DIARY 5 / THE TRICK TO IT ALL

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Dear Homies,

I have observed we live in a world that loves to tell stories, basically everything is a story that you see from the people that you meet, conversations had, and memories formed. Reality exists as a thoughtful narrative shaped by the words we use and decisions we make. I recognize this as a unique ability, a person can choose to exist as a person desires, and  because everyone desires something, everyone makes decisions somewhat intentfully, propelling us through the universe in a direction that is aligned with a purpose that even sometimes without knowing we choose.  I am a very intentful person, a very direct person, and a very honest person, there is nothing that I do without reason or for a purpose, and because of this I am able to exist as the person I desire to be.

I am a man who loves strategy and competition.

As you all have become very aware of over the last several years, I desire to be a great artist.

And great artists paint on things.

And sometimes great artists paint on things they aren’t supposed to.

As some of you may have recently heard  I broke the rules.

The one non-work related activity that I would say I am passionate about is cycling, Chef Steve is the one who convinced me to purchase my first bike and seeing just how much he enjoyed his rides, I quickly followed suit. Riding the trails over the last few years has given me a new appreciation for the beauty of Pittsburgh. Seeing the city from the bike trails is it’s own special perspective, cycling is my primary way of staying active.

I am 28 years old and have no cartilage in my left ankle, I live in chronic pain and every step I take is uncomfortable, stairs are not easy to take but I choose to take them every day. Beginning last summer I started leaving spray painted tags on various locations along the bike trail to add my art to the hundreds of other various tags and messages that you will constantly see while riding the trails. When I started doing this I only left the tags in discreet places that only I would know to inspire myself as I passed, reminding myself that the pain I constantly feel when I walk does not exist when I ride, so on the bike trails people begin to see my eye.

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Screen Shot 2016-06-18 at 8.02.47 PMScreen Shot 2016-06-18 at 8.00.12 PMThe beginning of this summer was very much the same, but instead of tagging in discrete locations I left my tags directly on the trail to ensure that they were seen by every cyclist that rode over them. Painting a majority of them by large cracks in the trails that already had been spray painted to warn cyclists.  Never in my mind did I think about anything else other than the opportunity to leave my mark on a place that can constantly inspire people that pass, and that is exactly what happened. I began to see people post photos on various social media platforms documenting the tags and their appreciation for them. I am never trying to throw my art into people’s face, but I am trying to give them something that they can relate to when they see it.

A week and a half ago a woman began to complain on social media regarding the tags on the trail of course this engaged the rest of the very loud minority that chose to band together and call for justice as to what they called “disrespectful tags along the trails”. Quickly I began to receive bashing comments from all directions from a select few people, days later reporters began to call trying to use fear tactics to get me to make a statement, but of course that didn’t work, sorry guys.

As the noise grew louder and the loud minority more angry I received a call from a close friend informing me that the Executive Director at Friends of The Riverfront would like to speak with me directly to sort things out. Upon taking the call I apologized for breaking the rules and explained that none of it was meant to be disrespectful but simply to inspire. As the universe would have it, he was a fan of my work and expressed his excitement about the opportunity to work together to better Pittsburgh.

You see I have observed that we live in a world that likes to tell stories.

In the days that would follow this conversation I received numerous calls from reporters, all of which tried to use fear tactics, in which none of them worked, sorry guys.

Without a comment from myself or anyone actually involved in the matter some guy named Marty from the news station KDKA, that was able to use the internet, wrote a story about how disrespectful my tags are and how the police are investigating. This is what I heard all week from every reporter that called, as the correct parties behind closed doors with intelligent, respectful, civilized, and thoughtful conversation planned on how to work together.

To the people who feel that I disrespected the trail, I am sorry, I did break the rules, however I am very thankful and proud of the city for the support and encouragement everyone had, as the loud minority threw stones into the dark. It just so happened that the complaints that were said and stories that were written to bring negativity only built the steps for me to be introduced to the correct people.

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Just so you hear it from me I won’t be tagging on the trails anymore and I will be facing punishment, but just so you hear it here first,  in the future I will be working with the people who build them.

I am not a bad person, but I am a renegade.  

The inspiration is always worth it.

If you don’t acknowledge negativity it can only work for you.

The trick is to care about everyone, while not caring what they think.

