Author Archive

110/365 – ” What’s your style? “

110/365 – ” What’s your style? ”

Less than a decade ago, artists with distinctive and unique styles were coveted.

Being unique and consistent meant collectors could easily purchase, display, and subsequently brag about the work they owned.

But in a world of artificial intelligence, where style is easier to copy the larger the sample size that is available – how should an artist try to make their mark?

Will it be on the originality of their ideas? The uniqueness of their approach? Or the relevancy of the issues they chose to tackle?

One thing’s for sure – it’ll become less and less about the output of just creating work.

#365Questions

109/365 – ” Which project phase do you get most stuck on? “

109/365 – ” Which project phase do you get most stuck on? ”

One of the things I love about real-world physical projects is the sense of community that comes with it.

Not only do you get to share a unique experience with everyone who shows up, but you also get to problem-solve, commiserate and celebrate together.

As projects move from the “create phase” into the “marketing phase,” or in other words, from the “physical world” into the “digital world,” – the entire process becomes lonely again.

No more fun, unique art to draw people in, just the monotonous grind of sitting in front of a computer, reaching out to different news publications and journalists to make sure that people can see the work you just spent weeks or months working on.

I need to find a way to partner up with another individual or entity to make that part easier on myself.

I don’t have any ideas. Do you?

#365Questions

109/365 – “ Why do you give constructive criticism? “

109/365 – “ Why do you give constructive criticism? “

I love both giving and receiving constructive criticism.

When receiving, I find that good criticism is the kind that leads to a tangible change in perspective or process.

When giving it – I’ve equally felt the reverse should be true too: Good criticism = Change of behavior.

But maybe that frame is wrong.

We can’t control the behavior of others, only ourselves – which means that the possibility for growth and learning also lies within ourselves.

Maybe a better measure for giving constructive criticism are the lessons we learn on how we want to behave in the future.

#365Questions

108/365 – ” What kind of people do you like to work with? “

108/365 – ” What kind of people do you like to work with? ”

In Neil Gaiman’s commencement speech, he talks about how successful freelancers need to have two out of three attributes: deliver work on time, do good work, and be likable.

But as someone that hires or invites other freelancers into projects, I have to ask myself – out of the three, which two do I want to prioritize?

Should I work with somebody that’s timely, pleasent but delivers mediocre work? Or would I rather work with someone that does amazing work, delivers on time but is a pain to deal with? Or is it better to bring on talent that does great work, is delightful to deal with but never delivers on time?

It’s a helpful frame to run through before starting any long term projects together!

#365Questions

107/365 – ” Is rest the solution to your problems? “

107/365 – ” Is rest the solution to your problems? ”

So far, I’ve managed to keep up with my daily thoughts despite the three weeks of 12-14 hour build days with no weekends.

But today, at 1 AM, as I stare at this blank page trying to finish up my self-imposed homework so that I catch up on some much-needed rest before another early morning – I feel like I’ve finally hit a brick wall.

No fun stories, exciting realizations, or provocative insights – just an exhausted brain and some homework to finish.

Today’s thought, a bit of a cop-out: Yes, I need more rest.

#365Questions

106/365 – ” What do you delegate to others? “

106/365 – ” What do you delegate to others? ”

There are two different ways that people delegate tasks.

Some delegate the tasks they don’t want to do.
Others delegate tasks they think others would enjoy doing.

Neither strategy is without its flaws.

The former might lead to lower retention rates, while the latter means taking on the remaining tasks that nobody else wants to do.

I’m not sure which strategy is better, but one thing’s for sure: working with folks with the same work philosophy makes a world of difference.

#365Questions

105/365 – ” Are you cutting corners? “

105/365 – ” Are you cutting corners? ”

Today we hit a little bit of a brick wall.

We realized that even with an optimized workflow and the perfect number of volunteers, we would need more time to complete our installation.

