Getting what we need (part 1)

Page from Lynda Barry - What It Is book
From the incredible What It Is by Lynda Barry

A friend called into the February DREAMS show and shared he’s been painting a lot. He just bought an easel (actually a $12 meeting presentation stand) and laughed about the years he spent as an artist without one.

He didn’t need the easel to paint. But the intention that got him out the door to buy the easel, combined with its utility, has him painting every week.

The more I live solidly in my own hype path, I see clearly the benefits of having the right tools in whatever we love doing.

I’m happy to say gone are my days of wack, self-induced suffering as a prerequisite for making art. Not surprisingly, very little of my lasting work ever came from this space.

All-day every day

Julia Cameron recommends writing “Treating myself like a precious object will make me strong” and hanging it somewhere you’ll see it regularly. I decided to rep some letters from the Press-On Records crew!

There’s this guilt that comes up around getting the right tools. Like we should feel undeserving, minimalist-to-a-fault, or overly modest. I guess I’m here to say fuck all that.

If you have the money, why not use it to fuel your creative dreams? I mean what else are we doing y’all?

  • If new hiking boots get you out hiking DOPE
  • If a new tent gets you camping DOPE
  • If a new mic gets you rapping DOPE
  • If buying a program to make beats gets you making stuff DOPE
  • If a new pan gets you cooking DOPE

If money is tight you can always ask around. It worked for me when I scored a desk to help me put more intention into writing. I put it out there that I was on the hunt and ended up at a friend of a friend’s house grabbing an old desk that had been on their porch for a while. They were psyched that it was going to get used and it was so much cooler and more heavy-duty than a flimsy new one.

Less expensive creative inspo can also come from a coffee, bike ride, or a book from the library. We can go get a coffee to inspire writing, or bike to the park to draw.

Honestly though, getting the creative tools I need always seemed like one of the main reasons I work.

I love making, buying, and bumping music, and that costs a bit. Nothing super fancy, but an occasional couple hundred bucks here or there goes a long way. Adding more writing to the mix, the tools are pretty affordable like books, notebooks, pens, and an old laptop.

If cash is in the way of your art I hope you can find the right gig, get a couple of paychecks in, and get what you need to feed your soul! I’m starting to do a bit of 1-1 job hyping. If you want to brainstorm at all, holler!

I remember when money was tight during my first year in Portland. I worked at a thrift store and pretty much lived on PBR, coffee, and quesadillas. I eventually saved enough extra cash to walk to the music shop on Hawthorne and buy my first condenser mic for about $100, which I used to record my Adhocularity record. That $100 was a chunk of change at the time, but it gave me hours of creative inspo worth infinity more.

Even my living space is on this list. I work in large part to help pay for it. I make sure it’s recharging me and hyping me up at every turn to do more of what I love. It’s absolutely a choice my wife and I worked hard for and I’m so happy we did.

If cruising the coast and living in a van feels better for you, and gets you doing the creative stuff you love, get it! Whatever you choose, it might help to think about our living situations as creative equipment too. They’re one of the first tools we use every day to keep us hyped.

Sometimes you gotta upgrade the axe

What might hype you up to make more art? Is there something affordable for you right now that would encourage you to do more stuff you love? A bike upgrade? Camping gear? Paints?

I posted on IG asking what tools do folks use to help them do what they love. What things hype them up to create more and live more fully, and got some cool and surprising responses from nature to pens to 5-gallon poo buckets.

  • Time and space to be in nature
  • Audiobooks are my savior – but that makes my phone my best friend and worst enemy as it is the biggest barrier to productivity
  • Bought myself some beautiful new letter paper from Tokyo and connecting with friends near and far off-screen
  • 5-gallon buckets
  • A notebook and all my favorite pens
  • A good pen can make my day!! bought a pack of glittery rainbow gel pens for that smooth, middle school note writing vibe

Are you working towards something right now? Is your body asking you to bike and your bike is old and rusted? Is it asking you to cook at home and you don’t have the right equipment to do it? Are you being called to paint and can’t find your old supplies? Are you wanting to write or draw and don’t have a notebook you love?

If anything specific comes up for you I’d love to hear about it. I hope this helps give you the OK to get what you need to do what you love with the limited time we get to rep.


Peep Getting what we “need” (part 2) on the what’s a need and what’s a block or excuse tip…