Monday, September 12, 2005

The Ghost In Me

The road is long, the shadows dark, the path sometimes unclear.
Yet fearless I walk, hopeful I follow, with a grin from ear to ear.

The Ghost In Me... Has been unbound...

...From the shroud of shame that kept me from the truth.
...From the binds of doubt that held me to my past.
...From the chains of fear that bound me to my bones.

The Ghost In Me... Has been unraveled...

Sent out into the ether I've longed to travel.
Far too long I pushed it back, wrapped it up, held it in...
Just to get through each day. Afraid to face the pain.

The Ghost In Me... Has been redeemed...

Abstracted, dissected, fully introspected, taken apart and put back together again. Path's followed, questions answered, signs seen, and memories discovered. Pain forgiven, love uncovered, peace found finally within. Part of the world... again.

God's will be done, my heart is whole, my spirit awoken...

and the Ghost In Me... Has been set free.

The Ghost In Me... Has finally... been set free.

The last two years have been very eventful and fruitful. It has been an incredible sojourn. 335 posts and God knows how many words later... I've realized that it's time to close this book. It's purpose served - it's time for me to move on. This is my last post to the Ghost In You. I want to Thank you all for following me on this journey. May God grant you your own peace and liberation. And may you live your life as it is meant to be lived. With peaceful hearts, open arms and fearless dreaming. Eyes WIDE open, with childlike enthusiasm. Keep smiling friends... and the whole world smiles with you.

--William B. Terrell

Keep an eye on in October to see what's next.

Now Playing: Louis B. Armstrong - "When you're smiling"

Saturday, September 10, 2005


I have an announcement to make...

Something big...

Stay tuned.


All passion is rooted in something. All great artists are able to tap into that. The one's that I am most inspired and entertained by knew their roots well, and always kept them close at hand. My friend Brian here and I have a lot of roots in common. Only he's kept his closer to the surface, never far from knowing where they came from. Maybe it has to do with being around so many fully awakened artists here. Seeing what it looks like. So part of my journey has been getting in touch with what made me love art. Made me want to be an artist. It is a scavenger hunt I encourage anyone to partake. Some of the most surprising roots to me... Louis Armstrong, The Jungle Book, Shark/Skateboarder caricatures, and Hot Air balloon's. And reconnectiong with some roots I was aware of, but hadn't fully embraced: Lego's, Treasure Island, Chuck Jones, The Blue's Brothers, History of the World and especially Disney's Gummi Bears.

It's weird how much creativity flows from these things into my soul. They're all part of the core that makes up "who" I am. Louis Armstrong... I downloaded a few songs on a whim. And I've found myself listening to them incesantly. It took me the longest time to figure out why... it's his voice. He sang songs for all the Disney movies from when I was very little. The Jungle Book being the most notable. And I realized that Bare-Neccesities basically defined my entire outlook on life. Baloo-bear, I love you so. But there are so many other songs by him that are just as endearing. They all take me back to being a kid... being innocent and full of potential. It's a good feeling to be able to get that back just listening to a song... hehe. Makes me smile right now thinking about it.

There are so many things I could go into about these roots. So many ways they influenced me and continue to influence me. But it would take all night to write it. I will say this... I know what I want to say with my stories now. I know what my message is... and why I want to say it. I know... my purpose. lol. It doesn't get any better than that.

Anyways, I wanted to share this. Maybe it will help you find your roots. You never know what they might reveal.


I had a fascinating Epiphany about a week before I came to San Diego. I remember explaining it to my friend Luis. It was the strange realization that "I could influence those that have influenced me." The power within that is hard to fathom. Every artist I've ever admired, can in some way, afford to grow. One can always - and should always continue to grow. But in some strange way I realized that, given the right circumstances, I have something to contribute to that. It blows my mind, but it makes perfect sense now. I sort of let it slide to the back of my brain for a while though. But it's been coming up again a lot lately. Like in the conversation with Eric last night. And with several other artists just in the last week.

But then I find out today that this is Ron's last semester teaching at the school. I was a little shocked to hear it. The guys in class with me took it pretty hard too. He has been so influential on SO many people through this school. He will sorely be missed. I asked if it was a permanent thing and he was pretty clear that it was. Time to move on. I am grateful that I got to spend at least these two semesters in school with him. And I know thousands of other artists feel the same for their time with him. But it does sound like it's time to move on. 12 years is a long time. I asked him what brought it on and he said he was tired of passing on his dreams. He rattled off a list of all the projects he's had to pass up the last few years because of teaching full time. It almost broke my heart.

