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The UNder Estimate

Almost four years ago I left my community, my job and Denver, Co where I had lived for 9 years to return to where I grew up in Bend, Or, in an attempt to create my long standing dream.  Creative community, living and breathing the artist life while making a living, simplicity, eating from the garden, nature and deep into the night inspiration and stars.


I know my dream is possible, but I underestimated the conflict, the fear I would face in myself and others.  Letting go of identity and rebuilding from the ground up, a process I seem to undergo every 4-5 years, this time around would be more intense.  I had to let go of bigger parts of myself to make room for the giant dream I was and am holding in my heart and mind.

I underestimated how disorienting it would be, I underestimated how difficult making new connections would be moving to a town happy to stay just like it is and has always been.  The deepest part of my inner strength is being challenged and where that strength comes from.  Does it come from defending the truth, defending my worth? Or is it time to stop defending and open up to what that really means, what strength really is…what the truth really is….that I am whole and complete, that I have been living someone else’s dream trying to prove my worthiness…success, money, popularity…..the fight to be on top…to be known…. to reach a destination that doesn’t exist.


The truth doesn’t make me fragile, small and competitive…it makes me whole. And isn’t that what community is?  Wholeness, acceptance, room to be yourself, and respect for where you are at?  A place for everyone, EVERYONE.  


The truth doesn’t make me fragile, small and competitive…it makes me whole. And isn’t that what community is?  Wholeness, acceptance, room to be yourself, and respect for where you are at?  A place for everyone, EVERYONE.  


I didn’t know it at the time when I first had this dream…but in order to make room for everyone, I have to make room for ALL of myself first…exactly where I am.

Perception

You may have noticed that I have been posting a lot of personal stories lately…why???

Last year I made it a practice to say yes to everything that terrified me. I learned a lot about my self definition, self imposed limitations and self image. The process of becoming a better artist/designer involves self work and self discovery.

This is the year of being BRAVE, TRANSPARENT, TAKING STOCK and BEING VISIBLE. We are all extensions of each other…and if I keep hiding I rob myself of your connection, your thoughts, your insight and I rob the world of our shared value.

SO here it goes…
Waaaayyyy back in 2002 I was in the thesis program at California College of the Arts. At that time, there wasn’t on line education and if you wanted to learn design, you had to go to design or art school. During thesis we had the option of making a book or making a short film with an accompanying book with the documentation of our work. The fail rate was about 30% and if you didn’t pass thesis you received a general arts degree….

Fast forward to midterms…I was struggling…couldn’t find the story I wanted to tell…or couldn’t define it. I was experimenting with combining opposites to create tension like “Beautiful Violence”, exploring ways to portray the “personal/universal” storytelling technique…but I was still searching for the story.

We had to present our midterm progress publicly to a group of about 50 SF designers in the main room of CCA. All I had were motion experiments, typographic explorations and a terrified, lost look on my face. I explained to the committee my goal… my thesis.

I went to the back of the room to hide after the grueling presentation. A designer from LA pulled me aside and said “I really like your work, but you can’t show what you don’t know”. All of a sudden everything came into sharp focus and I knew EXACTLY what I needed to do. She was right…I don’t know what other people are feeling, perceiving, thinking…I had to share MY OWN vision, my own experiences, I had to open myself up and tell my OWN story.

Spring break was frenetic, I rented a camera, worked non-stop, edited, mixed sound, created type treatments from light, wrote a story and sat in my broken down car outside of the school recording my own voice reading the script I wrote. I didn’t know what I was doing…I had never edited, never worked with sound, never worked with a camera…day turned into night, night into day.

I passed thesis…went on to my final year at CCA…the Adobe Awards were in their second year, many of my peers were applying. I dismissed the contest and went on with my studies. Jim Kenney (my Motion Design professor) passed me in the hall and wanted me to enter…I blew him off. Fast forward to next week, I’m sitting with Jim, who scheduled an appointment with Adobe representatives to help me fill out the application.

Summer came and I had guests from out of town. I took them to Napa for a fun day at wineries and the beach. I drove home to Oakland, walked in the door…I checked my phone and there was a message I HAD WON THE ADOBE AWARD….I played the message at least 10 times as the words slowly sunk in.

Adobe flew me out to NY, my film was in the Guggenheim for 2 weeks, I meet Sagmeister and Lynda Decker (whose support has stayed with me my entire career). Jonathan Wells of Res Fest (an indie animation festival) approached me and wanted to showcase my film. It was picked up and toured around the word, I had radio interviews that broadcast throughout the bay-area and saw my piece at the Res Fest Animation Festival in the Palace of Fine Arts…and was unexpectedly called on stage to introduce my work.

