On Recounting Where I’ve Been for the Past Month.


This is what I’m talking about!

Well, not that I’ve been talking about…much of anything, honestly. I fear that I might become repetitive at some point, and that might happen one day once this old brain starts to sputter and fart its way to uselessness. But, that’s not the case right now. I happened upon something the other day that made me smile. I mean, honestly smile. Not like the smile of some customer service representative who has to deal with a gaggle of indignant senior citizens when their cable goes out and they can’t watch The Wheel of Fortune. I’m talking about the smile you get while walking down the street, the sun shining on your face, not a care in the world, you look down and pick up a $20 bill that’s just sitting in the middle of the sidewalk, a car that passes by with its windows rolled down is blaring your favorite song…that pretty jogger that you see sometimes passing by finally notices you and shoots you a hello as she passes on by…someone hands you an ice cream…and it’s your favorite flavor….parade….jugglers….sandwich…..

…sorry, I was miles away….

Anyway, it was one of those things that I just happened to land on at the right time.

Nothing big, nothing earth-shattering. It’s just that one moment when that annoying, little question that clings to the back of your mind like a popcorn shell on the back of your uvula (just me?) finally gets answered.

Author’s Note: (the above was written weeks ago. The rest is fresh.) Hi, everyone. I’m back from the Holidays. This was a post that I started back in early December, right before the wall of gottagitshitdonequick came up from out of nowhere before I crashed my car into it. Since that time, it was all about shopping, wrapping, baking, gift-giving, and the occasional bout of alcoholism. I started this post, and, just in case I ever got to the point where the words flew south for the winter permanently, I also started another design for a t-shirt with the goal of doing something freehand and not relying on tutorials. Also, after listening to Aaron speak, I was motivated. His words and his attitude were just the thing I needed to hear to keep going. After about two hours of denying that I hit the wall, I succumbed and looked for help.

I got most of the way through it when I broke down and finally went on the search for more tutorials that were applicable to what I was doing.

So close…

I didn’t want to rely on tutorials, because as of this moment, I feel that I’m ready to start branching out and feeling my own way around. Just because it vexes me and I wanted more of a hand made quality to this, I’m going back to trying my hand at old-fashioned typography. I even went so far as to take screen shots of my progress because I was convinced that I could turn this into a tutorial of some sort, but silly me, why make a tutorial when A) you aren’t as strong in your ability as other people who have been doing this for longer, and B) most of the appeal of having something look hand made is projecting an air of whimsy? There’s no room for whimsy in tutorials just as sure as there’s no room for crying in baseball. Honestly, I was looking for someone to show me how to feel, all I got were lessons on what to do.

One of Many Screen Shots

So, creeping forward. Slowly forward. Balancing the stay-at-home-daddy lifestyle while at the same time looking for some way to make a living.

Oh!….and I make my own pasta now!

I can’t stop myself…

I honestly don’t know how I’ve gone this far existing solely on store-bought pasta, but that’s another topic for another time.

The inspiration for this post has got nothing to do with pasta or tutorials. It has to do more with that fuzzy, burly guy in the video at the top of this post. I happened upon this quite by accident, but it was a happy accident.

This video came to me at the right time, with the right guy sending the right message. I’ve been playing with Illustrator and posting things and trying to get a life going based on that for a while now, but it hasn’t yielded the results I wanted yet. But, that’s okay. “Overnight successes” are stuff of folklore these days. I realize that it’s slow to get to where you need to go, and you have to stock up on perseverance if you are to do anything in this world. Even more so when your endeavor is to accomplish something you actually like doing. And even MORE SO more so when you’re just flailing your arms around like a baby bird; you have the idea and the ambition, you just don’t have the mechanics down yet. You get by where you can; offering your services to family and friends hoping one day that it may spread out to associates, and associates of associates, and their friends, and drumming up business that way. Although it’s not the best way to go about it, it’s an honest way.

If anything, every project, every day is a learning experience. I get a handle of my craft, such as it is, and learn how to do it better whether its writing or designing or making pasta. Learn how to do it better, and then do it better. That’s the way to success.

