Four people. $43. On sub-standard equipment.

We argued a lot, and on our very last show, we got into an argument mid-song, fighting on stage. The four or five people watching the show probably left by then anyways.

Metal was already dead in the States. Even grunge was about to be on its way out. But we refused to budge. We were Metalheads, God dammit. Lack of audiences be damned.

It ended just like that. After breaking up, I sold my equipment and never touched a guitar again.

(Well, that never lasted 13 years but that’s another story for another day).

Wasn’t always that bad

Five years earlier, I was in a rising band. We were actually writing some pretty cool music and wanted to ride the wave of Bay Area Thrash.

I played guitar 100 mph. Super fast with amazing technicalities. Harmonic minor appegiations at lightning speed? No problem.

But there were also the haters. Bands that we surpassed. So of course, rather than making themselves better, they said bad things behind our backs.

I remember going up to one of the kids who I heard bad mouthed me. Introduced myself and held out my hand.

He made the mistake of putting his hand in mine. I crushed his hand and he almost started crying. I said “I’m sorry. I forgot how strong I am.”

He learned to be careful who to badmouth our band to behind our backs. Definitely not someone who would tell me about it.

But just like that, we never got a good singer. And without a good singer, you go nowhere.

Our manager tried to argue with us that we should be purely an instrumental band. I was proud of my lyrics and wanted them heard.

Looking back, they were cheesy as heck but when you’re 19, you think everything you do is super cool and anyone who says otherwise simply doesn’t get it.

Regardless, their jealousy just made them look like complete idiots. They were jealous of a band that got nowhere too. Just had a few more fans than they did. Yay. Neither of us made any money. Neither of us got famous. It was all for naught.

Happy ending?

Several years and several bands later, I knocked a woman up, initially splitting custody, and ended up getting along. We later got married and raised the kid together.

He turned out emotionally healthy. Served his country and is doing really well in life.

But when he was in high school, I got the itch one more time. This time, just a band that recorded.

The problem was, a million other bands were doing the same thing.

Music was a money pit. Just threw more money in and got pennies back. I probably got 2c for every dollar put in.

After awhile, I decided enough was enough. Plus, my dear friend Joe said “your Metal is run of the mill but your Classical is excellent. You should really pursue a Classical route.”

Honesty. Don’t get much of that around these parts these days.

So that’s exactly what I did. I still and always will love Metal. But enough’s enough. I’m too old for this.

So I switched to painting.

“What does this have to do with jealousy?”

We’re you reading between the lines? The jealous people were jealous for nothing. Jealous of a nobody that nobody’s ever heard of. If I rattled off all the bands I was in in the 80s and early 90s, you’ve never heard of a single one of them. Not one of them recorded anything and not one of them packed a single house.

You know what’s even more pathetic? Being jealous of someone who nobody’s ever heard of.

Yet, those jealous losers did exist.

“What about jealous of bigger people?”

At least that would make a little bit of sense. But think about this for a second. What would that get you? You get absolutely no gain from it.

You’re jealous of someone who doesn’t even know you exist? Think about that. They don’t even know you exist. Why should they care? Why should you care? And why not use that mental energy instead on improving your own self?

Develop some skill sets. Get good at something.

Jealousy accomplishes absolutely nothing. Plus, if you tell someone else how jealous you are of someone, you just come across as a complete loser. Unless that other person is also jealous. Then they’re a loser and you need to pick your friends better.

Surround yourself with people who want to improve. Who want to get better.

The jealous mindset is a poison mindset, and if you’re an artist who is jealous, you’re being an idiot. Instead, spend that energy on improving your art.

Burning bridges

You’ll find that it’s a small world. Especially today with social media.

You can find everyone you went to high school with somewhere. And you know what? Some folks forgive. Most don’t.

You don’t want to burn too many bridges, especially when you need contacts.

If I’m running an art gallery and I really don’t like someone, their work isn’t going in the gallery unless they can make us a lot of money. But if it comes down to that person and someone I’m neutral with, you can guess who I’d pick.

Same thing with anything. Like I said, some folks are forgiving, some aren’t. Jealousy is especially poisonous in the art world because it’s a small world. I personally can’t stand jealous people. I know I’m not the only one.

Even failing is a good thing

Were you able to ride your bike successfully on the first try? Of course not.

But you didn’t quit, right? You can ride a bike today, right?

You get good at something by doing. And even if you fail doing it, no one can take it away from you.

So you didn’t come in first place in your Karate competition. But, you still know Karate. By not winning it all, it’s not like your knowledge of Karate evaporated.

