.When you have non-parental authority figures trying to tell you what's best for you in terms of working, it's often in a heavy-handed put someone in a box kind of way. That's the shit that I was dealing with on the come up, so I became weary of who I could put my faith in to help me get to where I want to be. And after I had become weary, I came to the realization that I would have to bet on myself, something that was a foreign concept to a majority of both my peer group and my then-co-workers. But I remained determined, as I knew that there was a way to succeed in the working world on my own terms. I then relied on things from my past that I was either good at or aspired for, with the idea of eventually integrating all of them together. And with that being said, here's a breakdown of each thing that I was either good at or aspired for, and containing a then and a now. Let's begin:

  • Drawing. Then: I started drawing at six years old because all of the other kids were doing it. I was probably the worst drawer out of everybody, but that didn't stop me from trying. Now: I prioritize balanced and neat lines, along with legibility with hand-drawn things, such as penguins. I also prioritize packing the drawings with color, whether it's a penguin or a one-eyed space monster. I've done some of my drawings, by studying drawing apps and drawing books, with the former producing an iguana and the latter producing a cupcake. Yes, they are simplistic, but they are also a far improvement from when I was a kid. And now, I look to re-release my first volume of custom drawn flash art, as well as release a book of my own hand drawn letters, the latter of which I learned to draw when I was 12 years old and am actually good at drawing.
  • Sports. Then: I loved playing sports when I was kid and had dreamed to be in the NBA, NFL or MLB. But in order to make into any of those leagues, I had to be on a team and be one of, if not the best player on the team. I wasn't built enough to play (tackle) football, I got cut from the basketball team during my junior year of high school, and I was a longshot to make the baseball team. Now: The dream of being a pro athlete came and went, but I don't let that stop me from playing sports for fun. I also continue to watch sports, as my love for it has never wavered. Someone told me once that I should be a sportswriter. Well, I was with my now-defunct sports website, 3-Tense. I enjoyed writing about sports, but the upkeep for that site was too fatiguing. But now that I've consolidated everything, I will get back into sportswriting, but in a much more relaxing capacity.
  • Music. Then: When I was 15 years old, I wanted to be a rapper and wrote my own rhymes. But it felt like a chore once the entire school knew about it, because they all wanted me to bust a flow for them. I tried to start my rapping back up numerous times. But by the time that I was 31, my passion for trying to get a whole album going was completely out of my system. Now: I still like to write rhymes and have three poems on the poetry page of Art Infliction. Plus, I'm thinking of starting a Sevendust cover band just for fun. No recording contracts. Just fun in doing covers of my favorite band's songs. Stay tuned for that one.
  • Movies. Then: By no means did I ever want to be an actor. But I love watching movies and I feel that I can give detailed reviews on them. Now: I rank movies that I like, movies that are meh, and movies that are bad. You can find ranking lists for each category in the Ranks A Lot! section of Art Infliction. Plus, I did do my weekly movie review vlog for the now-defunct Flick Wit It. But that vlog was too fatiguing. But once again, I'll get back into reviewing movies. Especially now that things are consolidated. And of course, I'll be doing that in a much more relaxed capacity as well.
  • Painting. Then: I always felt that I was better as a painter than drawer for the simple fact that I could get colors in the lines. But that became lost in the shuffle for years. Now: The pursuit of painting was found again, as I became in awe of a bunny rabbit painted rock that was on my porch when I was watching the Kurt Russell movie "Used Cars". I then paused the movie, as I had a light bulb moment of thinking that I can do that and succeed at it. That's the thing that really jump-started my self-employment aspirations, as I picked quite a few rocks off the ground, along with buying a lot of paint and brushes. I then went to town, doing painted rocks such as the owl face and a gold fish. And after I decided to go forward with my rocks, I opened up an Etsy shop and have since sold some. I also sold of them at the 2016 Granite Con. And now that I'm more settled in following my recent move, I can do more pieces for my Etsy shop, as well as do another convention or trade show again. And since the painted rocks were a prequel to Art Infliction, well I guess that you could say that my business was literally built from the ground up.
  • Selling trading cards. Then: Believe or not, wanting to sell trading cards was the first real business venture that I had thought about getting into, with my focus being on sports cards. As to why I decided to pursue that endeavor, well I wanted to emulate Kevin Franklin (Sinbad) from Houseguest in terms of being a nice guy with a somewhat get rich quick idea. However, I knew that I wouldn't make it just off of trading cards alone. Plus, it took me a while to become fully convinced that eBay was the way, as I didn't get a sellers account on there until 2015. As for selling on eBay itself, well I was in a "test the waters" phase and then I got a sale for the Richard Dent trading card that I had put up for sale, with it selling for only 99 cents. I guess my ambition of selling on eBay got the best of me on that one, and that caused me to be really hesitant again about selling on that site. Now: I've been able to sell other items on eBay, by more than making up for my testing the waters snafu in 2015. I've also started selling trading cards again on eBay, by putting five Boris Vallejo cards up for auction, retroactive to this past Thursday. No bids have been made for them yet, but I'm taking a calculated risk with them. Either way, I guess that you could say that it was in the "cards" for me to have my own business regardless if I get trading cards to sell or not on eBay. Especially when I've been able to get other items to sell on there. So I guess in the sense of selling other items, it was in the "cards" for me to sell on eBay.
