Father’s Day

scary-dragon

Instead of celebrating my birthday on my actual birthday, we waited until the weekend for various reasons. This worked out better because it gave the chance to spend the kind of one-on-one time with each of my boys.

I spent a couple of hours with my youngest son, (screen name – ‘Tumble’) looking for an art supply shop to buy some woodless colored pencils and drawing pads. We found the name of a place in Peterborough, NH on Depot Street called “Art Academy And Supply” and we spent the time just looking at all the stuff and talking about what we could do with various things we found before settling for the colored pencils we came for.

The following Friday I took my other son, (screen name – “Coppertop”) with me to pick up some Chinese food with a stopover at a local electronics’ shop to find a much needed IDE ribbon cable for my server. This gave me an important opportunity to just talk to my son the way I wished someone could have talked to me at that age. I told him about the importance of finding something you love to do that people also want to pay you for your work in that field. It’s not an accident that we live in a nice house and are able to drive new cars every few years. Mom and I have a passion for what we do and we’ve been able to find stead work because of it.

“Now’s the time to figure out what you want to do for fun, make a game out of learning; if it’s not fun than you’re going to have a harder time making things that you’re trying to learn stick. Now’s the time to build some skills like drawing, riding a bike, basics of computers, the basics about tools and building simple things like bird houses and forts… skills that will pave the way for others in the near future.”

Sounds pretty serious but I assure you I tried to keep it as light and up-beat as possible. It wasn’t as if I was only trying to instill some values into my son, but I was trying to talk to the younger version of myself in the past who was so desperate for the kind of attention I was giving to my son in the present.

Fact is, and this is a complicated emotion that I don’t even fully understand; I’m jealous of my kids because they have such a great dad… who’s me. Doesn’t make any sense, it’s too hard to try and figure out other than they’re getting all the things I didn’t get and they’re getting it from me.

It’s a bittersweet emotion. I wish I had someone, a male role model other than a couple of teachers who said; “It’s OK to be a little weird and learn things other kids don’t. It’ll all work out in the end.”

I wrote about this to an extent in my rant “Role Model” and there was an aspect I wanted to expand upon this morning…

Some of the greatest influences in my life are Ralph McQuarrie, Roger Lean, Andrew Probert and (although I didn’t know it at the time) Milton Glaser. I loved the idea that you could take art and make something real that people used in their everyday lives. I was astounded that artists used art to create places and periods in time to take people where they’ve never been before.

There was someone out there who created works of art that were printed on cans of tomatoes, billboards, movie posters, magazines and catalogs. I wanted to be one of them, as far back as I can remember.

That’s what Graphic Design is, it’s creating the greatest piece of art in the shortest amount of time for the most amount of money a client or employer is willing to pay. Anyone who says Graphic Design isn’t art is an idiot. If I had known that then my life would have been far easier since I would have had a label to use for my work.

When I was younger I used to create strange symbols out of thin air. I would get an idea and just draw it out. I would draw it out many times until I got it right. I would have folders of this stuff saved in hopes that someday I would understand what I was doing and what it was called before making a career out of it. Whatever those people did (because I didn’t know it was called Commercial Art or Graphic Design back then) I wanted to do, too.

Not just because it looked like fun, but because it’s the only thing I wanted to do and the only thing I could actually do.

I would draw symbols and logos inspired by the books I was reading or I would catch a glimpse of something random that would inspire me. At some point I was told by my elders (sans art teachers) to stop. It was foolish and childish. It wasn’t a manly thing to do. “Art is for pussies.” It must have been frustrating for them who didn’t understand the creative process, it was as if I was I was receiving signals from outer space in my head and putting them down on paper. It must have seem pretty freaky to them since this seemed the extreme opposite of ‘normal.’

I was told by my pseudo-stepfather that if I didn’t stop he would take a hammer and break all the fingers in my hand. So I began hiding my work in the strangest places like in the insolation in the basement where my room was, in glass jars and old thermos’ hidden in the woods behind my mother’s house, in secret nooks that I found along the way between school and home when I had to walk, and in my own locker at school.

