Thoughts & Ideas

The Art of Focus

One of the many books that I have been reading is John C. Maxwell’s, “How Successful People Think,” and the chapter that forced me to pause and take a moment to reflect upon my life and business was “Engage in Focused Thinking.”  To sum up the chapter in a sentence, Maxwell says that in order to do our best work we must practice uninterrupted focused thinking and we can only do that when we know what we must focus on.  With this in mind, what are you focusing on in your life, business and career?  Are you trying to take everything in, or are you choosing to emphasize the few instead of the many?

Choosing focus points means having to make choices

One of my favorite technical aspects of photography is shallow depth of field because I am able to bring greater emphasis to one subject over another.  It adds another element of choice to the creation process because not only do you have to create a compelling and pleasing composition with an approximate exposure, but you have to make a choice in the placement of your focus point.  There is so much emotion that can be injected into your photography by choosing unusual focus points.  In a recent photo shoot, I was posing my subject in front of a mural and the words “What the Hell Do You Care?  Your not going there.” were behind him, so in one frame, I decided to emphasize that over my subject.  I made a choice.  And it is the process of making choices regardless of the outcome that allows us to learn more about ourselves and what we do throughout our lives.

Continuous autofocus is putting your ability to focus into the hands of someone else

Modern cameras have a feature called autofocus that continuously sets your focus for you.  It can be very distracting in many applications because if you are shooting a lot of motion or action, the camera is going to be all over the map and nailing the focus can be frustrating.  It is the same in art and business.  If you let someone else make the decisions of how you focus and what you are choosing to do at a given moment, you are not going to be very focused.  One of my greatest struggles is multi-tasking, especially when I am really busy and have a lot of active projects.  I start to panic and in that panic I lose my ability to focus.  I drift in and out of different aspects of each project and nothing takes shape.  But as I force myself to focus on bringing form in order to get further responses from a client, I am able to progress, the value of focus is expanded greatly and clients are satisfied that I am working on their projects in a timely manner.

Response drives progress

Nothing in the creative and business worlds is created in a vacuum.  The only way to gauge where your ideas and career is at is to get your work and yourself in front of an audience and then engage in discussion.  For many artists this involves getting outside your comfort zone and admitting that they don’t know everything.  It helps to see what is resonating with your audience and what is falling flat.  It can stoke the fires of your own creative process and it matures you as an artist.  For business owners, by opening yourself up to the views of the community and your clients, you can utilize your position of leadership to address the concerns of people through a unique response.  Ultimately what people want is the courtesy of a response.  Why?  It helps them to progress in their own lives because they have one less thing that they themselves need to focus on.

Thoughts & Ideas

The Art of Giving Back

Yesterday, I received the latest business card from Noland Hoshino of Bcause Media. While I get a lot of business cards throughout the week, what made this particular card stand out was that it was a branded Charity Gift Card from TisBest. It had a pre-loaded $1.00 value enabling me to login to TisBest’s website and give that dollar to three charities (I chose American Documentary, Sundance Institute and Room to Read).

Being a business owner that is always looking for new and interesting products to offer my clients, the branded Charity Gift Card blew me away. It is a great way for businesses to not only give back, but to encourage a culture to give back. This also spurred me on to thinking about how we as artists and business professionals can give back in everything that we do.


One of the best ways to give back is by giving your time to local causes and organizations that are in need of volunteers.  Whether it’s volunteering at your local library, mentoring a child through The Mentoring Project, or handing out meals at a soup kitchen, giving your time without regards to what you get back is an incredible way to motivate your pursuit and passion for life.  It builds relationships that otherwise wouldn’t exist and helps you to see a whole new side of our community.


Obviously non-profit organizations need funding to sustain the programs and services that they provide and the best way to give money is to find a cause that you believe in and give whatever you can.  Not just a one-time donation, but spending the time to build a consistent donation strategy will go a long way for your business and your level of personal satisfaction.

Communicate a Vision Our Through Talents and Skills

If you are unable to give time and money, another way of giving back is to use the talents and skills that we have as artists to communicate an organization’s vision.  Whether it is a brochure design, a promotional video or a new logo, the abilities that we have as artists are appreciated and necessary at all non-profit levels.

To further encourage you with ways to give back, here is a brief follow-up Innovators of Vancouver video from Dale Chumbley about organizations he supports.

For more information on giving back to the organizations mentioned in Dale’s video, visit the following websites:

365 Things To Do Gives Back

American Cancer Society

Muscular Dystrophy Assocation

Mothers Fighting For Others

Thoughts & Ideas

The Art of Being a Creative Futurist

The market is flooded with designers, photographers, writers, filmmakers and other creative individuals.  Technological advances put pro-quality equipment into the hands of budding amateurs at insanely affordable prices.  The varying degree of talent in the creative community that is now available to businesses is changing the way that business professionals and artists engage one another in terms of pricing, quality, professionalism and availability.  Art has essentially become a commodity, best defined by Merriam-Webster as “a good or service whose wide availability typically leads to smaller profit margins and diminishes the importance of factors (as brand name) other than price.”

As old world institutions of journalism, filmmaking, design and publishing go the way of the dinosaurs, there is a race to cash in on the new world methodologies that are currently being defined.  As artists, how do we thrive in this new business model?  Do we get scared and cling to how we have always done things?  Do we lower our prices and try to compete with the amateurs?  Or do we expand our vision and look at how we can contribute to the future of the creative new world?  As professional artists, it is our duty and responsibility to help shape the future and the best way to do that is by becoming creative futurists focused on innovation, passion for unique vision and integrating life with art and creativity.

Innovation Drives Us to New Ideas

Written about in almost everything we read today, innovation is driving the creation of new ideas, techniques and processes, while helping artists to continually redefine their artistic identity as well as their business practices.  In some communities, the hunt for innovation is the search for new ways to make money and is often a way to revive the successes of the past.  But being a creative futurist means that you look for new ways to do things, not just to make money, but to shape the future of what art means in our world.

When I share new ideas for projects that I am pursuing, the response is often the same:  “What a great idea…how are you going to make money doing that?”  My calculated answer:  “I’m not entirely sure.  All I know is that I have to do this.”  Innovation produces passion, which is simply a desire to do what you dream, regardless of the cost.

Without Passion, Art is Dead and Vision is Blind

Passion is the driving force in creating new paintings, writing new novels, filming documentaries and dreaming of what is to come in the future.  It gives us purpose, meaning, focus and a direction for our lives, not just professionally, but personally and relationally.  Passion drives us to seek out others that share our innovative vision.  It also drives us to be unique in our projects and pursuits.  Without embracing our uniqueness, we willingly enter into the world of commodities because we are no longer looking at what we bring to the table, but how we compare to others.  Constant comparison and critique is the kryptonite of passionate and productive artists.  As creative futurists, we realize that we set the tempo and pace for our lives driven by passion and a unique vision that impacts not only our own lives, but also the lives of others.

Successful Artistry Integrates Life with Creativity

How we integrate our art into life is where the money is at.  The way that we deliver new ideas through emerging technologies, even creating our own technologies, changes how business professionals will value the work of artists.  No longer will we wear the label “dime-a-dozen” because we, as creative futurists, are focused on redefining how creativity and art is delivered and integrated into everyday life.  By removing art from the commodities market, we retain innovation, passion and uniqueness.

All it takes to be a creative futurist is to believe in your uniqueness, to allow passion for your work to overcome your fear in whether you succeed or fail and to embrace a desire to be innovative, not just for your bank account and production of creative ideas, but for the quality of life and art that we are leaving for the artists of the next generation.