These Are My People

the human store, frank armstrong, photographer, people

Frank Armstrong, Alpine, AR, 1991

People enter our lives in a variety of ways.

Some people we refer to as family––both blood relatives and those that are like family without the genetic makeup. You might be closer to some than others. This isn’t your fault or theirs––life just happens.

Then there are friends––some stay, and some go. Your taste in friends changes as you grow older and begin to see who you are as a person. Your priorities change and that’s when you realize you want to surround yourself with like-minded individuals who have similar life goals and dreams.

We also have teachers, mentors and advisors. Some of these people are hand-picked and some find us––we have no idea how they arrived on the scene, and frankly, we don’t care. We like them around. Some stick around even after their jobs are done. Some become friends.

And let’s not forget our loves and lovers. We are attracted to them for one thing or another. Remember that the beauty on the outside is just a facade to their inner-most beauty. It’s important to look beyond the shell because one’s inner beauty never changes. Love radiates from the inside out.

We the people. . .
People are people. . .
People are strange . . .
These are my people.

Who are the people in your life who have helped enabled you to do great things? You don’t need to have a large family, or a wide circle of friends to figure this out. It’s not about the number of people in your life that count. Leave numbers for bankers, accountants, and mathematicians to deal with. It’s the quality of those people that matters most. Make sure to thank them once in a while.

In Memory of Man’s Best Friend

booches, dogI had a dog for almost as many years as I’ve been married. I don’t know if she ever thought of herself as a dog because we never treated her like one––we always treated her like a child––for 15 1/2 years.

We gave this small, little Lhasa Apso the name Booches, a slight take on the Jay & Silent Bob saying “snoochie boochies”. She almost never barked––kinda like Silent Bob (a non-talker). She didn’t give a shit about the other dogs in the neighborhood. She was cool like that. She eventually earned a few other names: Boocheena, Booches-Booches Galli, Boo Boo, and the list goes on and on. We used to change the lyrics of songs and sing to her. My Sharona became My Boocheena. There were a bunch of those, again, too many to count.

A couple of weeks ago she got to go on her last vacation. She liked it up in Maine. She liked the long car ride, roaming around in the grass, and even walking by the lake. I think she especially liked sleeping on the bed in the boathouse while we all listened to the waves roll against the shore at night.

The house is so quiet now––too quiet. There are no more squeaky alligator toys to pick up, or the pitter-patter of her long nails running around on the hardwood floors. The zebra striped blanket that she used to lay on is gone, so are the dog bowls and random dog food kernels on the floor.

I used to speak to her and tell her, “I love you, do you know what that means?” I think she did, although she would never kiss me back or lick my face––ever! She always ran to her mother––my wife seemed to be the calm to my wake. My wife would tell me that when I was away, she always used to sleep on my side of the bed––that probably was the only way that I knew that she missed me. Every time  I left the house, I would always say, “Be good. I’ll be back soon.” She would look at me probably thinking, “hurry up and leave, so I get my nap on.”

Pet owners will understand this rant more than anyone else. I wasn’t trying to get all sappy and depressing––I actually should have used the hashtag #NSFW (not safe for work) on this story since some people might have a tendency to tear up while reading it. I did before I even finished writing the first sentence.

dog paw, tattooAnyhow, I feel a little better now. I need to thank my wife for being my rock, the kind folks at the MSPCA Angell for taking care of us yesterday, and for the folks at Regeneration Tattoo in Allston for making sure that I never forget her.

I hope you get to eat an endless supply of cooked chicken wherever you are.

Focus on these 3 Powerful Words

michael donnor, connections, photographer

Michael Donnor, Connections, 2014 from the series Notes on a Paper Universe

Today I want you to concentrate on these 3 powerful words: Networking, Connections, and Mentors. These are words that you should get use to seeing. They are very important in today’s society where millions of people are trolling the Internet and becoming “social”––as in “social networking”. You’ve heard that term before, right?

People were social before the Internet––I’m certain of this. But the definition of being social had changed quite a bit from interacting in person, to then interacting via a telephone call, to now interacting via email, text massages and social media sites. We attend fewer social gatherings in person. They have been replaced by chat rooms, virtual meetings via Skype and Hangouts on Google+. I actually think our society is less social now even though we are more connected as ever to practically anyone in the entire world.

The three magical words (Networking, Connections, and Mentors) can be applied to your everyday life, regardless of what business you are in. You could be a corporate-type or an artist––it doesn’t really matter. When building your personal brand or climbing up that corporate ladder or even taking the leap to start your own business, it’s much easier if you have a defined and well-rounded network, a group of people who are connected within your industry, and mentors to bounce ideas off of, stroke your ego, and guide you away from a variety of pitfalls. The people defined by these 3 magical words should be people that you have actually met. People that you have shaken hands with or shared a meal. People who can vouch for you as a person, not just someone that is a connection on a social media website. There’s much to be said by this. Real networks, real connections, real people––real, real, real! They truly matter.

