I worked on my current painting, “Adventures Per Minute,” which you can see a small part of on my Instagram.
I took my newest finished painting (“Corporations are Cool”) to my photographer’s studio so that I can start making prints of it. That’ll probably be the next one I add online, unless I get around to writing about the previous piece (“Nothing’s Good Enough Because I’m Not”) first.
I got new prints made, including the first run for “The Future Scares the Sit Out of Me.”
My original pieces are solely exhibited at Ettra in this area but I set up an exhibit of twenty-five of my prints at VapeTrends, where a friend works.
I built a portfolio featuring some press, other materials, and a couple dozen of my prints, along with the stories for each one, so that I’ll have a nice book to walk into galleries with when I’m soliciting new exhibits and showings.
Aside from the merit of my actual work, there’s a reason why I’ve been doing so well. I accomplish this much every single day. I feel overwhelmed by how much I still have to do but I won’t let it get to me. I’m gonna keep at it and I’ll be okay so long as I pause and remember to breathe every so often. I’ll do more before I go to bed tonight and I’ll do more tomorrow and every day after that. It’s what I need to do to be happy and to feel okay about who I am. And it’s working.
I haven’t had the time or the internet access to update my blog much in the last four weeks. For the sake of posterity and the benefit of anyone not clever enough to follow me on Facebook, here’s what I’ve been up to in the last month.
On March 29th, Mike and I went to buy some art supplies and I couldn’t help myself when I saw some ninja turtles masks for sale by the register.
On March 31st, I wrote: “As I go to bed on the last night in March, it is with the satisfaction that comes with having met my income goal for the month. And my income goal for next month. And the NEXT month. Things are going well. Here’s to keeping it moving, carrying it forward in April (which I already have fully blocked out in three cities). I love making art. I love that I’m able to support myself doing it. I’m really, truly happy. I am fulfilled.”
On April 2nd, I participated in Jacksonville’s monthly Downtown Artwalk. It was – at that time – the single most profitable evening of my career as an artist. I made more money in one night than I had made in an average month in 2013. As I put it at the time: “Fuckin’ slaughtered at Artwalk tonight. We’re talkin’ Friday/Saturday night STRIPPER MONEY. I love you, Jacksonville.”
Later that week, I hit the road for the premiere of “No Real Than You Are” at the Sarasota Film Festival. On the same day as the premiere, I got to play director for Rational Anthem’s music video, “Darnit.” Or as I told my friends, “I’m playing HOLLYWOOD all day!” I posted a photo on Facebook with the caption: “Directing a music video today; got the sunglasses to prove it.”
Getting to see myself LOOKING COOL on a seventy foot screen, in front of a sold out auditorium was pretty alright and though I didn’t have time to stick around and finish the music video shoot the next day, it turned out pretty excellent even without my BRILLIANT hand at the wheel.
On my way out of town, I had a thought: “We give meaning to each other’s lives. We give meaning to all the little things of our everyday. It all means more ’cause we make it mean more.” I was thinking about a lot of spectacular people in my life, but mostly Chris Hembrough. And the new Banner Pilot record.
The reason I left town in such a rush is that I had been invited to sell prints of my artwork outside of Burrito Gallery during One Spark. I set a goal for myself: to make more money over that weekend than I had ever previously made in an entire month. And I succeeded. On the last night, I wrote: “To celebrate my earning four months income in FOUR DAYS. I am taking the night off to shower and then watch The Simpsons while I eat pizza and then sew up all the holes in my clothes.” A few hours later, I added that: “All truly great works of art can be divided into two categories: those that are pop punk songs and those that are Simpsons episodes. I’m exaggerating a little but not at all kidding.”
Before One Spark came to a close, I saw that the new split from Apocalypse Meow and Todd Congelliere (of Toys That Kill) had gone up for sale online. The artwork features my painting, “Poetry By Girls I’ve Brutally Fucked.” In the midst of everything else going on, being reminded that I had been lucky enough to contribute to such a cool project was really fulfilling. Icing on the cake. I posted a link on my Facebook with the caption: “We do cool shit every god damn day.” I’m lucky to have a lot of really talented, creative friends. And I fit right in with them these days. It puts a smile on my face.
On One Spark Saturday, I met Zack, in whom I immediately recognized serious talent and I promptly offered him a job as my thirteen year old business manager. Not only could he close a sale but he reeled in the cute girls like there was no tomorrow. Here he is posing with a print of “Modern Art is Stupid (Everything Is).” I paid him in plastic chrome sunglasses, Mello Yellow Root Beer cocktails, and COLD HARD CASH (that I can only hope he doesn’t blow on bullshit like plastic chrome sunglasses and Mello Yellow Root Beer cocktails).
About a month ago, I recorded an interview for an internet radio show. Last week, I finally noticed that it had gone online. You can listen to it here: V For Vitality with Sammy thrashLife.
Facebook post from April 15th: “Sittin’ outside the art store, waiting for it to open so I can spend $200 on markers. For COLORIN’. I am a professional child.” One of the first projects I’m going to use my markers on is re-coloring “Still Sick (The Illest).” Seein’ as I didn’t know any better at the time, I used cheap markers that fade with time and the piece has lost some of its color since I made it.