-The Artist

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DIARY 4 / HOW I BECAME THE ARTIST

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Dear Homies,

I have always loved coffee shops. To me they are one of the few places that remain where people can simply be themselves. Every place I’ve ever lived in I have found it paramount within my routine to build in a coffee shop. I think largely I enjoy coffee shops so much because they are places where multiple realities in the form of consistent and thought out routines intersect on schedule, at the same time, just as the clock works. You see familiar faces and familiar people all the while knowing that at any point in time within the realm of the coffee shop, what is happening are authentic slices of people and the lives that they are living.

When I was a child I couldn’t pronounce the letter “R”, my speech impediment made them sound like “W’s” resulting in me lacking the ability to introduce myself by my own name. Instead of “Baron”, it would be “Bawon”.  I remember how much I hated when adults thought that my speech impediment was cute, but quickly learned that acting out on that never benefited me. Over time the speech impediment faded away but what that experience in life gave me was not only an affinity to silence but a great familiarity with speaking less as I observed more, and because of that I’ve always been an observer of things and I think in a way my quest to learn to say my own name correctly is what first made me an artist, because that is what forced me to learn what it means to truly observe. Strangely enough  It was the inability to introduce myself that gave me my way with words. I remember my mom explaining to me that she named me Baron because a Baron is a King and the name is a form of nobility, and because of that it wasn’t so much the words I couldn’t say, but how I used the words that I could that mattered most. looking retrospectively from the vantage point I have now, I understand the blessing in learning from a young age the importance of thinking about what I said before I said it and why I chose every word.

As life would have it a series of perfect imperfections and through the eyes of most a collective jumble of terrible things opened the door to the possibility of me arriving in a place called Pittsburgh. In a way life has not slowed down one moment for me to feel secure or comfortable since the days where I was unable to pronounce my own name. I know things are very different right now but because of those days I am still very much the exact same person, and that is a meticulous observer and a wordsmith of sorts, and that is why as my life has advanced I’ve always found it to benefit me to build in a coffee shop. They allow me to observe while I think and hear myself listen.

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When I first got to Pittsburgh Big Dog coffee became my coffee shop. This was when I was still playing football, and  before anyone knew me as an artist here and the only recognition that was attached to my name, Baron Batch, was a jersey number, a position, and statistics. Pittsburgh is a sports crazed town and because of that people’s perception of me was not what I actually was. These are the things that you don’t think about when you want to be a football star.

But a star simply is a star.

During my first few years in Pittsburgh it slowly drained me to exist in a city where I was well known but couldn’t truly be myself, but Big Dog coffee became my fortress of solitude, the place where no one cared what I did or who I was because they were focused on being their authentic selves and enjoying their own slice of life and because of this Big Dog coffee was the first place in Pittsburgh that began to feel like home. It’s location was five minutes from the team practice facilities so when I had pockets of time I would leave and just sit at Big Dog and listen to music, where I could just be myself and not the entertainment provided for a city.

Because of this Big Dog Coffee is one of the main reasons I bought my first house, which doubled as my studio space upon deciding to quit football and pursue my art. At this point in time I was working from the attic of my Southside home where in my kitchen I was producing Angry Man salsa. The reason I bought my first house in the Southside of Pittsburgh is because that is where my coffee shop was located.

What most people probably don’t understand is that it really kinda sucked in the beginning to live in Pittsburgh right after I had played for the team that people seemingly worship and was only known by that which was not what I cared to pursue or necessarily be affiliated with any longer. It wasn’t because I didn’t like the team, it was just that I wanted to decide who I wanted to be and not just simply conform to the perception that others imposed on me. Imagine going out and every person you introduce yourself to doesn’t see you as you, but sees you as the value of nothing more than a memory that once entertained them. In this circumstance I was equipped by my understanding from my younger years when introductions didn’t matter, that when people choose to not see you it is better not to speak but watch them and only show them your actions and through that is the only way they are able to see you, and that is what I did.

I worked in my attic for eight months around the clock producing art, at this point in time I was finally free from the regimented schedule that I had to exist within prior. With this removed came it’s pros and cons, all of which I sorted out daily in the only place other than the art store that existed within my routine outside of working in the studio. At this point in time I had been a loyal Big Dog customer for about four years. At this time I had just began my art career in the city of Pittsburgh and this is when I realized what I had to do to be able to ever happily exist here at all. You see the challenge for me was never becoming an artist because I always have been, the challenge for me was the quest to earn my name back and not just my name but my perception, and it just so happened that Big Dog Coffee, the place that first made me feel at home helped me do that.

