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.

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.

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.

Flattening Your Prints

In the last post, I talked about framing your prints. What I forgot to mention is how to flatten them. The Trap Vector prints come rolled in damage-resistant kraft tubes for safe transit. This is a common practice, especially for larger prints. As your art arrives, you’ll want to flatten them out before storing/displaying them.

Here are some recommended steps:

  1. Find a flat table or surface to lay your print on. It should be dry and free from dust/debris.
  2. Open the tube and slowly pull the protective tissue paper to slide out the enclosed prints.
  3. While leaving the tissue paper in place to protect the print, carefully unroll them so that the curl s are going into the flat surface.
  4. It is NOT recommended that you reverse-roll the print in the opposite direction unless you have experience doing so.  
  5. Distribute a few books on each of the corners and in the center of the print. (If you don’t have books, you can use some other flat-bottomed items that will keep your prints in place.)
  6. Let your print sit for a while under the weight of the books. Usually, a day will be more than adequate, but you can probably get away with overnight or while you’re off at a picnic.

Alternatively, if you get your prints professionally framed, you can just bring the rolled tube to your favorite framer, and they’ll take care of everything for you.

– Benja –

A Case for Multi-Tasking (aka Creative Rollover)

In 2019, I am going to try running three projects simultaneously: The Trap Vector (art), The 8BitCubist (merch), and Transcendent Press (writing). Seems to be going well so far.

Let me know how this sounds, because I know the studies on focusing and multi-tasking. The common logic is that you go with one topic and stick with it. That’s a simplified version, and it makes sense. But there’s room for some experimentation. What I’m thinking about is the sort of balance people do naturally, but with a more productive intention. So I don’t see it as multi-tasking, but more like a change of pace in order to keep the system humming. I’ll call it Creative Rollover until I come up with a better term.

While working on large and small projects in the game industry, I noticed that it’s almost impossible to stay hyper focused on one narrow slice for too long. After a few days or several days, attention needs to be turned to something else. If that doesn’t happen, then people are just spinning their wheels without making significant movement forward. If they don’t get a mental change of pace, then their productivity falls off and they start to wander.

So what if we could keep ourselves engaged by jumping to different aspects of a project? That sounds more productive than going into a complete state of disconnect. Completely shutting down means that you have to take significant energy to re-engage and do a cold boot all over again.

What I’ve done is started cutting off unnecessary feelings of fatigue by jumping from one creative/productive mind to another. This way, I can get into modes faster and get more net work done.

What tends to happen with me is that I get bored out mentally doing one thing over and over again without getting any new perspective. With different projects, I can relax one mind while the other one takes over. Maybe it’s like cooking a complete meal.

Take games for example, after a few of plowing into the animation system, we’d go work on the combat system, then on to the pathfinding system, then on to the character backstories, etc. Rolling from one creative focus to another was the only way the large picture could be effectively realized. In fact, we got large gains when we pulled people out of their caves to get a little involved with what was going on with other parts of the project.

One reason I think this this worked was because creative rollover avoided the problem of people running out of fuel during a given task. When that happened, they became completely disengaged. When that happened everyone got thrown off. Another reason is that we let the environment adjust to the changes.

I’ve been playing around with this type of development for a couple months now, and I think I’ve found a way to cook up a marvelous meal of creativity.

I’ll explore this more later.
And I need a better name than Creative Rollover.

Any thoughts?
Let me know in the comments.

The Most Dangerous Tool I Know Of

What follows is a test of my personal fortitude. If you don’t want to read it all, jump to the END tag to see what the hell this post is really about.

——- BEGIN ——-
The most dangerous writing tool.

Okay. This is a story about something called the most dangeouraous writing tool. I don’ t know if you believe me, but it’s the thing that has scared the shit out of me more times than I care to admit. You see, it works like this. You start typing. And then…you can’t stop until the timer comples. Because if you stop? Well then the tprogress that you’ve made is erased…forever. That’s a pretty good motivation for someone like me, because I like to stop, think, smell the roses, ponder the meaning of life, research on YouTube, check Facebook to see what my friends might be doing, going for a walk, making a ham sandwich, taking a nap to clear the minde…you know, anything that will help me actually write. Just kidding, those things never help me write. The most dangerous writing tool is what actually helps me write. Like most things, tits. Like most things that are actually good for me, it helps me to simply “do” withoout worrying about being good or being correct. It’s pure output without the bullshit in my head forcing me to derail myself somehow.

In fact, this entire post was written in five minutes timer.

Check out the app. It’s pretty good and will get you past whatever writer’s block taht you need, because if it doesn’t. Your idea is goign to be erased. And if that happened, well…that’d be a shame now wouldn’t it.
a
at
a
fuck…those typose wrere there because my hand slipped and I got nervous. Point is, the thing was written and I’ve left this point in tact with minimal editing. I’ve only moved a few things around because I don’t write in a perfectly linear form.

This is all an exercise in getting things done. Sometimes I wonder how people get so much done in a short amount of time. Then I apply the concept to do the most dangerous thing for mostpeople to do …put things out into the world.

——- END ——-

Whew. Okay. The timer ended, and I can stop typing now. What I have above was created with The Most Dangerous Writing Tool, which can be found at https://www.themostdangerouswritingapp.com.

If you’ve ever had writer’s block, it will cure that. What you write might be shit, but since you have keep writing, the blockage will be out of you. I like the tool because basically follows the “just do it” mindset, and allows you to actually get things completed. I’ve put this methodology to use in other places as well with good results. And yeah, putting yourself out there freely and without pause to edit feels really fucking dangerous.

Try it. I really want to know what you think about it.

Note: I mentioned in the text above that there were minimal edits, but in reality, I left the text alone. I was only said that because my brain wanted something to fill the time.

I Have No Startup Momentum

Second blog post of December and I don’t know what to talk about. I hate this problem. It’s always this weird little period in the start up phase of any creative venture where the big picture feels clear as day, but the next logical step feels like a completely foreign action.

So now…this post. It’s me thinking out loud. I figure I should do what I do when I’m creating a work of art: Look back at all my sketches and previous works and create something from that. I mean, if I want momentum, I suppose that’s a good plan. It works for other things, why not for a blog? Huh…that should work. Maybe I’ll start from my earlier post about sketching. That should help me write this post. Yeah…

P.S. Is there a name for this early speedbump? I want to get better at plowing through it.

Why Do I Have So Many Sketchbooks? So Many Ideas.

I buy numerous sketchbooks for my ideas. They’re not very professional either. I tear out pages, cut out ideas and paste sketches from other places in them. They’re very functional for me.

  1. Different sketchbooks with different topics. This allows me to concentrate on a focused set of ideas. When I pick up my human studies sketchbook, I know I’m going to be drawing people. It helps me focus also to see where I’ve been in the past. 
  2. I don’t short-circuit any ideas. If an idea goes into a sketchbook that works better somewhere else, I will clip it out and put it into another sketchbook.
  3. With a pen and a ruler, each sketchbook is divided into sections (usually nine segments). This was a breakthrough. Now I can create segments that are discrete and framed outputs. I don’t have this huge page of paper to waste space adding random thoughts to. Each frame has a little border around it that I can write in if need be. Nine ideas, and then I move on.
  4. If a sketch is found to be distracting, I clip it out and put it in a more appropriate sketchbook or I send it to the trash
  5. I use different drawing utensils. For some reason, I found that I get different output when I use different pens, pencils, markers or simply colors. If my ideas need a jolt, I simply switch my utensil for a few pages.
  6. Over time, when I go back and look at my sketchbooks, I’m taken back to the mindset I had when I created those sketches.