On April 15th, I dismantled my exhibit at Burrito Gallery so that I could move all my original pieces over to The Silver Cow for my last Jacksonville art show. I did, however, replace the original pieces with a display of prints. Since I’ve now left, Burrito Gallery is the only place you can go in Jacksonville to buy my prints.
April 16th marked the opening day of my last exhibit in Jacksonville, as well as the publication of an article about me in Folio Weekly. There were a few emotional hiccups that morning and I wrote:
“Today is not going exactly as perfectly well as I wanted it to and EVERYONE NEEDS TO FEEL REALLY BAD FOR ME. I am such a fucking crybaby. When I inventory my problems, I can’t even phrase them in such a way that the OVERWHELMING POSITIVES aren’t totally obvious. And yet I’m still feeling crippled by despair and just wanna give up on everything. BUT I’m not giving up; I’m still doing everything I need / am supposed to do. It’s just a little bit harder today.”
I’m really happy with the article though. You can read it on Folio’s website or in the image below. They also gave me the biggest photo in the table of contents.
My last show in Jacksonville went really well and I can’t think of a better way to have concluded my time there. Late last night, I got into Delray Beach, where I’ll be posting up for at least a week. I’ll know more about my time here within a day or so. Until then, here are some photos from the weekend.
On Saturday, March 22nd, I set up at Rain Dogs for a Wunderground art show. There were bands playing too. A poetry troupe. A stand-up comic. I knew all of this when it was booked in January. “Can I sign up to go on stage too?” “For poetry or comedy?” Mandie asked me. “I guess that all depends on the audience’s response!”
I had two poems I wanted to recite. They’re really bold. The kind of stuff that I’ve held off even from sharing on my website. A lot of my writing is painfully honest and extremely vulnerable but these are on another level. I didn’t know if I’d have the guts to share them for the first time from a stage. I also had some “material” that I thought would work as a stand-up routine. In the end, I didn’t prepare myself for poetry or comedy. About halfway through the night, I remembered that I had said I wanted to perform and – as tempting as it was to not bring it up and not take the stage – I didn’t want to be all talk. I had said I was going to get on stage, so I was going to get on stage; it didn’t matter how scared I was. I decided to just tell my story and then speak off the cuff about some of my pieces. I chose a couple dozen and put them in an order that’d flow well.
Rosaly said I’d go up in forty-five minutes. I was nervous. I scratched it out onto the canvas I had started that night.
“I am trying my best to kill time and anxiety. I know there is a certain weight and power to the things I do. I am not incredible but some of my actions might be. I hope this goes well but the response I get doesn’t really matter. What matters is that I’m doing it.”
The room had maybe thirty people scattered across it. Some of them continued to have conversations while I spoke. I just went on ahead and didn’t let it get to me. One guy in the back of the room started heckling me. He said I should’ve killed myself. He called me a “jerk-off.” I kept going. It helped that I couldn’t make out everything he was saying.
For the most part, I thought it went well. I got laughs at the parts I wanted to get laughs at. I got applause a couple times. People came up to me the rest of the night and told me how much they appreciated and liked what I had said. Still, I had somewhat higher hopes in terms of response. All I could think when I got off the stage was, “So… I did it, I guess…”
I don’t think my performance had an incredible impact on my income that night but it was still the single most profitable night I’ve had selling prints. It didn’t really phase me though because that’s the direction things have been moving. Consistently and quickly. I think that’s because I’m constantly facing my fears and acting in spite of them. My artwork and my writing, my stories, they’re intimate. I’m never excited to walk into a gallery, meet with some stranger (who’s probably itching to dismiss me the moment I walk through the door), and open myself up to him or her. But I fucking do it anyway. I don’t enjoy walking up to strangers on the street, smiling, and offering up a flier to my art show. But I do it anyway. Because that’s what it takes and that’s what accounts for my success thus far. And that’s what this painting is all about. As I wrote in the green box near the top left corner:
“I’m not terrified of the future the way I used to be but it’s scary enough to keep me moving. I’ve learned that “success” is possible but it’s something I have to be perpetually working toward and for. I’m not gonna sit back and wait to be discovered. I don’t WAIT for anything. I have to make things happen. It’s all on me. Success / failure – I’m responsible. I’m happy I found something where – whatever happens – I’m having fun along the way. I feel successful already. (Most days). I’m tearing forward and I don’t see my momentum dying anytime soon. But each milestone, every new achievement sets a new bar that must continually be surpassed. Four figures is no longer a huge deal. Sometimes I look into the future and I’m afraid. That IT’S NEVER GOING TO BE ENOUGH.”
There’s one more scrap of text on the canvas that I think’s important. I wrote it last night just before I finished the painting. “I won’t let me defeat me.”