Same thing with me and guitar. I learned to play guitar. I got really good at it. I even know how to read notes.

Guess what? I now use guitar to write the violin, viola, cello, flute, clarinet, and horn parts for the orchestral musicians.

Sure, I failed in Metal. But I got really good at composing because of all the past practice I had.

The same thing with painting. Sometimes, my painting doesn’t turn out that good and I end up giving it away rather than putting it up for sale. But if I like the concept, I’ll paint the same painting twice after I figure out where the first one went wrong.

You should be competing against your past self. Constantly. Constant improvement.

That’s yet another reason I enjoyed my four years of weightlifting. The first two were lame, but I finally hired a coach and started doing things the right way. With the coach, I made insane progress.

Which of course led to co-worker jealousy. I lost my dad bod and started looking good. And got compliments from female co-workers. Which pissed off a jealous beta male.

So tell me – don’t you think rather than getting jealous, he should have hired a weightlifting coach and did the same thing I did?

Now apply this article to your own art and you’ll see some pretty insane improvement, no matter what your art medium is.

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Ode to Belly Dancers

I’ve already written belly dancing music. No, never published it. Just written it.

It’s something I need to get around to.

But I’m sitting here thinking that here I am with two gorgeous models who both are damn good dancers. Both of them know a little bit about belly dancing. Yes, neither are belly dancers. But they can duplicate the poses.

YouTube is full of videos on it from all over the world. Some of them are good. Some of them are great.

I got money for outfits.

Then, why haven’t I painted a belly dancing model?

That, my friends, is the million dollar question. Why haven’t I yet?

I’m currently working on illustrating one of my Opium Tales. Roxy is modeling for the character Alicia. In the story, she does a dance for the villain.

Roxy modeled the character and the dance. I painted it here.

Roxy belly dancer
Roxy modeling as Alicia

So after finishing the painting, I immediately thought to myself “I need to do at least a dozen of these!”

Allie’s belly dancing coming up!

I texted Allie the other day and asked if she belly danced. I’ve seen her dance before and she’s excellent. Very loose, flowing, and free. Kind of like a girl version of me. Yes, I can dance quite well.

Not to toot my own horn. I’m bad at a lot of things (shooting baskets, learning foreign languages, etc). But another story for another day.

Dance is something I’ve always been fascinated about. My wife and I are supporters of the local ballet. I love the music and the dance, she loves the dance, the outfits, and the whole scene. I also love being surrounded by graceful people because graceful people are rare nowadays. We live in a society where grace is almost a thing of the past.

Watching girls around here walk in heels is pure sadness. Now ballet girls, they can walk in heels. They can walk with lead shoes and look graceful.

Ballet is the antidote to lack of grace.

And you know what’s just as good as ballet? Belly dancing. Same side of the coin from different parts of the world.

Now I need to work on publishing a belly dancing song or two.

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Absinthe and Watercolor

I drink. Unapologetically.

I’ll still live to be 100. Why? Because I want to live.

My Grandma is turning 102 next year. I recently made her a watercolor postcard. Speaking of watercolor postcards, I should make her another one. Maybe just an octopus in an aquamarine blue background.

Grandma lives life. That’s why she’s lived so long. I’m convinced that’s the secret to longevity. I’ve seen her eat a hundred times and whereas it’s definitely not too much, she eats just normal food like everyone else. If anything, her portion sizes aren’t too big.

And there you have it. No dietary change. Just decent portions. More importantly, the love of life.

So like Grandma, I like new things. She’s traveled and seen the world. She likes new things.

How I drank absinthe

Some folks light the sugar cube on fire. I didn’t do that. All I did was:

  • Pour absinthe into a glass
  • Put that absinthe spoon on top of the glass
  • Put a sugar cube on the absinthe spoon
  • Pour water over the sugar cube and let it partially dissolve
  • Dump the remaining sugar cube into the glass and stir with that absinthe spoon

Easy peasy, right? I had four different types of absinthe. All of them are legal in America. So that means they got all the alcohol but lesser amounts of wormword than what you can get in Europe.

So no, I didn’t see the green fairy. However, I did have a strong buzz all through painting.

the first absinthe
Watercolors go great with absinthe

That was the first of the four brands of absinthe. I only tried the first two as I still had to paint.

“What’s it like to paint under absinthe?”

Well like I said, I didn’t see the green fairy. When we go to Europe next, I’ll try to setup a watercolor with European absinthe day. We have different laws than they do.