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I approached Nikolay and Cortney, the owners of the shop, about allowing me to redesign all of the artwork. At this point in time I had been told no so many times in this city per that request, but that was the hustle. By putting my artwork out publicly I was able to control what people saw of me and let it be the side I wanted which was where I desired to go, not simply where I had been and what I had done. I remembered how excited I was at the opportunity when Nikolay and Cortney simply said yes, because I saw the opportunity to truly seize the person who I wanted to be something much more than an ex-Steeler, something entirely and completely all my own, an artist.

Nikolay at this point in time was much more creatively reserved, he asked me not to make the paintings too big and used his hand as a loosey goosey parameter in which I smiled and said, “sure not too big”, which in my mind doesn’t exist. Immediately I left that conversation and took a quick walk through the coffee shop to asses wall size and went and purchased all the canvas and other supplies. I then returned to my attic where I worked for 72 straight hours to complete the nine pieces of art. As sizing would go each piece of art was roughly three times the size of the art it replaced, and both Nikolay and Cortney loved them all. I signed all of these pieces with my thumb print leaving my name off the work entirely to ensure they would speak for themselves. I installed the paintings three days after getting the okay, and on day four I woke up and had my same routine at Big Dog Coffee with the difference being that people began to know, and refer to me as “The Artist”.

For the next six months in my reality, and in the one place I chose to go which I decorated, I felt like a famous artist.  Over the course of the next few years I earned my name back by putting my art everywhere, but it all started with Big Dog Coffee. My life would be completely different without that coffee shop as would my art career.

Flash forward to now and all of the art in Big Dog is different than the first series of paintings that I initially installed and over the course of time from the first paintings in Big Dog to the new ones I’ve captured the attention of a region without breaking my routine.

I guess the moral of this story is to let your actions introduce you. To leave your name off your work until your work becomes your name and once that is accomplished your work is all you are and all you will ever need. That when given parameters with the option of exercising creative freedom that going big wins. I’ve always found it important to build in a coffee shop but in a large way it was Big Dog Coffee that built me, the first place here that I ever felt like home, a place that now even the name Baron Batch has been replaced by The Artist.

Frequently I remind myself that at one point no one in Pittsburgh but me and a handful of other people saw me as an artist. So please be encouraged by this if you are feeling like it is time to outgrow your shell, but please understand the importance of growing into a place to feel like home, not just moving to another shell. Things didn’t change for me when I started being told yes. Things changed for me when I no longer let the no’s affect my attitude. Things only changed for me when I understood what I did not want to be any longer and saw every yes as simply another opportunity to actively deliver on who I desired to be.

Outgrow your shell. Find your home. And let your actions confidently introduce you.

At one point in time I was the entertainment for a city and because of that I couldn’t be myself.

Now being myself is entertaining a city.

Be the you that grows.

You are made to bloom.

-The Artist

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DIARY 3 / FOR THE SAKE OF BEAUTY

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Dear Homies,

Recently, I’ve been asking myself a question. This question was inspired by a trip I took. A few months prior I visited Miami, to expand my perception of culture and it just so happened by doing that, and what I saw on that trip, I found it imperative to expand my perception of myself as well.

You see, what I observed in Miami was a vibrance of culture and art unlike any place I’ve ever seen. Murals adorned spaces that would otherwise have been left to be forgotten. All around me I observed families, friends, brothers, sisters, loved ones, all sorts of people, interacting with their environment through taking pictures and creating memories, and by that, creating the perceived culture of the area.

And in this art Mecca, I was inspired. Not just to go back to Pittsburgh and create paintings, but to do my part to make the City itself more beautiful through dedicating the upcoming summer to public art.

Before my trip to Miami, I had only completed a handful of murals that, for the most part, only I saw because they had been on my workspace walls.

792f640d-ccac-46dd-a78f-886f87f81a51About eight months ago, I put a graffiti tag that said “change your thoughts to change your stars an open mind is open bars” on a building that was half a block long and abandoned for years in the Southside community of Pittsburgh. On the side left untagged, of this abandoned building, sat four blank garage bay doors. Above them shattered glass. And above that, ideas floated that only I could see, that with permission, i could make real for everyone to observe throughout their daily routine.

