The Freedom of Creating and Putting Yourself Out There

Photo by Michael Competielle

“Fear is only as deep as the mind allows.”

— Japanese Proverb

There is nothing that I fear. Not judgement, failure or vulnerability. Everyday I’ll rise to the occasion to take charge of my life and take risks. I’m a decision maker in which 95% of my decisions are good and 5% are brutally horrendous however I stand behind every decision 100% always.

Years of experience doing things wrong, failing and being judged has toughened my skin to create a resilience to critique. My inner self questions my thoughts and path as my gut tells me “just do it”.

Recently I was mentoring a colleague where a work situation went wrong, I let the problem fester a bit and when the moment was right I corrected the situation. My colleague was perturbed at how I’d left them vulnerable in this scenario and my reaction was “ remember how you felt in that moment. Your heart racing and chest sunken. When you feel that way again you now know how to react and direct yourself out of this situation”.

“If you give a man a fish, he will be hungry tomorrow. If you teach a man to fish, he will be richer forever.” Indian Proverb

It works, when I get that gut feeling or emotional moment I recognize I’ve been there before, make a fine adjustment to counteract the situation and move on.

When I was a kid my uncle and father taught me to play pool. I didn’t have great strength nor dexterity to effectively break the tightly racked balls. When it was my turn to shoot, I’d miss three or four times until I’d realize I was about to lose. I’d focus on what I was doing and patiently plan my next shot. Knowing I was about to be beaten I’d concentrate on the speed, angle and trajectory of the shot while planning the next.

With a firm crack I’d hit in one ball after another in a 2–3 ball run and usually catch up. I wouldn’t always win but my abilities and confidence increased with the pressures of possibly loosing.

With focus and determination I’d put my mind into a state of flow.

Throughout my life when I find myself in a creative state and need to push thru and finish, I’ll focus on my vision of the completed project and get there. Hitting the send button at the completion of any project once I feel I’m complete I do so with the confidence I’m at my best.

I’m never questioning if I’ve done wrong or missed the point, I’ll hit send based on my ability to take risks and ward off criticism. My objective is to keep creating more and more content. Occasionally I’ll miss the mark however my next attempt will be better than every and an improvement on the previous iteration.

Starting a Startup by Starting….Now

Photo by Michael Competielle

Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for. Epicurus

Last week I wrote an article on my experiences taking the Google designed SIYLI course. Part of the course incorporated a great exercise to start the building your future and developing a plan by Writing and Imaging Your Future.

Try it right now. Write down what you feel is the best possible version of yourself in your future. Maybe it’s becoming a yoga instructor or owning and running a food truck. Your personal future goals start now in the present.

During the course I imaged my future was running a creative design and experiential media business. I pictured a situation where I was in an inspiring office environment surrounded by drawings, sketches and prototypes of projects I was working on.

Since that day when I recognized my future path and focused on the goal, situations have presented themselves daily. I’ve worked on multiple corporate video shoots, two web series, two feature films and two shorts. I’m expanding my sound library, developing my immersive interactive kiosk and visual display prototypes.

I’m creating the brand of a new startup venture, designing interiors of a retail store, conversion of a massive old mill and finishing my first book.

Lately I’m attempting to declutter my life by selling off old things that are no longer inspiring. Since recognizing my future my mind is constantly focused on structuring my thoughts and situations that expand upon my vision.

If you’ve followed my advice you should be able to look down at your paper and see your future. It’s hopefully there in black and white. Maybe you thought about it before, talked about it with your friends yet nothing materialized. But I’m going to give you the secret to how to start that startup.


Photo by Michael Competielle

The Power of Now

There isn’t any better time to do anything than right now. It doesn’t have to be a huge step. Take one small step once a day for a week and see where you are in a week, in a month.

24 days ago I was a reader on Medium. I’d read 4–5 articles a day and think to myself one day I’ll write an article of my own. And then I did. My first article yielded about 35 views on its first day. Not bad for starting at zero. Second article 82 views in one day. Now I’ve got 700 views, I’m a paid writer for The Startup and developing a following. Incremental steps that honestly I never would have taken if I hadn’t decided to just start now.

A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week. General George Patton

Okay so maybe I’m not the best writer you’ve ever read, however the best thing I ever wrote was the plan for my future.