At some point I had to quit in fear of getting caught. It was getting hard to keep track of all my hiding places and the stress was getting to take a toll on my creativity.

It’s been a hard long process to get to that level of creativity starting with channeling my previous self by listening to the music I enjoyed decades ago and simply applying the pencil to paper.

The damage has been done though because I’ll never know what I would have accomplished if I had been in a safe environment and a little encouragement. Even my own father wasn’t too supportive when he and I reconnected before I turned 18.

“Why don’t you draw something more real or something different for a change?” he used to ask with some contempt and confusion.

I’m in a similar position with my oldest son who likes to draw nothing but dragons. That’s his thing right now. Before he was copying the style of the Anasazi cave paintings that he saw on a documentary, and before that he was doing his own drawings inspired by Maurice Sendak’s “Where The Wild Things Are.” It’s tempting for me to tell him when he gets stuck in one of these phases; “Why don’t you draw something else?”

The worst thing you could do to an artist of any age or any genre is to critique, especially when they’re exceptionally young like my kids or me from 25 years ago. You break something that too often can’t be easily repaired or never fixed again.

Kids by their nature want to please, they inherently want to impress their parents and elders with the things they do. One of my most intense memories from my youth was wanting to be approved by people who should have been my mentors. I wanted my contributions to mean something, if I wasn’t good enough then tell me how I can make my work better. I needed someone like my own father to tell me I was on the right path and not treat me like I was just another set of hands to help him with his work.

Criticism kills. When we beat down our kids we are literally murdering the people whom they would have become if they were given praise and guidance. Kids like my son ‘Coppertop’ draw the same things over and over again because they are trying to perfect their craft. They’re repeating the same thing over and over again as a means of working it out of their system and trying to learn from what they’re doing each time. Just as children learn how to walk or talk by doing the same things over and over again, they learn by repetition; especially if they are trying to learn something all their own.

Spending time with my own kids and doing what we love to do has done more for me than I could have imagined. Not only have I improved their confidence I’ve also done something more for myself. I hate to use the cliché, but by nurturing them I’m nurturing the kid who I was that felt lost and abandoned all those years ago.

And I’m also getting some awesome drawings of dragons and robots in the process, and who can say no to that? Nurture your artists and don’t be worried about the ruts they get into since practice makes perfect…

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Thanks To Yahoo, Another Service Bites The Dust: Rockmelt.

RockMelt-Logo3I’m really getting sick and tired of Marissa Mayer’s shtick.

The first bit of shtick didn’t affect me other than I was annoyed with her hypocrisy of telling Yahoo employees that none of them could work from home while at the same time she had the office next to hers converted to a nursery. “Yahoo!” is the same company that pushed telecom companies to provide broadband service to suburban and rural areas so they could provide their services and tools to people (like me) who work from home. (I wrote about this in an earlier blog post… check it out.) Working from home is great for Yahoo so long as people who work from home are putting money into Yahoo’s accounts, but working from home isn’t good enough for Yahoo’s employees.

Then I received word that one of the apps that I use every day – Astrid – was bought by “Yahoo!” and was shutting down for reasons I neither understand or want to hear because I’ve moved on to another app. Don’t get me wrong, I would have loved to keep using Astrid because I got alerts when other members of my family or team finished a task; but there’s no point in dwelling on the how’s and why’s it’s being discontinued since I have other things to worry about – like my own work.

Then I got word that a browser that I’ve used for years is also going away – “Rockmelt.” This has been a wonderful tool that integrated Facebook and Twitter; while I was working I received alerts about other people’s posts and tweets and I could respond accordingly. Rockmelt has been bought by “Yahoo” and will be going away at the end of this month.

Granted, I couldn’t care less about Yahoo’s spending spree’s until the products they buy are products I once used and can’t any more since they aren’t replacing them right away. As I stated elsewhere, why would I use Astrid again when I’ve been forced to move on to something else like “Any.Do?” Why would I change back again? Why would I use the next version of “Rockmelt” after this one’s vanished for a period of time?

