Lately, we haven’t been buying each other any gifts. Instead, we save it for shared travel (#BuyExperiencesNotThings). This time though, I decided to do a quick portrait of us at the beach where it all first started: Waimea!
If you would like to get her a gift, please consider donating to her fundraiser. Mahalo!
Muscleada: A play on “Malasada” (Portuguese donut). There was a vendor on the Big Island with a nice physique and a muscle shirt on, almost taunting customers what they would be sacrificing should they buy into the empty calories he was selling. Carmela thought it would be funny if his stand was called “Muscleada”
Kanak Attack: The feeling of intense laziness that one gets from eating too much. Also known as, “food coma” or “the itis”
Mele Kalikimaka: “Merry Christmas” in Hawaiian. Carmela loves Christmas. It’s her favorite holiday of the year. While it was great to experience an unusually warm Christmas in paradise, we really missed being near our family, and, of course, having our own tree. So I made one.
One of the most unexpected surprises out here in Hawaii is that the slaps game is on point. No, I’m not talking about an underground fight scene, but sticker culture. Every store seems to shop out their own stickers, from surf companies to convenience stores and vape shops. Sometimes, I would even go into a store simply to seek out what type of sticker art they were working with.
I couldn’t figure out what the big deal was. (Maybe it was the same on the mainland and I just hadn’t noticed?) A part of me didn’t care to unravel the mystery because the inner child in me welcomed the wave of nostalgia.
Apparently, when my aunt offered me anything for my (hopefully <7 year old) birthday, all I ever wanted was Bazooka Joe and stickers. I know. I was a weird kid. Around the same time, video game consoles and arcades like Razzmatazz would have my cousin and I plotting to one day own a laundromat for the quarters. You know, so we could play at the arcade “FORRREEEEVER.”
The point is that I wanted in. What better way to commemorate my time in Hawaii than to design my very own “Hawaiian Sticker Pack”? The plan was to have them printed and ready to hand out during Pow Wow Hawaii 2016 but progress was moving too slowly. Most of the ideas were only half finished, safely tucked in my sketchbook, which was gradually getting less love as time passed. I needed something portable, immediate, responsive and fresh. Enter the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil.
I seriously can’t stress enough how much I love this new combo! Although the final designs were finished in Adobe Illustrator, the majority of the legwork was handled on the iPad.
Interested in buying a sticker pack? Shoot me a message.
Printing and packaging was done by a company out in Oregon called Rockin Stickers.
For those of you just interested in pictures, here is a recent portrait I did of Madlib, aka Lord Quas, aka Quasimoto.
The main references I used to create it were:
Screenshots from “Our Vinyl Weighs A Ton”: an amazing documentary about Stones Throw Record label, which is available on Netflix. Go watch it if you haven’t already.
Quasimoto’s “Low Class Conspiracy” (Official Video)
“Baby costume animal head” search in google (ha!)
When I was in college, I would spend entirely too much of my money on CDs. Obtaining new music was more important than eating in certain cases—a rice cooker and some canned tuna goes a long way for an art student. Napster and Kazaa were absolutely essential tools for building libraries and exploring new artists. But, there was nothing more exciting than heading down to Other Music, Joe’s CDs, Discorama, Virgin Megastore, Kim’s Video or Fat Beats and actually purchasing physical CDs with the booklets.
Sometimes, I would impulse buy 5 or more at a time, but like De La Soul said, “3” was indeed the magic number. Any more, and I ran the chance of glazing over heaters, overwhelmed with too many options. It was a truly addicting experience. Making a random purchase solely by the looks of the cover or the blurb written up by one of the staff eventually graduated to “who produced it?” and “what label is it on?”
Don’t get me wrong. [I feel like] I was a wannabe, a toy, a frontrunner. I can’t recall album release dates at whim. And my knowledge of how genres connected or what break original samples came from was pretty sad, maybe even blasphemous. But I was a fan, nonetheless. And I was hooked. I was a beachcomber on the sands of sound searching for audible treats to feed my soul.
Madlib was one of those rare finds that really called out to me ‘in the year 2000’ like Conan and Andy. More specifically, it was his alter ego, Quasimoto. There was something really intriguing about creating art under an alias, allowing the artist to venture off into unfamiliar territory. I was obsessed.
Then, the following year (yes, I had to google all of this to refresh my memory) he played instruments as various musicians in a fictional quintet! Say what now?! Yes, he pretended to be multiple members of a jazz group called Yesterday’s New Quintet. I loved it. Conceptually, it was off the wall, and it led to a groundbreaking album.
I wanted to have an alias for each of my art styles too. I even went as far as creating a super complicated, user-unfriendly flash based soundboard to introduce the gang. Thankfully, I never finished this side project. I don’t even remember who was supposed to be The Photographer or The Painter (probably “Layerboy”, if I had to guess).
Horrible, I know. But it’s funny to look back on the randomness of my past. Maybe, I will get around to slowly resurrecting these fictional characters in the future.
Lastly, I couldn’t leave you without your own Planar Surface Mad Lib to play:
Open a new email doc or click here and type out the following:
Aloha! Thanks to everyone who took the time to drop me a message. It was super helpful to get feedback and opinions about something I’m so passionate about. Please see below for the final results of my poll and video of the self portrait time lapse.
