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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.‬

Interview with Scraper Magazine

Tell us where you were born and about your early childhood.

I was born in Goleta, CA, but I only lived there for a few years. We then moved to Fremont, CA, then to San Jose CA, and then to Fairfield, IA to join a meditation commune.  While there, our house burned to the ground, we lost everything.  I was sent to live with my Grandma in Eugene, OR with one of my sisters to finish out the school year. From Eugene we moved to Bend, OR where I went to Jr. High and High School.

Do you remember some of the first things you used to draw?

Yes! I was obsessed with drawing the assassination of Lincoln by John Wilkes Booth.  I had an amazing marker set of 200 colors and I also took a lot of art classes in San Jose. Used to love to draw the shadows that my face and hair created when I bent over a piece of paper.

What were some of your first inspirations that made you want to get involved with the art world?

I spent a lot of time at the Library as a kid and loved the illustrations from Grimm’s fairy tales, specifically “The Little Mermaid”.  I used to photocopy my favorite images from the books I read to hang on my bedroom walls. My best friend’s mom was an artist and she would set us up in the living room with giant pieces of butcher paper tacked to the wall, we would spend all night drawing lots of whales, Star Wars elements, and random doodles.
Later, when I was 16, I went to San Francisco with a friend and saw a B.F.A. dance performance at S.F. State that transported me.  I decided at the moment that I would move to the Bay Area, because I wanted to be in the heart of the creative, electric, energy there.

What was your experience like at California College of the Arts.  Did you have any favorite professors?

CCA Was a very difficult, intense period for me.  I was an underdog for the first two years.  Coming from a fine art background, the mathematical precision of design was a struggle.  But there were a few teachers who took me under their wing and saw potential in what I was doing.  

Eric Heiman really worked with me, he used to say that I had compelling image making skills. Eric helped me understand typography as another visual element, instead of a mathematical component. Once I changed the way I saw typography, my design career started to open up for me.

The following year Jim Kenney taught me motion graphics, and I was transfixed. I loved it immediately. MGFX Design incorporated graphic design, film, story telling, and choreography. It was because of Jim that I entered the Adobe Award competition.  I didn’t think too highly of my abilities, and kept putting it off.  Jim made an appointment to have one of the Adobe “helpers” sit down with me to fill out the application. 
Lastly, Terry Irwin, Jim Kenney, and Michael Vanderbyle pushed, encouraged and helped me to be the designer I am today during the intensity and rigors of the thesis program.

See the whole interview here

What Happens When You Have to be the Hero of Your Own Story?

After a decade in motion and graphic design no mentor surfaced for me, I didn’t fit into cliques and battled sexism, and misogyny.

My first intern attempt right out of design school was for a company called The Orphanage. One of my professors from CCA knew the Creative Director and helped set up the interview. I was so nervous, broke and excited. I was called back for a second interview, the internship was for roto work, work I could have done with my eyes closed…after 4 men completed a intensive round of questioning/interviewing, they offered me the position of the secretary, with a possibility of moving up into an internship…

To give this some context, I graduated with honors, and my thesis won the Adobe Achievement Award. I had my work shown in the Guggenheim, and my thesis was picked up by ResFest and shown world wide…I was crestfallen.

And then it hit me, I have to be my own hero…and stop waiting for the mentor, the opened door, the opportunity…I have to create all of these things myself as someone in charge of their own life.

This was the beginning of a long and winding road of obstacles…every time I was knocked down, I got up, and went after my goals harder. I did this until I was a burnt cinder of exhaustion…no mentor showed up, no magical stroke of luck, no door opened. I read every book I could get my hands on…listened to every podcast I could find, went to meet ups, talked to people successful in my field…

And then James Victore released one of his “Dangerous Ideas” podcast “The Right Way is the Hard Way” and reminded me of Joseph Campbell’s “The Hero’s Journey”. When I looked at the chart that defines all of the points a hero goes through in his journey, I realized that I have been looping between points 6-8…what part of me is identifying with this part of the journey that I can’t cross over to 9?

https://lissarankin.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/hj.gif

And then it hit me, I have to be my own hero…and stop waiting for the mentor, the opened door, the opportunity…I have to create all of these things myself as someone in charge of their own life.