The only reason why I would install Yahoo’s version of Rockmelt is to see how my websites render on that browser. Besides that, why would I go back to using Rockmelt if it ever returns? How do I know it won’t disappear again like other browsers in the past have done; like “Netscape,” “Mosaic” and “Flock.”

Yahoo’s business model is both confounding and aggravating – they are essentially demanding that we try out their competition by shutting down their own products they’ve bought. They’re demanding that we try and eventually liking other companies while getting along without theirs. Why would we go back after they introduce their new and improved products? That’s assuming they ever develop replacements. Yahoo is alienating their potential clients by pissing away the clients their new purchased companies already have…

While this blunder should be annoying to anyone with half a brain I’m reading commentaries about how “bold,” “brave,” “confident” and “courageous” Yahoo’s CEO is and how she’s a “wonderful role model” for other working women. I’m not sure if those commentators are stupid, or if it’s me? Am I the idiot? A lot of these commentators are implying that critics like me should take a wait and see attitude while they’re excited to see what comes of all these acquisitions. What do we do in the meantime without any of these products Yahoo has shuttered?

Who are these people cheerleading for Ms. Mayer? How come these commentators aren’t seeing what we’re seeing? How can they not see that they’re alienating their client base with “Yahoo’s” actions now? Are they paid shills? Do they have stock in this company? Do they have a personal interest in seeing Ms. Mayer succeed?

I have no idea; but I would like to know if her publicist would like to take me on as a client, too!

Why Personal Appearance Counts

saggy-pants-computerI had this conversation with a genuine arrogant jerk a couple of years ago about how I discriminate and how I’m prejudice against certain types of people and how, as a potential business owner, I would and should get sued. But my discrimination and prejudice has nothing to do with color, race or gender – it’s about personal, unprofessional appearances.

Let’s just suppose for a minute that I put out an ad that my company – Eric Fisk CGD Advertising and Marketing – is hiring. Three people show up, one guy shows up in normal attire for a job interview with an above average portfolio and some kid wearing his hat on backwards on top of a hankie with his pants half-way down his legs has a much better portfolio; but the one with the best portfolio is genuinely odd, like a vampire – dressed in all black and his face caked with white foundation and black make up. Who am I going to hire?

For those of the people who say that I should hire the kid with the better portfolio is wrong. I wouldn’t hire him, and neither would you? Why?

Whether you want to believe this or not,  your employees are a reflection of you and your business. Their quality of work is just as important as an employee’s appearance. It’s a reflection of you and what a tight ship you run. If you let your employees look like an extra for “The Walking Dead” or a gangbanger – then what other areas of their lives are left wanting?

What kind of employer am I for letting that kind of shenanigans happen in my place of business? How your employees look and behave, how clean their work spaces are and what they overhear says more about your leadership skills than it does about them. I know of plenty of people who have lost potential clients because they allow their people to run amok, companies have lost business because someone wore pajamas to work on casual Fridays, or that someone was listening to misogynistic music in their cube.

Am I wrong? Is it fair or right that people discriminate against employees who dress odd to work? Is it wrong that a company would not hire another one because of the appearance or behavior of one of that companies employees? We could be having an argument about how the world really should be and how we should just let people (especially artists) be themselves and let them express themselves through their personal appearance and wardrobe; but such an argument would be futile.

It doesn’t matter for the simple fact that it’s the way it is and the person who writes the checks has all the power. We shop with our feet and our decisions; I chose not to shop at a specific chain of grocery stores because of the horrible attitudes of their employees and depressing atmosphere so it’s not hard to imagine that a potential client would choose one graphic design company over another. A client might just use any excuse to eliminate one potential company for superficial reasons to make it easier to choose which one to hire.

As an employer I might use the same tactic to eliminate candidates based on inappropriate attire to narrow down my choices.