I am not anyone famous, or someone with an impressive career, but I have had amazing experiences, met incredible people and have remained true to myself. Winning this award helped me keep going when I thought I couldn’t because I knew I could do anything if I changed my ideas about myself.

Creating work that matters to you, being true to yourself will stay with you throughout your life. Trust your process, life is not linear, success is not a destination, keep growing, keep exploring, keep contributing, keep loving, stay curious and open. Life has so much to offer to brave and open.

Cutting Through

I used to dance with this sword…there is still blue paint on the hilt from the last time I performed on a stage in San Francisco.  It’s balanced in the middle to sit perfectly on my head. Correct alignment. strong spine, energy extending from the top of my head through the bottom of my feet, a perfect line.

Dance is all about the line, the extended gesture made in space that continues to echo into the next movement. This sword now sits in the corner of my office to remind me of where I’ve come from, what initially sparked my passion and drive for expression, what connected me to my life in a deep and meaningful way.

All of my life I have surrounded my self with the symbol of the sword…jewelry, apocalyptic angels, hats, paintings and Sufi history.  I am taking stock of where I have been, how I have changed, what I have learned.

I keep coming back to this moment in time, dancing with a sword on my head.  I know this is the true me…I’ve tried on so many outward faces to find approval in the world, to make money, to find my tribe, like a large outward radiating circle of experiences I explored the world. The echo of my past has returned and I am calling out to myself again…but this time the message that comes back, is “come home to yourself”.  Come back to this person you let go so many years ago…now armed with courage, wisdom, strength, skill and truth.  The sword of truth, the object I danced with so many years ago has now become the way. 

Destination UNknown

Deadline based work, deadline driven projects…
“Take a break, take a breath and try again”…I tell myself.  Discouraged, tired, low level burnout.  Hello old friend.  All of those all nighters, pushed by Creative Directors, Art Directors, Professors, Producers, Clients… have taken a toll over the past decade…striving to be “good enough” and missing the mark.

Standards, perfection, the industry…and I am back to where I was last May… What is the purpose of all of this made up structure that I’ve placed myself into?  Does this fit?  Has this always been a shirt that was too small, hoping someday I’ll pull it out of my closet and wear it with pride so I would be perceived as “great”, “accomplished”, “important”?  I know this is a trap, and yet here I am again….this shirt will never fit, and it’s time to see the truth.

We are all scrambling for the spotlight, for love, for acceptance…for something bigger than ourselves.  But why?  Why do I turn away from the one person that really matters, myself?  My deep, authentic real self?  Why is that so hard? Especially when it comes to work and dealing with money? 

For years I identified as the underdog. I was encouraged by my environment to take up the mantel of someone brilliant “flying under the radar”.  Definitely a safer place to be, an easy fall back, an easy out…  but out of what exactly?  It took me years to answer that question, and realize I was turning away from my own power, and allowing the world to define my place and purpose.

And what is power?  Influence?  Approval?  Being busy?  Being in charge?  Being rich?  Being beautiful?

There are so many distractions….that pull and push at own deepest areas of perceived lack…But what if I didn’t lack anything?  Where would I place myself in the world?  What does that look like?

Define Failure

I have asked myself why I have felt compelled to put my thoughts/feelings out into the world after years of hiding? Ego? Attention? Sharing? Community?

The question comes back, why have I been hiding? Unworthiness, fear, gaslighting from the tech/mgfx industry, threats, gossip, being a target, and pain are a few words that immediately come to mind. But hiding isn’t going to make any of this go away because I’ve internalized these experiences into my identity, choices and pursuits. It’s time to change my story.

For the last three years I’ve said yes to everything that terrifies me. Interviews, public speaking, speaking out about abuse in my industry…and the fact…one that I have been running from for a long time…being an artist. I didn’t want to admit this to myself because it wasn’t accepted by my upbringing, and people challenged me…I wasn’t talented, couldn’t do it, wasn’t perfect enough…or worse yet tried to convince me that what I had experience/accomplished wasn’t real…and would accuse me of lying. But I HAD been a dancer, I HAVE two degrees, I HAVE lived in multiple cities, I DID win the Adobe Award, and I AM deeply educated in fine art.