 

 

5adcae78-7d7b-4a61-b3a5-511d2f83b45eFour months ago, I returned to the same spot of the previous tag, that had been painted over and erased. As I began to replace the same tag, with the same words, I was encountered and approached and told to stop by the overseer of the building. The conversation that occurred after this, was what revealed to me the importance of public art. The question I posed was “why was something removed, that improved not only the look of the building, but the reality that people interacted with each day by challenging them to stop and think.” I then offered that if given permission, I would come back and paint all of the blank garage bay doors and beautify the whole area. Instead of just leaving tags, my tag would be the beautiful transformation. The building care takers agreed to let me do this. And that was the beginning of the 20 Murals Project.

 

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You see, Miami inspired me, but it was not a place I would fall in love with. For me Pittsburgh is that. However, Miami did make me pose the question to myself “Am I simply being inspired by a beautiful City or am I making the City more beautiful and inspiring it?” I think in some capacity I can say I am doing a little bit of both, but to do a little bit of both of either is all I really needed. So this summer I am dedicating myself to the creation of public art, that everyone can enjoy.

Spaces in the city where you can go and sit.

Be still.

28Places where you can take photographs. And build memories. Have conversations. And be inspired. Without a doubt, beautiful places like that exist right now in this City. My goal is that by my position as a leader in the arts community, I can encourage people to venture out and experience Pittsburgh in a different way, and that is through the appreciation of not only mine, but the existing public art. To tell you the truth, sometimes it sucks just having to make paintings. It gets old being in the same room for 72 hours and hearing nothing but your own thoughts arguing with one another, whether either is good. So I’ve put myself in the position where that’s not the case by only taking and doing the projects that  I’m excited about.

Words cannot express how much I appreciate all of you who enjoy what we do at Studio AM and what my art represents.

The life of an entrepreneur seems like transparent fog. It seems like I can see the shadow of the big picture that I want, but everything else is blurry and I just have to keep moving forward. Some weeks I know exactly what I’m doing and I end up being wrong. Other weeks I have no clue and I win big, and I think this is what I like most about it. But in that challenge that never stops, that really only I can see at times, I understand my importance in the community. But one thing that I also recognize is how important this community is to me.

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7bc21c51-343f-417d-b31e-5d0339fd4af6It’s been the coolest thing ever to see young people purchasing art… for their weddings… anniversaries… new homes… friends birthdays… to just simply say “thank you”. And that through that, I am able to create memories that can never fade away. My goal was and is to create a new generation of art enthusiasts, buyers, collectors, and artists as well. Only actions can express my gratitude for this City. But just know that through your support when you purchase my art, or buy a jar of salsa, or come have a private event at Studio AM, or come to brunch, or support us in any other way. That you are supporting people that are committed to making the things around them better. I can’t begin to express my gratitude. So I will just continue to work.

 

Over the summer, I will be completing the remaining murals to get to the number 20. So if you have access to a space, know a space or someone who has access to a space that can be beautified, please contact us and let us know.

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I challenge all of you to make a conscious effort to pay attention to the beautiful things, as you enjoy your week. My hope, is that by doing that, you are able to become inspired, allowing what is around you to become more beautiful.

Head up and hustle on.

-THE ARTIST

 

Diary 2 / Art Is Not Dead

Hello World

Hello world Art is not dead, and life is awesomely strange right now.

I have become aware that I have a unique perspective. Everything that I have ever dreamed has and is becoming real. And in this dream world I have created I am The Artist, the creator of the reality I see, and the organizer of the parts within.

Within this dream world my currency is time.

I would not say that I own my time, because even my time is not mine at this point but tied to the actions I must do to maintain this person, such as making art, and running a business, but how I choose to spend my time is my decision.

I choose to spend my time on ideas, and because of that I am also an entrepreneur. I do not own my currency, but I am able to spend it to gain value by bringing ideas to life, and if my currency is spent irresponsibly my freedom to spend it begins to run out, and once you stop spending time where your spirit desires, you are then forced to go get a job and start making money, and I refuse to accept that thought as real.

My full time job is chasing down and catching ideas, then manifesting those ideas through discipline, consistency, strategy, and relentless work, while my hobby is making money.

My art serves as my compass and my reality the globe.

Right now the projects that I am taking on require much more time and energy. In this way they are riskier for me and require new levels of focus, but these are the good problems to have. They are the building blocks of many things such as my business, my city, my career, my future, and my history. You see three years ago I was able to take every project that came my way, and do every single job. But now is not then. And time is becoming increasingly scarce for me. The truth is I want to make my art; I want to share my truth. If a project doesn’t appeal to me it doesn’t appeal. I have had to learn the art of gracefully saying no, and gain the vision to see the motives that enjoy hiding.