Are we catering to people with money and power? You bet we are, especially when this argument isn’t just an academic exercise when we have bills to pay and a potential client has cash in hand to get a job done.

The real question is, why handicap yourself? Why hinder your potential as an artist, graphic designer, or an employee in general by wanting to make a ‘fashion statement.’ Shouldn’t you be making a statement through your work? If you want to prove to the “world” that you are an individual than do so by finishing your work with your own individual style. Make a statement by doing it on-time, under budget and better than your client or employer hoped for. And save the ultra-low hanging jeans for the weekend and the vampire make up for Halloween.

As for the jerk preaching about fighting conformity; he fell off the face of the earth and I haven’t heard from him after he posted about how he quit his job because he was tired of being critiqued for dressing like The Green Lantern one too many times. Someone told me that he’s out of the Graphic Design field and is now serving java at a Starbucks at minimum wage.

Pet Peeves Knock Knock!

There’s a knock on the door and from my chair in my office I can see it’s a man in a nice suit with the tie slightly loosened. He doesn’t have any brief case with him; he’s not holding any religious literature, nor a badge and arrest warrant for someone who he’s looking for at the wrong address. I have no idea who he is or what he’s here for, I’m at a loss because I don’t recognize him nor do I have any appointments today.

I answer the door and he introduces himself by saying, “Hi, I’m John from the investment brokerage that just opened up a branch office here in your town. I know all about you and your business and I would love to talk to you about some exciting opportunities…”

As I’m standing there, my back is to the wall where I have a piece of paper from the State of New Hampshire signifying that I am registered as a “DBA” which means I am technically a ‘business.’ “That’s great! What’s my name and what’s my business?”

He looked shocked for a moment? “What’s your name?”

“Yea, how did you find out about me? How did you know that I was running a business out of here? Did one of my happy clients refer you to me?”

“Uh, I…” he began to stammer. “I don’t know what you mean.”

“John, you said that you know all about me and my business. I would love to find out how you heard about me.”

“Well, for starters I have a great way to grow your capitol and help you invest in some better tools in the future…” he said, trying to change the subject.

“John, come back when you actually know who I am and what I do so you have a better idea of what you’re talking about,” I said, cutting him off by closing the door.

On another occasion, the doorbell rings at 11:30AM the way it should have. I answer the door and there’s this guy there who looks like my usual type of client and I invite him in. He begins his routine about his faith and how his religion is the only true religion while the world is going to hell in a hand basket while I’m picking apart his pamphlet apart visually and how this violates a lot of design rules such as contrast and typography.

It takes all of two minutes to realize there’s a mix up – he’s not there for my business… he’s there for my soul! This isn’t my 11:30AM appointment… who just pulled in the driveway and is now blocking this guy in. Talk about uncomfortable.

Before I vent any further, let me say once and for all I don’t have a problem with other people’s religion. I have no beef with Christians, Jews, Muslims, Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, Buddhists, or Atheists. Whatever gives you comfort in the middle of the night during a thunderstorm or times of tragedy; fine. Who am I to say you’re beliefs are right or wrong? By no means am I trying to criticize anyone’s religion.

I also don’t have problems with people who make a living on the road either by making sales calls or deliveries. Whatever it is that you have to do to make a buck that’s neither illegal nor immoral is fine so long as you don’t make it my issue.

This is exactly where I’m going with this rant; when other people’s issues find their way to my front door. I have a problem with people who knock on the door during regular working hours and insist that I deal with them.

What a lot of these people don’t seem to understand that as a freelance graphic designer there are days when my time at home is not my own. If it’s between 6AM and 7PM (why, yes! That is 11 hours) and I’m sitting at my desk there’s a good chance I’m either doing work for a client or for a class I’m taking. This person knocking on my door to give me the latest issue of their religious publication, solicit me for an investment opportunity, trying to unload a truckload of frozen meat they stole, Girl Scout cookies, isn’t just stealing my time but they are also stealing from my clients.