This was my own personal mantra, I mean, this and “if you can’t find it, make it”, and I was beginning to feel that I was the only one who feels and thinks this way.

That is, until I watched the video. Now, I have a new hero.

You build your own success. That’s how you do it. There’s no secret to it. You take the time, you learn it, you adopt it and find a deeper meaning in it, and you bring it further than where you found it…and you make it better. You make it, not the other way around.

There was a time when I would have thought the idea of making a career out of doing something that you created would have been the worst decision of my life. These days…well…

…I still think that…

…but at least I have seen a little bit of the light and realized that there may be other ways to make a living other than clinging to the myth that a 9 to 5 is the safest bet in the world. I realized this after about the 10th month of trying to fit into a job market that obviously doesn’t want me.

“Over-qualified” my ass! No, I will not ease up and change my attitude. You made me this way!

….aaaaand breathe iiiiin…..aaaand breathe ooooout……aaahhhhh….namaste….

okay…I’m back….what was I talking about?


You build your own success. If I want to put on my patriotic pants right now, I’d say that this was how America was built; on ideas and initiative and tenacity. It was built by pulling up your bootstraps and taking a chance and going for it. But I won’t. You’ve heard it all before.

I won’t get into it, lest I start sounding like a Fox “News” talking head. I won’t get into it, lest I draw the ire of those who say that the idiom “Do What You Love and the Money Will Follow” is nothing more than a marketing ploy devised to sell more machines with the letter “i” in front of it. While I understand and sympathize with their skepticism, I cannot fully come on board with that way of thinking.

I mean…come on!

What kind of world would we live in if people never took a chance? Don’t answer that, because I know what you’re going to say, “Well, why do we have to be ambitious about anything in this day and age? Everything’s been done, dreams are bought and sold in neat little packages and the best anyone can ever hope for is a decent 401K.” There is something to be said about that…and I guess that something is, “Yes, that’s true. Perhaps the biggest goal in life is to work in a job that will do you the privilege of keeping you around, and that’s an admirable goal… but are you happy, though? I mean…honestly happy? Like walking down the street with the sun in your face…$20 bill…yadda yadda yadda happy? Because, I know the struggle. We all do. We get up in the morning, we go to work, we do our best, and at the end of the day, we all hope that we won’t get hit by a bus on the way home. That’s all there is, along with the occasional memory that we might make along the way. Just…go along with the current and be happy with it…right?”

I understand. I really do. I just don’t feel the same way. Especially now when all my options are used up. I have no choice but to take those chances….

Anyway, for better or worse, here is my latest creation inspired by Aaron Draplin himself (oh, okay. And a little from Sting too)…

A couple of the swirl embellishments were done by hand, the rest are vector, because mine aren’t that pretty. Not yetwinkyface. This took me many weeks to finish. Mostly because I got sidetracked by current events and it influenced me to do something about it, and partially because the negative space was killing me. I needed to go crazy and dive right in, but it felt more like dipping my toes in the water. I ventured out, used my brush tool to the best of my ability, and realized that these vectors that I’ve collected along the way were much prettier.

Getting back on topic, I’m glad I found the above video and I’m very glad to know that there are people like Aaron Draplin in the world. I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one who is passionate about what they do and are fully aware that what they do will not make them a superstar. Maybe, a superstar in the Illustrator world (which he is), but never a superstar in the same vein as anyone in the Forbes 100. A lot of people aren’t striving for that. A lot of people are more satisfied with making a difference in a smaller way, and someday, when I grow up, I want to be just like him.

Thanks to him for the kick in the pants. Thanks to you for reading. Whatever you do, do it well!

Please feel free to leave questions or comments. This will be appearing in a t-shirt shop near you in the near future so come on by and check it out.

2015, I have been told, is going to be a big year for me. There comes a time when I have to ignore what the stars say and get to it! There are a few things that are going to be changing this year. I don’t want to speak too much of it, or it will never happen. I guess all I can say about it is…

…watch this space.


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