Three years ago I had no idea what I was doing, but I knew I had a good idea so I went with it. And through constantly fucking up, learning, then moving forward anyway, I have arrived at this point in time as an innovator, a leader, and an icon. I used to say that I wanted to be famous until I realized that fame is nothing more than any one of those three things done very well.

Now I want to be those three things extremely well.

A famous artist. I always wondered what that would be like.
It seems impossible that I am what I imagined myself to become as a child, and to look back at my younger self as a mirror image, or from my perspective a dream realized to itself.

Sometimes it doesn’t seem real how far Studio AM has come in such a short time, and the reality is that we are just getting started. I painted corn hole boards and sold those to pay rent for our first three months of business. I hated it, but it was a temporary hustle that worked. Three years later and the Studio AM brand is known nationally, and soon even more globally.

We have become an anchor and Pittsburgh destination while being located in Homestead PA, where we serve as a private event space/ restaurant/ gallery/ salsa factory/ museum of awesome/ and the experience of a lifetime.

When I started the company three years ago I wanted it to be somewhere purposeful. Somewhere that needed it.

Since then I have had to learn how to be a community builder and organizer, and for the first time in a long time there is significant business growth on the business avenue of Homestead, an area that has been long forgotten. I take tremendous pride knowing that my company is helping bring business, jobs, and exposure to an area that has needed it.

For the first time in my life I am truly part of a community, being that I have a key role in it. The kids wave at me, and all the locals say what’s up. The meter maids and I have finally reached a mutual respect, and I wave to Tom the owner of Dorothy 6, the restaurant directly across the street most Sunday morning’s before brunch.

By no means is Homestead a sparkling gem at the moment, but the moment is never what I see anymore, but simply where I am.

But only for a moment.

My mind is constantly far in the future at this point. The only past that I care to look at is the current moment in time, the flash that all of reality exists at all times, only to pass and become a memory as time moves everything forward.

In that flash I become an observer and search everything my eyes see for inspiration.

And what I see now is renaissance. Not only for the City of Pittsburgh, but also for the borough of Homestead, and it just so happens that this strange life has given me a special role in both, of both influence and documentation. The future that my mind resides in lives there, in Homestead PA, a shining gem, Pittsburgh PA, a kingdom.

The work I do today helps build that, and not just for me.
So I relentlessly hustle. I fearlessly chase. I ambitiously imagine. And consistently do.

I would rather work than sleep, so that’s what I do, and because of that sometimes my demeanor comes off as crazy. Well, because I am, but the good kind. I am addicted to seeing what I am capable of, and I challenge everyone who surrounds me.

At night I create art in The Hideout, which is my workspace where I produce all of my work from that decorates Studio AM, where during the day I create reality with my team of specialized assassins.

Right now I am confident that I am surrounded by the most amazing of people, I know this because I haven’t ran them all off yet, but have somehow inspired them. And even though we have come a long way, we still have so far to go, even though we are well known, we still have so much to show.

I am still the poor black boy from rural West Texas that grew up twenty miles outside of town and had to learn to take care of himself. I am still the boy who stargazed each and every night on the porch of my trailer home, because you see that kid there was who dreamt of a famous artist, and now I’m him.

What you see is my authentic self. It is who I am. I have no other mask I wear. And because of this I feel free.

When I chose to put my business in Homestead it was because I believed I could make a difference in that community with my art, and that could be a catalyst for change.

And as my stars would have it, after all the emotional pain that I endured during my childhood, and the physical pain that I currently endure from the ten surgeries I underwent while being an athlete, I got exactly what I wanted.

And it was all the pain that brought me here.

Because of this I feel indestructible, not because I cannot be destroyed, but because what has made me feel this way cannot, it is true and it is my own experience. I know what I am made from, and know what I have already endured even though sometimes none of it seems real, and then I am reminded that it is not, but only how I feel about it is, and I feel triumphant.

Now I sit with the CEO’s of companies and brainstorm, now I sell ideas that do not even exist, all the while simultaneously daydreaming of a place that I have never been, but am made for, because it is what I am making.

And over the last three years I have been busy. I have better learned how to navigate the projects that I take on, and how to create from the opportunities that those create. I liken it to thinking a few steps ahead in a game of chess, or in football anticipating when a hole may open up, like I did in my previous job.