It’s no different than if you went to someone’s work place, got thought the receptionist before literally walking up to someone’s desk and started with a ‘cold call’ sales pitch for whatever they’re offering. Imagine if I went into someone’s church during a service and started handing out my business card while asking “need some new logos? How about a website? I know both WordPress and Blogger! Stationary – I can do that for you, too.”

Does this mean that I only want these people to come knock on my door when I’m not working like on the weekends? The only time I really have with my wife and kids is on the weekends and vacations. It’s the only time I have that I can actually feel free enough to walk away from my desk and actually do something physical outside, or create something that isn’t graphic design.

In short, there’s never a good time for strangers to knock on my door. My driveway is not a thoroughfare to low hanging fruit. As a graphic designer I’m not sitting here for desperate attention from just anyone – silence and privacy is what I need most of all and if I can’t get it here than what’s the point. For a graphic designer, being alone does not translate to ‘being lonely.’ (In fact, I have all the critical voices in my head to keep me company…)

As a result, I have created a new sign to put on my door during business hours – “Forget The Dog! BEWARE OF THE GRAPHIC DESIGNER!” and my hourly rates; knock on my door and you’ll be charged $150 for the entire hour. I’ll let you know how well it works.

Know When To Hold ’em…

A former classmate of mine posted this question on Facebook…

A question for my organized, book-loving friends: how on EARTH do you decide what books to keep and which ones should be donated or sold or (*gasp*) pitched? From picture books on up we have way more than we need — many of which have already been read. Homes need books, but how many? Which ones? (I’m truly seeking advice here.)

I have two versions of my answer that I’ll share for you folks here – one from the perspective of a home owner and the other as a graphic designer.

As a graphic designer there are some books that you just don’t need any more such as manuals or how-to books for software programs you just don’t have any more. Since I no longer have a machine running Windows98 it’s pretty obvious to other people (besides me) that I don’t need the Windows98 manuals.

Any software specific manuals (Classroom In A Book for Photoshop 5.5 from 1999/2000, Illustrator CS3, Ray Dream Studio 5.5, Bryce 4…) for programs none of use any more can be recycled with reckless abandon. Same can be said for books on older versions of HTML. Any book that was not written for HTML5 can safely be tossed since you’re going to be hard pressed to find clients who want you to write code in an obsolete format.

One caveat: There are a handful of software specific books that are not version specific. I have a book about creating photorealist backgrounds and textures in Photoshop/Illustrator that was published in the 1990’s. It’s just as useful today.

The books every graphic designer should hang on to are the ones that teach the basics of Graphic Design, Typography, lay-out, publication or any of the basic of our trade should be held onto with intense vigor. There are going to be times when you’ll be arguing with a client about contrast or using decorative type in the main body text (DON’T!) and you’ll need a reference book to back yourself when you don’t have adequate vocabulary.

There are also a handful of trade magazines that you should hold on to like issues of “How,” “Print” and “Computer Arts,” – you should hold on to every issue that you have for a couple of years. I have no rule of thumb, it’s whatever you and your living space can handle.

Then there are the art books or source books. I have a short pile of books about artists that inspire me that I use as inspiration once in a while. Sometimes just flipping through those books helps me tap into my creative energy or makes me look at my project in a different perspective. These are books that we should never think of getting rid of, period.

Finally, any old book that stands in the way of you and your work need to go elsewhere. They can either get out of your workspace or out of your home all together.

As for the home owner perspective:

I have a books that are in four categories; books I’ve read, books I want to read, books that I have no intention of reading, and books that I have no intention of reading but they make me look more intellectual to my guests.

There are some of the books that I’ve read that I can’t part with, these are usually SF classics that I read in my younger years that shaped my optimism/pragmatism that I still hang on to today. There’s no way any of my “DUNE” books are ever leaving this house, which includes both the originals written by Frank Herbert and the new books by his son and Kevin J. Anderson.

