Posts tagged recommended
How To Be an Artist With a Day Job

There are fifty thousand articles online about turning your creative passion into a full-time career (that's an exact number I counted myself, so no need to check if it’s accurate). Many of said fifty thousand articles include very good advice. You should read them and maybe take what they say to heart. But there aren’t many articles tackling the far more common situation: being an artist and having a*gulp*day job.

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How (and Why) to Establish Your Creative Philosophy

Creativity and philosophy go hand-in-hand in crucial ways. In fact, you will have trouble making any worthwhile art without first understanding the philosophy behind it. Luckily, it's easy to achieve in a few simple steps.

Anyone who talks to me for more than a few minutes learns that I enjoy getting philosophical. Sometimes I dive a little too deeply into a topic very quickly, but that's just the kind of guy I am; I like to skip past the superficial crap and get right to the interesting stuff.

I'm a firm believer in establishing a personal philosophy that provides a frame of reference for making important decisions. That's a much bigger topic for some future posts to cover, so for now I'm focusing on a smaller, but related, topic: the creative philosophy. 

In this post I'll tell you three important things:

  1. Why all creative endeavors need a philosophy

  2. Examples of creative philosophies in action

  3. How to find your very own personal creative philosophy

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How to Organize Your Entire Creative (And Personal) Life in Three Steps

Juggling work, personal and creative lives can get complicated. After years of trying to make it happen, I finally figured out a system that's both simple and effective.

Many people see me as an organized person, but I’m gonna let you in on a dirty little secret: I’m actually an incredibly unorganized person who constantly forgets things. I forget brilliant ideas I thought of five minutes ago and incredibly important tasks I need to do today. The only reason I seem organized is because my life would be a completely unredeemable mess if I weren't vigilant about having my shit together. I'm totally overcompensating.

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You’re Doing It Wrong: Happiness

Ah, the pursuit if happiness, an American institution so beloved it’s scribbled on a little piece of our country’s history we call the Declaration of Independence. Surely a man from Philadelphia, the very town in which that historic document was signed, would never dare to criticize such a hallowed phrase.

Of course I would, because this is the Internet and I have the power to tell an adoring public my self-important opinions. I’m going to wield that power like crazy right now, because this one’s a doozy: happiness is a lie, and contentment is overrated.

 

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How to Calculate the Exact Worth of Your Time: A Handy Guide

There’s an old adage that time is money, but this is America in the 21st century, so vague-ass statements like that don’t fly anymore. Everything needs to be super-specific now. You can’t just find out how many people are visiting your website, you need to know how long they spent there, what pictures they looked at and what their dog’s name is. No longer can we settle for simply equating time with money, we need to figure out exactly how much money every second of our time is worth so we can bill accordingly. The fact that I’m adding a superfluous sentence to this paragraph has probably slightly enraged someone reading it right now because it just took up a few seconds of their billable time.

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You're Doing It Wrong: Manliness

I remember it like it was yesterday: The Bangles’ “Walk Like an Egyptian” came on TV, I saw those ladies rocking out and said, matter-of-factly and with all the conviction a 7-year-old can have, “Girls can’t play guitar.” My mom and sister set me straight very quickly, but it’s indicative of something in men that starts in us extremely young and then gets so ingrained that it winds up feeling like an objective truth by the time we’re adults. There are many little slights we men make toward women without thinking twice during our lives, but that’s not what inspired me to write this post. It was actually as I was strolling through the campgrounds of the Coachella music festival, noticing the particularly high population of that certain type of alpha-fratboy that, while luckily posing no real problem in this instance, has an incredible ability to ruin a good thing.

You know what I’m talking about: when an event that's highlighted by camaraderie and celebration turns into an excuse to just party hard, then someone gets a little too drunk, throws a punch, and before you know it cops have flooded the premises and the reveling masses are brought down to an angry, drunken mob level. It’s not the people that ruin these things, mind you, it’s the mentality. The macho-frat-alpha-caveman-douchebag mentality that is far too pervasive amongst the male population (myself included sometimes). And while I recognize that people of all genders, races, shapes, sizes and aromas are perfectly capable of screwing things up for the rest of us, it’s this distinctly macho male tendency that rears its ugly head all-too-often when we use the phrase, “It was all going just fine until…”

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Art Defined for the Non-Pretentious, Aggressively Realistic, Grounded Human

"Running the ball is a good parallel with art. You put your whole self into it and if you're really good at it, people are moved by it. They admire it and they're awed by it. Who's the best is tough to say. It's like art. It's all a preference. It's what looks good to you."  Barry Sanders

I talk about art a lot in this blog, but it wasn't until fairly recently that I stopped having a genuine aversion to using the word to describe anything other than paintings hung in museums. Every time I heard someone talk about art or being an artist, they just sounded pretentious to me. Stop acting high and mighty, like you're changing the world because being an artist is such an important and interesting thing, I would say to myself regularly in between writing rock songs and blog posts that obviously weren't "high art." The worst was when someone claimed they had created art when it just looked to me like they were being intentionally eccentric or opaque. I just didn't get it, and I distanced myself from the term accordingly.

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Making Art for Art's Sake or: How I Learned to Give Up the Agenda

When my band broke up last year, I found myself in an uncomfortable but interesting place. I’d been in bands for almost my entire life starting shortly after I first picked up the guitar (six months after, to be exact). From that time in 1996 through 2011, the longest stretch of time when I wasn’t in at least one band was no longer than a few months. It’s always been something that felt right to me, that feeling of being an important part of a small, tight-knit group of like-minded musicians creating new and exciting things. But here I was after a six and a half year run with Shaimus: bandless, lost and exhausted.

In so many ways it was like getting out of a six year relationship; just the thought of starting a new band was enough to make me feel worn out and frustrated. Along with this (and many other feelings) came a sense of melancholy freedom. I had been obligated to go to rehearsals or meetings on Monday nights, Wednesday nights and Saturday mornings for years. I couldn’t take a trip out of town without consulting five other people. It was a sacrifice I was more than willing to make and had no regrets about, but now I suddenly had a huge chunk of my personal life restored. Yet I was back to the beginning: we had not quite made it to the level in our career that would have opened doors that could ease the transition into my next musical project. It was either join a band that was already at that level or start from scratch again.

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Comfort in the Skies

For many years now, I have had a minor obsession with all things outer space: astrophysics, the night sky, stars, planets, nebulas, constellations, solar systems, galaxies, you name it. I am captivated by the science of astronomy and pictures of celestial bodies. They are, without a doubt, the most epic images ever captured by man. But while many of my friends probably already know of my extraterrestrial interests, they might not know exactly why I am so drawn to it… Why I savor every chance to gaze upon its grandeur and find no term too dramatic to describe it.

Well, here is why: besides being strikingly beautiful, it gives me comfort by reminding me that we are but an insignificant speck in a vast, unfathomable universe. To say that feeling inconsequential is comforting might seem a bit counterintuitive, but that sort of contradiction is exactly how life feels to me.

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