STATUS UPDATE for 4/21/14:
I wrote the statement for this piece three weeks ago but held off on sharing it until I had a good photograph of the painting to share. I’m really happy to report though that the weeks following what I’d describe as a painting “about ambition” have been some of my most successful. The rate at which I’m moving forward this month has been a little unbelievable. And while I’m definitely not going to allow myself to sit back, become complacent, or breathe too easily, I’m really happy with where I’m at today. I’ve been slacking on updating my blog regularly but this week should be a relatively quiet one, so – in the next few days – I’m going to spend a little time detailing this last (incredibly eventful) month. (Though anyone that follows me on Facebook probably already has a pretty good idea).
So far as basic/practical stuff (today) is concerned…
1) My exhibit at The Silver Cow has opened and closed.
2) Issues of Folio Weekly featuring the article about me are still on newsstands for another couple of days, in and around Jacksonville.
3) My original pieces are no longer on display anywhere in the city of Jacksonville but I have about two dozen different prints hanging (and for sale) at Burrito Gallery (21 E. Adams St.), probably for another two weeks or so.
4) My run in Jacksonville is officially over and I’m currently focusing on Delray Beach (for an as yet undetermined length of time). While here, I’ll be operating primarily out of/in conjunction with Ettra (149 NE 2nd Ave) and will have more details concerning that later in the week.
5) “The Future Scares the Sit Out of Me” is available as a 7×14″ print (if you can find me!); the original painting is already sold.
It kinda figures that in a week when I’ve experienced some of my best emotional highs, I’d also have my first episode/freakout in months. And then have another. And another. The phrase that keeps coming to mind is MENTAL ILLNESS HOT STREAK. I’m painting some funny faces about it though and everything’s cool for now.
I don’t ever reach out to anyone when I’m going through something tough but I’m lucky enough to have friends that are consistently wonderful enough to me that it doesn’t matter. Friends that are aware of and friends that are completely oblivious to what I’m going through both hit me up and help balance me out, whether they realize they’re doing it or not. I’m very lucky.
If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook you may have already seen a photograph with a half-finished new painting of mine in the background. In either case, I finished it on Tuesday night and I’ll be posting a photo sometime after I get back to Jacksonville.
I’m in Sarasota right now for the premiere of No Real Than You Are. I’m not gonna be doing a pop-up show down here after all, but if you wanna get some prints off me while I’m in the area, hit me up tomorrow or Monday. I gotta get back to Jacksonville by Wednesday ’cause I’m doing OneSpark after all. (Not as a creator, I’ll just be set up at Burrito Gallery with a table of prints outside and some original paintings hanging on the wall inside).
And hopefully, by then, I’ll have this newest painting finished too!
Here’s a screenshot of one of two shirts (both of which are adaptations of existing art of mine) that I designed for Rational Anthem’s next tour.
It was early January. I was sitting on the couch at Sun-Ray Cinema, organizing the prints that I had left there for sale. I looked up and saw Tim walking toward me. He stopped, took a step back and looked at the placard for a piece of mine on the wall. “Yeah, I’m gonna take that one,” he told me.
Tim and Shanna (co-owners of Sun-Ray) had given me the opportunity to have my first art show, there in the lobby of their theater. And Shanna had already bought one of my pieces when my exhibit first opened. They’ve been unspeakably supportive of me. And now Tim wanted to buy another one. Things had been going very well the last few months and as I made my way home that night, I couldn’t help but reflect on how cool it all was. I was actually making my living with my artwork. I was paying my bills and supporting myself with the little therapeutic exercise/activity that I had discovered in the midst of my third (and seven month) inpatient stay of treatment for heroin addiction and borderline personality disorder. I was spinning my mental illness into a career. It seemed totally insane and I couldn’t have been happier about it.
A few days later, I was in southwest Florida so I went in to visit at Tranquil Shores – the facility where all of this started. And I was lucky enough to be there on a Wednesday, which is the night of their outpatient “Art of Recovery” group. These days, I rarely spend less than fifteen hours on a piece and they’re almost always acrylic paint on canvas. When I get back to “group” though, I like to play along, which means starting and finishing a piece within the session and using the materials provided. Besides, those bright yellow and pink oil pastels looked really appealing. (I love colors way more than makes any kind of logical sense).
I’ve been mobile/itinerant as fuck lately, so I’ve had this piece tucked away (in an envelope, in a steamer trunk, in the back of my minivan) for the last two months. I rediscovered it the other day and finally had prints made. It seems like just the right time. As I wrote last night:
As I go to bed on the last night in March, it is with the satisfaction that comes with having met my income goal for the month. And my income goal for next month. And the NEXT month. Things are going well. Here’s to keeping it moving, carrying it forward in April (which I already have fully blocked out in three cities).
I love making art. I love that I’m able to support myself doing it. I’m really, truly happy. I am fulfilled.
The problems that come along with having a personality disorder (my brain not being the way it should be) used to fuck me up all kinds of ways. These days, it’s a blessing.
I feel like a broken record saying so but I’m so grateful. And I can’t help but think about how remarkably and wildly different a sentiment that is from the way I used to feel about myself.
has borderline personality disorder and a heroin problem. In 2012, he got clean, discovered art, and traveled the country, painting and writing. Three years later, he went back to heroin and quit painting. He's currently hard at work trying to get clean or kill himself (depending on the day).