Lacking in funding, tools, abilities is not an excuse for not starting. It’s the best recipe for success. Money and a room full of equipment won’t build an amazing product. Your ingenuity will.

Write down your top five favorite products and the companies that produce them that you use daily. Here’s mine:

  • iPad, iPhone, MacBook Pro- Apple
  • Oatmilk- Oatly
  • Silencer/ Convertible Pants- Kuhl
  • MOAH 2- Merrell
  • Polo Shirts- Orvis

Now as I analyze my list I can’t help but think of each companies products design, taste and feel.

Apple products have a form and function that I absolutely can’t live without. As tools of my trades I need a product that will just work. My creativity and workflow is rarely hindered by Apple products as they just function well. An important feature modeled into the fabric of the Brand and subsequently the company.

My lattes have never tasted better than after my discovery of Oatly. Reading the product labels I find a company with humor and foresight. With an importance on the ingredients and sourcing I know Oatly is out for both of our best interests.

Staring at a blank piece of paper in which I had written my future vision. And here I am doing it, building my future. Writing my first article it started with one word, then a title, then a sentence, paragraph and then I published it. Was it perfect? Hardly. Did I do it. Absolutely I did. Would I do it again. Yes. Everyday.

Every minute of my day I’m designing. Products, interiors, articles and sounds. I spend zero time dwelling on time I wasted in the past and only what I can do right now to move my business forward. And that’s by just starting something new right now.

Honestly assessing our favorite daily products and brands allows us to analyze why we use them and why we love them. And now the next lesson for today…

Photo By Michael Competielle

The Power of Why

Why do I absolutely love the products I use daily? Some reasons are technical, some reasons are ethical, some reasons are practical however none of them are based on price. I honestly don’t care about price. Now having said that I know what your thinking.

“Paid writer”

Not quite. I’ve evaluated each of the products I know I love and need to be happy. I enjoy the way I feel and function daily while using these products and brands. There is no way I can put a monetary value on my happiness.

So how does this help your startup?

Build the company of which you’d buy the products from. Don’t worry about profit margins, marketing tactics or distribution chains. Worry about building a great Brand. A brand that cares about quality of its ingredients and that the user experience is unforgettable.

As you look back down at your paper that states your Imagined Future, ask yourself WHY?

  • Why am I starting this company
  • Why am I designing this product
  • Why is my service the best
  • Why do customers trust my brand

My favorite things in life don’t cost any money. It’s really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time. Steve Jobs

Answer why, and if you say it’s for money, your probably in it for the wrong reasons. A lot of my services I give away for free. Know why? The return on investment is often huge. More doors open and more opportunities present themselves, and money always comes. But on my terms as I’ve decided to control my future.

Why… for me.

Creating Your Future With the Power of Connectivity

Photo by Michael Competielle

Our universe is invisibly connected, mapped pathways wired with varying options made by our own interactions in a linear timeline.

Have you ever walked up to a complete stranger in a place of commonality and began a conversation? Uncertain of your similarities besides being in the same place at the same time? Have you had a conversation that exposed your connections, curious why you’d never met or crossed paths before?

Yesterday I was at an outdoor art show in a native farmland landscape. Walking amongst beautiful stone sculptures placed throughout wide open fields and meadows, I walked into a barn and began talking to a sculptor.

Our connection was made almost immediately with common friends and interests. We talked about his amazing work, his mold making and casting process. As we talked he mentioned he had a bell out in a far meadow in which you could ring in the large quiet clearing.

I began to explain to him my interests in bells and plans of traveling the world to record them.

We began to discuss various other artists at the event and how he had visited Japan on various occasions. During one trip he had traveled to Kyoto and visited the Chion-in temple which houses the largest temple bell in Japan. Weighing 74 tons, hanging from a massive wooden structure, the bell is wrung by up to 25 men pulling back a horizontal log suspended from the temples structure.

My new friend told me his Japanese wife helped to interpret a story told by a Monk explaining how Albert Einstein on his only trip to Japan had not only visited but allegedly had climbed up into the bell and had the monks ring the bell. Einstein’s theory was that based on the construction, and physics the bells interior would be void of sound.

My friend was uncertain if Einstein’s theory had been proven and the outcome however the story made another connection in my world. With a strong connection to Princeton University and my introduction to nature field recording, audio ecology and my latest sounds of interest, noise pollution the Einstein connection fuels my narrative.