That said, I had a strong buzz throughout the whole experience. I could barely walk.

However, I was absolutely kicking ass with the watercolor.

You’ll see a lot of those wine and paint shops pop up all over the place nowadays. You can pop inside and the clientele is 40+ female with money. They’re pretty loaded on wine and have a little bit of money to spare on enjoying life.

Usually, they’re chill enough that they can whip out a painting in a day.

That’s what it was like to paint under absinthe. I was chilled. Didn’t overthink. Was totally relaxed.

I liked it, and will definitely do it again.

However, this morning, I spent about four hours doing touch ups. I was probably a little bit too relaxed.

With watercolors, clean up isn’t exactly an exact science. I had to clean up to the best of my ability. That’s why it took four hours doing clean up and touch ups.

Was definitely too relaxed.

I used an old sketch of Roxy. I’ve already painted this one before. Long story short, she had a little bit of drama recently. I won’t get into details. Don’t worry though, it didn’t involve me. She and I are good.

But I didn’t see Allie until today and had to paint yesterday. Thus, an old sketch of Roxy instead.

And here it is. Roxy, painted on copious amounts of absinthe. I’ll mount it on wood later.

Mermaid Roxy painted under the influence of absinthe
Mermaid Roxy painted under the influence of absinthe
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Classical Music for Newbies

What are the absolute best Classical pieces?

Wrong question to ask. Rather, this article is Classical music for newbies. So, we expect the reader to not know Classical that well. And you don’t want to introduce them to hard-core Classical music that will just turn them off to Classical music.

For instance, I’m not going to say “dude! You need to listen to Wagner’s entire…”

That will guarantee the newbie won’t listen to Classical for another five years.

So instead, let’s start with something accessible.

I’m not a fan of Baroque. But a few Baroque pieces make sense for the Classical newbie. Start off with Bach’s Toccata and Fugue and Air on G String and Pachelbel’s Canon. Then work in Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. Those pieces are great to get started with, simply because they’re accessible.

Then I’d dive into Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite and 1812 Overture. Once again, we’re shooting for accessibility. They’re not his best works, but the easiest to get started with.

I also think some lovely piano pieces would be great to get you going. How about Chopin’s Nocturne Opus 9 No 2 and Beethoven’s Fur Elise? Both lovely pieces, and both accessible. If you like those two pieces, you could try Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, which is a little bit more involved.

Then I would recommend Mendelssohn’s Midsummer Night’s Dream Overture. It’s a very accessible piece.

I’m not going to recommend symphonies, concertos, or operas just yet. These are after you got some short pieces under your belt.

So yes, this is a very short list. It’s just a splash. It’s a list to get you going into Classical music.

I’ll write a part II to this later. Stay tuned…

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Do hard things

Allie x2 by a waterfall - work in progress

There’s a guy I follow on Twitter named Dennis. He’s an older gentleman. And he’s always doing something difficult for even a young gentleman. Something physical, but very difficult, even if he were young.

To me, that’s inspirational. And it totally applies to art.

Do hard things. Constantly.

You want to be improving. Here’s a work in progress of Allie posing under a waterfall. In real life, this was the latest live model sketch we did over the weekend with an old sketch of her. I’m constantly using both new sketches and recycling the old ones. I recycle the old ones since I’ve improved immensely since then. I want to give those poses proper credit.

As for the waterfall, that was kind of a fantasy waterfall based on some waterfall pictures I sliced together from Pinterest. No, this waterfall doesn’t exist, because it’s several spliced together.

I have no idea if it will turn out good or not. We’ll know in a few weeks.

Constant improvement mindset

I take artistic mindset very seriously. I strongly believe that the difference between artists who make it and artists who don’t comes down to mindset. Quitters never win.

But not quitting is not enough. You got to constantly push yourself. You can’t ever plateau and say to yourself “this is fine.”

Imagine Leonardo da Vinci or Pablo Picasso doing that. Yes, exactly. They never did.

You need to be improving. Constantly.

And sometimes, you really have to push yourself.

Recently, I learned how to make watercolor postcards. I wanted to do something special for my Grandma who’s turning 102 next year.

So I decided to use my artistic skills. Make something really personal. Something that other people can’t give her. Show her how special she is to me.

Grandma was a huge influence on me. She traveled the world. She wanted things done her way. That’s two things that rubbed off on me big time.

She was also a piano teacher in her past. I blew it when I didn’t take my piano lessons seriously. Now I have to do a lot of catch-up because I was totally into sports and totally not into my piano lessons as a kid.