I no longer look at my bank account, not because it is set, but because I don’t care about it and am ok with very little, I don’t really use money other than for food and art supplies. I have invested my life into my artwork, and built a business around that. To be financially fearful to me is the same as not believing in my own ability to produce art, and in my mind I am the greatest, so the wealth I own cannot fit into a bank account that only can hold numbers, because my bank holds my ideas.

I am an entrepreneur, a creative renegade for truth, and I find comfort in excelling while being uncomfortable, that is what winning is. And I choose to be a winner and so should you. It is always worth it.

Please never give up on your dreams, they are always right in front of you. You and your best self exist simultaneously and the only thing that holds you two apart is unsolved problems. So embrace your painful wounds, they will scar into strength and liberation.

Do not quit. Every painful step forward makes you stronger.

The easiest thing in the world to do is quit on something. Quitting takes zero effort. Quitting can even be justified with excuses and legitimate reasons at times. When someone quits at something they can even lie to themselves by saying that what they quit on wasn’t that important. To those people with that mentality this is what I have to say. If it was important enough to start, it is important enough to finish. Don’t quit. Hold on, cling to what is yours until your fingers cramp; and once your fingers cramp switch hands.

Art is not dead.

It is the idea that ideas can sustain you.

-THE ARTIST

DIARY 1 / THE VOICE INSIDE MY HEAD

Look around you, the world’s gone crazy. You might as well be yourself.

I am The Artist, and I have a secret to tell.

I have been hiding behind my art for quite some time now, not because I have been fearful, but because I have been preparing. For me my art has always spoken louder than words, but now I hope these words you hear them.

It has been some time since I have written, and that is because I have had to find a consistent voice, or rather that I’ve earned one.

I have lived as many different people throughout my time, and all of them have taught me something needed to evolve into the next, and in that way my life has been a process of pain, self love, self understanding, and re-creation.

I have always been my authentic self no matter who I have been, but as of me writing this now, I am beginning to become my true self who I feel that I was meant to find, that was prepared for me before I was born.

I think quite often that I am a man who grew into his destiny. Or perhaps a destiny that grew into a man. Either way I understand who I am becoming.

At any given moment you can choose to become, but can only understand what you are becoming when you have the vision to spot what you need to be and what for, before it happens, then owning the courage and discipline to move in a consistent faithful direction allowing self love to lead, and life to teach.

I am not so much a dreamer now, but more in love with what I see. And when I see my dreams surround, it is them that come to me.

I know who I need to be, I know what for, and in my direction I am fearless. This is not because I am not afraid, but because I love the person I want to become more than I fear the unknown.

So the unknown then becomes a friend of mine, because it is the only thing that’s real to me that allows me to see my true self, and my ambitious nature.

Sometime you must trust that what you do now know is not against you.

In the unknown is the ability to create with what has yet to exist, proving how you feel to be real while gaining the chance to see who you truly are, and to know exactly what you can be, by becoming it.

My trust in the unknown is deeply rooted in the love that I have for the person I have earned today, and the man I am continuously working to become.

Make no mistake as to where this love I have for myself comes from.

It is not from a place of ego or arrogance, but rather is from a place of pain.

I know what pain I have felt, and what I have healed from.

I know how I have consistently responded through pain, and that is by recreating myself into something stronger each time. The only way to do that is by loving the person that exists within the pain not because of who they are currently, but rather the scars they bear from battles past, and who they will create themselves to be by emerging victorious.

So I choose to love myself victoriously.

It is not a love that simply wishes well for itself without having urgency or the passion to move, it is a love that takes action, a love that accepts and gives challenges, a love that is accountable for its own decisions, and humble enough to deal with the pain that comes, embracing yet another chapter in the book of understanding.

I have learned myself, so I have earned myself, and fallen in love with the voice inside my head that encourages me to ambitiously endure, painfully love, and faithfully create.

And through these honest conversations, I have learned to love myself embracing the fear of uncertainty ahead, loving the painful things, while becoming indestructible.

Our capacity to love is only limited by our capacity to endure.

To truly be ambitious you must accept the pain of uncertainty that all change opens the door to, while loving not the prize that ambition rewards, but the process it teaches which is the embrace of fear.

The true reward exists forever as an example of how faithfully a man pursued what he loved the most, and conquered that which was most feared.