With so much information available I find it’s easy to get lost in a sea of how to’s and ways to make it happen. But first, I think…you have to be your own hero. Without that…no advice will move you forward.

Where are you in your journey? How did you get there?

“Art Asks Design Answers” Panel at BND DSGN 2018

 I was on a panel called “Art Asks, Design Answers” for Bend Design with the lovely and amazing Bill HoppeKiel Fletcher and Troy Gua

There was a woman during the Q/A that asked me about the path of being an artist and making money…I can’t stop thinking about her question…I don’t know her name…but I feel like I didn’t answer her question effectively…in the hope that she follows me…I wanted to offer some context, history and advice that I hope will help better answer her question.

I come from a loving, strict, practical upbringing where I was taught to be polite, kind, honest and was encouraged to become a secretary. Safe, stable, known.

But my life has been anything but ..and I suspect I have given my family many sleepless nights :). But ultimately, you have to live for yourself, live your own life, not a life someone else wants for you.

Context/History:

I left Bend, OR at 18 and didn’t come back…got an undergrad at SOU in Post Modern English, Theater minored in Art/Psy. Then moved to Seattle and studied dance, choreography and worked with an amazing theater group called The Compound in Ballard. By day I worked at Archie McPhees and a few years later at the The Attorney General’s office.

I excelled in my position, was offered a career path…
but the daily trips to the courts, jail, juvenile detention all the while dealing with DSHS issues, homicides, FBI, going through felon’s mail and sorting photos of accidents/deaths was taking an emotional toll on my psyche.

By night I got to be true to myself, dancing, choreographing… I was free. I started having reoccurring, nightly demonic dreams and knew I had to quit my stable job.

I landed a job at Mulberry Neckwear in San Rafael, CA as a design assistant. Learned about fabric design/patterns, was introduced to photoshop and fell in love with design. I enrolled at C.C.A. and went through their Graphic Design program.

CCA was a struggle, coming from a fine art background. I almost failed my first typography class.. halfway through the program I ran out of money and almost dropped out.

My family was encouraging me to quit. They were tired of seeing me suffer…

This was a pivotal moment…I made the choice to continue and found ways to keep going. That next year I discovered Motion Design…went through a rigorous thesis program and my thesis short film won the Adobe Achievement Award.

The MGFX world has had its own challenges (more about that here: http://crahmanti.com/rumblings) I couldn’t afford the bay area after graduating and moved to Denver to start over.

My point to all of this history is to illustrate that my path has been long, winding, full of obstacles, risk, pain, sacrifice… but ultimately I have been able to be true to myself and pursue what has always been in my heart…. storytelling through the subconscious/dreams.

Whether through my body (dance), my mind (writing), design (structure), painting (my heart), photography (my eyes) or motion (timing and form). Without enduring fear and uncertainty I would have missed out on meeting many amazing trailer blazers along with the opportunity to support projects/people that have and are changing the world.

There is no shame in the in between points, the less glamorous moments…or the messy emotional tangles that risk brings.

Art and money can co-exist, it can be done, but everyone’s idea of what that looks like is different. And I think it’s important to be open/fluid. What you have in your mind may be very different than the door that opens…the universe is a big place with infinite possibilities, what is known and what is possible don’t occupy the same sphere.

Set your intention, and see what opens. Don’t be discouraged by your past, trust your instincts, and don’t shy away from opportunities that aren’t perfect, that challenge you, or look different that what you had hoped for. The world is mysterious, and the future is unknown. You are your own barometer, trust in your process, do what you need to put food on the table and live fully in your heart. Acknowledge all parts of yourself and stay open to change. That is the call of the artist.

XO

Heather

Crahmanti

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