Posts Tagged ‘life’

So Many CCS Envelopes

(One of several CCS envelopes I’ve drawn on.)

Working at CCS was awesome. I worked there from the Spring of 1996 to the Summer of 2000. In that time I literally made 100’s of drawings. If I had to try to make an accurate count of how many drawings I made in those four years I’d say it was close to 1500, at least, and there is no way I could have logged in that much time drawing if it wasn’t for my job at CCS. It got to the point where I would bring a giant portfolio to work that could hold 18″ x 24″ pads of paper. I would pull up an empty chair next to my desk, lay the giant pad of paper on it and work on BIG drawings. Sometimes I would even bring in a set of watercolors and make little paintings at work. The only way to get good at something is to do it a lot. And the term “a lot” is actually a huge understatement. To get good at something, and I mean really good, you have to do it more than a lot. It has to be an obsessive compulsion. You have to work at it several hours a day and working at CCS gave me that opportunity. I also played countless games of chess, read a ton of books and made a lot of friends that I’m still friends with 16 years later. I have a small stack of these envelopes and I always love rediscovering them from time to time. They bring back a lot of good memories and remind me that opportunities can come out of really unexpected places. I did not know about the 10,000 hour rule back in those days and although I was obsessed with filling up sketchbook upon sketchbook I did not realize at the time what a great position I was in. I was totally logging in my 10,000 hours and I was lucky enough to be getting paid to do it. My job wasn’t to sit at a desk and draw all day. My job was to sell skateboards and help customers. (At the time, CCS was considered the largest mail order skateboard company on the planet.) The general rule was that as long as you answered the phone and sold as many Tom Penny Mushroom skateboards as you could, you were pretty much allowed to do whatever you wanted in between phone calls. So, in a way, I was getting paid to draw. The point is this. You might be in the middle of a great opportunity right now that you should be taking advantage of because you never know the impact it could have on you later in life. Four years after leaving CCS I opened my art gallery and selling my artwork has been my main source of income since then. If I hadn’t had the good fortune to work at a place where I could make 1,500+ drawings who knows where I’d be right now. I don’t know where I’d be, but one thing I’m certain of is that I’d be 1,500 pieces of art behind where I am now. And let me tell you, that is A LOT of practice I would have missed out on. I’m going to end with this. If there’s something you want to be good at, don’t waste your time not practicing it. Turn off Netflix, put your phone on airplane mode and get lost in the thing. Get really lost in it. It’s the only way you’ll ever find yourself.

Artisan Mural: Day One, Putting Down The Black Lines

The very first thing I painted on the wall was this heart. Everything grew out of that. Here is the wall before the heart.

Painting a massive wall like this is fun. It can be a little intimidating at first. I mean, think about it, this is a pretty big wall that can’t be missed when you walk into Artisan. A lot of people will see it, so you want it to look good. It can be very easy to overthink what you’re going to do. Because my style is very spontaneous and I like to create on the spot I find it best to not focus on the big picture. Just start with something small like the heart. Then add a couple of other details. Then a couple more. After awhile it all starts coming together. Eventually you get to a spot where it just feels right. Almost as if you might ruin it if you add more stuff. At least at this stage anyway.

The initial “black lines” stage, as I call it, is done. The next step is to add color. After that I might find that I do need to add some more characters or whimsical lines, but I’ll cross that bridge when I get there. Then the last stage comes, which is all the detail work of going over the initial black lines and making them crisp and clean.

There was a point today when I was standing at the top of the ladder painting a cluster of stars, which was one of the last things I painted and I looked down and across the wall and to put it simply, I just felt blessed. It’s the middle of the day and I’m basically drawing on a wall like a little kid with a pack of crayons. I just feel so fortunate that people give me these opportunities. A lot of you reading this have been nice enough to buy my artwork over the years and I want you all to know that it means the world to me. If you hadn’t supported me when you did I probably would not have been on top of that ladder today painting that cluster of stars. The way I explained painting this mural is a lot like life. Trying to see the big picture before it exists can drive you crazy. Back in 2004 when I opened my gallery I didn’t know that 11 years later I’d be painting this huge mural in the nicest restaurant in town. So remember, start with a little heart and see where it takes you. It might surprise and astound you.

Sweet dreams.
– Jeff

The Parents Survival Kit And How The Kids Drove Me To Drinking

As the kids get older the sweetness disappears and is, unfortunately, replaced with back talking, sass, and bullshit.

As a result, I’ve picked up a drinking habit. Nothing to be too concerned about…yet.

last night's parent survival kit: white russian in a tall cup and two pb&j's.
Parent Survival Kit

After a long weekend of telling children to do the same thing 5,000 times and getting eyes rolled at me in response I had no choice but to break out the bottle of Kahlua and mix myself a big fat cup of a White Russian. The version I make is pretty ghettoized, but real tasty. The Claassen style White Russian is simply Kahlua and whatever milk I can find in the fridge mixed in a big cup of ice. It’s delicious. I’ve never been a beer drinker and only had a brief stint as a wine drinker in my mid twenties when I was going through a Bukowski phase, which I should probably be embarrassed about, but I tend to look at it more like a rite of passage kind of thing for any young writer.

Anyway, the long weekend of dealing with sassy, selfish, back talking children has led me to develop my own personal “Parent Survival Kit”. The kit includes a White Russian mixed in the biggest cup you can find in the house and two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. For best results it is highly suggested that the kit is administered after all the children in the house have gone to bed. You will need a comfy place to sit where you can elevate your feet. Personally, my couch is perfect for this, but laying in bed wouldn’t be a bad place either. If you find solace in absolute quiet then find a nice quiet spot. For me it’s listening to music through fancy headphones (not those bullshit “earbuds”), feet up on the couch, dimly lit room, window open to allow for a slight breeze. Absolute heaven.

I will live to fight another day.