The Value of (Not) Being Productive
As an entrepreneur who just so happens to be an artist, the idea of "productivity" is something that's been weighing heavily on me.
Bare with me for a sec.
One year and a month into my journey as a businessman, I find myself struggling with the concept of "productivity". I am very much right brained. So much so that when I get the check at a restaurant, it's much more natural for me to doodle than calculate the bill. (Sorry future spouse!)
Often times though, my ambling, flighty, and roundabout right-brained self competes with the need for "production" in my business.
Being so dominantly right brained means that I need time for nothingness, which of course competes with the demands of a new business. All people require downtime to varying degrees, but for people involved in the creative arts as a career, this time of emptiness or nothignness is not only important - it's vital. My best ideas have come to life when I was merely resting in the shower or talking with a friend. Perhaps even when I was simply just taking a stroll or daydreaming. The absence of structure and purpose is crucial to me being able to create that very same structure and purpose. More than anything though, that nothingness restores a well in me that allows me to draw from its life-giving waters.
Between: teaching, creating new art, speaking, running workshops, interfacing with new people on the daily as I try and expand, balancing client expectations, promoting my book, and working a part time job for supplementary income, there is little room left for that so needed "nothingness". In a capitalist society that bizarrely values working oneself to the bone to make ends meet while also demanding you be your absolute best at the same time, being an artpreneur in particular is a strange balancing act. In particular, when you don't (yet!) have the funds to train others in your art style to expand (nor really have that desire just yet) how does one find the balance?
Don't get me wrong. I'm SO grateful for this life and the chance to live what I love. I get to live every day knowing that despite the sacrifice, this is what brings me joy. I am privileged enough to give my gift to the world and be rewarded for it in a substantial way. What I recognize now more than ever though is that being intentional about carving out time for emptiness is not just important - it's a means of resistance and renewal. Emptiness is life-giving and restorative. There is value in taking a step back, breathing, and NOT being productive. I'm going to give it a try sometime. Will you?
I am very happy and lucky that early this March I was chosen once again to vend at the Handmade Art Studios event "Art and Ale". I made so many new friends and fans of Carefree, Like Me! I even met some fellow artisans and an artist who worked with and knew #thomaskinkade ! Insane day all around but tons of fun as always :) . Even ran into my old teachers from middle school too!
Sooooo...my body wasn't ready for the blessing that was bestowed upon me this month. I not only made a bunch of new friends , but I got to meet a literary TITAN.
I had the absolute pleasure of meeting Jason Reynolds at John Witherspoon Middle School and listened to his story about growing up with 25 cent koolaid packets, his disdain for books, poverty, and struggle but ultimately finding beauty and release in the spoken word and the creative arts. His words moved me in a way that I haven't been moved in a very long time, his desperate need to be seen and identified in the Art he consumed defining his life and his course. He lit a fire in me that hadn't been fanned in a few months, and now I'm ready to go back into my work and my passions with the vigor that's so necessary to continue. Thank you for everything that you do and everything that you are!!
I got my books signed by this creative genius and he asked for a signed copy of Carefree, like Me! too which I HAPPILY gave!!! INSANITY. THIS MAN HAS A COPY OF A BOOK THAT I WROTE AND DREW. WTFFFFF?!?!?!
Thanks again Jennifer Cohan Monique Jones and Principal Burr!!!!
Thanks to my old friend Allister Chang and Libraries Without Borders, I had an amazing day of making new literary friends and meeting some of the most renowned/decorated authors and illustrators in the world at the We Need Diverse Books Walter Dean Meyers Symposium and Award Ceremony in Washington, DC. Such an incredible honor to be in the same air as these folks LOL!
I also had NO idea honestly that Jason Reynolds would be there, but we definitely chatted and I felt compelled to just reiterate that I wasn't following. 😂😂 Great day all around!
I am extremely honored, because I had the incredible opportunity of being interviewed and photographed by the MidJersey Chamber of Commerce! The editor found me somehow as a new member and was interested in my work, then contacted me to be the feature for their magazine. The magazine unfortunately was canceled, but my journey was still captured online for all to see, thankfully!
The experience of having photographers come and having an actual phone interview about my life's journey beforehand was so great. Thank you to Jodi Grinwald as well for always keeping me in the loop and being an awesome friend, too!
Thanks to the awesome Alison Linkov who connected me with really dope actress Nikee Warren, I was a special guest on the The Kevin & Nikee Show !
Both Kevin D. Benton and Nikee Warren are really warm and gracious hosts who make fun their priority, so I know you'll enjoy it too!
Last but DEFINITELY not least, Just completed my first Imagine This! The Art of Storytelling class this past weekend, and it was amaaaze.
Teaching younger students about writing was a daunting task at first, because I remember distinctly that as a kid most of my friends hated the writing process. LOL The students, however, were so passionate and interested in their stories and narratives that it took my breath away. I even had a returning student and a few more who will be back in May for the rehash of this class too. I'm currently organizing their stories into professional-looking, soft-cover books that will be mailed to me and ultimately given to them and their families as well.
I also got some incredible feedback from the parents that I have shared here too! (One really dope parent even sat in and asked if I taught this for adults. Yessss confidence boost much?!)Again, please check out the link above to enroll your child (or children!). Alternatively, if you know of any Youth Art Centers in your area that I could teach at, please let me know. I'm always looking to expand with my workshops and teachings.Thanks Jodi Grinwald and Gabriella Dominique Grinwald-Alves for stopping by, supporting and recording my teaching process! :)
(Photos taken with parent consent and images with pertinent, personal information have been blurred. Some students not pictured.)