Posts Tagged ‘book’

I just started reading Andy Andrews latest book, The Little Things and I was wondering if anyone would like to join me as we read it together and share thoughts back and forth. I am of the belief that he is one of the great thinkers of out time and this book is no exception. I’d love to share this journey with a couple people. Any takers?

If you’re like a lot of people, you might be scratching your head and saying “Who is Bezalel?” If you’re a Christian artist, you probably already know. I’m reading a great little book about Bezalel right now from author Christ John Otto and it is an eye opener. Throughout scripture there are several people that were said to be filled with the Spirit, but the first of them was Bezalel. Why was he filled with the Spirit? To make art! Bezalel is the second artist mentioned in the Bible. The first, of course, is God. Bezalel was filled with the Spirit so he would be able to do the work of creating and constructing all the beautiful things that made up the Tabernacle. It was a momentous task.

I was really interested to learn what Bezalel’s name means. In Hebrew, Bezalel means Image of God. He is also the son of Uri, which means light. His name literally means Image of God son of the light. And so it is with all God calls to create in His name. We get this privilege of a kind of mini-incarnation. We get to call into being things that were not. We get to make the invisible, visible so that others can see it and understand. We are given the privilege of of creating, and while our creations pale in comparison to the things our Father creates, we at least get to help to inspire people and help them to understand. We are sons and daughters of the light because we are children of God and we are called to reflect his light into the dark corners of our world. Like Bezalel we need to create that which God inspires as closely as we are physically (and in Him) able, to that inspiration. If we are faithful in this God will use us and our efforts mightily. God is good and so must we be and do good as we create with all that we have to His glory. Bezalel modeled that for us all. One could argue He created a physical manifestation of the throne room of heaven. His work a literal interpretation of what our Lord taught us to pray, “on earth as it is in heaven.” May we do the same with our work.

Let’s be Bezalel. Images of God, children of light.

createbetterBack in Spring of 2015 I was working on a book project called Create A Better Life. One of the things I hammered hard in that book was setting a goal, giving yourself a deadline and finish on time, no excuses. As poetic justice and irony would have it, I never finished the book. I know, “Hypocrite!” Actually it was mostly done but I couldn’t bring myself to post it. So what happened? Well the short one word answer is “life” happened. I lost my day job and had to hustle. The thing is, in the hustle I actually found the better life I was looking for. Losing that job could have been earth shaking (and in ways it was), but as it turned out, it was the impetus I needed to leave the theoretical world behind, hit my knees in prayer and get to work. The result is a life where I create every single day, I get paid to speak all over the country and pastor a wonderful church that encourages me in all of it. I would have found none of this if I had stayed where I was.

Now please do not overlook the obvious, the hand of God was all over this, but there are a few things I have learned in the process. The first was while I got hit with something somewhat unexpected (I say “somewhat” because I had been hearing for several years that my job may be outsourced), all the work I had been doing definitely helped open some doors when the other door closed.

Secondly, my wife was invaluable in this in so many ways. From the fact that she reacted calmly and helped me make the adjustments to the fact that her job helped to provide for us as well as made us able to have things like health insurance. Over and above all of that was her encouragement to put a plan in motion, stick with it, and work hard, but not too hard.

Thirdly, not everything in creating a better life can be planned. Sometimes things will hit us unexpectedly, but that doesn’t mean you can’t succeed and even thrive. The key is to keep praying and preparing and working toward the life you imagine and don’t forget, you don’t see the whole picture all the time, so be prepared to shift. If someone had told me I would be pastoring a church again, I would have told them they were crazy. I thought that stage of life had passed. I only ended up pastoring because my speaking schedule was slowing down for the winter and I was told of a church I could help for a few months until it was time to get back out on the road again. I decided to try it and put my whole self into it and you know what happened? I discovered there was a place missing in my plan. A piece involving relationships and gifts that were going unused. I discovered I loved these people and they loved me. They gave me stability and encouragement and I gave them the best of my creative energy, They were open to trying new things and a lot of my “better life” was made possible because I decided to take a little detour from my original plan and help someone else.

