Sometimes people ask me, how long does it take for you to do a piece? They always seem surprised when I tell them, on average it takes about 20 hours. But typically one piece takes anywhere between 6 and 35 hours. I’m not exaggerating when I say that. It’s also what makes it so transformative/existential/lonely/awesome/frustrating. You’ll probably go through ten iterations of change, badassery, and self-doubt by the end of it, but you finish with something you’re proud of. And that’s all there is to it.
I found a picture I took of the draft version of this piece I posted recently, and wanted to share what 10+ hours will get you if you keep going. I can’t tell you how many times I probably erased, smudged, marked this piece before I got it to something satisfactory. And who knows? Maybe I could have put in another 10 more hours. Who knows what it would look like then? I guess we’ll never really know. That’s kind how life works, too I think.
Anyway, I hope that’s a source of inspiration to you, in an era of instant gratification: Put time into the things you love. Sadly, when it comes to selling my pieces, I severely underestimate how much time I put into the process, how much I love it, and my need to have it go to a good home overrides my need to make a living. That’s life too.
I’ll leave you with these two quotes:
The longer you spend working on something – loving it into being, almost – the more you get attached. It’s silly, but you do hope they go to good homes. (Anne Desmet)
Artists want their work to have a good home because it makes their creative process worthwhile. Most artists put a lot of themselves into each piece they create. Your purchase reflects a subtle link between you and that artist. (Beverly Leesman)
People often ask me, “What Inspires You?” And I’ll tell them: People who have paid their dues, pursued their dreams relentlessly, and came out with amazing Character. People like my friend Cathy, aka Eva Dilcue of The Generators. She is not only a brilliantly talented visual artist, I recently also found out she was the lead singer for a punk band called The Generators back in the 80s out in Cleveland, Ohio. And the best part is? They’re f–king FANTASTIC. I’m not joking. They’re a balls out, rockin’, female-led version of the Dead Kennedys. Maybe even better. I mean, they good. Honestly, I really think the only reason they didn’t get as big as they should have was because back then, the record industry was still controlled by the Man. They recorded a bunch of music for a record deal but the Man ran off with some floozy and probably headed down to Mexico before getting offed by the Cartel or something. OK, I’m making that up. Probably happened that way, though.
But it’s really too bad, because they just don’t make music– and people like this anymore. The good news is that Eva recently dug up some of these old recordings and we sat down together to put them up on a SoundCloud page. She created a Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/TheGenerators1980s and we decided to release them to the world as a tribute to their band. Eva didn’t think anything of it at first, she just wanted to make sure she preserved their legacy in the age of Social Media and the Internet.
BUT THEN, THINGS GOT EXCITING. Within days, the old Generators fans rolled in one by one, each one of the band members joined in, and people came right out of the woodwork to talk about how amazing the band was (and still is!) It was amazing to witness. All the band members were scattered across the country, doing their own creative thing or still making music, and the Facebook page made it possible for everyone to reconnect after 30 years.
Since then, Eva has been contacted by fans in Cleveland and all over the country, and is currently taking a trip back to Ohio to reconnect with a former bandmate, Neon Don. This is their first jam session upon reuniting: https://soundcloud.com/neondonb/make-it-in-the-world-eva-neon, and I can’t stop smiling when I listen to it. Also here’s a picture of them today:
It’s been THIRTY years since they’ve seen each other. That’s how long I’ve been alive. And I say that with admiration and respect, because the thought of being so passionate about something for as long as they have fills me with so much hope and inspiration– that I can honestly say I know someone who has lived the life of creativity. Someone who has undoubtedly seen so much, being a fiery, five-foot-nothing, female punk rocker from back in the day, who stayed true to herself and still rocks to this day.
These are the types of stories that inspire me everyday. Stories of incredibly talented, creative, and passionate everyday people who, despite never getting recognized by the mainstream or gained monetary success in their artwork, just keep waking up every day and plugging away. And guess what? They keep getting better. I’ll leave you with this gem of a song that’ll keep you rockin’: https://soundcloud.com/eva-dilcue/usa.
Eva, no matter what you do, don’t stop kicking ass, and if you guys manage to do a reunion show in SF, I’ll be there, front-row, dressed in my best punk outfit. 🙂