Art Show – Revenge of the Bit

Yes. It’s finally happening. I’m bringing back 8BitCubist in 2019 with an art show featuring my 8bit pixel paintings and prints.

Why now? Well, this year hasn’t gone as predicted, but like any good game, life operates with a fair level of unpredictability. Now I’m turning that unpredictability to my advantage.

With E3 just around the corner, I have the opportunity to present an art show that hearkens back to the core ideas behind the brand that was started with Jeff, Theo, Raph, Ryan, and myself. I’m taking this opportunity to refocus what we were about with a little more clarity. (I might write about the whole story at some other date.)

To start, I’ll be coming to San Pedro just before E3 week with a series of 8bit styled imagery. Date and time are listed below. More details to come. Hopefully I’ll see you there.

“Revenge of the Bit”
An 8BitCubist show by Mr Benja

Opening Reception: 
Thursday, June 6th, 6pm – 9pm
Show Dates: June 6th – June 25th, 2019

Studio 361
361 W 7th St
San Pedro, CA 90731

Avenger’s Endgame: An Experience Like No Other (Without Spoilers)

First off, I cried in this movie, and not because it’s quality cinema (although it is). I cried for a different reason:

Avenger’s: Endgame is the largest production of this type than I have ever known to exist, and it’s damned good.

It’s hard to understate what this movie means to people like me, or even those who only have loose attachments to the decade of movies from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. (Click here for a recap.) It all just works together well, especially in this current age where we’re bombarded with tons of information and branding.

Like gazing at a monument that has been built up over time, seeing the completed outcome was a beautiful sight to behold. While being big and grand doesn’t mean good, Endgame had SO much put into it, that it was hard for it NOT to resonate with people. Because chances are, you enjoyed at least one of the MCU movies leading up to it. Black Panther, Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, Ant-Man, and the other characters all have their audiences.

For me, it was like watching one of those bi-annual special edition comic books from my childhood play out in real life. It was pretty surreal. It would have been hard for me NOT to get choked up.

While I don’t do movie ratings, I will say is that this is a movie that should be seen even if it’s just for the sheer academic nature of what was built. Should people that don’t know their comic history watch it? Well, there were plenty of novice viewers in my theater that had blast, so I can’t leave anyone out.

Hell…you might even cry.


P.S. I also came down with a case of the emo on opening weekend. Don’t know where the hell I caught it from, but I think I’m over the worst of it. I’m think I’m still contagious though. *cough*

Artist Look: Andy Warhol

I like Andy Warhol and all of his soup cans, but not particularly because I like the images of his art. I do like his imagery, but the important part of his contribution was his reflection on pop culture, and what he saw in society and what we now call social media. He subverted the entire social consciousness and made us confront what was actually important to us: Fame and Fortune. His outgoing lifestyle was a part of his art, And for the most part, his art is still out there doing it. I can’t go a day without seeing some contemporary art referencing his legacy, intentionally or otherwise.

"Muhammed Ali", 1978 Andy Warhol
“Muhammed Ali”, 1978

His understanding and perspectives on pop art, our culture, work, and fame are quite relevant today, so I’m just going to use a couple quotes like people use memes:

“The day will come when everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes.”

Ah yes. This sort of thing happens all the time now. Because of access to social media and the way information spreads, you can go viral and be eradicated in the same hour. The true art starts to incorporate being a good marketer. Which brings me to the next quote.

“Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.”

People rely heavily on their creativity, marketing, and social savvy to get paid, Warhol kind of had it figured out. Seth Godin always talks about business as art, and echoes that perspective. (I’m sure he likes Warhol, but I’d have to ask him.)

So being out there and marketing yourself is a part of the gig. Even back when he was on the scene, he understood how his connected social lifestyle added to his art. He became a blueprint for the type of social self-marketing that we see today. And I can’t help but think about our current quality and quantity debate, so here’s my favorite quote, although I like it for different reason:

“Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.”

"Mammy" 1981, Andy Warhol
“Mammy”, 1981

So yeah…that brings me to Gary Vee. A guy that is all about leveraging pushing content out there.