The traditional approach won, hands down (realistic: 51, abstract: 13, both: 3). In the end, I totally agreed with the general consensus: though the abstract piece might have stood out aesthetically, I thought that for this particular contest, a more conservative and traditional style was more appropriate.
I never thought I would say it, but Carmela and I decided to go streaking in Hawaii! No, not in the Old School kind of way “through the quad and into the gymnasium.” We decided to test our mental fortitude and physical endurance with a daily running challenge.
Although we’ve managed to stay relatively active with hikes and races throughout the islands, ever since our homie J.Diaz returned to the mainland, our priorities shifted towards “living” in paradise. It was time to buckle down and get some work done. Building a routine and finding healthier places to eat were essential in creating a sustainable lifestyle beyond the postcards and Adam Richman style chow-downs.
After the high vibrating state achieved at Wanderlust Oahu 2016, Carmela and I were eager to continue nourishing positive ions with resources readily available to us. Within a week, we signed up for a heavily discounted monthly membership to Core Power Yoga (thanks, Groupon!) and a monthly membership to Volcanic Rock Gym in Kailua. As if that wasn’t enough, Carmela proposed the most intimidating suggestion since signing up for our first half marathon in Brooklyn in 2013: “Can we run every day for thirty days straight, at least 1 mile a day?”
This was going to be our No Wrong Turns edition of “30 for 30”!
Shameless plug: *If you haven’t already, please consider donating to my Team for Kids fundraiser so that I can join Carmela at the New York City Marathon this November. I’m almost a third towards my goal of $2620
Sure, Hal Higdon’s novice marathon training is one of the toughest programs we’ve ever experienced. But each of the 18 weeks has at least two days of rest built into the schedule. Will our bodies be able to recover fast enough even if it was only one mile (minimum) a day? This new goal seemed just hard enough that we had to try it.
The first week was grueling. Living in Pacific Heights, we failed to realize one crucial detail— the majority of our runs would be the dreaded triple-H of running: hot, humid and hilly. Slowly, we started to adjust runs from mid afternoon to dusk. After eventually adapting to the weather (or escaping it, rather), we came across our second roadblock:
How could we make the most of our dual memberships?
Unfortunately, the only way around this was to push through 2-a-days to get our money’s worth. We felt like wannabe UFC fighters, minus the fighting. Luckily, yoga kept our muscles loose while climbing provided the strength to work through it.
Tip: Charity Miles is a great way to raise a bit of money while you run
Challenging doesn’t even begin to do it any justice. Some nights we had to run in the rain up and down the driveway just to stay safe off the roads with no sidewalks. Other times, we were forced to run less than 12 hours spaced between them. Did we ever feel like giving up? All the time. Did I ever scheme to ride in a car at 5 miles per hour to cheat our way out of a session by tricking GPS? No comment. No matter what, we stuck with it. And to our surprise, we were rewarded with a few PRs along the way.
Eventually it became a healthy routine addiction and a welcome distraction from the grind of productivity. It was our time to purge our thoughts and zen out in this special place. We loved it so much that 30 for 30 turned into Hawaii 5-0!
Why? Soon after finishing our 30 days, we unfortunately had to return the car that our uncle so generously loaned us. This was the perfect excuse to earn our eats by running to restaurants and walking off the food on our way back home.
It’s tempting to keep the streak going but I think it’s time for a new challenge. Muscle confusion at it’s finest.
Have you ever done a daily running challenge, running streak or any other test of will? I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below.
It has been a long time since I’ve updated my online portfolio. Last I checked, it has managed to go unchanged for a solid 7 years. When you work fifty plus hours a week, commute more than 2 hours a day, and still reserve time to keep your physical health in check, it’s really hard to squeeze more activities into your day — no matter how interested you are. Physically, it’s just too taxing.
Drawing fellow commuters — something I’ve always loved to do since the ferry days of Staten Island — became a hassle. Public transportation was no longer my source of inspiration, but simply a time to catch up on sleep. It would be all too easy to pin it on my job as a photo retoucher (or any number of interests that I’ve allowed to distract me). But when I look long and hard at what has been hampering my personal art, I cannot look any further than myself to blame.
With very little left in the tank, showcasing my work became more of a pipe dream, with no realistic strategy in sight. A solo show here and a group show there is just not enough when they are spaced years apart. Everyone always says, “Do it while you’re young.” And then when you get old, it becomes, “It’s never too late.” “You’ll understand when you’re older,” is particularly useful for when you cannot impart wisdom regarding the transition. As for me? I like to subscribe to “It will happen when the time’s right.”
I was reminded of this during a speakeasy at Wanderlust Oahu 2016 this past February. Anthony Chavez asked the audience of his lecture, The Anatomy of Results, to quantify, by percentage, the three components of achieving success: intention (wish or goal), state (energetic and/or emotional), and action (i.e. if equally important, that would be 33.33% each). Most people, through their own personal experience, agree that action makes it happen. But actually, the crucial element is state. The action doesn’t change but is directly affected by how you show up to the task at hand.
“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” – Abraham Lincoln
“If you are the big tree, we are the small axe.” – Bob Marley
This site is dedicated to my journey towards sharpening my axe so that I may one day cut down that proverbial big tree and carve my name into it.