Don't Quit Your Day Job...YET!

We do the things we NEED to do, in order to do the things we LOVE to do.

I recently came upon a list of "11 Celebrated Artists That Didn't Quit Their Day Jobs", and was reminded that even if I'm not where I want to be as an artist, that's OK. There are other creators that have lived through the same circumstances, and used their experiences to hone their crafts.

“Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass,
it's about learning how to dance in the rain.” -Vivian Greene

All my life I knew that I was born to draw. During my first 20 years I dedicated my time to refining my skills as an artist. All I wanted to be was a Disney Animator. But as we get older, responsibilities take over, and at the age of 24, I was blessed to be a husband and father. It was during this time that I had to put my dreams aside and do what I had to do, and provide for my family. Yet all along, I was still drawing.

During this decade, I worked as an Account Executive in the mortgage industry, strengthening phone and managerial skills. After 4 years, I moved on and became licensed in private insurance, conducting face-to-face consultations and large group presentations. But then the 2008/2009 economic crash occurred and I was forced to reinvent myself again to provide for my family. Yet all along, I was still drawing.

After a long and stressful span of uncertainty, a door was opened and on September 9, 2009 I was hired as a temporary employee with a global bioscience company. Traveling up to an hour in SoCal traffic to get to the factory, I used this time to think. Realizing that my situation wouldn't change unless I did, I requested to begin working the graveyard shift. This meant working from 10:00pm to 10:00am, Friday night through Monday morning! Why? To invest more time with my wife and daughter. Yet all along, I was still drawing.

It was during these quiet moments in the middle of the night at the factory that I began to start a journal. I wrote down what I wanted in life. What I wanted to do and where I wanted to be. Slowing an idea found a voice that led to action, and I created a roadmap. On May 27, 2011 I registered my business name with the county and officially launched VoogDesigns! "Great, but how would I get back to doing what I knew I was born to do?"

I was still working at the factory, and with gas prices at over $4.00 a gallon, I discovered that the company had another facility 3 miles from my home! So I requested a transfer to eliminate a 2 hour round-trip commute and spending $100 a week to fill up my gas tank. Saving time and money, I could now devote more of my time to building my company!

"I’m working full-time on my job,
and part-time on my fortune." -Jim Rohn

For the last 2 years I have been blessed to work at this factory, and am now close enough that I could actually ride my mountain bike to work. There are some weekends where I'll work a 20-hour day, doing tasks that are mundane, monotonous, and far from "creative". But like the "11 Celebrated Artists That Didn't Quit Their Day Jobs", I use this experience to keep food on the table for my family, a roof over our heads and health insurance for medical emergencies. Every weekend I work three 12-hour days so that I can spend the other 4 days of the week drawing.

I'm doing what I NEED to do, in order to do what I was BORN to do.


How The Arts Teach Kids To Win In Life

Given the current obsession with Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), school reformers aren't talking much about how we need to train more teachers in the arts. While important to study the arts for their intrinsic value — they also promote skills seen as important in academic and life success. (That’s why some people talk  about changing the current national emphasis on STEM to STEAM.) Here’s a list of skills that young people learn from studying the arts:

1. Creativity – Being able to think on your feet, approach tasks from different perspectives and think ‘outside of the box’ will distinguish your child from others. In an arts program, your child will be asked to recite a monologue in 6 different ways, create a painting that represents a memory, or compose a new rhythm to enhance a piece of music. If children have practice thinking creatively, it will come naturally to them now and in their future career.
2. Confidence – The skills developed through theater, not only train you how to convincingly deliver a message, but also build the confidence you need to take command of the stage. Theater training gives children practice stepping out of their comfort zone and allows them to make mistakes and learn from them in rehearsal. This process gives children the confidence to perform in front of large audiences.
3. Problem Solving – Artistic creations are born through the solving of problems. How do I turn this clay into a sculpture? How do I portray a particular emotion through dance? How will my character react in this situation? Without even realizing it kids that participate in the arts are consistently being challenged to solve problems. All this practice problem solving develops children’s skills in reasoning and understanding. This will help develop important problem-solving skills necessary for success in any career.
4. Perseverance – When a child picks up a violin for the first time, she/he knows that playing Bach right away is not an option; however, when that child practices, learns the skills and techniques and doesn’t give up, that Bach concerto is that much closer. In an increasingly competitive world, where people are being asked to continually develop new skills, perseverance is essential to achieving success.
5. Focus – The ability to focus is a key skill developed through ensemble work. Keeping a balance between listening and contributing involves a great deal of concentration and focus. It requires each participant to not only think about their role, but how their role contributes to the big picture of what is being created. Recent research has shown that participation in the arts improves children’s abilities to concentrate and focus in other aspects of their lives.
6. Non-Verbal Communication – Through experiences in theater and dance education, children learn to breakdown the mechanics of body language. They experience different ways of moving and how those movements communicate different emotions. They are then coached in performance skills to ensure they are portraying their character effectively to the audience.
7. Receiving Constructive Feedback – Receiving constructive feedback about a performance or visual art piece is a regular part of any arts instruction. Children learn that feedback is part of learning and it is not something to be offended by or to be taken personally. It is something helpful. The goal is the improvement of skills and evaluation is incorporated at every step of the process. Each arts discipline has built in parameters to ensure that critique is a valuable experience and greatly contributes to the success of the final piece.
8. Collaboration – Most arts disciplines are collaborative in nature. Through the arts, children practice working together, sharing responsibility, and compromising with others to accomplish a common goal. When a child has a part to play in a music ensemble, or a theater or dance production, they begin to understand that their contribution is necessary for the success of the group. Through these experiences children gain confidence and start to learn that their contributions have value even if they don’t have the biggest role.
9. Dedication – When kids get to practice following through with artistic endeavors that result in a finished product or performance, they learn to associate dedication with a feeling of accomplishment. They practice developing healthy work habits of being on time for rehearsals and performances, respecting the contributions of others, and putting effort into the success of the final piece. In the performing arts, the reward for dedication is the warm feeling of an audience’s applause that comes rushing over you, making all your efforts worthwhile.
10. Accountability – When children practice creating something collaboratively they get used to the idea that their actions affect other people. They learn that when they are not prepared or on-time, that other people suffer. Through the arts, children also learn that it is important to admit that you made a mistake and take responsibility for it. Because mistakes are a regular part of the process of learning in the arts, children begin to see that mistakes happen. We acknowledge them, learn from them and move on.

Read the entire article written by Lisa Phillips in the Washington Post