Wednesday, December 23, 2015
Wednesday, December 2, 2015
Wednesday, November 18, 2015
Charlie 1.0 was an Art Director of Digital Moving Imagery, Charlie 2.0 had a career in Fashion Photography, and Charlie 3.0 came about after a spiritual part of his journey brought him to his true calling, music. Unfortunately, as his presentation was limited to only 90 minutes, he did not get as in depth as he would have liked. However, for a few of us, we would not only get to hear the full story...we got to experience it.
On Thursday morning I sprung up from my bed with no alarm at exactly 6:30am. This was insanely miraculous being that I went to bed at 2am. Totally in a "happy place" from crooning for hours at Purgatory Karaoke with the gang, there was definitely a divine influence in my energy and purpose. My mind immediately remembered there was going to be a sunrise meditation on the breakwater rocks with Charlie. Luckily that was practically right outside the back door of my room. So I scrambled from bed, threw on whatever was lying on the floor including warm hoodie scarf and hat and ran outside. I tiptoed out to where the group was, about a dozen people including Stephanie Flor, Joe Dellude, Mahasin Phillips, Marlu Soria, Aga , Ahbi Nishman and a few others from the summit. I took a spot right next to Charlie and sat in silence as this beautiful euphoric music filled the air from his tiny bluetooth speaker. As I got present to my view, the sun was still hidden behind the horizon but the sky was already lit up with this open dreamy light that went from a cool violet to saturated pinks and corals. The highlight of fiery neon orange yellow began to rim the edge of of the clouds right above the sea. What amazed me was the music was in perfect sync as though a soundtrack had been perfectly composed to evoke the feelings of the changing light. As the colors transformed, so did the music. The music seeped into my body, having my energy match that of the rising sun. As the sun finally broke and kissed our faces the music intuitively climaxed a resounding echo of strength and vulnerability. I couldn't believe how well matched it was with what my eyes saw...but more importantly grounded and fused me with the message of a new day, new possibility through my heart and soul...such a deep vibration tears welled up in my eyes.
It was shortly after this moment Charlie began to tell us about the real call to his 3.0, his purpose, and how the Hilary Step of his journey was a pinnacle point where it almost didn't happen.
He had been composing for a while, and knew there was a draw to creating music but wasn't connected to why, or what purpose it served other than he liked doing it and he could make music that sounded "cool". After a while he began to feel disappointment in what he was created. He didn't think it was "special" or "that good", and maybe this was not what he was supposed to be doing, and he should perhaps just go back to what he was good at and find fulfillment in that. So he made a decision to quit. But he decided he would compose one more piece. This he would do on a Sunday, and after that, he would put it away forever. But this last time he decide to compose from a different place. Not from a place of what he thought sounded cool, but a deeper place. He decided to compose from his heart, and let the music tell the story of his feelings and emotions in this process.
It only took him 4 hours to finish the piece. The process had taken so much out of him, he decided to put it on an MP3, email it to his lyricist/vocalist Danielle for her feedback, and went straight to bed. He arose the next morning at around 6 and opened his email. Danielle had wrote him back and attached another MP3. She was so taken and inspired by this music she stayed up to write and sing lyrics to the piece, recorded it and immediately sent it back to him. When he opened the file and listened to it, his heart filled up with overwhelming emotion. It pulled on his heart in a way that he began to cry.
As he told us this part he began to get emotional and choked up. He said that he had almost given up on his calling and his "passion", but if he hadn't pushed himself through this Hilary Step, to battle the conversation in his head, he would have not created that piece and discovered his calling to create music from the heart.