I am going to start rewriting Create a Better Life, but this time, I am going to take my time, and adding some of what I have learned on this journey. Sometimes you have to eat your words and realize you don’t know everything. The funny thing is, when I lost most of my control, I found my better life.

YOURENOTCOVEROkay I will give a caveat here. Some realms of creativity are best done alone. Painting a painting, writing a book, these are things often done alone. For the most part however creativity requires a team (even the things above, but I’ll get to that). One of my favorite types of TV is reality TV. No not the Kardashian’s, or the “Real” Housewives, or Toddlers in Tiaras, those things will rot your brain and tend to generate (and encourage) terrible people. No the reality shows I like are the competition shows and especially the creative competitions. If there are people creating things and getting voted off, I want to see it. I love to see people create cool stuff under pressure. Of course there is one aspect that is always frustrating for the contestants and even me as a viewer and that is the team competitions. Everyone hates the team competitions. Everyone is wrong.

You see every creative effort, sooner or later requires a team and so every creative needs to learn how to lead a team and how to play well with others. When you join a team, you win some things and you lose some things. What you lose is creative control. All of the sudden your vision has to flex to the gifts, talents and contributions of the team. While one person should surely lead the project, it is almost always a mistake to ignore what the others bring to the table.

What do you gain? What everyone else brings to the table. How many times have you been working on a solo creative project and hit a wall? You get to the point in the project where you are leaving your strengths and heading into your weaknesses and you realize, one of two things. You’re either completely stuck and can’t move forward—stay here and the project dies—or you get begin to realize you’re spending most of the time working in your weaknesses. To get the project all the way home almost always requires more than you. Smart creatives know their weakness and surround themselves with people who are strong where they are weak.

Earlier I mentioned the artist and the writer who work alone and that’s great, but what to do when the creating is done. The artist needs someone to sell her work. They need someone to contact the galleries, get the commissions, perhaps frame the work, etc. Now she may be able to do all those things themselves but all the time she spends on those other activities is time she’s not spending doing what they do best. She needs a team. The writer may write his own book, solo, but to go to print without a fresh set of eyes reading and editing it is a huge mistake. Trust me I know. This is not to mention the work of publishing, distributing. A creative is never stronger than his or her team. Your team can do the things you can’t do, They an help you over the roadblocks and hurdles. They can provide fresh ideas. They can see your creations more objectively and at times they save us from ourselves. The best teams thrive on what we call drudgery and allow us to do our best work.

Look for the people who are strong where you are weak because no creative is an island. Creativity is a team sport. Who is on your team?

Excerpt from my upcoming book, You’re Not Creative and Other Lies You Probably Believe About Creativity

Thecover last day of September was one of those days where I got really inspired. one of the things I have struggled with is having a one-stop place where I can record my speaking engagements along with all the information I need to keep track of the details. Nothing seemed to work out so I decided to design and publish my own. I was able to finish the piece in one day, but of course the file had a few discrepancies so I need to make a few adjustments. I expect to publish early in the week and will make it available for a very limited time at cost. I was originally going to make this a full color publication but the final cost on that was 45 dollars so black and white it is. I will notify you as soon as it goes live in case there is anyone else that wants to try it out.

Also I have finished my ninth month of making a piece of art every day. Again. I am taking breaks, and sabbath rests, but I cover that by making more art on other days. Having published a new coloring book in September helped this project along. You can see the finished page here. Wait til you see what I have planned for next year. Remember the point of this exercise is to show you that while you don’t have to finish a piece of art every day, you can find time to create in any day.

Do something creative today!

winningplaysmattmFrom time to time, I am offered books for the purposes of being reviewed and I will admit to having been a little nervous about this one. A book called Winning Plays by a former professional athlete I didn’t really know a lot about concerned me, but it was free so I thought I would give it a shot. Now don’t get me wrong, I love a good sports story, but I had visions of this being one of those “rah-rah-sis-boom-bah” books I couldn’t relate to. I was pleasantly surprised. This is a pretty good book.

