[irevuo] You Either Die an Artist or Live Long Enough to See Yourself Become a Creative Entrepreneur

A couple of years ago, Damien Hirst shocked the art world by painting his own canvases.

Much like another of his contemporaries, Jeff Koons, Hirst is quite infamous for hiring teams of artists to work on his collections of art under his supervision.

On the other hand, Vincent van Gogh, universally acclaimed as one of the greatest artists of all time, sold only a few paintings while he was alive. Even though a prolific artist, he only found fame after his death.

The stereotype of the starving artist is romanticized to this day. The artist as a solitary genius, the creator of beauty so sacred that we can’t help but love and fear at the same time.

“He’s a true artist,” we find ourselves saying, and it’s these words that conjure up the vision of someone whose inexorable destiny has always been to create, even at the expense of having to endure a lifetime of poverty and frustration and social alienation…

The true artist is often misunderstood. They’re utterly and inconsolably alone with their art.  They hide behind the walls of their studios and offices, refusing any sort of contact with the outside world.

But times are changing.

[irevuo] 5 Shopify Alternatives You (Probably) Never Heard Of

There’s no doubt about it. If we want to monetize our blogs, one of the best ways to do so is by starting an online store.

Whether we want to sell our services, our digital products, online courses, or even merchandise, an online store is a must-have.

And Shopify is the undisputed king of online commerce.

Yet, the platform often falls short when it comes to certain features. It’s notoriously counter-intuitive when it comes to selling digital downloads, which is how most creative entrepreneurs choose to monetize their audiences these days.

Also, when it comes to selling memberships, subscriptions, or services, it often falls short.

And even though there are a lot of platforms trying to challenge Shopify’s domination of the online world, most notably WooCommerce and BigCommerce, there are some interesting underdogs that might do the trick if you plan on opening an online store soon.

[irevuo] 10 Powerful Frameworks To Help You Punch the Damn Keys

Writing is a simple process. It’s writers who make it seem so terrifying.

After all, we stare at a blank page long enough that we feel this inexplicable urge to transform it, and we do so through sheer power of will.

But what if the will isn’t strong enough? What if we get lost along the way? What if we somehow succumb to the critic within, or worse, to friendly advice, and we’re tempted to give it all up?

The following frameworks will be more than enough to help you punch those damn keys and never worry about going creatively bankrupt.

[irevuo] How the Art You Consume Determines the Quality of Your Work

In 2009, during an interview, radio host Ira Glass shared rare insights into what it means to be creative; he managed to pull into focus the kind of insights that are just at the edge of our mind’s peripheral vision.

What drives us to create in the first place is not a desire to play god, but rather our hunger for art.

[irevuo] Hello Rejection, My Old Friend

Whenever we submit a part of our soul that we translated into words, we do so armed with nothing but the hope that the person reading our work will understand it.

Sometimes they do. Most times they don’t.

Rejection scrapes the heart. But, well, there’s nothing to do about it. In fact, rejection is as much a part of being a writer as punching those damn keys. It’s as much a part of being a writer as the edits and the rewrites and the social media marketing.

[irevuo] Should You Self-Publish? These Questions Will Help You Decide

So, you have a finished manuscript, and now you’re ready to share it with as many readers as possible.

In order to do that, you must choose one of two paths: either self-publish your book yourself, or go the traditional route and try to find a publisher.

Deciding on which route to take means that you’ve got to figure out a couple of things about yourself first, about your book, and about your ability to effectively market (and enjoy the process) both yourself as an author and your book.

Now, let’s discuss the essential questions to ask yourself if you’re trying to decide if self-publishing your book is the best available option for you.

A Light in the Dark

There is a tradition of saying goodbye to the old year like a guest who has long overstayed their welcome. Hit the bricks Old Year, we’re sick of your nonsense! Come on in New Year, you HAVE TO BE BETTER! WooHoo! While that is absurd, one tick of the clock doesn’t erase the sins of the past, it feels as though all those previous ‘to hell with this past year’ this has been a dress rehearsal for where we are now. In the interest of being candid with you and myself, things might be even worse this go around. Let’s hope not. Happy New Year!

Rather than dwell on the horror show that 2021 was, I’m going to tell you about a highlight. My friend Angela invited me to see Neal Brennan’s new show, Unacceptable. While that was an excellent show with equally delightful company, the highlight I refer to came as we walked to the show.

About one hundred feet from the front of the Cherry Lane Theater, we passed two gentlemen talking. One of them looked familiar to me. I turned back and asked one of them, “Excuse me, are you, Adam Savage?”

Why yes I am,” he replied.