Walking into most situations and my entire world has become smaller and smaller as my experiences and expressiveness has increased. My travels bring me to places and people that continue to open up my horizon.

The first new vinyl record I ever had was a Star Wars themed compilation which included other space themed songs. My favorite song on the album was Rocket Man and I wanted to go to outer space. My second album I borrowed from my father and never returned… David Bowie’s Space Oddity.

On and off for many years David Bowie would resurface into my life, in his albums, working and touring with my favored Trent Reznor and acting as my beloved favorite inventor Nikola Tesla in The Prestige.

With every Bowie sighting and his explorations, my curiosity and interests have expanded. Stepping away from my comfort zone and finding my inner minds eye, I’ve created more designs, creations and thoughts than ever before.

“I think it’s terribly dangerous for an artist to fulfill other people’s expectations. If you feel safe in the area that you’re working in, you’re not working in the right area. Always go a little further into the water than you feel you’re capable of being in. Go a little bit out of your depth. And when you don’t feel that your feet are quite touching the bottom, you’re just about in the right place to do something exciting” David Bowie

David Bowie
Photo by Michael Competielle

On January 8th 2016 I headed into my favorite record shop in Princeton to pickup a copy of David’s latest album Blackstar. I also purchased a David Bowie magazine highlights interesting aspects of his career.

My wife and I listened to Blackstar and struggled to understand the album. Still immersed in Bowie I pulled out all my Bowie vinyl and we spend the entire weekend listening to nothing but his work. While listening I began to read the new Bowie magazine and that inspired me to reread Bowie: The Man Who Feel to Earth.

I never felt more connected to David than I did that weekend, as I fell asleep reading the novel.

On Monday morning I awoke early and was checking my iPhone as I read to my horror that David had died. I slapped myself lightly in the face to verify I was truly awake and reading the truth.

I began to cry saddened that Earth had lost our Starman. As I revisited Blackstar and rewatched the video the narrative became clear. Bowie was preparing for his death and transcending into another World.

How is all this connected? I’m uncertain however what I can certainly say that when I’m feeling safe, I always step towards discomfort and find my way. It’s clear to me that inspiration came from David and his belief. David’s work with musician Brian Eno on the Berlin Trilogy lead me to study Eno’s style and creation of ambient music.

As I’ve become fearless of creative risk and reaching out into the dark unknown I’ve taken on the challenge of creative writing. Uncertain of my qualifications or abilities, I was reassured today by one of my hero’s, who shared my article on being creative and taking risks.

Photo By Michael Competielle

My World has never been more connected and tomorrow I’ll try to create experimental sound effects with the human voice ala John Cage.

The Power of No…Setting Your Own Boundaries

Photo by Michael Competielle

One of the first words I learned as a child was the word No. I know my parents and elders felt my use of the word was the last great act of defiance however I was clearly setting my boundaries.

Having a firm understanding of where our boundaries are helps us to set the rules of which we personally live by. Rules are made to be broken and therefore if you have a open mind and are willing to understand other’s perspective you may decide to modify your rules.

I’ve overcome some of my own obstacles I’ve encountered simply by saying “no”.

On two separate occasions I quit smoking cigarettes. The first attempt at quitting I tried the nicotine patch, gum and finally settled on sweets and then salts. I’d devour entire bags of chips, cookies just about anything in an attempt to not smoke. It worked for slightly more than two years and then one stressful afternoon I said “ fuck it give me a cigarette” to my friend Billi and there I was back to smoking two packs a day.

The second time I quit I used a different tactic, I simply said “no”. No I don’t smoke anymore. Going on over ten years now since I last smoked I occasionally still miss it however it’s just something I no longer do, Simply by just saying “No”.

Better than a year ago I decided to become a Vegan. Dividing my reasoning into thirds my decision is one third environmental, one third diet and one third empathy to animals. How did I do it? How did I give up cheese, burgers and bacon.

I said “no”.

Watching documentaries on Netflix I’ve become aware of the environmental impacts of large scale factory farming and the lack of sustainability. These same documentaries showcase the quality of life the animals are accustomed to or in reality horrifying conditions. I’ve learned about the health issues associated with eating an animal based diet and finally decided…. You guessed it. To just say No.

By setting my own boundaries and having a firm understanding of what things I refuse to do, decisions have become simple. No I don’t want a cigarette, no I don’t want to take drugs, no I don’t want a beef burrito. And why? I have boundaries…. Invisible rules that I’ve created and follow.

