This last year I’ve posted about how excited I am, that big things are happening, that I’m entering a new chapter…. But I’d never say what’s going on.. I’d say that I’ll post at some point. I guess that’s now!
After leaving Phoenix (in late 2017) and seeing if Austin got its shit together, I decided that the Austin I knew and love was forever gone. I asked Rob “Didn’t you say your dad retired on the beaches of Mexico?” – and then (in Mid 2018) proceeded to be his Dad’s upstairs neighbor.
Initially I rented for 3 months, but I loved it and never left. The Mexico chapter lasted 4 years, and is now coming to an end.
This whole year I felt (and even posted) that I feel that I am on the last few pages of this current chapter, and that I’m about to enter a new one.
It’s a strange thought… That we can tell where in our story we are. How do we define a chapter? How do we know that one ended and a new one begun?
Most of the chapters in my life can be separated by Occupation /Location / Personality.
My couchsurfing chapter (6 years) allowed me to learn a lot about humanity and myself as I stayed with hundreds of people in hundreds of locations, and listened to hundreds of audio books as I drove between them. After this one it was really difficult to be stationary.
My WordPress chapter (A decade) mostly centered around growing an online course that I’d created, and also taking on various gigs as a web designer. It was during this chapter that I started my daily art commitment. Web design and internet marketing are very powerful skills, but it was not my passion. The longer I did my daily art, the more anything else I was doing felt like it was stealing time away from me.
My Mexico chapter gave me a lot of time to make art and discover myself. The low cost of living allowed me to spend less time working on non-art stuff, and more on art. My art improved in a dramatic fashion, and started getting some of the right attention.
Through my 4 years in Baja I got to change how I view my capabilities. Despite that it felt that I was always broke, I still managed to live in some incredible places on the beach (one was a 3,200 square foot mansion on the beach, one was a 14th floor highrise on the beach). I got to raise 5 figures for charity with a single painting. I was on stage with Alice Cooper. I got pretty consistent with making people cry with my art. I did some work for Miss America.
It was in Mexico that I resigned from my web design gigs, and went full time artist (at 44 years old).
As I obsessed more about making art, and the world decided that social media is now for arguing and censoring, I got quieter. Terms of Service had changed, Facebook Jail now existed, and people felt that they now need to be outraged about everything. Regular conversations felt like a waste of time, and most of the exciting things that I had to say were likely outside the terms of service of various social media platforms.
When I was active in internet marketing I had a very inspiring tribe of friends. I was surrounded by achievers that were making their dreams happen, and quickly (whether it was amounts of money, living in exciting places, having incredible health, and more)… and being out of the industry, I fell out of touch.
I missed having a tribe of overachievers. Between that, cancel culture, and a growing culture of online censorship and arguing, I became very isolated. That and the lack of stability were manifesting into other things: stress, depression, feeling broken. Not having any luck with online dating here didn’t help either.
I felt that I had a good life, but I was feeling stuck. Why do I keep ending up in the same place? Well…. Things were happening…
I got the attention of some people. They are out of Beverly Hills, wanted to get into artist management, and loved my art and personality. They are friends with NFL team owners, owners of private jet companies, and countless celebrities, and foundations. Even better, I adore them, and just loved our time together.
However, I am very much myself… I don’t have a very functional filter, I’m brutally honest, knowledgeable about many things (humor, story telling, marketing, tech, etc), fairly hilarious, and am overly adventurous and eccentric. While I can’t get enough of the family that wanted to manage me, and they love me, I felt I wasn’t getting to be me all the time.
It is amazing how many of my crazy stories revolve around drugs. I’ve never had any actual problems with them, just ridiculous stories. For example, when my car blew up, it took 2 months to get it fixed. I spent 3 weeks at a drug rehab facility…. Not detoxing, rather just hanging out there because it is scenic, peaceful, and they were hooking me up with Ayahuasca, healthy food, and Temezcals (sweat lodges), there were lots of dogs to play with, and I got to meet the coolest people! Afterwards I bartered this one guy $10,000 of exotic substances for a large (40”x70”) custom painting, and I stayed at his house doing said substances, and that was a fun way to pass another month, and then my car was repaired!
Management didn’t want me sharing these stories and many of my jokes, as many of their clients and friends are far more conservative than me. I can be polite, and seem civilized, but I’m at my best when I get to fully be me. Their management business was new, and we were moving slower than I had expected.
I was still working with them (and still am), but I pulled back, as I still needed to pay the bills, and I was getting more projects on my own.
But then the best of all worlds happened.
One of my friends from the internet marketing world, Lori, reached out about a project. I needed the money, but to my parents’ chagrin, money isn’t my primary motivator. The things that move me are passion, innovation, rarity, challenges, and adventure. The more something sounds ridiculous, the more excited I am.
Lori’s project sounded like it was made for me!
She needed an NFT ( Art meets CryptoCurrency – while technically it’s about leveraging the crypto-ledger to prove that each image is unique- and this can’t be counterfeit (giving digital art validity as real art, because you can prove it’s an original), I like to just say “think trading cards, for grownups) series made of Tardigrades (small microscopic animals that are indestructible, even in space) that have had a billion years on the moon to evolve into their own advanced society.
I had read a story online a few years ago about this guy that sent a lander to the moon… and accidentally crashed it… and it had tardigrades on it… which are now on the moon. I thought that was pretty darn cool, when I read it. Now I got really excited because Lori was partners with the guy that did that!
Additionally, they are sending the images to the moon! Which means that I will truly be able to say that my art is out of this world (I’ve done far crazier things for a cheesy pun)!
I took the project primarily because I appreciate and trust Lori very much. I met her at a few high end masterminds that I got to attend, and not only is she an absolute badass and very highly connected, but her first words to me were words of mentorship. She believed in me before I believed in me, and I never forgot that.
Initially she asked me if I could do it for a particular amount which felt small for the project, but there would be percentages of sales. I was a little hesitant, as people have been promising me big things since I first started working in my teens. They’d often not deliver. Artists are known to hear “If you do this for us for free, you can use it in your portfolio!”
However, getting my art to the moon, working with the only private citizen to send a lander to the moon (and crash it :p ), and getting to work with a friend and mentor, I was in, and I put time aside so that I can beat the deadline.
But I got ghosted. I did not hear from Lori. Go figure, that’s what I get for getting my hopes up. Art on the moon, I knew it sounded too good to be true.
Turns out that Lori had a health issue that nearly killed her (literally)- she had to have a full blood transfusion, and it took a while to recover. But… the time I had put aside had gone, and she wanted the project in a short amount of time, which I didn’t have. So despite that I was quickly able to get over my frustrations (“Fine… I’ll let you play the ‘I died card!”), and despite that I love Lori, I did not think I’d be able to do the project now.
Despite having many reasons to not do it, we just wanted to work together, and kept repeating that… We sat there figuring out the logistics of “How can we make it work?” – and decided to do it anyways.
Then, as luck would have it, the deadline got extended, so now I could do more!
The team loved me, my insights, and my creations, and we somehow barely beat the deadline. Working together was a lot of fun, and there were many opportunities moving forward that I was qualified for: VR, AR, making a cartoon series, fashion line, and more…
So Lori reached out and asked if I was interested in her being my NFT manager, as she’s got tons of contacts, and nobody will fight harder for me.
I got very excited, because I’ve known her for for a while, and she’s the real deal. She is very capable, has raised Billions for charity, has had many successful companies, is super connected, loves my jokes/marketing strategies/art, and best of all… she really gets me! At one conference, I showed up to her hotel room wearing a superhero costume (that was way too tight). She’s given me some solid life and business advice. I know her family. I trust her wholeheartedly.
On top of that, with NFTs there are royalties built in, so I would get ongoing fees paid. I have not had passive income since I closed down my WordPress course. Also, she had mentioned that she’d help build me a team, so that I’m not stuck doing every single thing myself.
So I spout back, speaking loudly and quickly about how yes, she can absolutely manage my art business- we can do fashion, and sculptures, and NFTs, and with a team we can really crush it, and can be bigger than Warhol was… And then I realized that she’d only mentioned managing my NFTs, so I added a “Hey – feeling silly ‘cause I just said all that, and realize that I misread what you wrote… so… yes, you can manage my NFTs, but… if you want to make sure that you’re never bored again, you can manage my entire art business.”
She also agreed to get me a better computer, so that I can crank more work into the same deadlines (that Tardigrade project really pushed me and what my laptop can do). I chose a liquid cooled desktop with an Nvidia RTX 3080, and it runs circles around my laptop (despite that laptop being pretty darn powerful).
A month later she got me the opportunity to work on an NFT for Snoop Dogg. This was exciting because Snoop is not only cool and inspiring (not only is he successful, but always seems to be having fun- he’s in video games, movies, has his own comedy special, etc), but he’s also becoming the face of NFTs!
I poured my heart and soul into this. I worked on it for about 2 months from morning to night (and still making my daily art on top of all that), and when deadline came, I submitted all the images that I was told to make.
The response I got from our contact was “Back to the drawing board, please.”
I was crushed!
I did what I had been asked, I spent so much time, I sacrificed sleep and a social life, and I get back one sentence?
Frustration hit, and that became depression. However, I already had imagined how cool it would be to add Snoop Dogg to my celebrity roster, and I refused to be rejected. I tried again. This time I was not given instructions, so I tried numerous looks, and finally went with this colorful fractal look that I’d been developing and refining for many months in my own art experimentation.
The new deadline was approaching, and perhaps it was fear of rejection, or fear of success… but self sabotage was setting in. I was sleep deprived, exhausted, and was doing some things that were even scaring me a little bit (for example, I don’t recommend taking adhd meds- which aren’t even prescribed to you – combined with LSD).
It was becoming a battle of the side of me that wants so badly to finally make it… and the part of me that’s scared to let me. There are very few times in my life when I have felt fear… This was one of them. Both sides of me were trying very hard. Harder, the closer I was to deadline.
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention… also got a dog on Christmas, and was unaware that she was pregnant. She had puppies on Superbowl Sunday. I realized that she was having puppies, because I saw a puppy on my bed! So, I helped my dog birth 5 adorable puppies, and I proceeded to take care of them until they were old enough to adopt.
Because of the project I didn’t have so much time to clean up the poop from the balcony, and the puppies would bark. The morning I submitted the project, building management came over to fine me for being a horrible person, and despite that I was very cooperative, they were extremely rude. Let’s just say that the self destructive side nearly got me evicted.
I was not speaking to my folks, because my dad was telling me to drop the project because I hadn’t gotten paid yet after the first version was declined, and now I was putting in all this extra time and effort to make the new version, and it wasn’t even to get the full amount… it was just to get the approval to do the project.
I explained that I would do the project for free if I had to, and I don’t need negativity poured into my head, I don’t need reasons to doubt myself or the project, I’ll call you in a 2 weeks after I’ve finished, and find out.
I called them, because I wanted them to know that the client replied “LETS MOVE AHEAD full steam.”
I cried for two hours when I read that email. I waited a few more hours to open the 2nd email that had the more in-depth insights about the project.
My parents were of course thrilled. And they were also thrilled about Lori, who got me the project, and who made sure that the contract was taken care of. She found things that I didn’t, as I am allergic to legalese. There was a 5-figure payout which allowed me to work on nothing but the Snoop project (and my daily art) for the next few months.
Lori even got me a comic book based project that’s involved with a 6 time grammy award winning producer, and that got a tiny bit of exposure at Comicon.
The moon mission is still a go for December. A separate project that I am doing through someone else is supposed to end up at the Smithsonian Black History exhibit on permanent display this year.
So…. Pretty exciting year, career wise.
One day I’m listening to Andrew Huberman’s podcast on “Controlling your dopamine levels for motivation, focus, and satisfaction” (great episode- highly recommend) and he mentions numerous things that can work. Now, he does say not to try all of these things at once, but… I happened to have all the ingredients that he mentioned, and I’m the kind of guy that takes that kind of a thing as a challenge.
I did them all at once.
And I felt great… I had clarity.
Remember how I mentioned feeling isolated? Because of that, I was already thinking of moving out. I thought Los Angeles would be great as there are many celebs and models, and a high-end art market. My little brother also lives near there, and I have many contacts there.
I also thought of San Diego, as I used to be well connected there. I don’t feel that I currently am, but I can rekindle relationships with some work.
Part of isolation for me was a lack of activities for me to do. I don’t care about restaurants and bars, and that’s most of what Rosarito Beach offers. In late 2019 I was reminded that I love comedy even more than art… And there’s not much that I love more in the world that hanging out with other hilarious people.
I found this out because I met this girl in Vegas, and the two of us were riffing off of each other, but were cracking everyone else up around us so much that multiple people bought our entire group drinks. I wanted to go start doing improv and open mic in San Diego, since that was near enough, but a certain pandemic shut down California, and I didn’t get to.
San Diego and Los Angeles have comedy clubs! But they are so expensive, and I’ve gotten used to the cost of living in Mexico, which is about 1/4 that of California.
So I do everything that Huberman said (not to do at once), and everything seemed obvious.
I left Lori a voicemail saying that I love the things we’ve done this year. I am proud of the results, and really enjoy working together. We clearly get each other, and the possibilities are endless. However, I feel that communications is our bottleneck, as we are on different time zones, and she has her other businesses and her family, so oftentimes messages have to wait a day or two.
I asked if she sees it the way I do, that if I move to Cincinnati, where she is, and can just show up at her house with the latest revisions, etc… then we can get a lot more done, and a lot more quickly.
She replied that she thinks that is the case.
Instantly, I decided that I’m moving to Cincinnati when my lease ends (in a month from that point). Nothing else was even an option any more. Not staying in Mexico, not going to California. There was only Cinci.
Lori suggested I come check it out, and see if I like it, but I said that I don’t care if I like it or not— I’m there for one reason… to speed up what we’re doing. But I did research one thing about Cincinnati….. Are there comedy clubs there, and how close are they? There are, and they’re close. In fact, Lori also wants to do some improv, and has some celebrity comedian contacts for me!
She flew me out there, and I had a blast. I met hilarious people. I met inspiring overachievers. We went to comedy shows and restaurants. I was inspired by nature (which there is a ton of there- while Baja is mostly dust). Her husband is more excited than she is about me coming down, ‘cause I also have a motorcycle license, and we like so many similar activities (I said yes to off-roading, 4 wheeling, shooting, comedy, riding motorcycles, and we both have very similar backgrounds).
Now I just had to figure out how the hell to get out there… and when.
I thought I’d get rid of most of my stuff, squeeze in what I want to keep into my car, and drive there. The only problem is that I don’t trust my car for a 2,600 mile trip. Not since the engine was rebuilt.
Actually, it wasn’t that rebuild that I mentioned above, rather in January, my car died in front of my friend’s house, and his mechanic ended up breaking it more and more- and since then the check engine light comes and goes despite that I spent another $2,000 fixing what the mechanic broke.
I can ship the car. I can get a Uhaul. I can scrap the car. I can fly, bus, train. Or… I can put my stuff in storage, take the dog to the dog sitter, and then go visit some friends since it’s easier to do so from the west coast, rather than the midwest.
While I was pondering that, my buddy Ivan said that I can get a Uhaul with a car-towing attachment, and he can ride with me. We’ll take turns driving, so we can get there sooner, and not have to waste money on hotels and such… I just need to get his flight back home.
That seemed like the perfect solution. I told Lori, I told my folks, problem solved! Now I was going to take the Uhaul from San Diego, after I brought my stuff up from Mexico, but there was one issue remaining. I was going to donate a giant painting of mine to a charity auction for my Beverly Hills team.
That painting is huge, and with the mat and frame, it does not fit in anything smaller than a cargo van. I’m willing to donate, but I need them to figure out how to transport it, as I need to get out of my apartment by the end of the month. The Beverly Hills folk agreed, but their driver couldn’t make it fit.
Now the Uhaul really was the perfect solution! I don’t even need to pack up all that well, since I can just throw things in the truck, and can even bring my Kayak. Yay, everything is solved.
I even told Ivan that we can stop off at places along the road to make it fun. He wants to go to Mt. Rushmore. We’ll stop off in Kansas City and St. Louis for some good BBQ.
Ivan gave me the dates he can do it, and I bought him a return flight home.
I emptied all the rooms into the living room, so all my things are in one place.
I cleaned the house so that I return it in great shape.
I donated a ton of clothes to a charity that helps clothes the homeless.
I reached out to a few friends to make a few last memories.
I went and had an Ayahuasca ceremony, and drank 9 cups (most people have one or two)- and ended up tripping balls for 30 hours… so lost a day or two of packing.
Guess I better reserve the truck!
Turns out that it’s about $3,000, and gas is probably going to cost more than $1,000. I was kind of expecting much less. Like, probably 1/2… and my lease is already at an end. I’d already counted on my ridiculously fun luck to work out, and the truck to just work out… But… people drive out of California, and no one drives into California, and thus Uhaul charges way more for one way trucks out of California.
My folks suggested perhaps I break everything down, and ship things in boxes, then drive my car. People on Facebook gave me advice on dealing with freight and logistics companies. Ultimately, with current inflation car shortage, and whatever other reasons, everything’s expensive right now.
Ivan’s ticket is non refundable. Trying to pack things into boxes, that would take too much time.
I’m finally believing in myself. I believe in Lori. I believe in the great things that we’ve done, and will do, so I borrowed some cash to cover the truck, and got the truck for Monday (would’ve been Saturday, but they didn’t have the car towing thingy until Monday, since people only leave California), and I’m doing this thing!
So there you have it… That’s been my crazy year, and why I know that a new chapter is starting: New location in a new country and state. New friends. Working with management and a team. Doing stand-up comedy. New environment. And so much more.
If you compare who I was before I came here, I’m practically a new Ori as well!
While I can’t predict the future it does seem like after the Snoop NFT drops, that one piece goes to the Smithsonian, and some art goes to the moon, my global exposure will go up, and the value and demand for my art will go up. I’m hoping that’s the case because I want to do so much more for charity with my art (got 2 charity auctions in October)!
I’ve been doing less client work, and working more on these future-based projects. But I need to get my ass to Ohio, and I want to pay for the move by using my art. And that’s a golden opportunity for you (and yes, that’s why my latest painting is a Uhaul truck made of gold and diamonds…. Well really it was a “Why are they so expensive? Are they made of gold or something?” – but – both are true)!
We take off on Monday morning, and I have to be in Ohio by Thursday morning to get Ivan to the airport, then I’m going to collapse for a day, unload the truck, bring it back… so… from now until Friday at midnight (EST) – you can get a custom 16×20 painting for $600 (usually starting at $1,800) / 24×30 for $1,400 (normally starting at $2,500) / or a 32”x40” for $2,000 (normally starting at $4,400) – bigger sizes, contact me.