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  • EPISODE 3: STEALING TIME

    Could you imagine a store that sold time? Think about it, there would be specialty stores that would sell extra sleep time, an extra hour of work time, an extra 2 hours before your child wakes or the cream of the crop, an extra 15 minutes of nap time while you have a nice glass of wine. Then there would be convenience stores that have quick universal time ups that could be applied to anything, similar to how stores actually sell extra battery power for cell phones.

    Hey, don’t forget Amazon Prime—you’d be able to order a package of 3 and have it delivered next day and so on. Sounds pretty sweet right? So what am I getting at with this lengthy whimsical, fairytale idea? It’s not a fairytale at all because being a parent means that time is now a commodity and it is up to you to get it back from what I call the time thieves.

    When I catch up with other freelance artists who are parents, we eventually end up on the same topic: how do you approach a work/life balance, especially now with a kid? The amount of work stays the same but now you have less time because of your new parenting duties. Before my son was born I knew to expect a dip in my production, but I thought to myself, “OK, I can plan accordingly, no biggie.” I remember chatting with my friend Jino on Facebook, and I asked him how much of an impact his first kid had on his ability to work, since he was a freelancer as well. Then he gave me the best answer, “Think about how much work you think you will get done and then cut that in half.”

    IN HALF. The idea of that sent me into a panic and made me assess very quickly my projects and deadlines. There was the stubborn part of me that said, “No, I still have to create my art and meet my deadlines, and there’s no way I can turn down all these projects.” As reality set in, the days felt shorter and shorter and it seemed as if time was being taken from me. I was trying to sneak away a few minutes here, wrangle a couple hours there just to finish a small project. Very quickly I learned that time was very precious and in order to manage things of high importance, I needed to prioritize. This is the moment when it clicked and I realized time is my commodity. The next step was figuring out to steal more time for my schedule.

    Being able to prioritize is hard because you feel like you have to accept every job thrown your way. As freelancers, there are times when a flood of work comes your way and then all of the sudden you catch a drought. When you have several projects coming your way you have to look at your time closely and gauge if this job is really worth it. Is it worth time away from my own projects or time away from my family, and away from me teaching my son about Transformers and Zombies?

    I have a simple list of 3 things I like to think about when taking a job now. If  2 of the 3 things on my list are satisfied then I take it. Here are the 3 things:

    1. Monetary—the pay is good
    2. Opportunity—the job will lead to greater opportunities
    3. Passion—it’s a project I want to work on or with people I’ve been wanting to work with

    This criteria has been a very useful tool and one of my main methods for recovering lost time.But unfortunately, there is another time thief and it’s disguised as something that is accepted as the norm and is a habitual phrase we say over and over again. “I’m too busy.” As I said before, you make your own busy.

    Too often I hear people say “Oh man, I’m so busy, I really don’t have time to do this” or “I’ll play with you later because I am just too busy right now.” I am 100% guilty of saying these things myself and it has taken me quite some time to realize that I am in control of my busy. Yes there are times where you have to take care of something of high importance, there’s a deadline, etc. But even before you get to this point, you are in control of putting yourself in this situation.

    This is something you want to realize soon, or else the busy will start to dictate how you run your life. Working in a commercial world, we fall into the trap of trying to please everyone, but remember you can say NO. No is another powerful tool we have to help control the busy, I’ve said no to hanging out with friends and even no to some pretty big projects. It is not an easy thing to do and it’s a long work in process to get to that point, but it will free you up to do the things you want to do and take on the projects that are more worthwhile.

    I think the idea of work/life balance is dated. As artists, you need to start changing your mindframe into more along the lines of what’s important, what's less important, what’s a priority, what needs to be taken care of now, etc. If you continue to separate your life and work into 2 categories, then you will always be treating them separately. They need to be grouped together so you can see with clarity what is most important out of everything you are doing. It’s like in life drawing class when your teachers would always say, “Stand back to see if the big picture is working.” Don't stand too close to the page, or else you are going to focus in on all the small details and the whole picture will suffer.

    So take a step back and really look at your life, the events, and the bigger picture you are trying to create for yourself and your family. These are things I hope you start thinking about, it takes time to find a balance in your life but you really have to do a little art soul searching, figure out your busy, and your set of prioritizations. By doing so, you are able to dictate your schedule, your life, and steal back your time. I hope this helps, and good luck everyone!

    If you have any questions or anything else you want me to expand on, please leave a comment below. Thanks again for stopping by!

  • EPISODE 2: A NEW(BORN)

    Hey guys welcome back to the Art Dad Blog. For all those that saw my first post earlier in the day I wanted to apologize for all the typos, they have all been corrected...I think. Remember kids, copy and paste can be the devil sometimes. Anyways, to catch everyone up to speed each blog post I plan on sharing my trials and tribulations of parenting while being a fulltime freelance artist. I don't have all the answers but my hope is for you to use these posts as a tool to help coordinate your own daily or future routines as an artist parent.