For those who are unfamiliar with Adam Savage, he is a special effect designer, one of the hosts of MythBusters, currently the host of Tested, and an unofficial ambassador of the maker community. Additionally and perhaps more importantly, he is as kind, funny, and gracious as you would hope he would be.

For ten or fifteen minutes, he spoke to Angela and me about making and other subjects. She showed him pictures of the table she made to his delight and they discussed techniques of building. As I said, just as you hoped he’d be.

While I had seen him speak at New York Comic-Con many times, and would do so again the next day as it had arrived, I had never been able to ask him a question as the line for that filled up rapidly, though there was one I very much want to ask. Here was my chance, no lines required.

Is writing making?” I asked.

Yes!,” he replied, “Anything you put out into the world, any act of creativity is making!”

It was of course, what I wanted to hear. While I knew, in my heart of hearts that was true before I asked it, hearing it aloud, it became an affirmation. Words were my materials and my laptop was a workroom. I am a maker.

We all went into the theater, Adam sat a few rows in front of us and saw a superb hour of comedy and self-reflection by Neal Brennan. All in all, an outstanding evening.

I would also to thank my constant readers whose existence gives me that extra push to continue. You are all gorgeous, amazing geniuses with exquisite taste. I wish that everyone could be like you. Really, I need more readers.

Let’s go into this year with optimism, despite everything that has happened. Perhaps cautious optimism. Also, remember that if you appreciate something that has been done or made, let people that are responsible know. External validation shouldn’t matter but it does. A lot.

Happy Guarded New Year to all!

For those who think the above tale fictional, here is photographic proof. I should’ve smiled but I still was stunned by this chance encounter.

 

One Small Thing

2021 has not been a great year. It might be better than 2020, but let’s be brutally honest, the bar is so low it might be mistaken for lying on the ground. I wrestled with how to write about this surreal tragedy we have been pushing ourselves through. While ranting about each and every baffling and terrifying event might prove cathartic for me, it would undoubtedly be an enormous drag for anyone who had the misfortune to read it. So instead, I offer this very short story that suggests that things possibly might change.

“It doesn’t look good,” he said.

“No,” she replied, “it does not.”

They walked around the piles of debris that towered around them. At the peak of one, a jagged piece fell, bisecting a smaller mound of rubble at its base.

“It’s hard to believe that this could happen.”

“And yet, here we are,” she countered.

He kicked a small, empty plastic bottle. It bounced and clattered away. In the distance, other collapses could be heard. With a sigh, he sat on a container.

“It just keeps getting worse and worse.”

“So it seems.”

“It feels as though there isn’t anything that can be done.”

“Does it?”

“Why are you arguing with me?” he sputtered.

“I’m not, but it feels like you’re arguing with me.”

“Fine!”

“We’re on the same side,” she reminded him.

A pause followed. Not quite an awkward one but neither a companionable one either.

“I know…” he admitted.

She sat next to him and said, “It’s nice to hear it out loud. Every now and again.”

“Sorry.”

“It’s okay.”

“I just don’t know where to start. We try to make things better but that just seems to make someone else angry.”

“You’re not wrong. People can be difficult.”

“Do you mean me?” he asked with a sad smile.

“Only occasionally.”

“Good to know.”

“You’re much better than most.”

“Please, I’ll blush!”

“I’d love to see that.”

She leaned into him and they sat for a while.

“Do feel better?” she inquired.

“Calmer. Not necessarily better.”

“That’s fair.”

“So… What are we going to do?”

“Well, we’re not going to give up.”

“We aren’t?” he asked.

“Of course not!” she stated with certainty.

“Because that feels like a solid plan.”

“Is that a joke?”

“Not my best work,” he admitted.

“No. But I do get it. It would be easy to just surrender to all this.”

“I like easy.”

“Everybody likes easy. Because it’s…”

“Easy.”

“Exactly. But things don’t get better with easy.”

“I don’t suppose they do.”

“So we do the hard thing. Which in this case is continuing.”

“It feels like throwing rocks in the ocean.”

“Yeah, I know.”

“So what’s the point?”

“The point is we aren’t alone.”

He looked around, all he could see were massive piles of garbage.

“No one here but us chickens.”

“Not right here, but I know that we’re not the only ones who care.”

“How? How can you know that?”

She looked him straight in the eye and said, “Because I know that people don’t want to live like this, and if they don’t, they will do something about it. Consider it a leap into the void.”

“That sounds terrifying,” he replied.

“Maybe, but it can’t get much worse than what’s going on now.”

As she said that, a nearby tower of refuse burst into flame. They looked at each other and exploded with laughter. After a few minutes of uncontrolled and inappropriate mirth, they finally stopped.

“If I didn’t laugh…”

“Exactly,” she agreed.

“So what do we do now?”

“We start. Something small.”

“Because?”

