I really don't know if this will be read, but hell, I felt a need to take a break from drawing and write a little.
Today I received an email from a fellow follower of my work, asking the question of why I left Facebook. Not that everyone should know my daily activities, but if you haven't noticed, a couple of months ago I had deleted my FB in order to focus on my property LMS, as it's shaping up for film, and the next book in the series, LMS: Welcome to America.
If you're wondering the actual reasons of why I left, allow me to explain. If you don't care, by all means, let me instead offer you this awesome short film I just watched: So good.
Back with me? Great.
Now before I continue, this is strictly my opinion. I know people like to get angry online, so if you disagree with it, you have every right to. I am, in no way, forcing this onto you. I'm simply answering a question I've received a handful of times now.
I left Facebook for multiple reasons. But mostly due to a common feeling I had been facing every time I logged into that death-trap of a site. I'll only state the points that really stood out from the others. (Sorry selfie-addicts, you're not making the cut!)
Let's start with the News Feed. Time after time, I found myself scrolling through more negativity than positive statuses. Whether it was through tragic incidents around the world, bashing of others, or the arm-chair critics who were constantly bringing down others for enjoying a specific film, song or videogame. If not even directed at the specific person, it was the passive-aggressive and cynical nature of those comments that began to even make me feel like an asshole--finding myself slowly influenced into the same downward-spiral.
Was saying such things going to improve those films, video-games, or others? Was calling out designs I didn't like going to enhance my view of my own art, or in any way better my imagination? Frankly, it began to make me feel like a piece of shit.
Working on movies, and now being a part of my own with LMS, I've come to realize how much time and effort goes into these properties. The blood, sweat and tears that not only the creators must bring to the table (and trust me, it's more than you could imagine), but the amount the crew brings as well. You may sit there, comfortably and insult the film because you don't enjoy a specific aspect of it. But in all reality, you really don't know what that team went through to put that together until you've been through the very process.
I had come to realize that I was only absorbing the animosity others were sprouting and soon began to reflect their own opinions onto myself. See, my friend once brought up an valuable angle I had never really thought about before:
"When you read someone's negative comment, you're transcribing it in your voice, in your own head. For example, say someone writes a status about a bad day or an unfortunate event. While support should obviously be given, by reading their negativity, you're now putting yourself into that person's perspective--and to add onto that, bringing up harsh feelings or memories possibly as well."
I found myself becoming weaker, agreeing with comments that I may had not actually believed in. Not only that, but I began disliking certain people just for their opinions, when in all reality, they had every right to speak their mind. While I may sound like I'm contradicting my point, and with no way to solve such an issue, instead I decided to walk from that perspective entirely. Everyone has issues, some worse than others. But you can't fix, or sway, but instead, only lead by example.
I wasn't out of the worm-hole yet. Then there was the Critical Internal Voices. Not that I have any mental illnesses (well...), but I'll come out and say that believe it or not, at times I can be incredibly insecure with my own progress and career-status. It's not due to not enough followers, or Likes or Favs (those don't mean squat to the outside world, other than personal assurance), but more to the point of: Am I doing enough with what I have?
I'm lucky enough to have some incredibly inspiring and talented art-friends; a lot whom I assume most of you guys follow or look up to. Artists such as Maciej Kuciara, Anthony Jones, John Sweeney, Alex Konstad, Robert Chew, Ash Thorp, Jason Scheier, Raf Grassetti, Wes Burt, Jana Schirmer, Karla Ortiz, Dominic Qwek and dozens more who constantly blazed through work and absolutely killed it on the battlefield we call the business.
Day after day I'd log in to see these guys just absolutely slaying it with new piece after new piece. Was I jealous? Oh hell yes I was and still am! With that level of skill thrown at once, how could I not be? But was I jealous to the point of disliking or resenting them? Not in the slightest, but instead, I began to find myself envious of their ability to constantly inspire and build, while I sat here questioning my slowly-crawling career.
Which brings LMS (Last Man Standing) to the table. A lot of people believe LMS was handed on a silver platter, but it truly wasn't. Thousands of dollars from my own (and my business partner) pocket have been taken and put into this property to build it into what it is today. But after seven years of pushing, and pushing, I began to ask myself: am I doing this right?