  • Having my own product line of items, with no minimum required quantities. Then: Back in my junior year of high school, I did dream of having a product line that contained catchy things that I or anyone else would say. However, that got lost in the shuffle, as I had much more important things to address from then up until 2014, the year in which I discovered to sell original clothing ideas online. I honestly don't remember the name of that site, but it had a minimum item sold requirement in order to get paid. Now: Back in the days of the very first Art Infliction, things weren't very hot at all, as the website for that very first Art Infliction had a messy layout and didn't make a whole lot with the ads that were on there at the time. But thanks to my father spitballing an idea about starting up t-shirts for profit, my motivation to do that and more was back again. I then looked up websites where I could have my own product line without dealing with the minimum required quantities hassle. And much to my delight, I found the perfect site for my product line aspirations, with it being Customized Girl. And while it's not raking in money like the Jordan Brand, it's made some money. Plus, I have yet to find the right people to really accelerate the growth of the Customized Girl branch for the product line, as well as the other branches in Spreadshirt, Zazzle and Cow Cow. But I remain optimistic. Plus, I'm not putting all of my eggs into one basket. And because of those two things, I don't view the Art Infliction product line as a failure and I never will.
  • Using money-making sites/apps. Then: Anytime that I would Google make money taking surveys, various paid survey sites would pop up. I signed up with a few of them, but reaching the minimum payout requirements for all of those sites took so damn long. So because of that, I would give up rather quickly. Now: The pain of paid online survey sites would ultimately lead me to sites such as Swagbucks and AppTrailers, the latter of which I blogged about two days ago. And given how easy that them and other money-making sites/apps make it for people to get points in exchange for PayPal cash, I decided to abandon paid online survey sites/apps altogether. And the move has paid off, as the Art Infliction brand has thrived off of sites/apps such as the aforementioned AppTrailers and Swagbucks, the former of which is a part of the Perk conglomerate.
  • Tattoos. Then: Back when I got granted full-time status at my now-former day job, I had pondered the idea of modeling all my tattoos since that was what kept me relevant if not popular at the time. But I didn't want to deal with all the stereotypes that other guys have gotten, and probably continue to get while modeling, so I opted against it. Now: While I'm not modeling my tattoos for magazines and calendars, I've decided to put all of my tattoos online in a gallery, which for those of you that don't know, is called Tatt-A-Lanche. I guess that you could call it modeling my tattoos but without the glitz, glamour, and fucking public appearances. Plus, having them on an Art Infliction page is potentially lucrative compared to having them in a photo album on Facebook.
  • Writing. Then: I've been told quite a few times that I'm a good writer, but I had no idea where to begin nor how constantly that I had to write. Now: Thanks to the advice of my tattoo artist, friend, role model and mentor John Peters, I decided to blog about each of my tattoos to give the readers the perspective of a tattoo collector. And now you can find the stories in the Tats What's Up! section, as well as the Inflindication section.
  • Having an online presence. Then: Back when I was 15 years old, a friend of mine took a picture of me, but I had no idea that he put the picture of me on a website that he made. And put it on there without my consent. It was an embarrassing time in my life to the point that I vowed to never put my picture online for the whole world to see. Plus, it made me very apprehensive about sending pictures to people online. Now: Given all of this stuff that I've gotten my hands into, along with wanting to integrate all of it, I decided to first man up against that aforementioned embarrassment that I had experienced at 15 years old, and then become wise to the fact that having an online presence was my best shot at making content monetization the driving force of what is now Art Infliction. Oh yeah, I also built the damn site, so I didn't need to get anyone's consent to put pictures of myself on there. However, I always ask for consent when it comes to other people's pictures being put on there.

As you can see, not everyone has to succumb to the being forced into a box narrative in order to succeed nor do they have to abandon what they're good at. Plus, they can be entirely true to themselves, regardless of what the conformist part of society thinks. And as I'm writing this entry, I feel totally relaxed. Plus, I can't remember the last time where I had felt that my life was a total failure.

Sure, I don't have a Monday through Friday job that I brag about to my friends. And sure, you don't see me on TV trying to woo some woman whose standards are too high when it comes to finding a man. And sure, I might not word things to appease to someone who's over-reliant on buzz words to determine one's character. Instead, I'm a guy who's true to who he is, and has taken all of his interests and all of his "side money" endeavors to create a business model that's slowly but surely succeeding. And slowly but surely succeeding in a world where what I'm doing is still probably a foreign concept to my peer group and former co-workers. But honestly, I wouldn't have it any other way, because I'm getting to where I am in life, by doing what I love. And I'm getting paid for it just by simply being me.