I know he's been thinking about it for a long time. Maybe even years. When I first got here he was already talking about moving on. But I can't help but wonder if I was able to give him that extra push. A month back he was quizzing me about my motives for doing comics. And I gave the same spiel I gave Eric last night.. and that I've given hundreds of other artists since I've been here. But what I didn't find out till a week later... he called Michael Turner the next day, to finally accept a long standing offer of work. And he's got 3 other comic book projects in the works now as well. This man is going to be... big!

See the thing is... I can understand what happened. When I started going to comic conventions nearly 8 years ago, my art was in it's infancy. And nearly ANYone could offer some critique. But within a few short years, it became harder and harder to get feedback. Because, although most people were still better than me, most people couldn't tell me how to get there. The better you get, the harder it is to get feedback. The harder it is to grow. It got to the point where I had maybe two artists at best that could help me grow. And that was annually. Being in this school is different, because I'm back down to the bottom of the barrel. So everyone and ANYone can show me how to get better, on a daily basis even. So I could see sticking around for a VERY long time. And teaching is a logical next step. You learn more from teaching someone than you ever could in a class. It's the challenge of having to explain "Why?" Nothing forces you to understand yourself or your process better. But imagine being at the top of THAT heap? The hunger must be excrutiating. The craving for challenge aching. And no one wants to challenge someone that's that far ahead of them. It must be hard. Especially when your heart wants to be doing something totally different.

Challenge is an interesting thing. I'm starting to learn the value of it in a LOT of ways. Creating challenge for one's self especially. And even more importantly creating a challenge for those around you. If done with love and responsibility that is. It's definitely why my dating life has improved, lol. But it's so counter-intuitive to me. I'm used to pouring myself out into the world. I mean... you've read my blog, lol, you know what I mean. But learning to keep secrets, to not offer information and let people discover it, that's been a HUGE revelation for me. Yet it comes so naturally to some other people. Somewhere that lesson got lost in my development.

And then challenging other people... that's big also. People want to grow, I believe that. People thrive on being challenged. They just don't want to be told what to do. But asking questions, bringing reality into the light. That's what I try to do now. Without being too imposing. I've seen many friends here finally break-through that last barrier. All they needed was someone to challenge them. It's a good feeling. Especially since it's not the micro-managing, life-meddling, unintentionally-guilt-tripping way I used to be. Just a few well placed questions, a couple colorful analogies and a "good luck friend." Most of the time they were already ready, they just needed the spark. Like lighting bottle-rockets. They're doing all the work, I just light the fuse and watch them go.


Friday, September 09, 2005


I went to a bonfire last night at my friend Heather's house. It was a lot of fun. Her house is way down at the bottom of this valley, with hardly any other houses around. It feels almost like a campground. With giant trees looming over us, and a nice big fire going, bongos playing with Diggereedoo and a bunch of my friends from Seaworld hanging around chilling. Very cool. I even had a date, which always makes things nicer.

I finally got to meet one of the legendary former Seaworld artists I've heard so much about. There's a half-dozen or so of these legendary former artists. One's that took the sketch and their personality and skills about as far as they can go in the theme park, and have since moved on to other things. It's been interesting meeting them one by one. Because, although I'm sure they are all amazing artists, it's who they are that seems more fascinating to me. What makes them different from the average Joe Draw? Personality. Eric was no exception.

There's a game we play... these artists and I. Where the conversation becomes a sketch. An ongoing situational comedy, with gags set up in the beginning that keep showing up and growing larger and more outlandish throughout. It's sort of a secret handshake now that I think about it. You start to see the conversation grow and unfold, and the look of knowing sarcasm on each person's face as they raise the stakes. And the look of confusion and quiet bemusement on the faces of those who aren't in on the process. I've never experienced it like this before. Where I can have this type of conversation with other people. Not on this level. Like watching a Bugs Bunny cartoon being created before your very own eyes.

Looking back, I've been learning how to do this from caricatures. I realized after a year or two, each sketch was it's own conversation, where I had 100 lines and 9 colors to make this person laugh as much as possible. And so I had to take every comment and squeeze a joke out of it without sounding desperate. And keep bringing back and recycling the jokes throughout the conversation. Creating an abundance of humor out of just the 5 minute conversation at hand. Bringing in jokes from outside the conversation never worked as well. It's just not the same as involving the person in the discovery of the joke. The difference between a magician using you as an assistant, and watching it on TV. But it never occurred to me that other people would learn through the same process. Though I'm sure that it's not even exclusive to just caricature artists.