Our capacity to be ambitious is only limited by our capacity to distinguish and understand fear. And all too often we fear what hurts, ignoring the importance that pain has to love, with the danger being that what hurts us most, we must learn to love, or we choose to hate ourselves.

And I am happy for that, because it has not been the pleasant things that have given me the most strength or wisdom. But the unpleasant things that make the pleasantries so distinguishable in their beauty, and I feel that is the love of life.

I remind myself that the same hands that wiped tears away when I lost whom I loved the most, are the same hands that create this man today who I love to be the most. And in that exchange of pain and re-creation, Love whispers the loudest of words.

“Ambitiously endure, faithfully create.”

I know what my story is, and I know what type of character it took to bloom from it, because I have been all of them.

And I’m just here right now.

Typing a sentence that will be read.

Thinking to myself inside my head.

Looking at my mind as inside out, as I go to work each day.

I feel like I am living the greatest story ever told. I am not only the main character but also the author of this book, not only the hero but also at times the antagonist.

In my right hand a brush, and before me is blank.

The reality is, that this reality is one that I not only painted, but also decided on, accepting everything that will come, while changing as it does.

Reality is reality, and it will do as it does which is move and change, so in order to control it you can never stay the same but in your thoughts.

“Change your thoughts to change your stars an open mind is open bars.”

This person I am today was once an invisible seed in my head, a whispering of a voice that was prepared through perfect timing, groomed though pain, grown through self love, and bloomed through self understanding.

I am this person because of the position I have created and actions I took.

No good thing is random if all painful things are used. I remind myself of this.

I must continue to move as things move, change as things change, love more as things hurt, and show more ambition than fear.

And now I feel possessed.

I am a dream pursued so relentlessly that in time awoke as a person so inspired as to run from the idea of sleep, to keep working in his dream to live.

The phantom vision that I once chased so relentlessly is now very real and is chasing me, and I am in competition only with the last steps I took.

I think this is a sign of greatness.

I have been aware for some time now that the things I make will last much longer than I will, and in this way I feel like I have tasted immortality because my voice will not die with me, and even now echoes far into the future.

I feel as if I am both an anomaly, and a reoccurrence.

But that is what an Artist is.

We show up, create, and leave as we are remembered. Leaving inspiration in the form of the path that we created for ourselves using time and imagination, serving not so much as the blueprint to follow, but rather a lantern to a personal treasure map, that leads to a personal treasure map.

Ambition is my compass, and love it fills my sails. I no longer fear the pain of life, but rather fear the absence of feeling life’s pains, because then the ocean becomes dry making direction irrelevant because all movement stops. Pain is the water that allows the ship to explore, it is the uncertainty that certainly will be there just as the wind, to fear it, is to ignore the wonders of the ocean, and to run from a greater capacity to trust in the ship, while exercising love in a useful way.

Sometimes I feel like the combination of things that have all happened in order to create this person that I am now should have been impossible to occur, but strangely it’s the only thing that has ever happened to me, and now this impossibility is my normal.

But what’s normal anyway?

Inside my own mind I feel like I am a character in my own book, that is creating my own movie that history one day will see, and the reality is that I am just that.

I have fallen in love with the voice inside my head, and it tells me all its secrets.

It says, “You are made for amazing things.”

And I no longer fear believing it.

I have learned to trust myself to obey my voice, and have lost all fear of being wrong.

I am 28 years old now, and my journey has just begun as this person.

I am an artist and entrepreneur based out of Pittsburgh PA.

And I am in love.

I am young. I am wise. I am learning. I am a student. I am a master. I am humble. I am respectful. I am faithful. I am at peace. I am confident. I am black. I am ambitious. I am honest. I am giving. I am tough. I am direct. I am influential. I am hardworking. I am strategic. I am a leader. I am disciplined. I am focused, and I don’t give a fuck.

I build culture. I mold minds. I am an icon. I dance. I party. I am responsible.

I am respected. I smoke weed. I run a corporation. I drink wine. I am a visionary. I like my music loud. I challenge everyone around me. I am calm as I am urgent. I am changing the world as I am changing myself. I am a voice of a generation. And I have some things to share.

I walked away from half a million dollars and the life of a professional athlete, in order to make art and risk everything I had ever worked for, to earn something I can never lose.

And I have done that now. I will be around for a long time.

This is the true me.

This is my reality now, and this is who I am.

I am in love, and it feels so good to mean it.

The voice inside my head is creating history, so there will be no secrets after this.

I am free.

-The Artist