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Joy today: Helping musicians become citizen-artists

It delights me to no end when a consulting client receives my draft deliverable of a business plan for their new program and their response is “this is amazing!” In this case the client is Carnegie Hall, and I’m working on helping them build an online community filled with content and resources that helps musicians become citizen-artists. Talk about a dream mashup of everything I love: art, activism, business, technology, and making the world a better place through building community. Updates coming soon with ways for you to get involved and access the resources yourself!

A Year of Yes: NYC’s tattoo history

Paging tattoo artists, lovers of good ink, and history nerds in New York City: I’m looking for 4 people to help me unravel New York City’s long and complicated tattoo history on stage with a packed audience. Are you that someone? Do you know someone who fits the bill? Let me know.

A Year of Yes: Kareem Waris Olamilekan is an 11-year-old artist in Nigeria with immense talent

If you need some good news today, feast your eyes on this Instagram account: https://www.instagram.com/waspa_art/

I think all of the social media and press circulating about Kareem Waris Olamilekan’s artwork is amazing. And I’d like to do more than just spread the word. How do we help support him as a working artist and help him continue his art education? I’m going to reach out to his school and teacher, and will share more information when I have it.

A Year of Yes: It’s never too late

I saw this list over the weekend:

  • At age 23, Oprah was fired from her first reporting job.
  • At age 24, Stephen King was working as a Janitor and living in a trailer.
  • At age 28, J.K. Rowling was a suicidal single parent living on welfare.
  • At age 30, Harrison Ford was a carpenter.
  • At 40, Vera Wang designed her first dress after a career in which she failed to make the Olympic figure skating team and didn’t get the Editor-in Chief position at Vogue.
  • At 42, Alan Rickman gave up his graphic design career to pursue acting.
  • At 52, Morgan Freeman landed his first MAJOR movie role.
  • At 62, Louise Hay launch her publishing company, Hay House.
  • At 101, the artist Carmen Herrera finally got the show the art world should have given her 40 or 50 years ago before: a solo exhibition at the Whitney in New York City, where she has been living and working since 1954.

Know this: it is never too late to do what you love. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to achieve all of our dreams at an increasingly younger age. We beat ourselves up because we aren’t a 30 Under 30 or a 40 Under 40. Here’s my advice: forget about your age. Stop tracking your life’s milestones against someone else’s. 

Life is about the long game; it’s about being a little bit better version of yourself today than you were yesterday. That’s the greatest win of all. Your life could change at any moment, at any age. Do something you’re proud of doing. Celebrate your wins, learn from your losses, and most importantly, keep going. You’re going to find your way. You’re going to find what you’re meant to do, who you’re meant to be with, and where you’re meant to be. I can’t tell you when, but I can tell you that if you keep looking and trying new things, you will find your best life.

In the pause: Painting and poetry

“Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt, and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen.” ~Leonardo da Vinci

Inspired by a recent post on the Two Drops of Ink blog, this idea of the play between painting and poetry speaks loudly to me. I paint with paper through collage work. Whenever I’m stuck in my writing world, or just looking for a new medium to use a different part of my brain for a while, I turn to collage work. I’ve never been much of a visual artist, or at least I wasn’t until I started to do collage work. There is something so satisfying about cutting up tiny bits of paper and reconfiguring them as a way of painting a canvas. Art does have a story, and stories do have an art to them. I’m fortunate in my case that I love art as much as I love books, and I’m immensely happy that my book about Emerson Page honors this connection between all art mediums. Ultimately art in any form expresses what we feel and know in our hearts and souls. And by expressing and sharing those feelings, a part of us lives on far beyond our years.

In the pause: I love my job

I started my new full-time job this week, and I have to say that after just a few days it has exceeded all of my expectations. I recognize that I am still in the early days of this role with this company, and I think it’s worth detailing exactly what I love about it and why:

1.) I love artists. I mean, I really love them. All shapes, sizes, and genres. All of my colleagues are artists in some way. Musicians, writers, actors, dancers, directors, designers, producers, singers, visual artists, bakers, and improvisers. They literally bleed creativity. And then, we add to that the fact that we are an organization whose clients are all performing arts and cultural organizations. I am surrounded by art, and everything I’m doing and learning is helping to further art in all its forms. How cool is that?

2.) Artists are an accepting, helpful, and collaborative breed of folks. The doors are open, the hinges are off, and everyone is encouraged to grab a glass to toast to creativity. This is by far the most welcome I have ever felt at any job in my career. It’s also the most diverse and the organization of my training schedule is just stellar.

3.) We have lots and lots and lots of interesting, thorny problems to solve. There will never be a dull day at this place. Never. We work inside of Salesforce and the platform is POWERFUL. I mean, I’ll be learning something new about it every single day. It’s mammoth and nearly every organization in every sector is using Salesforce is some way. Getting that experience of working in Salesforce, customized for nonprofits, is a skill I will be able to utilize over the course of my entire career.

4.) I use every part of my brain and every part of my experience every day. My job combines all of my experience as an artist, and in business, technology, and product. In many ways, everything I’ve done up to this point has helped me to land right where I am.

5.) New York City is my muse. My office is near Carnegie Hall and I also have the flexibility to regularly work from my home. I love that I can walk to work and that when I step out of my office, I am smack dab in the middle of Manhattan.

I am under no illusions that I will never have a tough day. I’m sure I will. And even on the tough days, what I will most appreciate about this company and our incredible product is that there is a higher purpose and everyone here is on-board with that higher purpose. That’s the crux of it all: everyone here is driven to make the world a better place through the combination of technology and business to support and foster the arts. I couldn’t think of a better place to be right now.

This just in: Little Salon DC celebrates artists and supports art lovers

Last week, I had the extreme pleasure of volunteering with Little Salon DC, a fantastic program that runs monthly artist salons. The title artist is defined broadly at Little Salon DC meaning anyone with creative moxie and the courage to put their creations out into the world in some form.

This month we enjoyed opera, physical comedy, puppetry, poetry, fiction, and homemade jam. It was all topped off with plenty of drinks, revelry, and smiles. 60 of us loaded into a beautiful apartment in the U Street area and by the end of the night, no one wanted to leave. It was truly a collection of 60 of the coolest, kindest, and friendliest people in D.C., all in one fantastic venue. I’m excited to get involved with this incredible effort and to grow its passionate mission.

Here are a few pictures snapped by my friend, Logan, at last week’s event. We’re already looking forward to October’s edition. To learn more, visit Little Salon DC’s website and follow along on Twitter at @LittleSalonDC. Viva el artista!

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