Monday, April 21, 2014

Never Surrender

It has been one hell of a year for me.


It was on this day one year ago that I decided I wanted to pursue being an artist full-time. Did that mean that I wanted to finally become a full-time freelance artist? Did that mean that I wanted to finally land that sweet in-studio gig? Or did that mean that I finally wanted to give up everything else and start making serious money with my sick art skills? Actually, it meant none of that. It meant that I wanted to drop everything else I was doing in my life and become a student of the game.

At the time, I was training a number of clients as a Health & Wellness Coach--or Personal Trainer--and as a Mixed Martial Arts Conditioning Coach (MMACC). I had been traveling back and forth from Germany and America, and doing everything I could to expand my business as a trainer. But no matter what I did, I just wasn't having fun doing it. Don't get me wrong, training was liberating in the sense that I was helping other people achieve personal goals and helping them pursue a healthier lifestyle, but I wasn't achieving my personal goals and I felt imprisoned by that.

Training was an easy way for me to get on my feet and start running as a civilian again. I was just coming off an Active Duty enlistment and I needed to put my skills to something right away. Training made the most sense to me and it was easy to work my own hours while attending college full-time. However, I never intended training to be a lifetime career for me. My real desires were in finding a way to exploit my creativity.

To back up a little further, I swear I'm not that old I should mention that I actually failed art classes in both middle school and high school. My teacher often told me I showed a lot of potential, but drawing and painting still-life objects, or practicing color theory was a total bore to me. Not to mention I'm also mildly color blind and I didn't want to look like an idiot. I was fascinated with dragons, warriors of great caliber, and creatures that just didn't exist in reality. It was never an unusual sight to see me immersed in the works of Tolkien, Asimov, Howard, Lovecraft, and Gaiman. I wanted to illustrate their magical worlds--not a silly cube with charcoal sticks.

Aside from those basic classes in my early educational career, I have had no traditional art training. I never attended an art school and I've never been taught by an art professor. Cue the internet. I jumped on YouTube, Vimeo, researched various art blogs, paid for video lectures, bought books, and occasionally sat in on artist interviews over Google Hangouts or Livestream. I buckled down and studied everything. Everything.

I cared very little about having my own website, sharing on social media platforms, or developing a 'style'. I wanted to focus on the fundamentals and get the technical ability down as fast as possible. I always compared myself to the most popular professionals and I studied who they studied, so on and so forth. I still do that today, actually.

There's a lot that goes on in this one year story of mine from days to weeks of frustration and nearly giving up and throwing it all away in anger and humility. What I'll do instead of completely disclosing what could easily turn into a novel of success and failure, I'll share what I've done that has accelerated me to the point that I'm at in one year.

Never surrender. When you feel like the world has surrounded you and is ready to strike the killing blow, remember: a hunter's greatest fear is the prey that fights back. To borrow from one of the greatest military Generals, "We're surrounded. That simplifies things." I often see people settling on where they're at, or quitting when they were just that one inch away from being at the next level. Always push yourself and treat everything as though you're going out on your shield. This is how I've treated my art focus in the last year and I've come a long way with an even longer path before me.

So that's the preface to my journey of becoming an artist that I'm excited to share with every one of you. You can expect me to share each of my experiences and lessons learned throughout this adventure and I hope they help some of you who are coming along the same path. 

Coming up is the Spectrum Fantastic Arts Live event in Kansas City, MO. Luckily for me, it's only a 3 hour drive away. It's going to be my first convention of this sort and I hope to have a great time. I can probably expect to ingest copious amounts as if I needed another reason to of caffeine.

Thank you for taking the time to read my first blog post! Monday's suck, but if you managed to survive a sugar-induced coma from yesterday's festivities, then you're already doing better than me! 

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