  • I don’t pour concrete on Mondays
  • I don’t rewire Alarm Systems on Fridays
  • I don’t plan my weekends ahead of time
  • I don’t grocery shop for a week
  • I don’t cheat on my diet because I’m on vacation

The list goes on and on. By clearly setting my own rules by saying no, it’s become easier to do concentrate fully on the situations where I don’t say no. Yes I like to teach people to think, create and find themselves. I like to help people design things, their businesses, spaces, mind and their future.

My abilities to say no is not me being argumentative, I’m being demonstrative as I set my own rules and boundaries.

Tomorrow I make break or modify my own rules based on new understandings or information. I’m always open to re-evaluate and examine life and it’s challenges and attempt to overcome the struggles.

With complete confidence and certainty I’m capable of making large amounts of decisions with a limited amount of thought or contemplating as I’ve already preplanned the basic rules and guidelines of which I follow.

The opposite of “No” is “Yes” and the secret of getting to “yes” is the ability to say no quickly and easily saying no to the things you know will not work.

I can maintain my boundaries in just about any situation simply by saying “no” as I examine my options. My favorite thing to do is say yes. Getting there isn’t always easy however when I do it’s guaranteed to be the right decision and my best decision.

Creative Ways to Be Creative

Tools to expand your creativity

Photo by Michael Competielle

Recently I finished a creative writing project. The actual project was to record a new original sound effect per day for 1 month. I purchased a new 4K GoPro on a Gorillapod so my audio creations had a visual element to add to the sounds.

With a growing passion for expanding my Sound Design library and field recording while owning a media production company I felt the project would create a nice new library of fresh and original sounds.

And what happened….nothing. Why?

Lack of inspiration. Being I create original sound effects for film and video content the visuals requiring sounds already existed. Door squeaks, engine roars, environmental ambiences the sound bites I’d create were placed to visuals on a screen.

So how did I get motivated for the new project?

Writing Haiku….huh? Yes you heard me. Writing Haiku… 100 of them.

Well how did I create the inspiration for my Haiku? Cellphone pictures. Over 14,000 of them. Were those images that good? Nope most of the sucked but I only needed 100.

Early in the project the images I used were generally nature inspired. Very simple and safe for what were essentially traditional Haiku but then the situation changed. I quickly bored of standard nature photographs and instead photographed and wrote Haiku that were riskier and more creative. Suddenly my mind was seeing Haiku in just about everything. Architecture, Fireworks and slabs of meat.

The daily task of photographing topics for my creative writing opened the floodgates of my free expressive thinking. Safe and common concepts quickly bored me as I felt I needed to expand my expressiveness.

While photographing I’d have ideas for sound recording, film scripts and art projects. Writing to an image allowed me to look deeper into the photograph and detail what I thought or how I felt. My vocabulary expanded as I’d struggle to find synonyms with the appropriate syllables.

Always multitasking or realistically multi-projecting, my Haiku helped with my creativity in other projects as well. Hearing sounds in my Haiku and my photography my mind heard the sounds and I just moved forward to create more.

Stop thinking about art works as objects, and start thinking about them as triggers for experiences,” ambient music pioneer Brian Eno wrote in his diary.

Brian Eno is a musician, record producer, visual artist and philosopher. With deep roots in electronic music with Roxy Music and David Bowie and as the the creator of Ambient Music, Brian often expanded his creative process by visualizing music.

With solo records titled Ambient 1: Music For Airports, Music for Films and Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks Brian writes textural music.

Photo by Michael Competielle

Enter the Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt Oblique Strategies cards.

Peter Schmidt was a pioneering multimedia artist and painter who created a box of 55 sentences printed on original unused artwork called “The Thoughts Behind the Thoughts”

Eno was friends with Schmidt and a few years later created his own handwritten inspirational cards named the “Oblique Strategies.”

Seeing similarities in the cards Eno and Schmidt decided to release a joint box set of cards also sold as the “Oblique Strategies

The cards are used as a written constraint used with a creative process. Many are believed to be for writing music however the reality is they can be used for any creative endeavors.

Examples are as follows:

  • A Line Has Two Sides
  • Into the Impossible
  • Turn it Upside Down
  • Retrace Your Steps
  • Switch Instruments

Visualize your next project and grab an Oblique Strategies card as inspiration. Use it for photography, a song or new product design.

