Too Close To Home

On three separate occasions I’ve been in an airport on the same day as a shooting that occurred there. I’ve also performed in locations that had an active gunman later that day or the next. My wife once performed at Pulse Nightclub, which later became the scene of one of the worst mass shootings in American history.

Recently we were at the movies and another patron stood up and loudly started running towards the exit. My first instinct was to duck for cover.

This is the new normal.

I live in fear that my next trip might be to the scene of our next mass shooting. Crowded spaces seem terrifying now and, perhaps worst of all, even people in a darkened theater - a place designed for escape and entertainment - have to be on high alert.

I don’t know what the solution is, but I am so tired. Every day or so I read about another act of gun violence in another corner of the U.S. and it’s exhausting. I wasn’t designed to experience so much pain.

The emotional weight of these tragedies is too much to bear. They’ve directly affected close friends, communities where I’ve lived, and places I’ve been. Something has to be done.

I met someone on tour this summer who told me that “voting is selfish” and they “always vote for what’s best for me”. Well, I selfishly think everyone deserves a chance to see another day and feel safe wherever they go - myself included. I don’t know about you but that’s the world I want to live in.


For ways you can make a difference, check out Everytown For Gun Safety.

Details Matter

I love packaging.

When I was younger I would take boxes apart just so I could see how they were made. I’ve always been fascinated by packaging that is perfectly suited to the product inside it.

Now, I collect boxes. A good box is a kind of functional origami, with perfectly designed compartments for the main contents, instructional manual, and spare parts.

When a box is cleverly designed my experience with the product begins before I even open it. My user experience is enriched by smart and creative design.

For example, I just bought some new camera gear and spent the first few minutes in awe at the box design. The box opened like a treasure chest, with my new gear gleaming as I pulled the flaps aside. The handbook was cleverly displayed in the camera mount. The card stock felt expensive and the graphic design for the step-by-step assembly instructions was brilliant. Every piece of the unboxing had me more and more excited for my new gear. That’s the kind of box I love.

Little details matter. The packaging that goes around what you do is just as important as the main event. Possibly even more so.

I never understand when an artist has a poorly designed website or bad promo images. If you specialize in a certain art form then all of your designs should be top-notch. Everything you do contributes to your image as a creative professional.

I get it. You didn’t go to school for graphic design or copy writing. You don’t know the first thing about logos or Photoshop or Lightroom or websites. Video editing is intimidating and photography is hard.

Whatever. Those are just excuses for having subpar packaging.

If you’re not good at something then hire someone to do it for you. Can’t afford someone? Then teach yourself.

If you want to be taken seriously as an artist, details matter.

If you want to be more than just a hobbyist, details matter.

If you want your audience to connect with you on a visceral level, details matter.

When something is packaged well, you can tell the difference. People may not always notice the details, but they can feel it.


Speaking of details…I finally have some. I’ve been invited to the Orlando Fringe Winter Mini Fest. I’ll be performing “MIND READER” twice (January 12 at 1:45pm and January 13 at 5:15pm). Hope to see you at one of the shows!

Focus

Recently someone called to book me for a really cool event. It sounded like a fun conference for the kind of people who enjoy my show and I was available. But I turned it down.

They didn't have the right stage and the venue didn't work well with my requirements. I always make sure my sound, lighting, staging, and scheduling fits in with what I do. And if I can't make it happen I always try to recommend someone who can. It’s far easier to point the organizer in a better direction than try to alter what I do to fit their event.

I turn down a lot of gigs. If it doesn't fit my act, I really don't want to do it. I don't want to give people a sub-par performance. I want to do the types of events that allow me to give the best performance possible. Plus, eliminating events that stress me out has really improved my mental health.

In the past few years I've been struggling with extreme anxiety and depression. Dealing with difficult clients and unsatisfactory gigs has only made it worse. I care so deeply about giving people a memorable experience that I end up having a panic attack whenever anything goes wrong.

Sometimes I’ll wake up in the middle of the night, unable to sleep, my heart and mind racing because of something small that happened during a recent show. When there are too many variables out of my control, I know it's going to affect me in negative ways.

So I've been removing those variables. I’ve been screening my gigs more thoroughly and only taking the ones that won't make me anxious.

I hate giving advice, but here's what I've learned: You don’t have to be everything at once for all people everywhere. Find your niche and focus your efforts on doing whatever that might be. Saying “no” to stuff that makes you unhappy will always end up making you happier in the long run.