Of course, not at all slamming sports. I’m glad I did them. But I really wish I practiced the piano too.

Where to start?

“So where do I start?”

Here’s the beauty to it. What’s hard for you may not be hard for me. And vice versa. I can guarantee that I’m better than you at five things. I can guarantee that you’re better than me at five things.

Nobody is the same. So this is on you.

What is hard for you? But don’t just do it because it’s hard. (Unless that’s how your brain is wired. In that case, do it!)

Do it because that’s what you need to improve.

I’m constantly trying to get better and better at water. I’m a water person. If you look at all my paintings, you’ll see that water is a big part of a lot of them.

Mermaids. Naiads. Selkies. What do they have in common? Water.

So what is your water? You tell me. Actually, tell me. Leave a comment below. What is your water? What’s a huge part of your art that you need to improve?

Tell yourself you’re gonna do it. And do it. Even if it’s hard. Heck, especially if it’s hard!

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On artists, entrepreneurship, and the old 9 to 5

Navigating your life as an artist

Here is something that artists ponder. But I’m sure there aren’t that many resources for them.

Imagine, you are young. You know you’re an artist. But you have to make a decision.

You have to decide which route you will take. Will you brave it out and shoot for entrepreneurship? Or will you pursue a 9 to 5 job and continue to do your art on the side, hoping that you’ll have a piece or two that can propel you into full-time art some day?

Or, you can do something that advances your art career. You can manage art galleries, teach art in high school or college, or even online. Meanwhile, you still do your own art.

Every single one has advantages and disadvantages. And to make this article more complete, I need to tell you my past so you know where I’m coming from.

I am a highly successful 9 to 5 worker and investor. I’ve twice failed to start creative businesses.

But, I haven’t given up on entrepreneurship. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do.

Learning from failures

I once got up to $54k in credit card debt because my last business failed so badly. I didn’t want to get a formal business loan since I didn’t want anyone to have any control over me. My train of thought at the time – credit cards are anonymous.

Was it stupid? Looking back, probably yes. But I went in knowing the risks and fell flat on my face.

I almost have those loans paid off. No, I’m not struggling at all. I have the cash to pay them off. But I like keeping six months of cash at all times just in case. Once again, that’s just me.

I know there’s an accountant reading this right now thinking “what an idiot!” But that’s how I think. I absolutely have to have a cash reserve at all times.

And yes, this is my second business that failed. As the saying goes though, fail better.

Opium Tales is my third business, started on January 1st, 2019. The first one ironically also involved the name opium tales. But as the name of the television program, not the name of the business. (That company was an entertainment production company). I tried to get funding for the business and only ended up with debts.

“Then why be an entrepreneur?”

The freedom

Why did I choose to be an entrepreneur? Because of the freedom. That’s why most entrepreneurs decide to go that route. You are your own boss. Or they can argue your customer is. Or in my case, the networks I was trying to pitch my television show would have been.

Let’s hypothetically say my television company succeeded. I wrote the entire first season. Total freedom.

If the ratings went well, I’d have complete freedom to write the second season any way I wanted. That would have ruled!

If the ratings went ok, to get more money, I’d have to compromise. The episodes that went well, I’ll have to continue writing more along those lines. Even if I absolutely loved the episodes that didn’t do well, the people giving me money will say “no, you can’t do sequels to those ones” or “you can’t write them in that style.”

So yes, if you’re kicking ass, you’re your own boss. If you’re not, you have to answer to your customers.

Stop lights and traffic jams

On a lesser note, this country still pretty much drives to work. Sure, some cities have decent public transportation systems. The majority don’t. So, you spend time in traffic.

I worked at one place that took 90 minutes on the average day to get home. And I lived less than 10 miles from my job. Imagine what that did to my car. Heck, imagine what that did to my back!

If you’re an entrepreneur, you’ll read about other people in traffic jams. Sucks to be them.

Assholes at work

I’ve worked in companies where everyone was cool. OK, I exaggerated. I worked in one company where everyone was cool. One. Over 20+ years in the corporate world and one company had everyone cool.

You know what happened? The company was so good, that someone bigger came along and bought us out. Then we all got laid off.

I got a severance out of it. Yay!

Sadly, I haven’t had a single job since where everyone was cool.

If you’re an entrepreneur, the only asshole you have to deal with is yourself. But if you like yourself, you like who you work with.

Well, sort of. You have to deal with your customers, your suppliers, the shipping people, accountants, lawyers, your press people, and a slew of others. Sort of. You do get to choose all that stuff. If they’re assholes, go straight to their competitors and give them your business.