At this point I began to cry. Not just because I felt compassion and empathy for his experience, but because he was telling my story. To think that the music I just "experienced" might have never existed had Charlie given in to the conversation in his mind, and ignored the conversation of his heart. The fact that almost happened made me begin to recognize all the challenges and obstacles I have encountered in the last year, all the times I questioned myself and my ability of how big I could grow, how many people I could touch with my art, my mentor ship and my vision. How every time I took committed action on growing bigger some crazy thing would happen that would shake my foundation and set me back to the previous "base camp" on my Mt. Everest. And I'm not talking about little things... I'm talking about HUGE things (My family going through the hardest times we've ever encountered, a 10 year legal battle that keeps resurfacing that continually have to spend my savings on, turning a two man company into a global entity). I remember there was a moment last year in December I sat in the middle of the streets of Chicago right after I had done a training, crying my eyes out to my mentor/friend/coach on the phone that maybe I shouldn't have a Leadership Program, because it was just too damn hard, and too much is going on in my life to handle it. He assured me that things will undoubtedly fall apart a few times while you are creating something big...and if its not, then your are doing something wrong, or not working hard enough
But this my friends has been my Hilary Step. To keep my eye on what I love, and stay OBSESSED with it. If I give up when it gets hard, who knows what would never be. I need to remember hard times are a sign to work harder, look at discovering ways not only to move past obstacles, but adapt to changes, and find ways to excel. You just need to change your mind about it, educate yourself, find support, and listen to your heart with a dash of sensibilities from your head.
So those of you who are feeling the real impact of a changing industry...like the "makeup App takeover"...the Glamsquads, the GlamApps, BeGlammed (seriously, can't they come up with more original fucking names? LOL)... you need to take a deep breath and know that the first plane that broke the sound barrier shook VIOLENTLY and seemingly almost fell apart before it popped through to smooth sailing breaking every record of speed known to man. There were many tries before, that freaked out the pilot so much he landed the plane out of fear for the turbulence and losing control. But the one flight that made it, the pilot held his seat, tried something different, and pushed through, not giving up. (true story check it out: http://www.space.com/26204-chuck-yeager.html).
So hold your seat friends, these times are a changing, and we need to become more educated in business and create intimate relationships with our clientele through excellent customer care, followups, gift, blogs (um HELLO), newsletters, smart social media with solid marketing and branding presence, and continuing to stay on point and on game with tools, techniques, trends and what problems a client needs you to solve as an artist. Such that someone will rather pay more to have you, then do a quick fix on an app.
Breathe deep my friends, the Hilary step is real, and happening to all of us now. The question is are you committed to reaching the top no matter what or how long it takes? Will you be looking for other ways to circumvent the obstacles, or will you take the long trek backwards because it gets too hard? And if you do that's ok. Just know the journey to your heart and fulfillment is a vulnerable journey, but we are all on it together....so trust the process.
Wednesday, November 4, 2015
First of all I'd like to acknowledge Michael DeVellis and James Vincent for continuing to elevate what the ARTIST Summit is and has been. I was at the Artist Summit in 2013 as an educator (not keynote), and although there were other events in the past called the "artist summit" provided to you by The Powder Group, in 2013 the event formed into was the first ARTIST Summit in its full capacity of what it was meant to be. THIS year however, the event got even deeper, and more rich with context, as each presenter though focusing on different topics, had this eery yet divine flow and connection within each other as to what we all intended to get out there. Here was influential industry leaders coming together to speak not on "how tos" or skill techniques, but on the personal experiences in our journeys that got us where we are and has informed who we were meant to be. This is followed by two days of hands-on education with some of these instructors. And all of this was in the magical location of Provincetown Massachusetts, one of the most beautiful places on earth.
Let me give you a very brief history of Provincetown and why this place is so special. If you look at Provincetown on a map it is actually the tip of Cape Cod, curving up to a point and facing the wide open ocean towards Europe. In fact some people say it looks like a middle finger as this would be the first place settlers called home after escaping the tyranny of monarchs. (You know me, give me a good F.U. any day, and I'm all about it). Provincetown has such rich and diverse history, known especially for the people who came to find refuge where in other places they were not accepted. For example, many slaves settled in the area after the Civil War. It has since become the leading artist colony in the United States. Artists dating back to the 1800's have come here to paint the amazing light that P town offers. The artist communities that formed went on to generate artistic movements. If you have seen any of the sunrise or sunset pictures I have posted you’ll understand that this place has light like no other, evoking artistic inspiration from deep within. I think it was Aly Haug who turned to me and said the light is like a permanent “perpetua” filter from Instagram. Every time I roll into P-Town down Commercial Street, and look to my left and see the light dancing on the harbor water, my heart wells up with overwhelming gratitude and inspiration for all the art that I have not yet created but have the blessing of every moment to begin. I try never to miss the sunrise while I'm in P-town.
Now getting back to the ARTIST Summit. It's vitally important to understand that just being there in P-Town starts to open your heart to creative possibilities. There is an unspoken spirit that moves you while you receive the information that the ARTIST Summit provides.