So Anyways, I had an interesting, serious, conversation with Eric about doing what you love versus doing what is easy. He seems to be dealing with the same dilemmas. Being a self-employed caricature artist, wanting to draw comics for a living, and all that jazz. I've realized more with each step closer I get to being able to someday make money doing comics - the closer I get, the easier it is to make money doing something else... ANYthing else. It's like the universe testing me... seeing if I'm really committed to doing what I say I want to do. And believe me, the temptations, they are 0-plenty. It's bad enough in my own head dealing with the "Reality VS. Faith" dilemma... but I get it from friends and home and even people I look up to and admire. But I become more and more resilient that doing anything other than what I love doing - no matter how relevant, easy or tempting - is just putting off the inevitable. Because one day doing what I love WILL pay off. Whether I start putting in the time now or in ten years. I'd just rather get to it sooner. I've seen enough examples to know that's the only way. There are no short-cuts. There is no easy way. Just hard work and focus. In my humble opinion.


Tuesday, September 06, 2005

One Last thing...

This has been a very eventful year for me. And it looks to be, the next few years may be very fruitful because of it. I've delved deep into myself and I feel like I've come up a new man. With all the tools one needs to be successful. But there is one last bulwark left to break. The rampart that has hindered my foothold from the beginning.


With all the opportunities and blessings I've received in the last few months, I'm terrified that it will all fall apart still, when it comes time to finally put it all together on my own. It's a fear much less intimidating with real skills and examples to gauge them by. But a fear none the less. Planning was always my strong suit, or so I thought. I could plan my life till the end of days. But nothing ever worked. And when it didn't work, I'd make a plan to make it work. And it fed on itself like a snake devouring it's own tail. It got so bad, that I became perpetually depressed over my failure to make things happen.

It was almost a year ago that I stopped planning. I'd realized that it wasn't working. I can't emphasize HOW much I was hurting back then. Frustrated with the world and hating myself. I wanted to give it all up and walk away. So I stopped. Things have been much better ever since. I have done little to no planning in all this time. I've lived almost entirely in the moment since then. And my life has been very good.

I have to say things ARE different now. In those days, God was not my steering wheel... just my spare tire. That's no longer the case. It's no wonder none of my plans worked. I was working against the system. And just as well, I have many more tools at my disposal now to make things happen. Artistically, and otherwise. So the idea of planning is starting to sound reasonable once more.

But how?

This brings me to Jeff. How does an artist organize himself, plan ahead, and stay on task through the long haul? Through deadlines, headaches and all of life's curves... how does he keep it going? It fascinates me that Jeff and Ron and some of the other artists at the school are able to do SO much. It would be a futile effort for me to try and explain just HOW much Jeff is able to do. Art, business, exercise, marriage, teaching... doesn't even begin to cover it all. But how does he do it all? And with such CONSISTENCY?

Jeff tells me he was an athlete before he was an artist. He told me that he was never much for the competitive/sports part of athleticism. Though I'm sure he had his fair share of that. But for him, the training was the thing. Rigorous regimines of exercise and a constant pursuit of perfection. It was only natural to apply that to his art as well. He tackles his artistic training with an unrelenting tenacity. Studying every aspect of the art. Anatomy, muscles, old masters, painting styles, etc... You name it, and he's researched it and made it his own. Someone told me that when he left his Atelier in his early twenties, he tracked down all the students that had gone there so he could learn from them as well. Relentless.

It still doesn't explain how he does it... just why he's able to do it. But that's where the planning comes in. He has goals. Life goals, decade goals, yearly, monthly and daily goals. He has a definite purpose for every day. This day is to work on arms (artistically and physically, I imagine), This is a day to finish this commission, this drawing, teach this class. I don't know yet how specific he actually gets, but I get the feeling it's a lot more than I have ever done. And he's constantly working towards achieving ALL of his goals. And he has. Lists and lists I can see in my mind have been checked off. And not small stuff... once in a lifetime (for most people) stuff. And he's only in his mid thirties. Ron too... has a HUGE list that anyone would be blown away by. It's... Humbling.

Part of Jeff's curriculum is an open invitation to anyone in the class to help them plan their goals. To help them structure their life. I'm looking forward to a little of that guidance. I'll let you know how it goes.