So I started reading…A LOT. Speaking with others who had similiar experiences, studying those who had gone before me…who didn’t have a mentor or roadmap. All of their lives were hard, really hard…did I have the strength? Can I endure the judgement of others? Can I learn to deal with my freakish sensitivity and uncanny ability to read a room like its running through my body seconds after walking through the door?

Each time I said yes, sat on a panel, or was interviewed or spoke with truth I gained more confidence and began to understand how deep my strength went…so deep there is no bottom. Which in itself is terrifying…because I now realize I can endure anything. This made all of my fears/excuses a flimsy barrier between myself and the truth. It’s time to stop running…it’s time to stand in the truth…it’s time to come back to where I started before the world told me who I was and designated my place in it.

At first, I spoke mostly about failure…I felt qualified to speak about the process/experience…as I did this I realized that this is an internalized judgement. “Failure” can only occur when an external goal is set and not met. The concept of failure confines goals to set parameters and rigid ideas surrounded by acceptance/approval. What if I let that go? What if I set a goal, dropped my expectations, and allowed each unique experience to shape the outcome? What if I learn to be fluid in the uncomfortable and unknown? Does that mean failure is obsolete?

Sharing my thoughts is not about being an expert in failure, or an expert in general….not about acceptance, but about a declaration. Declaring to myself publicly my intention to rewrite my story.

Value (d)

Being valued is important…chasing money is a waste of time…facing yourself and who you are is the fastest path to success…because it’s genuine, and people will automatically be drawn to genuine expression. If you value someone, tell them, show them, support them.

Breakthrough

I’ve been doing at lot of reading/studying the writings/videos & talking w/ Chris Do, Joel Pilger,  James Victore, and Ryan Summers …it took a lot to overcome self doubt, step into the authority of what I know & give myself permission to speak up…

…I’ve been able to speak w/clients about $ in a completely different way, a miracle is happening…work is coming in, deposits are being paid on the spot, I am able to set boundaries w/scope creep & ask for payment before continuing. My clients are paying me immediately…

I am stunned & amazed at how an internal adjustment/work is changing the outcome of my life, and quickly. I realize more and more how the little decisions/thoughts have created so many obstacles for me unconsciously.

And as Gary Vaynerchuk said…you aren’t born with self doubt…self doubt is something that is projected onto you…in fact so much of my identity was wrapped in layers of external approval/disapproval that I had forgotten who I was. It took my life really falling apart to come back around and think about what I really wanted, who I am and where I want to go…

I was caught in a loop between needing to survive, wanting to stay in a creative career, fierce competition and trying to fight my way out of a downward spiral. But there was no fighting…I had to let go and rebuild from the inside out. There wasn’t any other way to build true confidence, and without that, I wasn’t going to be able to speak with authority, my clients weren’t going to trust me because I didn’t trust myself. A miracle is happening…

I am so so so grateful to the many people who extended their time and advice to help me find my way… thank you thank you thank you Chris Do, Joel Pilger, Ryan Summers, Gary Vaynerchuk,  Seth Godin,  Design Recharge, Lynda Decker,   Rebeca Méndez, ans Jim Peltier

Birthday

Sometimes, I think about becoming increasingly irrelevant as I get older and not valued by society…but then I remember…women are already irrelevant and not valued by society.

Might as well be free within myself, let all of the judgements and rules set up by a system meant to make people like me invisible, burn in the fire of my past. And discover who I was meant to be all along. I’ve spent far too much of my life seeking approval, disguised as love, and success (bound by the laws of society).


I’ve had the fight beaten out of me…and now…I think I’m going to fall into acceptance and see where I land.

10/31/18

After a couple days of rest and reflection…my heart is so full. How beautiful to see all of the love, wonder, gratitude, curiosity and inspiration pouring in from people’s experience at Bend Design .

Standing at the after party, exhausted, looking around the room…standing with a room full of creative powerful people…. we are so powerful! How wonderful to remember that!

That concentration/intensity of creative thinking, abilities, we can truly move mountains. I was/am in awe and so happy…after 7 months of intense work…how amazing to look around the room and see all of you.

My deepest gratitude…

What an amazing opportunity, what an amazing group…what an amazing moment in time that I will never forget. You are all so beautiful.

I am humbled so be apart of BND DSGN…thank you René Mitchell and Martha Murray for including me.

11/13/18

‪I am beginning to realize that it doesn’t matter how you view/feel about yourself. If you ask the question & pursue the answer with determination change will find you. And your self concept will be changed by the journey.‬