The technique we had chosen – to cover our foam carvings with a two-part epoxy – would create a nearly indestructible lightweight installation but required too much detailing to pull off the look we wanted.

The only way for us to hit our deadline was to remove that process and paint directly on the foam. The result would be something slightly less durable and resistant.

On the one hand – removing epoxy felt like we were cutting corners – but on the other, our initial strategy was over-engineered for the budget, timeline, and deployment anyways.

Sometimes we get carried away by what’s possible and confuse it with what’s necessary. Reality though, will always be there to put us back in our place.

#365Questions

104/365 – “Are you a pioneering or a follower?”

104/365 – “Are you a pioneering or a follower?”

For the last few days, I’ve been assisting my friend in charge of sculpting dozens of skulls for an art installation I designed.

To build a skull, she has to study the architecture and geometry of every skull and then find a way to sculpt it into existence. With copious experience and a tendency to perfection, the process takes her about an hour.

On the other hand, it would take me only 20 or 30 minutes to replicate her carving with 80% fidelity and minimal experience.

It’s not easier because I’m exceptionally talented – but because replication is always easier than creation.

When admiring someone’s work, I think it’s important to consider whether they are a pioneer or a replicator.

Even if the output might be the same, the value they create isn’t.

103/365 – ” Where does your luck come from? “

103/365 – ” Where does your luck come from? ”

A couple of weeks ago, I was feeling pretty down.

Funding for an installation I hoped to bring to life for the Biodiversity and Wildlife conference hosted by the United Nations had fallen through. With it, access to the event also disappeared.

Rather than give up, I decided to simplify the concept, use leftover materials from a previous art installation to save costs, and self-fund the build to will it into existence.

In parallel, I sent over 50 emails to every friend, acquaintance, and organization I could think of that might get me access, at or close to the venue.

Fast forward a few weeks – I managed to get permission to build the installation at the event in the heart of the city and get some partial funding to offset my costs.

It seems like my luck comes from being obtuse and stubborn. I suck at taking hints from the universe and doggedly push forward, just in case it works. What about you?

#365Questions

102/365 – ” What would need to be true for you to change that belief? “

102/365 – ” What would need to be true for you to change that belief? ”

At the start of the pandemic, I stumbled across the realization that the reason I felt dumb was that I had a mediocre memory for specifics.

In contrast, I found that people who could rattle off details, facts, and arguments with clarity and confidence felt much more intelligent – and I wanted to be like them.

Since that discovery, I’ve started paying attention to moments where I felt intelligent.

Along the way, I noticed that different practices, like my daily writing practice, would significantly increase my ability to remember meaningful thoughts.

Eventually, the evidence became clear: I could have a memory for specifics if I simply had a process in place.

This kernel of truth helped me rewrite that specific belief.

#365Questions

101/365 – ” Do you need more help or motivation? “

101/365 – ” Do you need more help or motivation? ”

A couple of days ago, we put out a call for volunteers.

We had been building for over two weeks and were hoping to find a handful of extra hands to power through a list of simple tasks.

Due to the flu going around – we ended up with a volunteer DJ without the extra hands we were hoping for.

Though I was initially frustrated, the high-paced tunes quickly washed those feelings away, only to be replaced by a new fresh wave of energy.

Unexpectedly, this added energy was almost as effective as any extra hands we would have had to manage.

Help and motivation aren’t always interchangeable, but sometimes one can be a valuable substitute for the other.

#365Questions

100/365 – ” How good does it have to be? “

100/365 – ” How good does it have to be? ”

Unlike an engineering project, art has very few standards and specs to meet other than the obvious: Is it interesting? Is it safe? Is it appropriate?

This makes it particularly hard to know when to stop tweaking, refining, and perfecting – especially when a project has multiple phases.

One rule I like to use, especially since I delve into fantasy and surrealism, is the: “Does it look wrong” framework.

Since most people don’t know what “right” looks like when it doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world, as long as it doesn’t look or feel wrong – then it’s good enough.