See, I haven't ever worked full-time at a studio, and while I have dabbled in freelance on some awesome properties, I decided to take another route. From what I've heard, some people felt I was trying to toot my own horn, but in all reality, it was due to the fact that I was brainwashed one day by my amazing business partner, Stephan. I always wanted to work for Weta, ILM, Pixar, Marvel, or DC, and about eight years ago, I found myself counting change, without a pot to piss in. After begging him to find me work, he offered the insane-idea of those studios possibly working for me one day if I were to create my own property instead. I called bullshit, but then one day decided to take a leap of faith and gave (a bloody) birth to LMS: Killbook of a Bounty Hunter.
That decision changed my life and offered open doors to directors, studios and creative forces I'd never imagine to work alongside or with. It became one of the most humbling, blessed and fun rides I've ever had the pleasure of being part of. However, there was an expensive cost no money could solve, only perseverance and patience.
But it's not as easy as it may sound. I wasn't handed what LMS is today on a silver platter, and I was fit with a gold crown and throne. What they don't see is that I had to build this the property from the ground up, by myself (art-wise, Stephan guided me like a true scholar through the business angle), with not a cent towards the project--all done on my own dime.
What I would never be able to prepare myself was that it would take up to seven years to get to the point of success the property LMS is at now. I'm not talking maybe a month of stress here or there, I'm talking all 365 days of anxiety, stress, back-aches, weight-loss, headaches and lack of money for seven, long, long years.
During those slumps (Hollywood takes time, it's not overnight, that's for sure), I found myself not drawing. Not creating. Instead, only judging myself by my peers' standards and constantly growing more fearful of my image.
Why are they so successful, and I'm still fighting to get my property up and running? Why cant I work for any of these studios? And don't get me wrong, I wasn't wishing them ill-will in the slightest! I want nothing but the best for these artists, as they all deserve it, and even more.
But you see, the Why's weren't directed at them, but only at me. I found myself comparing apples and oranges, when really I was trying to be a piece of toast (best analogy I had, sorry). I hadn't come to discover what I was doing, as this had become one big learning curve for me; pitching an IP on my own. That didn't stop the voices however, as they continued to ring, questioning if I was truly the artist or creator I promised everyone to be. And it hurt, big time.
Then I woke up one day. I decided to delete FB without a real goodbye and Twitter as well (Twitter sucks, I'm sorry). I no longer had anything to say. I didn't want to promise, only to wait months for another update. I didn't want to act like I was living the Mark Whalberg life of Entourage, when really I was deciding "Can I pay my apartment this month?" I had realized I needed to get my shit together, on point, and accomplish what I set out to build. So I left social media behind.
The sad truth is, I don't think I'll ever be back, and I'm very proud of my stance on that. It's opened my eyes, allowed me a sense of freedom and man, I've painted at least 65-85 LMS (some finished, other's blocked in. Man, parentheses overload!) images in that time-frame since leaving.
Not only that, I began to dig deep into my own mind and drop-kick those insecurities out the window. I was no longer distracted, jaded by cynical comments, comparing myself to others and could now focus on what I wanted to build.
To the LMS fans and followers, I have a massive (if you've read or own the Killbook, that's just the tip of the iceberg) story to tell you. If you know anything about the series, that little revenge story that some critics have called cliche is not the ACTUAL story. And to those critics, you fit the very bill the book was aimed at, so thank you for proving my point. There is much, much more and I cannot wait to show you what Gabriel and his world have to offer in the near future, both in book and film.
To those wondering about the LMS film, I'll just say this: we're close. It's all talk for now, as I can't say much due to deals being put in place, so take it with a grain of salt. But if these next few weeks pan out the way I see them, be prepared to welcome the new anti-hero.
Ending this, I'm not ordering or even advising anyone to leave Facebook. It's a wonderful site filled with some of the most generous, loving and caring people I've ever been lucky enough to call friends or fans (I hate that title, you guys are all homies to me).
I've met the love of my life and my pure inspiration on it (we're now a year and still going strong!), been introduced to, helped by, and inspired by some of the coolest guys and gals out there, artists or not--and you see, that's what the site should truly be about.
Enough with the cliques, enough with the downgrading, and for the love of Gabe, just inspire the younger or those around you looking up to what you're able to do for a living. Build, create, and speak your message through your own art or story-telling. We're all in this game together, not to go against each other. If the world and society hasn't already shown you that, then I don't know what will.
For updates, feel free to subscribe to this blog or follow me on Instagram (@danluvisiart), as I still do lurk on there. But until my big LMS announcement I have brewing, it's time to shut up and stand by the book of text I just wrote above.
Much love, thank you for reading, and I wish you all the best of luck with your current and future endeavors.