It always seemed like an awesome life to get paid to be myself. I remember constantly wondering if that was possible when I was a child. From the moment that question entered my mind as a child, it was one that would constantly reoccur.
Can I live a life simply being me, and get paid for it?
I remember coming to the conclusion, “that’s what Artists get to do.”
So I decided that’s what I wanted to become as a child.
I wanted to be a famous artist.
Today I reside in Pittsburgh where I work for Studio AM which is a creative agency. The motto is “Up late, Up early,” and there are no unimportant positions.
I am a visual artist and serve as creative director. I get to work with four of my best friends each day, and they are quite the cast of characters. Because of that no day is ever the same.
It has been an awesome adventure so far.
Everyone is different but we all share the same mindset, and right now we are all living our dream jobs. Everyone was allowed to pick their own titles and then work to become them. And all of us have done that at this point.
We all are who we set out to be. We all introduce ourselves as who we want to be.
As for me, I am The Artist. That is what my business cards say, and that is how I would introduce myself if we met.
I wear my paint splattered work jeans everywhere I go, and for the past year and a half everyone who has seen me has seen me the same.
I believe the most powerful thing that someone can do to find happiness is find consistency within themselves.
And I am consistently The Artist.
It is a powerful feeling to be seen and accepted, and Pittsburgh has seen and accepted me as The Artist. Because of that I love this city deeply.
For the first time in my life I can say that I really like myself, and am proud of the man I am becoming. My life as an artist began here, so in a way my life began here because I cannot imagine living any other way.
Pittsburgh gave me the opportunity to completely start over. Everyday I feel thankful knowing that I am doing what I first chose to do when I was a child.
I have come full circle and have wound up at my beginning. I have gotten to start over as something else.
Finding my purpose was like finding my freedom, and that is why my art is signed with “free.”
My art has freed me by allowing me to be myself, and live a life that way.
Life brought me to this point, everything good and bad that I have ever experienced has brought me here.
Life drafted me to Pittsburgh so that I would pick up a paintbrush, but I had to work relentlessly to become an artist after playing football here.
Many people said that it would be impossible to be taken seriously as an artist here, and that I should try in another city. So for a year and a half, all I did was work. I learned to fall in love with working and what work can do for a man.
Work gives a man his purpose.
I slept an average of three hours a night for an entire year. I spent seven days a week working on my craft. I stayed up late working and I got up early to work. I set my goal on becoming a successful entrepreneur and artist, and worked to become that.
A year and a half ago all anyone would see me as was the ex-Pittsburgh Steeler.
“Oh hey yeah Baron Batch I remember you! Number twenty, running back from Texas for the Steelers! Yinz had that block back in training camp against James Harrison.”
Simply the ex-Steeler.
In the paper they refused to call me a local artist and entrepreneur even though I asked for only that. Even when the article was about me being a local artist and entrepreneur.
That got old really fast. But that was what gave me motivation.
I worked as hard as I did so that I could earn my name back.
Some people would be content simply being the ex-Steeler that blocked James Harrison that one time back in training camp.
But fuck that. That’s not me.
After almost two years I have finally earned my title. I had to prove myself as an artist to the city of Pittsburgh, and I’m glad it wasn’t any other way. I never would have imagined that earning my own name back would be such a task. But in typical Pittsburgh fashion, this city made me work for it. And for that I am grateful, because Pittsburgh made me a working artist.
And I dig this Artist guy.
That is what I am called, it is how I look everywhere I go, and it is how I introduce myself to everyone I meet.
This is who I am.
And I like me.
Pittsburgh has allowed me the liberty to live out both of my childhood dreams all before the age of thirty. It is where I became both of the things that I was told I couldn’t become as a child.
People frequently ask me why I chose to stay in Pittsburgh, and I simply explain that it is where I am supposed to be.
West Texas is where my life was prepared, and Pittsburgh is where my life began.
Where I came from is the door to where I am going, and I want to live this new life famously.
Most people shy away from saying that they want to be famous, and that is why they never become that.
But not me. That always was my first goal. My hearts desire was always to become a famous artist.
I want to be valuable for a skill that only I possess. I want to be remembered for being me. I want a consistent reputation that introduces me before I arrive. I want a name that is echoed before me in the things that helped make me, and a name that is echoed after me in the things I make that will stay behind when I am gone.
I want to leave my opinion in the heart of existence through my art. I want to be competitively ambitious with every idea my mind thinks.
I want to only grow and excel.
I want to have people perceive me as valuable and know that I have earned that. I want to live free. I want to know that I have value. I want to discover as much truth as possible while I am here, and share it through the things that I make. I want to know that my time mattered and that is why I make art.
And because I make art, I want fame.
I want to be seen.
I want to be heard.
I want to be collected.
I want to be remembered.
Pittsburgh my dearest, I love you because you have allowed me to bloom into what I was created to be. And because of that I am obligated to return that blessing.
Pittsburgh is changing, and art is not dead.