Now I could go on and on about Warhol and today’s society, but instead,
I’ll go post some more content somewhere else like a proper content factory would do.

And I’ll end with this one, because it resonates heavily with me:

“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.”

So yeah. In the end, just make sure you’re getting things done. Now, if you’re looking for some Warhol material, here’s what I have for you:

Now go create something popular.

Nipsey Hussle – RIP

Nipsey Hussle wasn’t the most well-known artist, so I kind of feel the need to put a little bit of information out there about him. It’s hard to understate how much he meant to so many people, places, and things. And it wasn’t just dropping money or handing out turkeys, he was seriously involved in LA and abroad. I will probably update this as time goes on, and as I learn more.

First off, his legacy isn’t dead. He represents a force that’s been going through the Los Angeles community and will continue. He is survived by his wife Lauren London and his children.

Here’s one of my favorite songs of his. I had Outro on repeat during one of the shifts in my life. I have it on repeat now:

Nipsey was a positive force variety of ways.
Here’s a few that I know of:

  1. Was all about being self-made. Had a deal and then worked to do his own thing and ended up doing it better. He was a true entrepreneur.
  2. Was loved by his community and respected by both sides of the streets. (In other words, this wasn’t a “gang thing”.)
  3. Innovative mixtape marketer – Created and marketed the independently-released TMC marathon series of mixtapes that would all lead up to …
  4. Recently released his Grammy-nominated major studio album, Victory Lap. You can buy it now (or stream if you have Amazon Prime)<>
  5. Represents one of the few artists that was able to successfully structure his business to own his publishing and his masters. This was possible because he never looked to the major labels for help.
  6. Never stopped learning or looking for more opportunities
  7. Owner of The Marathon, a popular clothing store in his neighborhood <>
  8. Innovative mixtape seller – created special-edition copies of his Crenshaw mixtape which he sold for $100 apiece. Jay-Z was impressed and bought a few. < via Forbes>
  9. Founder of Vector90 – Co-working space, cultural hub and incubator <>
  10. Was the driving force behind making Destination Crenshaw happen.
  11. Sat down and talked with many influential minds like Gary Vaynerchuk <>
  12. Worked to end the problems associated with gang life (see picture)
  13. Opened a neighborhood fish market
  14. Opened a neighborhood barbershop
  15. Feature Mixtape 1 – The Marathon Continues –
  16. Feature Mixtape 2 – The Marathon –
  17. Feature Mixtape 3 – Crenshaw –
  18. Was working on a documentary featuring Dr Sebi because of the many health problems he saw around him
  19. Has a tattoo that simply says “PROLIFIC”, a sentiment I vibe with.
  20. Was an all-around cool guy


What Can You And I Do? SHOW UP!

“What can I do? SHOW UP!” 

A year and a half ago, I found myself at an art fair and discussing my frustrations with getting the kind of traction I wanted as a creative. My art friend/mentor decided to give me a few of her motivational works. Apparently, I had motivated her in some way, so it was a fair exchange. While she does really nice artwork, she likes to bang out these quickie sayings for fun. I didn’t particularly want them (I thought they were a bit cheesy for my walls), but I graciously accepted them.

A little later, I pick one up from my desk and put it up on the wall because it was taking up space on my desk and needed to be moved out of the way. The “Show Up” painting stayed there for months. 

Then comes the day Art in Bixby Park. I REALLY didn’t feel like going, even though I had already applied and set aside the day. I got out of bed to pick up for my phone from the dresser. I was going to text the coordinators and let them know I was bailing. That’s when I looked at my sign: “SHOW UP”. Shit. I sat in bed for a bit pondering our discussion and reluctantly packed up my things and made my way to Art in Bixby Park. 

It ended up being a lackluster day for a while, but then I turned the vibe around and started talking to people and getting excited about being out there. Because what else was I going to do? Sit around being lame? At some point, someone stopped by and left a card with me. It was fantasy and young adult author, Holly Stacey. 

I ended up following up with her and that led to me making several breakthroughs for Transcendent Press and meeting a completely unique set of people in the writing world. It’s currently the reason why I have been making the next set of short stories.

