-By Dan LuVisi
Preview image from LMS: Once Upon A Time In Amerika (2015)*
The last time I posted here, I abruptly left after telling Dan dos Santos that I felt I needed to step away, and without too much detail, absorb and learn if I wanted to continue writing.
Not to sound so dramatic, but I don't enjoy sugar coating my posts. I like to speak from the heart, and try to cut out the cheese if I can. Problem was, I had been going through a tough time, both physically and mentally. I found myself not only disregarding my health, due to over-obsessing over my company and the work that followed it, but also mentally draining myself over issues I could and would never be able to control. Over the months, I've had time to think, meditate (if you can call staring at the ceiling such), and most of all, trying to grow. But then I hit another road block.
Recently, I found myself at the ER twice in a single month. Once for a kidney issue, and the other for a severe jaw infection from a shoddy dentist trip some two years ago. My left cheek bloated like a watermelon, a hospital gown on, I realized at that moment that I had to get my priorities in check.
This isn't a post meant to pine for sympathy, as my parents and loving girlfriend have supplied more than enough. Instead I'm trying to say in the easiest form possible, don't be an idiot like I was.
Now that I'm back on my feet, while still shaky, I requested to come back to Muddy Colors and talk from the heart, about the journey I've been on when it comes to building your own project or brand - if you can call it that - or more or less, doing what we've all come here to do; becoming a successful artist.
I'd like to thank Dan and the MC Team for allowing me to come back here, and I hope you enjoy what I have to write. While this post is several days older, as I wrote it on my own blog, I wanted to share a very important lesson I've learned and how disbanding social media (for the most part) has opened my eyes on what I need to focus on.
Hope you enjoy.
The other day I received an email from a fellow follower of my work, asking the question of why I left Facebook. Not that everyone should know my daily activities, but if you haven't noticed, a couple of months ago I had deleted my FB in order to focus on my property LMS.
Now before I continue, this is strictly my opinion. I know people like to get angry online, so if you disagree with it, you have every right to. I am, in no way, forcing my decision onto you, but more or less, acknowledging what I learned from it.
I left Facebook for multiple reasons. But mostly due to a common feeling I had been facing every time I logged into that death-trap of a site. I'll only state the points that really stood out from the others. (Sorry selfie-addicts, you're not making the cut!)
Let's start with the News Feed. Time after time, I found myself scrolling through more negativity than positive statuses. Whether it was through tragic incidents around the world, bashing of others, or the arm-chair critics who were constantly bringing down others for enjoying a specific film, song or videogame. If not even directed at the specific person, it was the passive-aggressive and cynical nature of those comments that began to make even me feel like an asshole--finding myself slowly influenced into the same downward-spiral.
Was saying such things going to improve those films, video-games, or others? Was calling out designs I didn't like going to enhance my view of my own art, or in any way better my imagination? Frankly, it began to make me feel like a piece of shit.
Working on movies, and now being a part of my own with LMS, I've come to realize how much time and effort goes into these properties. The blood, sweat and tears that not only the creators must bring to the table (and trust me, it's more than you could imagine), but the amount the crew brings as well. You may sit there, comfortably and insult the film because you don't enjoy a specific aspect of it. But in all reality, you really don't know what that team went through to put that together until you've been through the very process.
I had come to realize that I was only absorbing the animosity others were sprouting and soon began to reflect their own opinions onto myself. See, my friend once brought up an valuable angle I had never really thought about before:
"When you read someone's negative comment, you're transcribing it in your voice, in your own head. For example, say someone writes a status about a bad day or an unfortunate event. While support should obviously be given, by reading their negativity, you're now putting yourself into that person's perspective--and to add onto that, bringing up harsh feelings or memories possibly as well."
I found myself becoming weaker, agreeing with comments that I may had not actually believed in. Not only that, but I began disliking certain people just for their opinions, when in all reality, they had every right to speak their mind. While I may sound like I'm contradicting my point, and with no way to solve such an issue, instead I decided to walk from that perspective entirely. Everyone has issues, some worse than others. But you can't fix, or sway, but instead, only lead by example.
I wasn't out of the worm-hole yet. Then there was the Critical Internal Voices. Not that I have any mental illnesses (well...), but I'll come out and say that believe it or not, at times I can be incredibly insecure with my own progress and career-status. It's not due to not enough followers, or Likes or Favs (those don't mean squat to the outside world, other than personal assurance), but more to the point of: Am I doing enough with what I have?
I'm lucky enough to have some incredibly inspiring and talented art-friends; a lot whom I assume most of you guys follow or look up to. Artists such as Maciej Kuciara, Anthony Jones, John Sweeney, Alex Konstad, Robert Chew, Ash Thorp, Jason Scheier, Raf Grassetti, Wes Burt, Jana Schirmer, Karla Ortiz, Dominic Qwek and dozens more who constantly blazed through work and absolutely killed it on the battlefield we call the business.
Day after day I'd log in to see these guys just absolutely slaying it with new piece after new piece. Was I jealous? Oh hell yes I was and still am! With that level of skill thrown at once, how could I not be? But was I jealous to the point of disliking or resenting them? Not in the slightest, but instead, I began to find myself envious of their ability to constantly inspire and build, while I sat here questioning my slowly-crawling career.
During those slumps, I found myself not drawing. Not creating. Instead, only judging myself by my peers' standards and constantly growing more fearful of my image.
Why are they so successful, and I'm still fighting to get my property up and running?Why cant I work for any of these studios? And don't get me wrong, I wasn't wishing them ill-will in the slightest! I want nothing but the best for these artists, as they all deserve it, and even more.
But you see, the Why's weren't directed at them, but only at me. I found myself comparing apples and oranges, when really I was trying to be a piece of toast (best analogy I had, sorry). I hadn't come to discover what I was doing, as this had become one big learning curve for me; pitching an IP on my own. That didn't stop the voices however, as they continued to ring, questioning if I was truly the artist or creator I promised everyone to be. And it hurt, big time.
Then I woke up one day. I decided to delete FB without a real goodbye and Twitter as well (Twitter sucks, I'm sorry). I no longer had anything to say. I didn't want to promise, only to wait months for another update. I didn't want to act like I was living the Mark Whalberg life of Entourage, when really I was deciding "Can I pay my apartment this month?" I had realized I needed to get my shit together, on point, and accomplish what I set out to build. So I left social media behind.
The sad truth is, I don't think I'll ever be back, and I'm very proud of my stance on that. It's opened my eyes, allowed me a sense of freedom and man, I've painted at least 65-85 LMS (some finished, other's blocked in. Man, parentheses overload!) images in that time-frame since leaving.
Not only that, I began to dig deep into my own mind and drop-kick those insecurities out the window. I was no longer distracted, jaded by cynical comments, comparing myself to others and could now focus on what I wanted to build.
Ending this, I'm not ordering or even advising anyone to leave Facebook. It's a wonderful site filled with some of the most generous, loving and caring people I've ever been lucky enough to call friends or fans (I hate that title, you guys are all homies to me).
I've met the love of my life and my pure inspiration on it (we're now a year and still going strong!), been introduced to, helped by, and inspired by some of the coolest guys and gals out there, artists or not--and you see, that's what the site should truly be about.
Enough with the cliques, enough with the downgrading, and just inspire the younger or those around you looking up to what you're able to do for a living. Build, create, and speak your message through your own art or story-telling. We're all in this game together, not to go against each other. If the world and society hasn't already shown you that, then I don't know what will.
Much love, thank you for reading, and I wish you all the best of luck with your current and future endeavors.
*To those interested in my book LMS, sign up for our Newsletter at THE KILLBOOK. Thank you.