“Because it’s where you start. Do one small thing. Then another and so on.”

“I suppose so.”

“I’m glad we’re on the same page.”

“Me too. Though I’m still scared and angry.”

She took his hand and asked, “How about now.”

“Not as much now.”

“That’s all it takes. One small thing. Ready?”

“Yes, I am now.”

And with that, they leapt.

[irevuo] 19 Must-Read Books That Will Help You Bridge “The Creativity Gap

I’ve always believed that consuming a lot of content is a surefire way to develop the creative muscle. The more we feed our brain, the more we get this itch to create something of our own.

But there’s an issue with this. As Ira Glass so eloquently stated, we have developed taste, but there’s this disconnect between the quality of the content we consume and the quality of the content we produce.

That’s why I also believe that creatives have to feed their brains with other types of content: the content that teaches one how to be creative, how to develop the proper mindset of a content creator.

That’s why today I’m sharing with you a list of must-read books if you want to become a better content creator, whether you’re an artist, a writer, a blogger, or a vlogger.

Worn Paths

Writer’s block. Everyone who puts pen to paper, or in my case, fingertips to keyboard, wrestles with with this particular demon. About two weeks ago, I was chatting to another writer who was struggling with her own problems in this area, and we comisserated. Naturally, after than I grappled with my own lack of inspiration. Below is what I wrote when I didn’t know what to write.

He wandered through the stacks, looking for something. His fingertips brushed over the spines of books. It all seemed familiar, but the comfort that usually accompanied the sensation was absent. All subjects had been explored, extensively, and any related topics felt… dull. No, not dull, he still loved them but they felt like there was nothing new to be found. There was a sameness to it all and it increased his doleful mood.

“May I help you?”

Looking up he saw the librarian.

“No,” he replied, “Well, yes. Maybe?”

She smiled and asked, “Perhaps if told me what you were looking for?”

“I thought I knew.”

“Did you forget?”

“No!”

“Apologies, sometimes people forget titles and authors, there’s no shame in that.”

“That’s not it at all. It’s just that everything seems as though it’s been done.”

“And you feel like you’re just treading the same path?” she inquired.

“Yes! That’s it exactly!” he exclaimed, “No matter what I look for, it feels tired and dull.”

“So you are seeking something new?”

“Maybe.”

The librarian moved to a shelf, pulled a volume out, and presented it to him.

“I know that one.”

“Yes, I thought you might be familiar with that, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.”

For the next hour, she made suggestions. Many he knew, others didn’t inspire. Piles of books grew on the table he sat at and his frustration rose with them.

“What is wrong? Why is there nothing new?” he cried, “It’s like in a dream, when you are searching for something that’s always just ahead but somehow out of reach. No matter how hard you try, you can’t ever get it.”

Tapping a fingertip on her chin, the Liberian regarded him.

“I’m going to do something for you. It may be the solution you are looking for,” she mused.

“Is it a new subject?”

“No.”

“An obscure philosophy?”

“Not that.”

“Some sort of insight that will illuminate the truth?”

“In a manner of speaking.”

“Please! Don’t tease me! I must know!”

“I’m kicking you out.”

He stared at the librarian for a moment, waiting for her to say something else. Anything else. She did not.

“What!” he sputtered.

“You need to leave. Now.”

“Why? What have I done? Are you saying I cannot come back?”

She adjusted her glasses, more for effect than necessity, and replied, “I’m going to answer your last question first. Of course, you can return. In due time. Secondly, you have done nothing wrong, so don’t fret about that.”

“Then why?”

She gestured to the stacks, “On these shelves is the sum total of human knowledge, or as close as it gets. I’ve made multiple suggestions, all of which you have dismissed or rejected. Clearly, what you are looking for is not here.”

“Are you suggesting another library?”

Staring at him, the Librarian contemplated many responses. A substantial percentage of them were less than charitable. She chose kindness instead.

“No. You currently do not require this or any other library. I would encourage you to live your life.”

“I’m not sure what you mean?”

“Take a walk. Eat food you’ve never tried. Dance. Or maybe travel.”

“How will that help?”

“I haven’t the slightest idea.”

“Then why-” he began.

“Because,” she interrupted, “what you are looking for is not here.”

“It must be!”

“Do you live alone.” she declared.

“Yes,” he cautiously said.

“Have you ever opened up your refrigerator multiple times, hoping to find something new and tasty to eat?”

“Maybe…”

“Has anything magically appeared when you’ve done that?”

“Uhhhhh, no.”

“That is what you are doing here. Go forth and do something else.”

With a resigned sigh, he slowly collected his things and began to leave. A moment before exiting, he turned and asked, “Any ideas where to start?”

The Librarian pointed a finger and answered, “Just outside the door.”