Even though I came to the ARTIST Summit to present the importance of leadership and influence in our industry, I am always a student. The talk or the "experience " that hit me the most was Charlie Wan's Finding your Everest. Charlie Wan is a long time friend that I met through Mari Shten (fellow TPG Pro Member, Evolutioneer, amazing and creative woman and artist).
I met him as the fashion photographer which he would describe to you as “Charlie 2.0”. Charlie went on to describe the accounts of his life in the different phases that he journeyed through to get to the point where he is now. This journey consisted of poignant shifts in his career, changing from what he was really good at and made lots of money with to where his passion and his heart are. He refers to these versions of himself as phases Charlie 1.0, Charlie 2.0, and Charlie 3.0. You compare these phases of his life to the journey one must take if they decide they want to reach the top of Mount Everest. If you look it up it's not as straightforward as you think; In order to acclimate your physical and mental being to survive the high altitudes of the “summit” or top, you must do many trips forward, and many trips back before you can move ahead. But the most perilous part of the journey is the very last trek to the top. It's called the “Hillary Step”, aptly named after Sir Edmund Hillary. He was the first person, along with Tenzing Norgay, to scale it on the way to the summit. This leg of the trip is the most difficult because it is the highest elevation and it takes about 15 breaths to accomplish each step, and the pressure at that elevation is indescribably intense. People have died climbing Hillary Step, and some need to return to base camp several times before they make it to the top. Charlie Wan described the journey to his 3.0 as his Hillary Step.
Charlie’s calling to the passion in his heart is music...music that takes someone from their head to their heart. Interestingly enough, Charlie’s talk at the summit was so rich with info he ran out of time before he could fully tell us about this “3.0” part of his journey. But what's so perfect and even better...two days later, as the sun rose on the breakwater rocks, a group of us gathered and watched the sunrise while we listened to Charlie’s music in silence...which was a perfect soundtrack in every way...like he was composing it in that moment as the colors of the sky changes. As the sun broke the horizon, the music changed, filling our souls with light and breath and possibility. My whole body was buzzing with emotion. As the sun surpassed the horizon, Charlie began to tell us the story of how he transitioned into Charlie 3.0, and how during his Hillary Step, he almost gave up. To think that something that can so profoundly move someone from their soul with no words, and it almost didn't happen...
The thing is, we all have a Hillary Step. Each one of us will experience the most harshest challenges on the path to our dream and our calling, things that will make us question if this is really what we are supposed to do. I myself have had one of the most challenging years of my life. But when I experience these things, I know it's because I am on the precipice of something great, and I just need to travel that Hillary step to get to the summit. I have been hearing how so many people are afraid of losing work due to these APPs that keep popping up, seemingly taking work away from them…that it’s making their career too hard, and they may need to give up and take another job. But this is not a sign to give up! This is a sign to shift, change how you do things, to expand... to push yourself, even though everything around you says you should quit….
Next time I’ll tell you the story Charlie told us on the rocks, and my experience presenting and how it shifted me, and how all of it ties into who you get to be, and things you can do to push yourself through your Hillary Step. How you can take committed action on your career and your dream so that no one can threaten to take your work away….. Until next time folks...
Wednesday, September 23, 2015
When the Desnudas hit the news, Dani was very vocal with me about her opinion of the whole thing. Body paint in the media, and it gets portrayed like THAT?! I knew I was dissatisfied with the mixing of the art form I love and cherish with the “cause celebre” of public nudity. We vented about it to each other at length. The masses don’t get how beautiful, colorful, detailed, and magical this art form can be...they just see boobs in paint plastered all over the news stories. What the Desnudas do it fine. It’s valid, it serves a purpose...But what they do is not what we do. They make tourists stop and stare; We make art. I wanted people to know the wonders that body paint can be outside of this gimmicky nudity conversation.
Dani decided to coordinate a team of colleagues to create an installation of body paintings in Times Square, using incredible artistry to bring a positive spin to body art. The project would be called Art Transcends: Changing the Conversation about Art in NYC. Our goal was to create art what would “transcend nudity, gimmicks, and politics.” When Dani asked me to be on the lead crew of painters, I was quite tickled at the invitation. And also nervous, because she was asking artists with far more fame than I have. Athena Zhe, Yvonne MacInnis, Kyle Harder, and Suzanne Winwood would all be on the team. As the days neared, and things with the project started to go wrong, my nerves became increasingly palpable. It would have been really convenient to be “sick” the day of the project...which totally crossed my mind. But I knew I’d be there, because that’s what I was committed to - standing for my art form.