It’s part biography and part motivation and it deals not so much with success (though that is the end result) as with overcoming failure. Matt Mayberry was a 16 year old drug addict, who overcame his demons to get a division one football scholarship and got to play for his childhood favorite team the Chicago Bears. Within the story, Matt gives helpful hints and things to tackle as we go through out own struggles and hardships. He is relatable and hopeful. This book really spoke to me. There were only two things I found troublesome. The first is it includes a little bit of language that might be off-putting to some readers. It is far from gratuitous but some readers may be offended. The other is my own sensitivity, in that he refers to a season ending (and as it were) career ending injury as a personal failure. While it was certainly something to be overcome and something he has risen above very nicely, I didn’t see that as a failure. Nonetheless, those two things were very minor compared to the inspirational benefits that could come as a result of reading this book.

I highly recommend it both as the biography of an overcomer and as a motivational book that could help the reader to become an overcomer as well.

YOURENOTCOVERAn excerpt from my book “You’re Not Creative, and Other Lies You Probably Believe About Creativity. Coming soon.

Part of all of this (picking projects) is picking the right opportunities. One thing you will find, especially if your dream is in the arts is there are a lot of people who will want you to do things for exposure, and no pay. Some creatives are against this completely. They point out, rightfully so, that you would never ask your doctor, your mechanic, etc. to do what they do for free in exchange for al the exposure you can give them. This is absolutely true, but I would also respectfully point out, that your doctor not only worked for free for a number of years, he paid tens of thousands of dollars for the opportunity. It’s called an internship. I’m not saying you have to be an intern, or that you have to work for free, but some experiences are worth their weight in gold. How many professional actors spent years working for free in community theater? How many writers give away tons of their work on blogs and other venues for the sole purpose of building they skills? I know this one has published thousands of posts for no other purpose than to help people and perfect my craft. The point is, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with working for free sometimes if it will help you gain the experience you need to get paid.

You should however have some guidelines:
Will this project help someone who needs help? The key word in this sentence is needs. Is this a real need or is the person trying to get something for nothing. If it’s just someone who wants something for nothing, I would avoid the project, to do anything else just supports bad behavior. As a rule, those who can pay should pay. One of the best ways I have found to get these projects is to volunteer. Look for a cause you believe in and offer your services. Look for someone who could use what you do and offer to do a project just to show them what you can do. Volunteer for your church or civic group, a community theater. Look for a genuine need and fill it, then record what you have done, and use that as evidence of professional experience when looking for paying work.

Do it for yourself. I create thousands of pieces of art for free. Well they’re not really free, they’re work I’ve done on my own projects. I’ve illustrated books, written books, designed t-shirts and other products and put them out there for the world to see. To this point most of them have not generated tons of sales, but I have a huge body of work to show to potential clients and they have fulfilled my need to create. They are also out there constantly generating some residual income. I love these kinds of projects, because they have to potential to sell 24 hours a day seven days a week in perpetuity and they also help me to improve my craft.

Will I be proud to have someone else see this. For a long period of time early in my career, I did quite a bit of work for a licensee of the Ninja Turtles. It was a blast but economically probably not the best choice and the client was really unpredictable. I made a lot of mistakes in this assignment because I had stars in my eyes and figured this would be the client to make me rich and famous. Nonetheless to this day, no one can take away from me that I once worked on art related to this amazing property, it’s especially great to reference when I work with groups of children and young people, not to mention people who loved the Turtles when they were young. In the long run, the experience was highly beneficial.

There was another time though, that could have been hugely detrimental. I was flat broke and struggling when I got a call. The company wanted a cartoonist to design a computer screen saver. The payout would have been $10,000. Needless to say I went on the interview. When I arrived at the company, the first thing I noticed were a lot of nude photographs on the walls. As it turned out the project was to draw 1,000 pornographic cartoons. I would love to tell you that I turned them down flat and walked out of there with my head held high. The truth is I left there trying to rationalize a way that I could take the project on without violating my principles. The bottom line was I really needed the money. I thank God (quite literally) every time I think about that project that my wife and my faith won the day and I did not take the project. Had I taken it, the money would have been spent long ago, but there would still be a pornographic project out there with my name on it, and I would be ashamed of it, not to mention it would be detrimental to what I am doing now. You can bounce back from a bad project but in this type of work, it can always come back to haunt you. Choose your projects wisely. Some things are worth more than money.