I love the social media websites that I visit on a daily basis. I get my news from some of these sites, I get inspired by words and stories people write, and I can catch up with family and friends. But I honestly would be lost if I didn’t have the core group of people that I refer to as my network, connections and mentors that I work with and speak to on a daily basis. They mean that much to me.

Today’s exercise: Think about these 3 sentences and see what you are doing in your life to fulfill them.

  • What are you doing right now to build and create your real, true network?
  • How are you creating connections in your industry without the use of social media?
  • If you wanted to have some mentors in your life, are there people in your network that could connect you to them?

Finding Inspiration

apple, globe, kevin van aelst, photographer, panopticon gallery

Kevin Van Aelst, Apple Globe, 2007

Finding Inspiration when you think all the good ideas have already been taken.

I’m not sure what to write.
I’m not sure what to photograph.
I’ve been staring at a blank canvas all day.
I feel like I’m writing the same song over and over.

I’m not sure this applies to any of you reading this, but artists sometimes get themselves in a bit of a quandary––low and behold: Artist’s Block. You know, kinda like “writer’s block”, but on a more diversified scale. You, yes you, the artist over there that looks down in the dumps. You’re getting in your own way. You’ve set up roadblocks for yourself. You’ve convinced yourself that there is nothing original to be said––that it’s “all been done before.” Come on now, you’re an ARTIST!

With a show of hands, who hasn’t felt like this? If you find yourself in one of these predicaments, try to remember that “ah-hah” moment you had a few months or days back when you actually had a moment of brilliance––that time when things were clear and your artistic mojo was working for you. Recall that moment, harness it for half a minute, then get back to work. If that doesn’t help, go for a stroll to your nearest bookstore, gallery or museum. Breathe in the art. Let it consume every morsel of your being. Don’t you feel better already. Are you ready to create?

People who define themselves as “artists” have an innate ability that others do not have. Some think that you can learn to be an artist, but I believe you are born with with an artistic genome––schooling just helps you mold and fine tune what is already there.

Artists are gifted, talented and unique individuals. If we didn’t have them in this world, life would be pretty boring. Actually, someone smarter than me once said: “Earth without art would be Eh

All the inspiration that you need is already inside you. You just have to be determined enough to let it out.

Instant Connections: On the Nook

Today was the first day that I actually saw my book Instant Connections on a Nook. I knew it was available on it, but I had never seen it with my own two eyes. Thanks Barnes & Noble for not yelling at me for taking a picture of it in your store. (Yes, they actually chastised me in front of my 9-year old niece for trying to take a picture in their store last month…….we won’t get into that here.  I’m all about happy thoughts.) P.S…….supposedly it’s a rule that you are not allowed to take photographs in their stores.

instant connections, jason landry, book, author, writer, nook


remote, rework, book, book review

I picked up the book REMOTE: Office Not Required by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson after reading their first book REWORK.

The title of this book describes exactly what the book is about: working remotely. Now, I’ve worked from corporate offices and remotely from home in my past life. For those of you who haven’t had the opportunity to do so, there is ups and downs to it.

This book talks about the positives and the negatives and how to keep your employees working on all cylinders while also giving them the freedom to work autonomously and not as structured and monitored as if they were sitting in an office 9-5pm.

As a gallery owner, I have learned that if you can control your business and transactions pertaining to your business from practically anywhere, your business has a better chance of succeeding and growing. I work just as hard sitting on my couch at home, from a hotel room in Paris, France, or from a friends home in Tampa, Florida as I do sitting in my gallery.

Many galleries in the last 10 years have closed their brick and mortar locations and opted to just do art fairs. This is as mobile as you can get, and many are profiting from it. Dealers pop up at a different art fairs around the globe, set up a booth filled with work of artists that they represent, then after the event is over, pack it up until the next big event. This is a savvy business model for some, but not all. I do think there is something to be said about having a permanent location, but that doesn’t mean I always will.

REWORK on the other hand, was a much better read. There were a lot of motivating quotes that I pulled out of it that made sense, not just for business-minded individuals. Here’s a few good ones:

“Workaholics aren’t heroes. The real hero is home already because she figured out a faster way to get things done.”

“Be a curator.  Stick with what’s truly essential.”

“The real world isn’t a place, it’s an excuse. It’s a justification or not trying. It has nothing to do with you.”

“Standing for something isn’t just about writing it down.  It’s about believing it and living it.”

Both of these books are easy reads. Start with REWORK, then decide if REMOTE is needed.