Wednesday, September 9, 2015
Thursday, August 27, 2015
So how do you become aware of and practice the benefits of vulnerability? Brené Brown, a storyteller and researcher has examined vulnerability from the inside out. Her TED Talks presentation shows her personal journey in understanding the power of vulnerability. Some great insights for anyone looking to grow exponentially in personal potential, creativity, and business.
Wednesday, August 12, 2015
Wednesday, July 1, 2015
Wednesday, June 17, 2015
Thursday, May 21, 2015
Thursday, May 7, 2015
So let's start with a review. The past few months I have been sharing my thoughts on how you know you are on the " right path". Concurrently I have been describing my journeys in Africa working on this World Malaria Day project as an example of events that give me signs that I am in fact exactly where I'm supposed to be. In review, the key essential points I have touched on are as follows:
1. Set clear visionary intentions or prayers as to what you want to create as though it's already on its way to you.
2. When things fall apart, know that it is sometimes a bigger plan at work to bring you closer to where you are supposed to be, even if you do not know what it is in the moment.
3. Every vision and road to being on your right path has a lot of hard, committed, challenging, work to get it to be where it is considered off the ground and a success.
4. When you combine faith with committed action, everything around you conspires and aligns to open doors and free channels towards your desired result.
These all have shown up at different times and several levels of extremes throughout the journey. Especially the one that talks about when things fall apart...ha, we could write a movie script solely based on that one. There are only two more vital key points to check in with. And I'm not sure I even truly got them all until this last trip.
Upon our arrival in Nigeria for the 3rd time I soon learned our schedule for our art pieces needs to be drastically altered...this was based on a series of miscommunications, and not doing our triple check list as thoroughly as we thought. I could say it was how things work in Nigeria, but after being in Nigeria for a total of 4 weeks prior, we really cannot use that excuse. But truth be told, it was divine intervention because the way the schedule ended up was actually better than what we had planned. (No surprise).
As a result we were scrambling, as we had to find new venues for our pieces, build a model roster with a limited budget, work out a ton of logistics and get enough sleep to function. When things get down to the wire, people's tensions are high, exhaustion starts to take its toll, and emotions are raw. This last week was by far the most challenging leg of the project. Breaking down and crying at some point was inevitable. Signs you are up to something big.
But when things get this intense, and it seems like all your plans are on shaky ground, you know you are on the right path when two things happen: the very people who will be the ultimate support to getting you through to the finish line are either already around you or will show up exactly when you need them...you just need to ask.
There was a point where we were struggling to find models for our installations and fashion show. We had met some really amazing models who had been apart of our journey already from the beginning, but these were seasoned professional models who often get paid a decent agency rate. With as many hiccups as we have had, our budget was not what we would have liked it to be. We had been blessed to have had many vendors offer us discounts and donations, but we were still very limited. So I was given the task of procurring models, good ones, with only a small stipend for incidentals. I know more than anyone that in our industry models are always being mistreated and taken advantage of especially when it comes to rate. So not only did I need to handle this delicately but also was challenged to figure this out in another country. I did at one point start to panic when on Wednesday we only had 2 people confirmed when in fact we needed 12-20. So I took a deep breath, reminded myself this is all going to happen, I just needed to see with different eyes and approach with a a faithful open heart. So I first picked up the phone and called my friend Lola Maja...One of the best makeup artists in Nigeria who had come over prior to help me with production. I told her I needed both makeup artists and models and was stuck with knowing where to get them. She immediately assured me she would work on it and not to worry. Then I picked up the phone and called every model I had met up to date to connect with each about the project, and humbly request they be involved despite our lack of funds. I realized the only way this would work is if I had already created the relationship with them where they would trust who I was and what I stood for. Slowly I got in touch with at least 5 models and each one not only agreed to be 100% in but moved schedules in order to be there. By Thursday were still short quite a few and I still had not heard back from Lola. In fact I now couldn't get a hold of her at all. Simultaneously we had just found out our location for one of our biggest pieces decided to pull out because someone else offered them more money for the same time slot. So while Robin was spending three hours of our very limited and valuable prep and planning time fighting to get our slot back, I was at the apartment with Caitlin one day before our show having a major "oh shit" moment.