Still better than dealing with assholes at work.

Once you’re established

Also, once you get established, the only one who can fire you is you. Once established, you really have to screw up to lose your revenue.

9 to 5 people have to worry about losing their jobs. You don’t. You got yours as long as you want to do it.

Also, the upside is endless. You can go from six figures to seven figures in a year.

Good luck making seven figures at the good old 9 to 5. Once your salary starts increasing fast, your head is on the chopping block when the company takes a downturn.

I once got laid off because the company lost their main client and they took one look at my salary and thought to themselves “Roman needs to go.” I was making too much. Not to me of course. To them.

1984 at work

Orwell was right. But the year was wrong. It’s more like 2048.

Every year, we head closer to 1984. And it’s actually quite sickening.

Every year, we have to add one lie to our daily corporate vocabulary. And these aren’t minor lies. They’re pretty big lies.

I can’t even talk about them. I’d lose my job. And I still need it for another year or so.

You know the phrase as political correctness. The folks who think political correctness is another term for friendliness are the problem.

It’s not at all about being polite. It’s all about censoring thoughts.

Freedom is like the whole crab in pot analogy. If you boil the water, the crab will immediately jump out. However, if you heat it up slowly, you’ll kill the crab.

Same thing with Freedom. Take them all away all at once and you’ll have a bloody revolution and the people who caused it will more than likely lose their heads. Let 1984 seep in slowly and you’ll have a global dystopia.

Now as an entrepreneur, you don’t have to deal with this bullshit. And if you think it isn’t bullshit, watch Mad Men and as dysfunctional as it may seem to you, there’s a reason why millions of people watched that show. We could be normal humans back then! Imagine what that would have been like.

Benefits of the 9 to 5

When you’re an entrepreneur, you’re the lead money guy, the lead press guy, you’re the everyday worker, and you’re the CEO. You’re even the guy who takes the garbage out and waters the plants. You’re pretty much responsible for everything. You need to know how to do pretty much everything.

Unless of course you’re swimming in money and can outsource a lot of the work. But, let’s be real. Most of us aren’t exactly in that boat. Most of us start with rowboats with the bargain brand oars.

Sure, you work from home if you’re an entrepreneur. But, your home is also your work. For better and for worse.

Most of us 9 to 5 folks leave our job at the job. We log off and go home. That’s it.

Sure, some of us have to work after hours and on weekends. Most of us ditch those jobs as soon as we possibly can though. Great way to burn someone out.

Steady income

Expect to have some time where you don’t make anything as an entrepreneur. How much is “some time?” Well, on average, it’s two years.

Some folks can make money right away. Most don’t. Most starve for at the very least the first six months.

With a 9 to 5, you get a paycheck. You know the paycheck is coming. It’s steady.

This alone is why the vast majority of us are 9 to 5 folk. You’re guaranteed a steady paycheck. (That is, until they decide to replace you).

It becomes the Devil you know. Plus, everyone else is doing it. Right?

Slow path to entrepreneurship or cold turkey?

Then there’s the third group. You have a day job. You do it because you’re addicted to this thing called being able to pay bills. It’s a nice feeling – being able to pay bills.

But, you’re not fulfilled. You know in your heart, you’re an artist, not a dentist. You just need to get out there.

So what do you do? You practice your art every chance you get. You smile when you’re working on that bratty kid’s teeth and remind him that he needs to actually brush them daily. I know, weird concept, right? Why won’t these kids brush their teeth? Why won’t parents remind them?

Soon, that won’t be your problem any more. You’ll be painting full-time.

The thing is, you know the transitional period could take years. You’ve heard of it happening, and both times you knew someone who made the transition, they did it cold turkey.

But you make a lot of money. So what do you do?

You’re scared. You got house payments. You got two kids who are about to start college soon.

Time will go by. You’ll get old sooner than you realize. And you know it.

Cold turkey?

You know a former accountant and a former real estate agent who both did it. They’re now full-time artists.

They both tell you the same thing. You need to commit then burn every single bridge so you can’t go back.

What if you fail? You’ll lose your house. And gasp, your kids will have to take big fat student loans.

But you don’t know a single person who successfully transitioned over a long period of time. That’s because we all know the truth. Once you’re addicted to steady income, it’s almost impossible to get off that addiction.

The only way is cold turkey. You know that. I know that. Both your former accountant friend and your former real estate agent friend told you this. Like a million times.

