Entry Level

As exciting as it was to be in the North American Headquarters of Swatch Watches, Scott and I were waaaay out of our league. We clearly were not two independent film makers from Los Angeles there to pitch a concept, and the suit we were presenting to, whoever or whatever he was, saw right through us. