Artists in Focus Episode 2

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Artists in Focus Episode 2

The second installment of Artists in Focus features talented Boston-based artist and entrepreneur, Nick Iby, who turned his drawing hobby into a business. Since really diving in and using art as an outlet for his negative feelings, he has organically developed a unique style and brand. 

By following this passion and listening to people around him, he has been able to develop designs and products that represent him as a person. The 21-year-old isn't exactly sure where this endeavor will lead, but he's excited about the opportunity and the possibilities of Adfectu Artwork. 

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"Collaboration, in my eyes, is one of the most important things. Finding other people that share that creative passion with you is unlike any connection that I have found."

 

 

 

Following the Art Path

Nick began drawing back in high school, but he started in earnest only a few years ago. He started using art as an outlet to cope with the challenges and difficulties he was facing in his personal life. Using this as a catalyst, he continued to create drawings and doodles in his free time. At one point, his college roommate suggested selling his drawings online. Nick realized that it was a great idea and opportunity. Adfectu Artwork was born. 

From there, Nick took advice and suggestions from people around him as he continued creating art. His brand eventually snowballed into a clothing line. He now sells everything from t-shirts to yoga pants to phone cases. He had no idea that drawing alone in his room would turn into something big. 

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Check out more clothing designs on the Adfectu website—custom designs available upon request

 

Nick's Advice for Creatives

 

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When I started all of this, I had no idea I would end up here. I was just drawing alone in my room trying to escape any bad feelings I was having. As strange as this sounds, I think it's important to keep that sense of not really having a plan. Let things flow. Let things happen as they come. 

 

"My advice to people who want to build a business around art and creativity—don't do it for the money."

 

Please leave a comment/subscribe on YouTube!

 

Be sure to check out Nick's work here:

Website

Instagram

Facebook

YouTube

 

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Artists in Focus

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Artists in Focus

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Excited to announce the premiere of Artists in Focus, a new video series featuring local artists pursuing a life built around freedom and creativity. Episode 1 with Boston-based photographer Alex Iby focuses on his path into photography.

After being inspired by content on social media, he decided to try his hand at creating his own. Alex has fully immersed himself into the world of photography, developing a unique style with an emphasis on people/portraiture.  

He's fascinated by those moments that portray a person in a way that takes the subject by surprise when they see the photo. By striving to connect with the model on a deep level, it's possible to achieve this outcome. Capturing the essence of a person in an image is his ultimate goal. 

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"I love capturing the emotions in people's faces. Everyone has a different story and a different way that they're living their life. And if I can capture just a sliver of that in a picture, that's what it's really all about."

 

 

 

Photography Journey

Alex first picked up a camera only a year and a half ago, but he has created quite a buzz with his work online including on Unsplash, an up-and coming photo sharing platform providing high definition copyright-free images to the public. He just recently hit 10 million views on his Unsplash page. By using Instagram and other social media platforms, Alex co-founded a local photography group that meets every Wednesday in Boston. This small community of local creatives has been a catalyst in the constant growth and evolution of his style.

 

 

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"Every single day I have new visions in my head about what I'd like to shoot, what I'd like to see and where I'd like to go." 

 

 

 

The unknown aspect of this creative path is what fuels Alex in his pursuit. Being able to shape his life around this craft is his top priority. Since there are endless opportunities for growth and improvement, he feels that there is no ceiling within photography. There will always be more people to meet and places to see. With this mindset, he sees no limits in where this can take him. 

 

Alex's Advice for Creatives

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Just breath out a lot more. Take that time to relax and observe. When you get a clear mind, you can really focus in on what you want and what you envision yourself doing. 

This is something that can't be learned overnight. It's a lifelong journey of growing and expanding. Although no one piece of work can be considered good or bad, there's always plenty to learn. 

 

"Never be discouraged by where you are currently, but be excited about where you're going." 

 

Check out Episode 1 of #AIF: 

Please leave a comment/subscribe on YouTube!

 

Be sure to check out Alex's work here: 

Website

Instagram

Facebook

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5 Freelance Tips for Beginners

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5 Freelance Tips for Beginners

Starting off as a freelancer in video and photography can be scary. As a beginner myself, here are my top tips for starting as a freelancer. 

By no means am I an expert. I'm new in this field. If I had been aware of these things when I began, it would have been much easier. Many of these may seem obvious but sometimes it's helpful to be reminded of the obvious. If this seems right for you, I hope you will be inspired to take a stab at this as your career. 

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1. Consistency is Key

This is not an easy task, but consistency can go along way. No matter what field. Results won't come without some level of consistent work. For me, I've had solid results so far just by regularly sharing content on social media. Recently, my primary focus has been my Instagram and YouTube pages. I've attempted to post every morning on Instagram, which has not been easy. By doing so, I've significantly grown my following and have generated quite a bit more engagement than even a few months back.

With my YouTube channel, I've really tried to kick into high gear, because I think that it's one of the most challenging social media outlets to see real growth. I'm playing the long game with this, and I think it will be worth the effort, especially since I'm a filmmaker. For the last few weeks, I've managed to upload twice a week. If I can maintain this level of consistency, I know big results will come my way.

Aside from social media, it's also important to constantly get your name and services out there when talking with people in person. Networking. Networking. Networking. Yes, social media is big these days, but you can't neglect word of mouth. Having business cards is definitely helpful with this one. 

Maybe I should take my own advice and be more consistent with blog posting! 

All joking aside, be consistent. Thing will happen.  

 

2. Nobody Will Do it for You

With freelancing, you're not answering to anyone. This is awesome, BUT that means you need to have a high level of self-motivation and discipline. Not easy. It's definitely something I'm constantly trying to improve upon. Just by showing up to work (for yourself) by being prepared every day will get you going in the right direction. 

It's scary to know it's all on you, but it's funny when you realize that this pressure can actually fuel the passion, taking it to the level that is necessary to succeed in this space. 

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3. Time/Money Management

This one, more than anything, is probably just a general rule for being an adult. I guess I'm an adult. Still not too sure on that one. Honestly though, I'm probably the last person that should be giving advice on time or financial management. What I've learned so far as a freelancer, is that I need to greatly improve in both of these areas. The money part of this is especially important when you don't have a fixed income. 

So how do you go about improving at these, you ask? 

Like most things in life, I would say baby steps are essential. For time management, setting a limit on the time allotted for a specific task or project that you're working on is one way to start. Site like Toggl are also a great tool for tracking time on specific gigs or projects. As hard as it can be in this world inundated by media and digital information, putting down your phone and closing all those tabs out on your laptop can be a great way to actually focus on something for a change. 

A few things that have worked for me in terms of money management is keeping track of my expenses with an app like CoinKeeper and logging all my driving records and business purchases in a spreadsheet document. It's important to keep track of all of this since it can be written off in taxes. Pretty cool, if you ask me. 

I still haven't even come close to mastering the art of maximizing time, hyper-focusing or money handling, but baby steps, right? 

 

4. Trust Your Path 

Confronting doubts is a big part of life. So it's no surprise that it will be a major part of the freelance journey. At my moments of doubt about finances and direction, I decided to trust my ability and the path that I've chosen for myself. I'm committed to the cause, and that's a powerful feeling. These moments are actually vital to the process. It allows you to persevere and keep grinding regardless of external factors or internal struggle. In this game, having a vision of where you want to go is more important than anything else. 

Trust the path, but more importantly, trust yourself. 

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5. Create Opportunities

This one is HUGE. This advice was given to me by a good friend who actually runs his own production company called 41stCasanova. You can't just sit around looking or waiting for opportunities to come your way. You have to be take an active role in your pursuit by creating your own opportunities. I'm a firm believer in this concept. 

Yes, you may have something unexpectedly come your way, but typically this will only happen after you have created and and manifested the opportunity. A proactive approach is vital. 

Here's the video that accompanies this blog post

If you're brave enough to go down this freelance route, I applaud you and wish you much success. It's not easy, but it's worth it to work for yourself. Hopefully you can get something valuable from this post. 

Don't look for a chance. Don't wait for it. Create it. 

Break Your Boundaries. 

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ALL IN.

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ALL IN.

Since being back home, I've had to fight off the doubts and uncertainties of what the future holds. Facing down the demons is inevitable, and there's always something to take it from it when you come out on the other side.

At my low moments, I let the confusion take hold as I succumbed to it. Now, my feelings have shifted, taking a turn for the better, at least for the time being. I realized that I have the power to steer my life in the direction I choose. The only way forward is to take full responsibility of the opportunities that I create for myself. 

                                                          Photo of me in Boston taken by local photographer Chris Conole

                                                          Photo of me in Boston taken by local photographer Chris Conole

I recently decided to try my hand at teaching English online with VIPKID. It was quite stressful taking the time to practice and prepare for the interview and the mock classes that are required to become an online ESL teacher. After the first rounds went smoothly, I was preparing for the second mock class (I would have been hired if it went well) when I had an important chat with my younger sister. I told her I was nervous about taking the leap to actually go through with it. She pointedly said, "Matt, do you really want to do this?" I thought for a moment and replied with a stern "No." And there it was. Why was I putting all this effort into something I didn't even want in the first place? It was liberating to answer that question honestly after being presented in such a direct way. Thanks little sis! 

So, where does this leave me? Broke and jobless? Yeah, sort of. BUT, this really woke me up to what I know I want to do—what I HAVE to do—become a filmmaker/photographer. While I've put tons of hours and hours into honing my skills, I still wasn't giving it my everything 

Since this epiphany, I decided I have to go ALL IN. Now is the time. Not next year or even next month. Today. I'm going to put all my effort into making this a reality. Maybe I'll fall flat on my face. Maybe I'll crush it. Either way, I have to take massive action. It's both empowering and terrifying.

And you know what? Things are actually starting to happen. I have a video gig lined up with a local startup in Boston. I'm paying a lot more attention to who I'm spending my time with. A friend of mine (Alex Iby) started a photography meetup every Wednesday in Boston. It has been incredible to spend time with fellow creators. Just being around these people has improved my photography by leaps and bounds in a few weeks. Also, I'm about to start doing portraits locally for seniors graduating high school.

                                     Photo I shot of my friend captured during one of the weekly photo walks in Boston

                                     Photo I shot of my friend captured during one of the weekly photo walks in Boston

                                  Photo I captured of a local model during a weekly photography meetup in Boston

                                  Photo I captured of a local model during a weekly photography meetup in Boston

I've also started to take my YouTube channel and my Instagram account a lot more seriously. I'm already starting to see results. A lot of doors have opened up for me in a short span of time. It's crazy what can happen when you commit to something and push yourself until you reach the next level. 

Going down this path has brought me to places that I couldn't have predicted. It truly is astounding what is possible with a bit of focus, determination and of course—hard work. To all of you out there, boldly choosing to go your own way with all of your heart, THANK YOU for paving the way for others to do the same. You're fucking rockstars! 

Below is my latest short film. It's less than 90 seconds, so please take a minute to check it out!

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Give Less Fucks

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Give Less Fucks

I recently finished an amazing book given to me by a good friend. The book is The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson. I know what you're thinking. That sounds a bit too aggressive. I thought the same thing. But honestly, the author hits the nail on the head with this one.

Drawing by Caleigh Collamer

His main point is to give less fucks. In other words, care about less things. He's not saying it in a cynical or apathetic way but in a realistic way. Essentially, if you can train yourself to care about only the things that truly matter, you won't get caught up in all the trivialities that consume so many of us. 

 

"The key to a good life is not giving a fuck about more; it's giving a fuck about less, giving a fuck about only what is true and immediate and important." 

 

As you would probably expect, the author attributes many of our problems today to the incessant use of social media and critiques what he calls the feedback loop from hell. He discusses how looking at your Facebook feed, seeing everyone having awesome fucking lives can cause us to feel like our own lives suck even worse than we thought. I'd have to say that Manson is spot on with this thought. All this Internet madness has made us into comparison whores.

 

"Because there’s an infinite amount of things we can now see or know, there are also an infinite number of ways we can discover that we don’t measure up, that we’re not good enough, that things aren’t as great as they could be. And this rips us apart inside."

 

The paradox, as the author says, is that our desire for more positive experiences is actually a negative experience. On the other hand, accepting our perceived negative experiences is actually positive. Gotta love irony. 

Suffering is Inevitable  

Another major point of the book is the fact that all of us will experience some form of pain and suffering. There's no getting around this. With this in mind, the ultimate question becomes not what do you want to enjoy. What pain are you willing to endure? That's the real question. This is what defines us. This question brings us closer to others. Anything that's worth it will cause pain and suffering, but our choice of what we choose to suffer for is everything. 

Values is something else that can be make or break. Here are some shitty values as defined by the author: 

1. Pleasure. Pleasure is great, but it's a horrible value to prioritize your life around. Ask any drug addict.

2. Material success. When people measure themselves by the status symbols they’re able to collect, then not only are they shallow, but they’re probably assholes as well.

3. Always being right. People who base their self-worth on being right about everything prevent themselves from learning from their mistakes.

4. Staying Positive. While there is something to be said for “staying on the sunny side of life,” the truth is, sometimes life sucks, and the healthiest thing you can do is admit it.

All of these are so on point. I can especially relate to number 4. I've always preached (and tried to practice) positivity, but there's a fine line between optimism and delusion. At times, I was just avoiding feeling pain or negative emotions by "staying positive". A real sign of maturity is frankly stating that sometimes life sucks. More signs of maturity include taking responsibility or ownership for your own problems or shortcomings and admitting ignorance. These leave room for real growth and self-development. Being an adult is fun, huh? 

 

Just Do Something

Probably one of the most important takeaways from this book is the idea that you have to something. Anything. Sitting around worrying about your life will never yield results. Avoiding failure won't either. You also can't wait around until you're motivated. You have to motivate yourself by taking action. Such a valuable lesson. 

 

"Action isn't just the effect of motivation; it's also the cause of it."

 

Damn. That statement is too legit. 

 

You're Gonna Die

Perhaps the most impactful topic of this gem of a book is the reminder of your own mortality. We're scared of death, so we try to avoid the thought of it and block it out when we are confronted with it. If we remind ourselves that our days are numbered, we can begin to let go of all the nonsense and superficialities that invade our mind. Instead of focusing on minute details, think about how you're making the world better in some way. What will you leave behind when you're gone? What do you really give a fuck about? 

"...death is the light by which the shadow of all life is measured. Without death, everything would feel so inconsequential, all experience arbitrary, all metrics and values suddenly zero."

There's nothing more to say. 

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Returning to Reality

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Returning to Reality

Journal Entry: June 1, 2017

This is it! Sitting at the airport in Barcelona waiting to head back home for the first time in 15 months. I left February 17, 2016—that was seriously 15 months ago. It's wild that I've been away for that long. Nothing has changed, yet everything has. 

I went out truly on my own for the first time in my life. I leaped into the unknown with Korea and teaching English. I had no idea what the fuck I was doing. I hiked mountains all over the world—in Korea, Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar and Spain. I went backpacking for three months with hardly any plans. I spent time with beautiful foreign girls. I altered my perception on an island in Thailand. I got food poisoning during a hike in central Myanmar as temperatures soared to over 100 degrees. During this ordeal, I was puking and shitting all night. On top of that, it was my 24th birthday! That's something I will surely remember for the rest of my life. I tried stand-up paddleboarding for the first time. I posted a photo about it on Instagram, which led to me being invited to participate in a Bangkok canal cleanup project, where we picked up trash on paddleboards. After that, we went to a local lake to practice more SUP, and then we did yoga on the boards. Quite difficult. Afterwards, I even got a ride to the airport out of it. How cool is that? I also went to a Burmese wedding in Myanmar. That was an interesting experience, to say the least. As the only foreigners, we were treated like royalty, and the bride and groom had no idea who we were. Can you imagine that in America? 

I'm now 47 minutes away from landing at home—flying somewhere over Maine right now.  It has felt like quite a long journey. Planes are gross. So dry and cramped. Yuck. That view that I  just witnessed as we flew over Greenland though. That was epic. Snow-covered peaks surrounded by lakes of pure blue. I was intrigued. I had to whip out the DSLR to snag a photo. So this is it. I'm really back in Massachusetts. This is nuts. The strangeness of it all hasn't fully set in yet. It will probably hit me when I get into the airport. Here we go!

Facing Reality

I've now been back home for two weeks. It's certainly weird settling back into my daily routine. Even though I'm back living at home, I've also felt the weight of adult responsibilities piling on. Before you know it, you've added on multiple monthly bills in addition to student loans. Phone bill + gym membership + insurance + monthly subscriptions—it adds up quick. And this is without paying rent or for most of the food I eat. Thanks mom and dad. Financial pressures are real, but like anything, it's all about your attitude. 

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I've realized that my plan of freelancing might not be enough to pay my bills and to have extra money for things like a car or for saving up for my own place. It all remains to be seen. I still have this (possibly naive) side of me that wants to ignore all of that "grown-up" stuff and just keeping living for today. The part of me that says keep going for the dream regardless of circumstances. The following quote is from a letter I received from a friend and fellow English teacher prior to leaving to backpack Southeast Asia.

"When I first met you, I really admired your drive and child-like fearlessness towards creating what you wanted to create and to design a life that aligned with who you are. It was so refreshing. I obviously came to learn that like me, you were also filled with self-doubts and hesitation, but the fact remains that the sense of trust was (and remains) very heightened in you." 

These profound words are form my dear friend Rocio Cadena— check out all her writing on her site 

In closing, I'm excited to be back home, and now, as always, there are new challenges to confront. I think viewing today as a gift and enjoying where I'm at now is important. We're constantly striving for something else, for more. In reality, the only thing within our control is today. It's the only thing we have. Everything else only exists in our mind. 

Check out the video expanding on this topic on my YouTube channel: 

Break Your Boundaries.

 

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