IDEO is a global design and consulting firm that specializes in the practice of Design Thinking in product design, branding, hospitality, furniture, toy and automotive industries.

Originally founded in the late 1970’s specializing in product design an early client was Steve Jobs of Apple needing assistance in the design of the first computer mouse.

Over the course of the past 40 years IDEO’s principals have been utilized in almost every industry. Firmly based on the Design Thinking process which IDEO believes should be also used for Human-Centered Design to solve the World’s issues and a concept they teach and give away for free.

Design thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.


Photo by Michael Competielle

Enter IDEO’s Method Cards

IDEO’s Method Cards were developed for practicing and aspiring designers looking to expand on their designs and process.

Broken up into 4 categories:

  • Learn
  • Look
  • Ask
  • Try

These cards can help expand on creative thinking by using Design Thinking theory to expand on project or product problems and further development.

With written directions on each card such as “Look-Rapid Ethnography” or “Ask-Cognitive Maps” these cards help teams expand product developments.

Photo by Michael Competielle


Werner Herzog

In the Werner Herzog Masterclass he teaches filmmakers the importance of reading. He recommended a book The Peregrine which is a story of a falcon. By understanding the perspective of the falcon it changes your perspective on a situation or event and expands your thought process. Understanding and explaining from another perspective can bring new life to a story.

While Werner doesn’t recommend film school or even traditional filmmaking concepts, he does recommend the importance of learning to be an engaging storyteller. With a belief that the world is revealed to those who travel Herzog recommends you travel, meet different people and learn.

“I’d like to add that when I travel by foot, I don’t do it as a backpacker where you take all your household items with you — your tent, your sleeping bag, your cooking utensils,” Herzog wrote. “I travel without any luggage.”

My lessons in expanding my creativity have been helpful and life changing. Try some of these techniques to expand your creativity and creative process. And most of all have some fun.

Retail Shopping Isn’t Dead…it’s Experiential

Photo by Michael Competielle

On a warm July day, my wife and I decided to take a relaxing trip into New York City and explore some new inspirational spatial designs. Our goal was to buzz around to find retail stores that specialized in making an engaging and innovative shopping experience.

We jumped onto a semi-express New Jersey Transit train destined for NYC Penn Station, a train and subway transportation hub in New York’s famous Chelsea district. Having done a small amount of itinerary planning we felt it best to first head over to the Hudson Yards, the largest private real estate development in the U.S.

Developed as a 28 acre mixed use developmemt with estimated construction costs in the billions, the project compromises of public green space, residential towers, a hotel, office spaces and a mall.

Walking across 32nd Street to the West Side it was difficult to miss the development with its shining glass skyscrapers and the Thomas Heatherwick designed stunning copper clad interactive sculpture Vessel. With over 2,500 steps on 154 interconnecting flights of stairs interwoven into a hive like structure, Vessel is a great way to get exercise while gaining stunning viewing of the City.

Heading into the Shops at the Hudson Yards, a 720,000 sq foot multi-floor mall with Neiman Marcus as the anchor, we were quickly immersed in visual stimulation.

Photo by Michael Competielle

Lighted interactive kiosks were placed throughout the mall as directories to shops, restaurants and transportation. We walked past huge video display walls with stunning visual motion graphics.

Throughout the mall were interactive art display walls of metallic fabrics and rooms for coloring to inspire creativity and user engagement. Cleverly named “Off the Walls” and created by the Culture Corps., the installations are designed in tribute to the areas past, present and future.

Photo by Michael Competielle

Wandering from shop to shop the user interactive kiosks and experiences were everywhere. From the cool techie retail-as-service store B8TA offering well designed displays of speciality products by small unknown manufactures and also offering “Built by B8TA” products.

Photo by Michael Competielle

Heading across town we headed to 5th Avenue and uptown to the Adidas Flagship stadium inspired store. Built as the largest Adidas store worldwide, the design concept hopes to develop brand identity to another generation of customer. With a stadium styled tunnel entrance, locker room style dressing rooms, and multiple floors of apparel, accessories and sneakers there is plenty immersion. Large video walls on multiple floors, stylizing kiosks, stadium seating for game viewing, tracks and field areas to try and experience the sneaker offerings.