So yeah. SHOW UP. The whole attraction thing might just kick in, and whole thing might end up being well worth your while.

New Website Is Live. Now I Need An “Under Construction” Gif

Alright. I have been avoiding this for a long time, but I said that in 2019 I was going to be making some changes, so a new website is in the works. I am a firm believer that websites are still relevant. People used to say they didn’t need a website because they had “A Facebook”. Now it’s “An Instagram” or “A Twitter”.

Fact is, those outlets are just outlets for those corporations.

I’m going with the white-walled look like this some of those art galleries use. I think this should work out just fine. More as it develops. I’ll be dumping all sorts of good shit there.

The Paint Trips Podcast Appearance

So I made an appearance on a podcast on an art podcast. I t came about because I was at an art  party talking shit about my own audio recording history when I run into a guy named Nigma 32 that has been running an art podcast and wanted to talk to a cool ass artist. I was ready.

Now usually, I get bored talking to people for that long, so I figured I’d be out of there in 30 minutes, but I ended up staying and recording for a good three hours talking all types of good shit. You know why? Because talking good shit runs in my veins. I already knew how to back up what I say, so listen in and catch some good gems.

Bonus points for anyone that knows where the colors I selected for my episode come from.

I’ll get the time codes later so you can jump to a certain section.

– Benja –

Productivity Tips: Notebook

Ever find yourself not knowing what to create, design, write, eat, type, say, draw, choose, etc?

Here’s a productivity tip for you. Document your ideas and thoughts, including the ones that might not apply. Here’s what will happen: you will naturally go about your days, weeks, and months and you will build up an arsenal of weapons for getting over mental slumps.

I use mini-notebooks (pictured), full-size notebooks, digital notebooks, calendars, and index cards. They all come in handy for different reasons.

Heck, you might even have your plan already mapped out completely, but as you go, you’ll find that you need another viewpoint angle to sharpen, refresh, or contrast.

So the next time you hit a slump, you can look back at the ideas and get a jolt of inspiration from your best proponent: YOU!

Do you have any special processes that you use to get you through any slumps in your creative work? Let me know. We can compare notes.

The Trap Vector Blueprint

I’ve spoken about this briefly in other places, but I wanted to give a more proper explantation of The Trap Vector project. There’s enough information to go into that I’ve decided to break this posting into 7 parts.

This is the part where I define how The Trap Vector came to be.

Around 2011, I had just been laid off of my job at Rockstar San Diego, and I was beginning to become a little disillusioned with my career in the game industry and life. I had let politics wear on me, my family wasn’t doing that great, my social life wasn’t where I wanted it to be, and in general, I felt like I was fighting to stay afloat in quicksand.

I knew things had to change or I would fall into a pit of despair that I couldn’t pull myself out of, so I started changing course with a lot of my activities and really jumped into the fine arts, fashion, writing, improvement strategies/tactics, and started expanding my horizons.

I hadn’t felt that energized in a long time. In fact, the last time I felt like that was that time period in my life when my parents worked with me to expand my mind in numerous ways. It was a synergistic experience. I was that curious kid that wanted to see and learn everything I could. Over several years, they worked with me to give me powerful perspectives and insights on life. They had been to many different countries, met so many people, and seen so many different things that they felt it would be a shame for me to miss out on those experiences. That period of time stuck with me, and in my later years, the longing for those mind-expanding experiences came again.

Returning to the 2011 era, I needed to process what I was feeling/thinking/experiencing, so I developed a form of visual journaling that relied on an abstract language of forms and shapes. You will recognize the most prominent of those shapes as the arrow and the portal. These shapes came from various sources and don’t directly mean anything on their own, but they hold a lot of meaning for me. These representations are, after all, abstract.

For years, I maintained and refined this abstract language I was coming up with and came up with over 400 thoughtful concepts that have been archived and are now being released in the form of a fine art print project known as The Trap Vector.

In Part Two, I will go over the beliefs that led me to present my art into the world.

– Benja –

A copy of this can also be found on my blog at The Trap Vector.