So this is it. After this I will have answered all of my questions. And I'm ready to begin. Maybe someday there will be a need to reflect again. But the next 10 years, at least, are all about living.


Monday, September 05, 2005


The mind is a very strange thing.. at least... MY mind is a very strange thing. A while back I was struggling to let go of my romantic expectations. Life is something altogether different now. I thumb through the pages of my memories and think of all the unnecessary struggles I put myself through. How many times I broke my own heart from trying too hard. The past couple weeks have been an interesting experience for me. It seems to have started the night of the bonfire. Since then I've talked to nearly every woman I've met. Whether I was interested or attracted to them or not. No expectations. Just lively conversation. Finding a way to connect and relate to anyone I meet. Finding a way to make almost anyone laugh. In that, I've gotten several phone numbers and in a couple cases, have even been bold enough to ask for a date at the end of a few conversations. With at least one memorable date thus far. I feel silly talking about it here (not just because my parents read this). Because it seems like this is all common knowledge to most people. But it's new to me, lol.

It's also funny that it doesn't matter where I am, now. I don't seem to need a perfect condition to talk to someone anymore. Just a "hi, what are you up to?" and a smile. Sometimes not even that. I guess it's more of an attitude now. I'm not all creepy and desperate when I go to talk to a woman I've never met before (that's how I sometimes felt about it). I'm just meeting people and finding out what's interesting about them. I'm also learning to talk a lot less (though you might not be able to tell from this blog, lol) and leave a lot more to the imagination. Discovering information about someone is much more fascinating and memorable than being "presented" with it. I never got that before.

I think this is all leading to a change in how I present myself in everything else too. Some people are masters at being mysterious and interesting. I'm having to teach myself about it. lol. It is as it should be, I suppose. I'm just excited that a day has not gone by that I've NOT made a connection with someone, that I had to struggle for years to get before. One day I'd like to understand my reason for not being able to "feel" connected to people all these years. Till then I'll just continue to enjoy the ride.


Sunday, September 04, 2005

Last Day

This was my last day at Legoland. I didn't do much drawing today. In fact I opened an hour late and closed an hour early. I spent a lot of the day hanging out with my friends. The job really has changed me. I'm very glad that I followed through with it. Getting hugs from everyone as they left one by one for the night, I could really see a difference in them too. Not even speaking about art. I think I may have made an impact in their lives.

I've been blessed to meet so many talented and happy people. And I feel fortunate that I could give some guidance to them at such an early stage in their careers. I see each of them doing some amazing things. I wonder if that's how some of my teacher's felt? And for me, I have a much calmer attitude about life, and a light-hearted spirit about interacting with people.

I also have a definite new appreciation for my own potential.


Friday, September 02, 2005

Processing - Marketing

Just getting this out of my head...

Of all the blessings that I've experienced since living in San Diego, my roommate has probably been the best thing of all. I've had so much insight into the world through him. Especially involving money, business and social interaction. I've been challenged constantly by him to rethink why I do what I do. And to consider financial opportunities I never would have allowed myself to consider before. I think I was somewhat scared of marketing myself before. Not just because I didn't know what to do with it, but also because I didn't know what to do if it worked.

So I had a long talk with him today. One of his friends came by earlier and saw some of my comic art laying around and was going on about how good it was. Was wondering why he'd never heard of the book before. My roommate told him I drew it. And he was wondering why I wasn't doing that instead of working at Legoland. He didn't have an answer.

So when I get home my roommate tells me all this and goes into more of his own questions about what's holding me back. "How can someone be this talented and not be doing it for a living?" he asks. I have my reasons for following through with Legoland, and I don't regret it... in fact I'm more clear every day that it was the right thing to do. But as far as making a living drawing comics... I don't really have an answer... just the excuses that I've struggled with over the years. I ask him what he thinks it is... he tells me it's marketing. He uses himself as an example. He started his window screen business with $500 dollars, a beat up old truck, a hand saw and a roll of screen material. He printed up a thousand fliers at Kinko's and went door to door. He got customers, and bought more supplies and better materials. He went from fliers to yard signs and got even more customers. And kept growing and reinvesting from there. He doesn't have an exemplary profile. His signs are plain, his business cards are average, company logo is almost sad. But he has signs out there... and no one else does. He is seen where no one else is. People hire him because they know he exists. It's not about quality, or presentation, or genious marketing... it's about showing up. Those other things will help you stick around. It's a hundred thousand dollar a year business now. And still growing.

