Cartoons made my creative life possible.
From an early age, animation provided a source of deep inspiration, joy and meaning for me. Schultz, more than anybody, shifted my inner geography from day one.
The documentary about his creative process captured my imagination like nothing else. Snoopy and friends actually made me want to become a cartoonist myself.
And so, I bought the books and took classes and even started my own comic strip. You couldn’t pry the pencil and paper away from me with a crowbar.
Until one day, my art teacher stood over my shoulder and lovingly explained that tracing images from books and simply changing the names of the characters didn’t exactly qualify as cartooning.
Apparently, the combination of pure plagiarism and not being able to draw was at odds with my career goals.
My aspiration for animation flamed out pretty quickly. Which was sad, but not devastating.
Because shortly thereafter, guitar entered my life. That instrument did more for me than any pencil ever could. Jamming with my friends, writing songs for girls, performing shows at local coffee shops and recording my own albums, music became the sublime creative release that my adolescent heart longed for.
Plus, it built the artistic foundation that enabled me to succeed in my professional life later on.
Fast forward to two decades later, and my career was at a crossroads. Burned out after years of writing business books, consulting and giving speeches, my heart was in search of its new creative expression.
Something different. Something sweet. Something whimsical.
That’s when the cartoon bug came back to bite me. It was time to resurrect that childhood dream.
But how? Where does a creator begin? Especially when he can’t even draw a straight line?
Jason, my closest artist friend, gave me some great advice.
Who cares if you suck at drawing? Cartoons are about writing. Use your limitation as an advantage. Let that force you to look for a new way to visually express yourself and evolve your voice. Play. Experiment. Have fun. Do it.
He was right. Since when did knowing how do something well, or even at all, prevent anybody from doing anything? Wasn’t going to stop me. Not this time.
Besides, my unique talent stack as a writer, producer, creative director and entrepreneur was solid enough to corral a small crew to help execute my vision without drawing a single line.
And that’s exactly what happened. With the help of a veteran engineer, a skilled animator, a brilliant art director and a speedy developer, we were able to transform eleven of my songs into the world’s first ever animated folk rock opera.
It brings me to tears every time I watch it.
Lesson learned, just because you never had a chance to follow your dreams as a kid, doesn’t mean they can’t catch up to you as an adult.
Give yourself permission. Don’t be stopped by not knowing how. Surround yourself with the people who can help you become who you need be.
And stoke your creative embers into a roaring fire.
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That Guy with the Nametag
Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.
Never the same speech twice. Customized for your audience. Impossible to walk away uninspired.
Now booking for 2017-2018.
Email to inquire about fees and availability. Watch clips of
The Nametag Guy in action here!