Photo by Michael Competielle

Designed with Adidas Checkland Kindleysides and Gensler the store was sustainably designed to mimic old high school gymnasiums with exposed concrete, raw wood bleachers and large stadium lighting. A 360vR experience tells the story of the making of a new sneaker.

Jumping onto a subway headed to Nike Soho we entered the 5 story Broadway and Spring Street store. Large video screens again with Nike commercials were playing amongst racks and shelves of Nike sneakers and apparel. Lit glass display cases showcased specialized models and options.

Escalators took us floor to floor of soccer fields, treadmills and basketball courts to demo products within a real world environment.

Photo by Michael Competielle

Further down Broadway we entered into the huge multi-floored Dolby Sohointeractive store. Currently setup to promote The Lion King film in theaters at the time we decided to explore further. The front room filled with 3 of 4 walls of video screens playing a vibrant waterfall scene.

Walking room to room we experienced more Lion King videos in 360 degrees with Dolby Immersive Atmos Sound.

Photo by Michael Competielle

The 2019 CGI animated film has rich visuals with stunning blacks and high dynamic range.

With lifelike hair, water and animals movement the film is easy to get lost in. The object based Dolby Atmos sound firmly placed the viewer into jungle.

Heading to the lower floor was a DJ in Atmos as well as a screening room. Reviewing films in the screening room allowed for the testing of standard color rendering vs Dolby Cinema color.

Kiosks we’re placed on walls to display the Dolby Atmos headphones sold at a discounted rate on that day.

Photo by Michael Competielle

Leaving New York at sunset we were able to see the brightly lit City. Having for years worked in NYC this relaxed visit was a different experience. Fully immersed in the various stores spatial designs and experiential designs we left the City with a renewed faith in retail and its future experiential existence.

Develop Your Brand to Sell Itself For Life

Photo by Michael Competielle

Recently I found myself in need of a new computer. Actually it wasn’t for me but my wife who recently acquired her real estate license and is a dual career sales agent with Weichert.

Mobility was important, access to listings while on the road, databases, contact forms were some of the primary computer requirements. Graphics and CPU were of some importance as some listing include virtual tours.

We decided on a base model 15” MacBook Pro which costs around $2,399. Walking into the Apple store we were greeted by a friendly sale associate that asked if we needed any assistance. We told him our interests in the MacBook which he responded with a basic question of who the computer was for. Responding that it was indeed for my wife he questioned what were her plans for the computer. We responded with our primary list of thoughts and amazingly the sales associate told us “you can get buy with an iPad and save a ton of money”.

Huh? Yes of course we could however a lack of keyboard, ports to install additional displays or thumb drives made it a no go. We then discussed the MacBook Air coming in at around $1k, we again explained we appreciated the MacBook Pro’s additional GPU, processing power and display size.

He seemed satisfied that we were certain of what we wanted and he began to ring us up. We chatted a bit a he explained he only wanted us to be happy with our purchase acknowledging it was a large purchase. I reassured him that this our 5th MacBook Pro purchase in the last 4 years he seemed to be convinced we knew what we were doing.

I started to think of the reasons why the computer had sold itself to us and reasons were as follows:

  • Ease of use, interfacing we peripherals is a breeze
  • Apples post track record on updates, service and product life expectancy
  • General lack of Windows based system issues such as viruses,drivers and costly OS upgrades

Our Apple purchases have been G3, G4, eMac, G5, iMac, MacBook Pro’s, AirPort Extreme, iPods, iPads, AppleTv’s, software such as Logic Pro, Shake, Aperture and most importantly Apple Stock.

For over 15 years I’ve been running on Mac’s starting with a used G3.

With a strong connection at the time to the creative sector Mac was a no brainer as I was into audio recording. Hooking up Midi peripherals and integrating into my then current Cubase was simple. At that point I was sold and with every new purchase, I’m sold again.

Mac computers are definitely not a “buy it for life product” but they are a buy it for life company.

Looking around our home I see similar Brands we follow. Both of my children have large Nike collections, I buy Avid, Sennheiser, RME, JBL, Merrell, Kuhl, Orvis and my wife loves Coach and Vitamix.

Working as a Brand Designer for a startup events business, I’m studying the brands and products we buy and attempt to analyze each product, experience and attraction.

Understanding some products sell themselves based on the “cool factor” I’m studying user experience, product design and repeat business.