Of course, if there’s still time and resources remaining – we can make it go from a passive “not-wrong” to a more inspiring “awe-inspiring” – but not-wrong is always a good foundation.

#365Questions

99/365 – ” How much would you bet on that? “\

99/365 – ” How much would you bet on that? ”

We often use confident language when asked about our opinion of a situation.

Words like: Absolutely, definitely, 100% get thrown around casually despite the reality that what we know is a lot less certain.

One way to challenge these absolutes, is to place a bet on how certain we feel.

Do we feel certain enough to bet 100$? 1000$? All our savings? Our parent’s mortgage?

It’s a quick and easy way to begin quantifying our level of certainty.

#365Questions

98/365 – ” Do you do regular retrospectives? “

98/365 – ” Do you do regular retrospectives? ”

For the last couple of months, my co-founder and I have been doing weekly retrospectives with our team.

We give ourselves ten minutes to write down the answers to four questions before taking turns answering them.

The questions are: What are the elephants in the room? What were some wins? What challenges you’re facing? And last but not least, what specific kudos would you like to offer to other team members?

Regardless of what people share, both the good and bad help everyone get out of their heads and build a shared narrative of the week.

Success is not agreement, just an increased understanding.

#365Questions

97/365 – ” What’s one thing you want to get done today? “

97/365 – ” What’s one thing you want to get done today? ”

We’ve all experienced the challenges of infinite to-do lists and emails.

As we work our way down the list, we might find ourselves prioritizing the easiest ones, leaving us with a backlog of the most annoying, frustrating, and complex tasks.

But what if we start off every day by setting a goal to tick off the one unpleasant thing we “should” do that we’ve been putting off?

We always feel lighter after closing the loop on something unpleasant. Getting that one thing out of the way might help us start the day with some extra momentum!

#365Questions

96/365 – “ What does your personal dashboard look like? “

96/365 – “ What does your personal dashboard look like? “

If your car didn’t have a dashboard, it would be impossible to tell how fast you were going, your fuel levels, or how many miles the car had driven.

The dashboard helps us track the health of our vehicle so that we can safely get from A to B, on time and on schedule.

But how many of us have taken the time to design the dashboard of our life?

Without it, it’s no wonder we sometimes drift away from our original intentions.

If you were to build one, what metrics would you focus on?

#365Questions

95/365 – “Where are you losing energy?”

95/365 – “Where are you losing energy?”

During the pandemic, I had no problem spending 12 hours a day in front of my computer.

While working on an art installation, I have no problem spending 12 hours a day without glancing at my phone.

But my efficiency plummets when I try to stay up to date on my digital life and real-life projects simultaneously.

What seems to be problematic is neither the multitasking on a computer nor single-tasking in real life – but the time and energy loss transitioning between one state and the other.

Transitions, regardless of how smooth, always creates a loss of momentum.

#365Questions

94/365 – ” Where could you use more legitimacy? “

94/365 – ” Where could you use more legitimacy? ”

Throughout my career as an artist, I’ve never pursued awards or accolades and instead chose to focus my time on creating meaningful, far-reaching, and (hopefully) impactful work.

In some ways, this has benefited me tremendously – resulting in a unique visual portfolio and impressive statistics.

On the other hand, my lack of distinction in these more established institutions keeps me estranged from the more exclusive gatherings, galleries, and festivals.

Investing time into building legitimacy within existing power structures may be a frustrating experience, but one that ultimately pays off over time.

Legitimacy is synonymous with trust – and trust is worth a lot of money.

#365Questions

93/365 – ” What do you like about me ? “

93/365 – ” What do you like about me? ”

Today, I asked a relatively new friend what they liked about me.

Listening to people answer this question is always fascinating – – not because I’m trying to fish for compliments, but rather because I get the chance to understand what people value within our relationship.

Often, we might find ourselves pouring a lot of energy into something that might not be noticed or appreciated – while actions we thought were insignificant become treasured by the other person.

