When Can You Really Call Yourself an Artist?

You are not less successful as an artist just because you don’t earn a full income from your art. You need to define success to yourself; is it earning loads of money or being able to create the things that you really want to create?

This is the type of comparison game that can really mess with your head, especially if you’re good friends with freelancers who are all in with their craft while you and I work full-times jobs and hustle with our creative identity on the side. I get it, it’s hard and we pretend we’re not jealous of how other’s are killing it with their camera, brush, writing or whatever but the silver lining to all this is that everyone has their own definition of success or at least should.

Yes, success for me would signify being able to sustain myself full time with my photography but I honestly don’t feel less of an artist just because I don’t yet. I’ve come along way with photography just being a “side thing” but I know that my fear of going all in is what’s kept it in the corner and in the process it's clouded my definition of success.

Carla Coulson to Aspiring Photographers

If you give yourself enough time in the beginning and develop a style and an opinion, it will ultimately make your journey to wherever you want to go shorter.

This statement coincides perfectly with an article Carla wrote on how imperative it is for you and I to have a plan if we're aspring to go pro with our photography. "Nothing worse than wading through chest deep mud not knowing where you are going!"

DJI Spark: My Neighborhood

Music by Inukshuk "Happy Accidents"

It may not be hard to figure out how to operate a drone but the technology that goes into maneuvering it once it’s in the air was completely abstruse to me. My biggest fear quite frankly was losing sight of the amount of air time left on the battery and the whole airborne thing would come crashing down. Luckily there’s so much great high-tech stuff built into it which guides you tremendously in getting seamlessly from point A to point B.

The DJI Spark technically belongs to my brother but I had the opportunity to give it a spin around my neighborhood, none other than at my most preferred time of the day…sunset. The last thing I want is for my neighbors to assume I’m spying on them so as furtively as I could, I elevated the drone from my backyard and sat on my stoop maneuvering it. Immediately after, a slew of potential locations where I would love to fly the drone came to mind which kinda comes with the territory.

The photographs and footage I got from the short flight was enough to convince me that I think I really want one of these in my arsenal. I ended up importing the footage into Lightroom, quickly applied the same custom presets I apply to my photos, exported the footage and edited it in iMovie. Again, just a very quick workflow so I could get a feel for what I could potentially do if I owned one of these drones.

I don’t believe I have the authority or experience flying the DJI Spark to provide a cogent review on it but here’s some quick takeaways based off this one flight:

  • The drone itself is small enough for me to absolutely bring it along with me on a active/lifestyle shoot during those moments where I visualize getting an overhead shot that would typically require for me to be higher than I actually can. Heck, we’re planning a visit to El Salvador (parent’s country of origin) early next year, so I can’t wait to bring this gadget along.
  • It’s affordable enough where I don’t mind pimping it out as much as I can with extra batteries and accessories without surpassing the $1,000 mark.
  • It’s extremely easy to fly to a point where my 6-year a son has already taken a spin with it at the park. This is DJI’s first attempt at a true drone for everyone and at least for us, it’s made a really great impression on us.
  • The whole gesture controls aren’t as useful or reliable as the company promotes it to be but I’m more than willing to overlook that because I rather operate the Spark with a controller rather than wasting battery attempting to be cool.
  • The camera on the spark doesn’t support RAW or 4K format but again, the experience on it is at least giving me the confidence to own one of these bad boys myself and once I’ve developed enough confidence with it, I wouldn’t mind upgrading along the rode.

Being Successful vs. Being Known

You don’t need to be famous to succeed. You do need to be good at what you do though. Sometimes focusing entirely on that, on your craft and connecting to a tiny number of the right people, is all you need.

Great reminder for anyone that there’s no need to obsess with wanting to be part of the “in-crowd” to feel that your work matters because in the end the world won’t recognize it until you do first.

The world is already brimming with famous people who haven’t done anything significant at all! These are the people that fall more in love with the results than with the work which is why they strive so much to be known regardless of whether what they did to get someone’s attention is good or bad. I don’t know about you but I much rather do the quiet work in the corner to feel that I’ve made a difference and if something derives from that work, so be it.

Jimmy Placide

A little Summer stroll through Williamsburg, Brooklyn with Jimmy. We both probably spent about 2hrs exploring, taking in the rapid changes undergoing in the neighborhood as well as the current state of the fitness industry which I’ve become completely obsessed with. For someone his size, it really took me by surprise when he stated how he doesn’t take any supplementation such protein powders, creatine or even BCAA (Branch Chain Amino Acids).

The world of supplements is apparently full of lies and it’s very easy to get sucked into all the hype especially when you have pop culture celebrities cashing in. I personally take protein powder simply because of the convenience at times as well as creatine but after much conversation with people who walk the talk with their impressive physique like Jimmy, it’s obvious that there’s no better place to get your rich nutriments from actual food as oppose to expensive stuff in containers.

If you spend an enormous amount of money on supplements and the only difference you see is less money in your checking account and not on your body then you’ll know something is off.

Rooftop with Aimée

For the past month, I’ve been commuting into Manhattan for work. A daily journey I haven’t always been too accustom to especially when you’re not dependent on your own car to determine your arrival. Instead, you’re more so relying on sucky train lines which essentially require you to give yourself a nice buffer to at least have a semblance of discipline when it comes to getting to work on time.

My commute home is practically the same but the other evening it was a nice respite from the usual routine when Aimée invited me over to her rooftop to observe sunset as well as catch up on life as I may not always have the opportunity to make it to Manhattan as much as I would like, especially around this epic time of day.

A Mobile Phone Contract for a Son

Cameron Moll’s oldest son just turned 14 and like any rational teenager, he’s been asking for a mobile phone. After much consideration, the parents eventually fulfilled his request but not without first presenting him with a contract for him to abide by all of which to me sounds more than reasonable.

Out of the 15 rules, the following 3 stuck out for me the most:

Financial Reality of a Career in Art in NYC

Whether we like it or not, money is very often the measuring stick of society and because we don’t necessarily want to feel short, talking about it fits right into that much-avoided bucket of difficult conversations to have. It’s a loaded conversation for sure and more so if you’re an artist. Add to that the fact that you find yourself living in New York and the whole vista changes.

There’s multiple reasons to avoid a chat around money but I can assure you everyone feels the same way unless you’re obviously Floyd Mayweather or some other a$$ who believes flaunting it is more priceless than doing something more valuable with it. Either way, you would think this similarity we share would empower us more to have an open dialogue but that’s generally not the case.

Like Erica said, “money is hard to talk about because everyone thinks that everybody else has more of it,” especially now in a world where “you can’t see beyond the filters”, which is why I found it completely fascinating to read this financed-focus series by the folks at i-D where they “rounded up five young creatives in the fashion industry and asked them to get real about money.”

What you read will either shock you or inspire you but hopefully not deflate you from pursuing what you love irrespective of any initial struggles!