Same goes for most of the Isaac Asimov’s, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s, the John Steinbeck’s, and Ernest Hemmingway’s. These are books that I’ve read at least once and just seeing the spine of these books on my shelves brings back memories of the stories themselves and the times and places from my life when I read them. Often times the mere titles of these books serve as a family album of sorts in my mind, not easily replace.

There are those books that I bought on a whim and have actually tried to read but with no success. Those are the books that I can easily part with. There are also those books that I have no interest in reading but were given as gifts; I would rather pass those along to people whom I know will actually enjoy them.

All the books I want to keep are on display stacked nicely on the shelves, those that aren’t kept are either gone or on their way out as of today.

I’m a hypocrite when it comes to magazines; I say get rid of anything older than a month old (sans trade publications) but there are some issues that I hang on to that I use for future references. If you can’t put things like these in storage and you know they aren’t going to be collectibles someday it’s about time you either donate them to a local library or school or simply forget about them.

As with everything else, there’s such a thing as moderation. Having too much of a good thing becomes a serious problem when you’re either spending more time cleaning or dusting than you do enjoying the things you love. There are also unhealthy aspects when you become a hoarder and you simply can’t function in your own home or you’re creating a fire hazard; nothing screams danger like the lonely cat lady collects newspapers she’ll get to someday and likes to light candles when the power goes out.

As a home owner you have to do what’s not only good for you and your emotional health but what’s good for your family and pets. For the sake of everyone (especially yourself) you have to take a serious assessment of what you have laying around and make mature decisions about what to keep and throw away. Work-at-work graphic designers have to be extra serious about their workspace and any potential hoarding problem since your offices appearance might even affect you working relationships with clients who might come over to discuss a project or possible hire.

Couple of words on “Windows 8” and Microsoft.

There are a couple of articles out there that are debating whether or not we’re starting to see the end of Microsoft because of horrible sales of their tablets/states/flat widgets. While I think the theses of these articles are wrong (Microsoft isn’t going anywhere) there are some points I would either like to consider or have answered.

First; Nobody has been able to give me an answer to this question that I felt was adequate enough for me to get on with the rest of my life… why did Microsoft release Windows 8 so soon after Windows 7?
I mean… besides the money issue.

Rather than release a “brand new” operating system, should they have been working on an upgrade to Win7 that would allow it to work (better) on touch screen devices? We had five years between XP (2001) and Vista (2006), then only a few short years between Vista and Windows7 (2009) – Windows seems to have a track record of releasing a great OS, then a weak OS, then another great one again… Windows8 users have been scrambling to find a way to either find a way to make it look and work like Windows7 or downgrade to Windows7 all together…

Could Windows7 be the “XP” for this decade?

Rather than creating something brand new from scratch, shouldn’t they have been building more essential tools for something that already works and works extremely well?

Win7 is a great operating system and I am able to get more work with my machines than I ever could with my XP unit or on any Mac. Granted, it’s an OS that I’m used to and I know where everything is… and maybe that’s the point.

Again, why fix what isn’t broken by rebuilding what isn’t broken from scratch.

Second; One of the reasons why Microsoft (and PC manufacturers) are in such trouble is the number of people who are buying tablets instead; you either want an iPad or an Android tablet.

No matter how awesome a tablet is, it’ll never be as powerful as a desktop computer nor laptop simply because you can put more hardware in either of those two. A tablet is, by its nature, limited by its size. I have yet to meet anyone who has gotten work done with a tablet without the use of a Bluetooth keyboard and even then they have to use an external storage like “Dropbox.”

A laptop/desktop PC might be over kill for your grandmother or great-aunt who only wants to read emails, go on the internet and play solitaire while a tablet is woefully insufficient for doing real work. All those people who really ever needed something small and simple like a tablet are getting those now and is a reason why PC sales are suffering.

What’s going to be curious is the phenomenon that will occur after everyone who wants a tablet gets one.