    My son Oz is now 3, but I remember those early days when he was a tiny human and I had no idea what I was doing. In all honesty I still don’t, but man those first few weeks and months were super rough. This is probably not how you wanted this post to start, however, it's best I don’t sugar coat things. So let me know if this sounds familiar—you just put your child in the car seat for the first time and are driving home slow as hell trying to avoid every bump. You are saying to yourself, the hospital just let us go and now I’m at home with a baby, what do I do next? There are still deadlines, you still want to create art, there’s a convention next week, you have to teach or take class and oh yea, you have to keep this tiny human alive….WTF!!! Believe me, I understand and was in your shoes.

    First off, don’t feel guilty you thought about your obligations before your child. You have spent years of working and hustling to a set schedule and this is just day one of your new life as a parent. Adjusting will take time and this does not mean you do not love your child. Holding that kid and seeing them for the first time is the purest form of unconditional love, so again don’t worry...you are OK. When Oz was born I was filled with happiness and love, but in the back of my head I was thinking about deadlines and work. Here is what my plate looked like at the time:

    1. Illustration for production company
    2. Teaching Sunday classes at the Concept Design Academy
    3. Master Program at Cal State Fullerton
    4. Preparing prints for Emerald City Comic Con
    5. Finishing up a piece for an art show in NYC

    I’m not sharing this to show you how badass I was, nor would I want to deceive you and say you can do it all. This is not that type of blog, I sacrificed a lot of sleep and had to make a lot of compromises to get everything done and still be there as a parent and husband. In the beginning it was just me and my wife in LA. Of course we had awesome friends but not a pair of consistent hands to help out and relieve us on a daily basis. My wife was a real trooper though and took care of so much on less sleep than me, while I tried to maintain daily household chores and work routines. We lived in an apartment and the closest family we had was in San Diego.

    My first piece of advice to you would be to avoid this type of build up in your work life. Please try to clear your plate as much as possible because time is now a commodity. Let’s get straight to the point, your kid doesn’t give a shit about your schedule. Got a deadline in an hour, nope you gotta change me. Gotta teach in 35 minutes, nope I need to be swaddled and rocked to sleep. Now, I am not trying to make parenthood sound awful, it’s hard work. But all those moments of me swaddling, rocking and yes even changing diapers are memories that I will cherish. Your kid is only a newborn once so be in the moment as much as possible. Your schedule revolves around your child and being a support system for your partner and vice versa. I think the most important thing to realize early on is that you will NOT have a set schedule and you won’t for a few months. The sooner you accept that, the better off you will be.

    Make a list of the top 5 important work related things you need to get done, then put a star next to the top 2. Guess what, those top 2 are your priorities and that is what you will be able to get to. I’m not talking about just daily emails, or classes/weekly things you have to do, but big art projects that need a lot of time. Underestimate so if you do more, then its a plus. I would never try to overestimate what you can do, cause almost always it will not happen.

    I forget the exact interview but this is something I heard in The Tim Ferris podcast that stuck in my head. It went along the lines of this—in the grand scheme of things, the days may be long but the years will fly by fast. So what does that mean? Have you ever said to yourself “Holy crap this year just flew by” or “How is it 2018 already?” Time really does fly, so in the moment you may feel like you are unable to produce or make art, but you know what….you will have time to do it later. Appreciate the small things you are doing with your child and be there for all their firsts. Cause when your kid starts running, you want to be able to look back and say, dang I remember your first rollover, your first laugh and your first walk. You won’t be saying, oh I missed my 42nd deadline. Deadlines will always be there but the “firsts” only happen once, so really think about what is important in this moment you’re living in right now.

    If you like what you just read please subscribe to my blog at the top of the page and you will receive a short email blurb letting you know of a new post. Hope that helps, next post I will talk more about my schedule and how I prioritized things. Thanks everyone and see you then!

     

     

     

  • WELCOME TO THE ART DAD BLOG

    Hi everyone and welcome to my first blog post! This is something new for me but throughout the year I will be sharing some insight, creative ideas, and perhaps even some videos discussing and talking about juggling an artistic career and being a dad. It’s definitely a wild ride and I have hit quite a few bumps along the way, all of which I plan on sharing with you. Just like art, there is no one right way to do things as a parent but I hope what I share helps and shows you that you are not alone out there.

    Just so you know who you are talking to this is me and my boy Oz. He is about 3 right now and goes to preschool, nothing full time but just half days to help him transition into the whole school schedule. He’s a wild kid and is really into Ninjago , Ben10, Superheroes, and thanks to my wife some fun educational monster games. I’ll mention the specific ones a bit later. He is super inquisitive and at an age where he is constantly asking "why" and “what is this.” It definitely is a fun age because he has wides eyes to the whole world and is old enough to understand concepts and things I explain to him.

     So you might be asking why didn’t I do something like this sooner? To be honest I don’t think I was ready to as it takes some time to adjust to any schedule. From a newborn, to a 1 year old, conventions, freelance, and now a kid in school things were in constant flux. I know things will still change but I have finally figured out a routine and rhythm to keep my artistic ego satisfied while enabling me to be a better parent. This first post is long so I appreciate you hanging out for the preface. If you like what you hear so far please stick around and subscribe. Along with these “Art Dad” posts I will be adding some behind the scenes and process shots of my illustrations as well as insights into the industry. Thanks for stopping by and for spending a few minutes of your time with me. I look forward to you joining me on this art journey in future posts!