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Monday, January 14, 2008

(Not) Under Pressure

There's a lot of freedom in doing anything -- a record, label, painting, book, movie -- yourself. The pressure's apparently off and it's easy to think anything you make will be worthwhile to others. Well, as liberating as it is, my advice is to not half-ass it.

This idea clicked in my head about a month ago as I painted a holiday-themed painting for Donna and her family. I was inspired to make my own kind of design after seeing a friend's black and white painting of a flower. All I knew was, I wanted to paint the background gray and go from there. What I ended up with was a camouflage-like background behind a tree blowing in the wind.

Between painting the background and the finished product, I thought about how much was too much and what was too little. At one point, I thought I should stop with a gray background and black arrow pointing up. I'm very satisfied that I kept going.

The point in all of this is: nobody was telling me what to do, but that didn't mean I should have started and stopped with the first notion that came into my head. Now, not to sound like that line in Annie Hall where two partygoers are talking shop ("Right now, it's only a notion. But I think I can get money to make it into a concept. And later turn it into an idea."), but I think a big catalyst behind the DIY ethic is the drive to start and finish something.

I'm so glad that I didn't put Post out three years ago. I did plenty of research by then, but not a whole lot of interviews. Moreover, I was especially lacking in the department of making cohesive sentences and paragraphs. So it was very helpful that Nick's Mission Label partner at the time suggested more work to be done. Of course, we didn't know it would be a few more years of work.

As I approach the four-year mark on this book, I feel very safe to share what all I've uncovered with these bands and labels. What I hope to be the final of final edits is happening as we speak, but the only real pressure is coming from myself. There's no editor or deadlines; two sources that can be really strong motivators to get stuff done. Without them, they can also often let things fall to the wayside.

Maybe it's the degree of self-critique one has to have, I don't know. But it's crazy how just having the desire to finish something is a feat in itself. What drives me is to satisfy my desire but not be lazy with the finished product. There's a fine line between selling yourself short and bending over backwards to please others. Where people find the path down this is probably one of the more rewarding and frustrating parts of the journey.

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