The question is an opportunity to reflect not only on how you are perceived by the other but also to think about the invisible relationship dynamics that exist within the system.

The more you value the person or relationship in your life, the more interesting the question becomes.

If you’ve already asked, try asking again. The answer may have changed.

#365Questions

92/365 – ” What’s keeping you from taking on that project you want to do? “

92/365 – ” What’s keeping you from taking on that project you want to do? ”

Over the years, my projects have grown in complexity.

I started with photos, added a video layer, began sprinkling some marketing and comms, and most recently topped it off with an experiential component.

As a result, costs have gone up, and the speed at which I’m able to bring ideas to life has slowed to a crawl because I spend all my time waiting for the perfect pieces to fall into place.

In other words, my go/no-go threshold for me to take on a project or campaign is exceptionally high.

Something I’ve been working on this year is figuring out how to lower that threshold.

What is the minimal viable impact? Minimum acceptable budget? Minimal-sized team?

I’m still trying to figure it out, but if you want to play – do let me know.

#365Questions.

91/365 – ” Have you increased you capacity to handle stress? “

91/365 – ” Have you increased you capacity to handle stress? ”

As we become older and more skilled, our ability to influence the world generally increases.

We go from doing the grunt work – to managing teams and individuals – making decisions that affect many instead of one. Similarly, both the positive and negative impact we can have on the world and the community around us increase.

Influence and responsibility always go hand in hand – and with that – the number of situations to potentially stress about also increases.

As a result, it’s also critical for us to invest in our capacity to handle stress. Otherwise, we may just become overwhelmed by our own success.

#365Questions

90/365 – “Are you your own worst critic ?”

90/365 – ” Are you your own worst critic ?”

I recently got to the interview stage for a fellowship I really wanted.

Although I felt like it went well, I couldn’t help but spend the next week replaying the conversation in my head – thinking through all the ways I could have improved my performance.

While the interview was undoubtedly imperfect, the lack of a feedback loop and a perfectionist’s mindset doomed me to a cycle of overthinking and overanalyzing.

It was only after a friend reminded me that I generally do a terrible job of assessing my own performance that I was finally able to give myself permission to move on.

If you are consistently your own worst critic, you probably suffer from a similar struggle. Do yourself a favor, and trust your own opinion of yourself less.

#365Questions

89/365 – ” Does your strategy need an update?” “

89/365 – ” Does your strategy need an update?” ”

I’ve always hated wandering around the hardware store, hoping to stumble across the one specific widget or gizmo I need for whatever project I’m working on.

The journey is always inefficient – generally involving me, pacing up and down the aisles that seem most thematically relevant before caving into the need to ask a human for help who may also send me to the wrong place.

Yesterday, I attempted something new instead of submitting myself to the same frustrating strategy; I did a little online search while at the store. I learned at that moment that most hardware stores tell you which aisle and bay to find the thing you’re looking for, no wandering around needed!

Allow your frustrations to inspire new experiments. You just might stumble across a better strategy.

#365Questions

88/365 – ” What elephants are in the room? “

88/365 – ” What elephants are in the room? ”

Spend enough time on a project or relationship, elephants eventually start to appear in the room.

Unfortunately, these elephants rarely leave on their own. If anything, they often grow and even multiply.

The only way to get them to leave is to talk about them, leading to the next question: How?

#365Questions

87/365 – ” How are you inviting people into your life ? “

87/365 – ” How are you inviting people into your life ? ”

Today, we hosted our first event at the Activism Studio.

Over a hundred people swung by our space to check out what we had been working on for the last couple weeks and months.

People I had known for over a decade showed up – contributing food, drinks, and even labor to bring our art installation to life. It was a wonderful and unexpected surprise to feel so supported in a city where I often feel lonely.

For the last couple of months, I’ve been saying that I need more friends – but maybe all I need to do is send out more invitations.

#365Questions

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