Just when I was literally about to pull my hair out, I said aloud to Caitlin "How the f@*%# are we going to do this without models?" Not a second later my phone rang. It was a Nigerian number, not programmed into my phone. When I answered, a woman named Bola introduced herself. She said she had bumped into a friend named Lola Maja that day and she had mentioned to her about our project, which Bola had actually heard of. Bola happened to own a small modeling agency and she would be more than honored to supply us with models. I stared at the phone in pure awe, and started to laugh. After thanking her profusely I asked her to send specs of the people she had available to my email address. I hung up the phone and looked at Caitlin, and said "Wow."
I called Robin immediately to tell him, not just because we pretty much had our model situation handled, but to share that experience of "ask and you shall receive". Robin seemed not to be surprised, and just concurred that we were meant to do this show and everything would work out. Oh and by the way, through his own version of coercion, managed to get our space back. Biggest sigh of relief up to date.
To say everything went smoothly after that would be a nice fairy tale ending, although not true to life in the slightest. But here is the catch: Through every thing that didn't go as planned and then turned out anyway, through every disagreement we had that came to a compromise, through every epic fail that turned into an ingenious divinely designed occurrence...it all brought the biggest blessing and piece of evidence that I was exactly where I was supposed to be. I knew without a shadow of a doubt because I felt so alive. That surge of energy I spoke of in the beginning of these accounts never went away. It ebbed and flowed continuously throughout this journey and stays with me and propels me even after it's over. If you do not feel utterly alive in all that you choose to do, then it's time to make different choices. Further, the energy of life comes from the movement of ups and downs, not predictable flatlines. If you take anything away from this know that life is an intricately designed wave of fabric that brings a perfectly intertwined mix of surprises and soulful knowing. Our wisdom comes from learning to ride this wave with as few attachments to how it's "supposed to be".
I know you have been waiting patiently to learn about these projects, so I'll end this blog with some amazing behind the scene pictures and subtle description of what we accomplished. Hope you enjoy it and will be walking away with assurance that your right path is the one you are standing on. You get to look for the signs as to which direction to take that will lead you to your purpose and bliss.
Piece 1: 1000 kids
In order to illustrate the horrific statistic that Nigeria loses 1000 kids a day to malaria, we decided to take on the challenge of photographing 1000 kids together in one shot. Seen here are some behind the scenes images of us capturing this beautiful image in Bathagary. This was the 2nd of two attempts to get this shot. Our intention was to raise this image on a gigantic banner on the side of the road by the 3rd Mainland bridge where over a million people a day pass by in traffic.
Piece 2: Malaria Moves
To illustrate the fact that Malaria is everywhere, we created a moving installation by body painting what are called skater boys with our 1000 kids statistic, while having some wear a sweat stained skull face, and others in our famous Moskeeto Mask. These boys skated through traffic throwing fliers in the windows of cars. The fliers brought awareness of the statistic that the mosquito carrying the malaria virus bites as early as 4:30pm. We also painted on another actor a rendition of death, who walked around with two ambiguous mosquito characters in everyday African scenarios. We ended up at the third mainland bridge where we watched our banner get raised while we spent time with the locals speaking about the project.
Piece 3: Mother Africa loses her Children
Inspired by Michelangelo's haunting Pieta statue, we wanted to recreated a body painted marble rendition of Mother Africa weeping over the loss of her child taken from her by the Malaria disease. Onlooking and observing were 9 female Mosquitos (females carry the virus) and two male. These masks were conceptualized by myself, but sculpted, molded, and cast by my amazing partner Suzanne Winwood and her awesome team, while they were painted by my self in Africa with local artists including Lola Maja, and Cass Koncept. The skater boys lured passing foot and car traffic outside into our Silverbird location by handing out flyers that said "Every 45 seconds, a mother buries her child". Eventually the skater boys became part of our installation as well.
Piece 4: Moskeeto Armor save Lives
The eve of World Malaria Day we had a fashion show primarily for press to show the wearability and versatility of the Moskeeto Armor, conceptualized and constructed by world renown designer Mai Atafo. He spoke of how malaria affected his baby daughter and how it was not a question of if he wanted to be involved in our project, but a only a question in what capacity...