This article was written on my MacBook Pro, wearing my Orvis shirt in my Kuhl Silencer pants while barefoot.

And I’m also an Artist. The gig economy is nothing new.

Photo by Michael Competielle

Years ago I was working as a Project Manager for a high end interior design firm in New York’s prestigious Upper East Side. My work had me traveling the east coast primarily Park Ave. penthouses, Greenwich Connecticut’s sprawling mansions and out to Hamptons summertime beach retreats. Our firm was commissioned to design and build interiors and landscapes for A-list celebrities and industry tycoons.

We designed and built spaces with wood and stones of Provenance often removed from European castles and chateaus. Artisans would craft picturesque environments that often landed on the front cover of prestigious publications such as Architectural Digest and Better Homes and Gardens.

Money was never an object nor deemed quite as important as the design aesthetics and execution of the grandest vision. The team of designers, decorators and architects tirelessly sketching, procuring and ultimately having installed the finest materials you could buy. The experience of creativity mixed with extreme wealth permanently changed my perspective on design and execution as we were always pushing the envelope of practicality.

However within the wealthiest of decadent environments I had a secret. I had my own business I was running in the evenings. Setup in a rundown tenement in the then less than prestigious Lower East Side of Manhattan my business partner and I lived and ran an Art Gallery/ custom wood shop in a storefront on Broome Street. Our space on a block of sweatshops, knockoff handbags and fish mongers. Our building full of inhabitants of questionable citizenship mixed with artists and creatives. A perfect enclave of bohemians and people that would never call the cops on us.

Our gallery and shop space was adjacent to the 5 story tenements common corridor where all of the buildings inhabitants had to pass. The gallery originally an illegal squat became official when Billie my partner and friend signed the lease obligating him to pay a rent he could never afford. We became the buildings concierge service as we were generally the first stop the buildings artists would report the evenings festivities.

We would run around New York’s streets hittings gallery openings, poetry readings and live music venues. Sculpture artists friends would invite us to iron pours in back alleyways melting reclaimed cast iron in centries old designed furnaces into original and unique works of art. Street trash became art as we would drop off cab doors and lockers to a local painter know to repurpose them into works of art. Once illegal squats had been converted into artist collectives in which you could view Tesla Coils firing bolts of electrical charge while listening to noise performances.

It was commonplace when having conversations with waiters, bouncers and cab drivers to find out they were actually writers, actors, musicians and photographers. most everyone we came into contact with had another gig moonlighting or daylights a false facade hoping to achieve greatness.

Mornings I’d dress in Versace and English bench-made shoes as I stepped over putrid fish guts and vomit of the gritty LES streets heading to my “sucker-job” as my partner Billie called it. My mind was contstantly racing as I absorbed visual and creative stimulations from the glitz and glamour of Madison or 5th Ave. planning my evenings projects.

Our shop in the less than perfect cellar space made material handling and finishing next to impossible as we would spray lacquers in the common air shaft often dodging spit and cigarette butts careless falling from above. We would build furniture, picture frames and cabinetry for soon to be gentrified LES that rapidly was being redeveloped into Wine Bars, Cupcake Shops and High End residential. Buildings once collaborative art spaces overtaken often in hostile takeovers.

I’ve built exhibits for musuems and trade shows, ran live sound humping W bins and Crown Powerbase amps up and down slippery stairs of spilt beer. Recorded musicians in studios, written my first book, tended to horses, bailed hay, built custom furniture and cabinetry, painted on canvas, built racecars and monster trucks, written films…. and the list goes on.

Currently I’m a daytime Director of Construction working in adaptive reuse of old industrialized buildings. My night gig is sound recording and post production sound for film, experiental design for kiosks and interactive display and product design and branding for a startup.

You may think of me as a woodworker or sound engineer but I just say I’m an artist. Working for almost 30 years in the gig economy as a creative, everyday I awaken with a charge as my mind and body race to the next quest of what to create and how.

Somewhere I have a resume that can be used to get a “sucker job” at a prestigious Interior Design firm, however my body of creative works is my actual resume which you shouldn’t write about but actually consume. Daily my phone rings and my email bings with requests from other creatives hoping to collaborate and create with me. And daily I take on new and enriching gigs to keep my creative spark alive.

As of late I’m asking myself why…. why the gigs and why create? Because I’m an artist and have always worked in the gig economy.