Are you going to pull the trigger?

Final thoughts

As of today, I still have a day job. Both businesses I started failed. Both were art related. And both left me with a lot of debt.

I paid off the first one. I’m still paying off the second one. There’s an old saying though that the average successful businessman failed four times before he created his winner. I’m currently batting zero for two.

I met a lady who successfully transitioned from a corporate job to an entrepreneur. Yes, those people exist.

However, most successful entrepreneurs burned their bridges and jumped straight in the water. Or at least the ones I’ve interviewed.

I only know that one exception. One out of many.

What should you do? You know you better than I know you. Are you happy at your 9 to 5? Do you have the stomach to be an entrepreneur?

Serious questions.

Then there’s the other set – the ones who do art for a living but not their own art. Art sales. Art promotion. Making art for a corporation. Teaching. Graphic design work. Etc.

If you are satisfied doing that, I suggest you keep doing it. If you’re not, then consider entrepreneurship. It’s risky. But what’s the saying about risk and reward?

I don’t have the answers. I’m happy at my 9 to 5. But it’s not my dream job by any means. I’d rather be composing music and painting Allie and Roxy full-time. My mind wanders elsewhere in meetings. Some days, I’d love to just sleep in and wear sweatpants all day long.

Expiration dates

So I’ve committed to a date. All debts will be paid off. Then bam! “Here’s my two week notice. Where am I going next? No, there is no next. I’m going all in in art.”

You can do something like this. Have an expiration date. Commit to it. And burn every bridge so you can’t go back.

Is it a good idea? For me, it’s the only way. I’m addicted to those paychecks and if I don’t go cold turkey, I’ll never be a full-time artist.

Once again, I can’t speak for you. But I’m showing my cards here.

Choose wisely. And remember – failing won’t kill you.

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Should an artist have a morning routine? Athletes have them

I talked a little bit about this when I wrote about when creative people cannot create. But I really want to expand on the importance of having a morning routine.

You’ll basically meet three types of artists. The first time is the successful artists. They make a living doing the job they love.

The second type has much larger numbers. Significantly larger. It is the artists who want to make a living in art but are either failing or will fail.

The third type, we won’t talk about. They’re irrelevant for this discussion. They’re the ones who do art for the love of art, and have no intention of selling it whatsoever. Nothing against this group. They’re just irrelevant for this article.

Where a morning routine comes in

Anyone ever heard of Jerry Rice? The saying goes that he woke up every morning at 4:30AM because Cris Carter woke up at 5AM.

You may dismiss this as a joke, but it’s no joke. There’s a reason he has every single record in the record book. He worked harder than everyone else. And that’s not me saying it. It’s all his peers.

Today, Drew Brees is about to break every passing record in the book. It’s because like Rice a generation before, Brees is known as the hardest working man amongst hard working men in a brutal game.

Why not apply this to art? I totally believe that mindset is underrated, especially for artists. The difference between the ones who make it and the ones who don’t is often mindset. Mindset will surpass talent. Well, let’s be real. Everyone who’s gotten this far has some talent. So assuming you do have some talent…

Mine

I wake up at 5:45AM Mondays thru Fridays and I get to sleep in until 6AM on the weekends. I’m doing a random morning sketch, then doing a quick social media plug. I don’t stay on social media as social media is a terrible time sink. You could get lost there for hours and not get anything done. I think it’s possibly even worse than television.

I’m also practicing my foreign language. This of course has nothing to do with art, but I’m tired of being monolingual.

When I was taking photography seriously, I’d wake up at ungodly hours and shoot. Those are often the best times to shoot anyways.

Having a morning routine will really help you succeed
Having a morning routine will really help you succeed

Yeah, I never claimed to be good at photography. It was just one of those things that I did. However, if I kept up with it, I would have worked every morning on it until I got really good.

But this mindset really helped my musician skills and now my art skills.

I started this blog just for my short stories. I didn’t take it seriously for years. Then on January 1st of this year, I decided that I was going to take my art seriously.

As an artist, your biggest enemy is obscurity. Don’t ever get discouraged by anyone who doesn’t like you or your art. Who cares? Let it go in one ear and out the other.

However, if nobody knows you exist, you’ll never sell you art.

I’ve recognized that immediately. And so I plan accordingly. I write this blog to help out other artists. And I also use the main site to sell the art.

My morning routine also involves a bit of promotion because marketing matters. If you don’t take marketing seriously, good luck making it as an artist. You’d have to get lucky, and I personally don’t ever like relying on luck.