‘(...) it ain’t about how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward, how much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done”

Early in my career as an artist I was confused about what constitutes success.  I thought all I had to do was work hard and success would follow. Now I know that working hard is the easy part.  Perseverance in the face of countless rejections and failures, showing up when no one but you cares, working in the dark when no one is looking... day after day, month after month, year after year – that’s how the real work is done and success is achieved.
I learned that unless I define success on my own terms, I will always feel like a failure no matter how good my career might look from the outside. This sobering truth hit me when major obstacles shook up my career and I was forced to change not only the way I perceived the business or art but more importantly I was forced to change myself.

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”  

Viktor E. Frankl, Man's Search For Meaning, 1946
John Wooden, arguably the greatest college basketball coach ever, defined success as making the effort to do the best you are capable of doing: to value what is within your power – your effort, preparation, showing up... not so much the outcome of the game, because that you cannot control. When you are able to value obstacles and look at them as an opportunity for growth you become unstoppable.

If my career is so hard, how is it possible that I wake up day after day and keep on going..? What is that burning need which sustains my desire and drives me towards success?

Some may think it’s the love of what I do, but I don’t think that is my primary reason. What drives me to work is an unshakable desire to fulfill my heroic mission to serve the greater good and in doing so to earn a basic sense of self worth.

We like to be reminded that our central calling,
our main task on this planet, is the heroic. 

Ernest Becker, The Denial of Death, 1973

A purpose driven life is supremely difficult and it calls for endless sacrifices. Is it not the case then, that by living a purposeful life we become heroic by overcoming the circumstances of our existence (Becker).

My machine paintings are fundamentally a study in human nature: they reflect my belief that Machine represents man’s need for heroism. This is not Joseph Campbell's heroism though. There's no reward at the end of the journey: there's only an unrelenting instinct towards the heroic, a blind drive, a natural urge to stand out, to be a hero and to make one's unique contribution to the world.

It doesn't matter that in this day and age we find admitting the need for heroism awkward. Whether we want to admit it or not, we live in a cultural hero-system, either religious or secular, where man serves this purpose to earn a sense of self-esteem. Ernest Becker made this point in his magnum opus The Denial of Death: The orientation of men has to be always beyond their bodies (...) and towards explicit immortality-ideologies, myths of heroic transcendence”. This need for heroism is a consequence of man’s anxiety in the face of his mortality: by being a part of something greater than his body, man’s conceptual self will live on granting him eternity. 

Throughout history, art has strived to eternalize human existence in the form of portraiture. I too was trained as a portrait painter. In this day and age though, as technology takes the center stage, the artist’s role must be to reflect humanity’s new ultimate immortality project: The Machine. 

Machine, unlike man, is immortal. As an artist whose basic sense of self worth is hopelessly attached to legacy and to the business of living forever, what better to tackle than the Eternal Heroic Machine then?

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