I Just Hit The Reset Button

While I was working on moving to a new station in life, my parents, Earl and Shirley, passed away. This occurred around the time when I was starting to play with pixel art, so this happened:

Creating their images was honestly the weirdest creative feeling I’ve ever had. Most other projects are just jobs, but this was the first time I’d tried to recreate family members. I would move a pixel to the wrong spot and feel frustrated or disappointed. Then I’d move another and feel happy because I could actually feel when I was getting closer to their likeness. Moving the mouse was like operating a ouija board as I felt my way around. *shivers*

I was happy with what I’d created, but I started to become aware that these pixels weren’t just a thing to do. They were reflecting my thoughts and feelings. These images made me think of my parents’ life teachings. They often expressed that I should always do what I think I should be doing. Sound simple? Yep. You’re right.

Recently, I’d noticed in my art and life is that I wanted extraneous factors to be removed. That included what I ate, scheduled, drew, posted, created, etc. I wanted to do more, but I needed to remove unnecessary friction. To accomplish this, I made simple guidelines. For example, I decided to avoid high-fructose corn syrup. Just avoid HFCS, and you’ll live a better life. And it worked for me. There was a little bit of work when reading labels, but that part was easy. The hard part was figuring out a good rule that makes sense for a given position in life. You can also view it as avoiding bullshit.

With pixels, I have found a way to make my art communication easier. It’s a simplification that provides a stronger message. With this new outlook, I feel like I can face the day with a new outlook. I feel like I just hit the Reset button.

Thanks, Mom.
Thanks, Dad.

– Mr Benja –

Bonus Note:
I wrote this blog post and several others numerous times before deleting them many times over. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with what I was doing. Then I realized that the hosted WordPress blog on my site was bugging me for quite a few reasons. I have now jumped over to Blogger to create a fresh start. Heck, I’m even using the free ‘Simple’ theme. It says so at the bottom of the page. 🙂

Empowered Up

(Note: This is an older post republished for this blog.)

From “Mr Benja’s Ice Cream Social” in North Park, San Diego.

Hearts, hats, weapons, tools, fruit, candy, icons, symbols, … I use all of these to empower life through art. Just a little push to get through the day. A focal point for the thoughts of the month. A reminder that this year will be better. In general, as a way to empower myself and others. Might sound goofy, but it’s true. I realized the power of ar when I was younger and traveling with my parents. They took me to the Picasso museum in Spain so that we could all experience something great. I didn’t know what I was really looking at, but they patiently informed me that I was viewing really important artwork. I took their word for it, but I didn’t get it. I just guessed he was famous.

At the end of our art day, we found ourselves inside the museum café. I noticed a napkin with an image of a house on it and wanted to know who’s drawing was on it. It was an extremely adept sketch and it was on a disposable cloth! Wait. It was an early Picasso work? You mean the SAME guy with the grotesque paintings we’d seen all day did this as a kid? Everything changed. I felt like I knew nothing about how the world worked.

That small work of art shifted my entire paradigm. Everything I thought I knew about life had changed in one brief moment. That may sound like hyperbole, but these artists and their weren’t exactly real to me until then. The context in the art had now been made clear. I was now connected to the most primal forces of the universe. I was connected. Hell, I felt like the food critic in Ratatouille. (You know the scene I’m talking about.)

So to this day, the lesson of the napkin still sticks with me. It was a symbol of learning, travel, skill, misinterpretation, abstraction, wisdom, guidance, and so much else boiled down into a microcosm of lines on paper. Ever since that moment, I started making a conscious effort to keep things in my environment that powered me up and connected me in some way.

Art is functional and important to me. It can touch lives. So as pretentious as it may sound, I want to invigorate the observer with tangible sensations. Or maybe it’s just halfway decent wall candy. Hopefully though, when you walk past a piece of art, you get powered up.
– Mr Benja –

My Favorite Holiday

(Note: This is an import from my older blog. It wasn’t working for me.)

The 2017 New Year is here. I hadn’t thought of it before, but this is my favorite time of the year.  Not like the partying or celebrating, I mean the resolutions and change part. A new year is a great time to enforce internal growth and change. There’s something about the it that makes it easier to move forward. It starts from sometime after Halloween and goes all the way through the first week of the New Year. I find myself thinking about where I’ve been and where I plan to go. (Huh…that’s about 20% of the year thinking about what the other 80% will be.)

For those that don’t know me, I make plans, but don’t speak on them very often. I’ve usually got something in motion, and talking about it doesn’t do much for me. I’ve never been very good at getting much support from people by simply speaking. I’m just not good at it. I prefer to let  results move the needle. Unfortunately, this strategy can be frustrating in this blah-blah-blah era. Action as communication also has the benefit of forcing me to create actual assets that can be publicly released.

I’ve been talking about a blog for a while, but it was time to actually do it. I’ll figure it out. I like to think of it as my own slice of Internet real estate that’s uniquely mine. I had a blog a long while ago, but deleted it in the face of such tools as Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc. But things have turned out a little differently than expected. Those outlets have a strong bias to what their audience expects. Because the message ends up being the medium, right? (I mean anything is possible. I read a book publishing article thoughtfully written up on Imgur, but I can’t go around suggesting that it’s the best place for you to post such work.) In the end, my own webpage is the only place where I can reasonably keep things in improper working disorder.

And before I go too far with this, I’d like to list some credits to people that I’ve picked up some positive cues from: Seth Godin, Chuck D, Mike Rowe, Tim Ferriss, Elizabeth Warren, Boyce Watkins, Bobby Hundreds, Guy Kawasaki, Shaun King, Kevin Smith, Rachel Maddow, Robert Greene, Scott Adams, Philip DeFranco, Beyoncé, David Choe, Kevin Kelly, Micah White, Cenk Uygur, Shane Smith, Tariq Nasheed, Kaws, Colin Kaepernick, Ries & Ries, Robert Scoble, Shepard Fairey, Eddie Huang, Joe Rogan, Lil B, Pharrell Williams, Earl & Shirley, Big Mal, Elijah Mobley, Lisa ‘n’ Lori, and others.
As for the plans for 2017?

They’ll manifest when it’s time.