I still have my excuses I tell him. His business is a daily pay business. He does a job, he gets money. Comics is a quarterly pay business. It takes a month to two months to draw a book, and then pay is a month or so later (I know this is an excuse). His response is that business deal with that ALL the time. He's right. I realize that I do have to compensate for the time it takes to get a return with comics. And have income saved or an unobtrusive income on the side. But that's no excuse to not follow through. Marketing is still the answer. I have to get the product finished and I know I can do really well once I have several issues and a graphic novel. Probably enough to sustain myself from there. I can also find ways to make the book pay for itself before printing, I can find ways to sell the book in person and make a good deal of profit. I've done it before, I just need to do it on a larger scale.

In the mean time, I can find other ways to make an income. Not just with restaraunt caricatures either. I've had so many commission offers lately without even trying. I'm imagining what it might be if I DID try. If I made it easy for people to pay me to do art instead of resisting it. (some commissions I hate doing, so that may still be a problem). I don't even have a way for people to buy my art, caricatures or comics on my website. So that's got to change. The point is, I've got a good thing going. And I need to capitalize on that.

Processing - Capitalizing

One of the most impressive things about my roommate is how successful he is at capitalizing on opportunity. He is always finding a "good deal" on something incredible. It's not that he's looking, it's that he's ready. The guy that lives above us is an investor. It seems to be his full time job. He's very cocky and arrogant, and I don't think much of him. He seems like a braggart and full of it. He put his 2004 Accura up for sale the other day, so that he could use it for capital for some big investment he's working on. It seems like for the most part he's used other peoples money for most of his investments in the past. So this investment seems very dangerous, in that he's putting himself on the line.

What's worse is... he's diving into a hole. He's moving out of his $1400 a month 2 bedroom apartment(that he lived alone in) to lease a house for $2000 a month. And he's now leasing a 2005 BMW 750LI for $800 a month. So whatever "capital" he might get from his car is down the toilet. His reasoning is to give the appearance of success to make a good impression on investors. Most concerning is if one of the pieces falls, he's living on borrowed income for everything else. So I asked my roommate if he was jealous about this BMW... his comment was, nah, I'm just waiting till it all goes to crap and he has to start pawning stuff, and I'll offer him $5 grand for his Acura (a quarter of what he's asking for it). It sounds far fetched... but I've seen him buy a motorcycle, 3 big screen tv's 2 "new" 5th wheels and a ton of other stuff for a quarter of it's value because other people were overextended. Most important, he had the money available to capitalize on their desperation. Then he often turns around and sells the same item for profit. Cause he's not in a hurry to get rid of it.

He lives really well, and he spends almost nothing. It's incredible to see it all first hand. I have lived hand to mouth for most of my life. Each paycheck was either for rent, bills, food or making a comic book. I've never lived within my means. Always on the edge of it. That's also why tithing was always so hard. But when you're tithing money you won't need for months down the road... it's much easier to parse it out correctly. I've been on both sides of that here in San Diego. Right now things are really tight again. Last month really stretched me and I'm back to paycheck to paycheck. But I can see now where I need to go financially. I need to have a wealth of savings, not only to be comfortable, and tithe properly... but because opportunities come along all the time that would be easy to capitalize on, if I have the resources.

Processing - Spending for profit

One lesson that may be the hardest for me to learn is to only spend money on things that will make me money. One of the things that has come up in the last few weeks is a possible HUGE financial windfall for me. In fact doubling what I made all summer long. If it goes through. When I told my roommate about it he asked me what I would do with the money. I told him I'd save some and I'd buy a new computer and a new camera and a few things here and there. And he suggested that I use it for a down-payment on a house. And let the renters make my payments on the house AND on my laptop and camera and what-not. Wow, I'm thinking.. that actually makes sense. I probably still won't go for it - bad credit, no savings, logistics of the next year (excuses I'm sure) - But that's the type of thinking I'm starting to do. If you do a lot of air travel... buy a plane. If you need to buy supplies, buy a LOT and find someone else to buy them from you so you're not actually spending anything. The idea is that you don't work to buy these things.. like most people do. He doesn't work to buy a truck, or a house. He buys those things because they can make him money. That's why most people are always struggling to make it work, cause they've got the wrong priorities about it.

It's a process. First I need to get out of the hole. Then I need to get a surplus. Then I need to capitalize on the opportunities that life presents me. There's no magic formula. Just having the right priorities.

Anyways... that's long enough. Just getting it out.