Third; One of the biggest beefs I have as a graphic designer is the footprint of operating systems – regardless of whether or not it’s a Mac or PC. Meaning, how much system resources are being used by the OS rather than the programs I use to create like Adobe Creative Suite.

If it were at all possible to use Adobe Creative Suite on a Linux machine everything in this article would be moot – I would be switching ever computer in this house (except my wife’s work computer,) over to something like Fedora or Ubuntu because in most instances they have smaller footprints.

As a professional graphic designer – not using the Adobe Creative Suite in this point in time is the surest way to handicap your career. You MUST use something that runs CS (and now “Creative Cloud”) if you want to be considered for a job or freelance work. For Graphic Designers who are still using PC’s, Windows isn’t going anywhere for a very long time unless something horrible happens to them like Windows9 is a bigger dud or Adobe does something daring like release a version of CS/CC for Linux.

You Are What You Do.

In doing my reading for my latest rant I came upon Jenny McCarthy’s blog for the Chicago Sun Times and her post last Wednesday titled: “DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?”+

When we identify ourselves as something like a single mom, or a child of an alcoholic, or anything we think defines us, we lose the greatest life lesson there is, which is we are just beings. We all come from the same higher source, and our bodies, along with our images, don’t move on to the afterlife for a reason — because it’s not ultimately who we are. I wrote a blog last year called “I AM.” It’s my favorite blog to date. It touches on the same subject, but I felt it was important to remind people — including myself — to not get caught up in our own identities. By separating your “self” from past labels you put on yourself, there is an amazing freedom that comes with it. You are no longer a victim or a martyr. You are just what I like to call a “light ball.”

She’s right to an extent, we should be allowed to shed off our past labels and redefine ourselves as we pass through different phases of our lives. Nobody is the same person they were decades ago; unless you’re one of those sad 40-Something’s still living with your mom and collecting action figures and playing video games all day because real life can be “so expensive.”

We all go through phases of our lives, childhood, adolescence, college/trade school, early career, parenthood, maturity, retirement and death. That’s a simplified version but you get the point.

Imagine you did something silly like… oh, I don’t know… star in some soft core porn for a men’s magazine and you’re granted the label of “Playmate Of The Year.” Would you like to be stuck with that label for the rest of your life?

I wouldn’t, but I’m a man and who wants to see me topless, anyway?

If you want to move past that phase of your life, good luck because there are going to be people like news reporters and columnists will always refer to that person as a former Playmate, period. It’ll be the first line in her obituary.

Same holds true for other people who have been accused of doing other things. When Richard Nixon died, the articles basically wrote themselves; “Richard Milhous Nixon was the 37th President of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974, when he became the only president to resign the office” (Source: Wikipedia.)

When Bill Clinton dies, the first thing that will be mentioned in his obituary will be the Monica Lewinsky scandal. When Gene Roddenberry died he was remembered first and foremost as the creator or “Star Trek.” When I’m dead the first sentence in my obituary will be…

What?

In many of the books that I’ve been reading (via Audible and Kindle) such as “Art And Fear” (1) and “Do The Work,”(2) I keep encountering the same theme; you are what you do. If you create graphic design, you’re a graphic designer. If you write, you’re a writer. If you’re a painter, you paint. It’s like the old adage; if it walks like a duck, it swims like a duck, and quack’s like a duck it’s a safe bet it isn’t a horse.

We are the sum total of all the choices we’ve made in our lives. We are all the good choices we made, all the bad mistakes we’ve made, and even the moments of inaction and indecision. We are all the things we’ve done and left undone.

In short, we are what we do. I am what I do and what I’ve done. I am a writer and a graphic designer. She’s a woman who takes off her clothes for money when she’s not writing books about junk science or her personal life.

If you want to be remembered for something, then get busy doing it now. Figure out who you really want to be and make it happen while at the same time acknowledge the fact that some people can’t and won’t let go of the things in the past. Usually it’s because they have junk in their own past they’re trying to hide.

“Art And Fear” by David Bayles and Ted Orland
“Do the Work” by Steven Pressfield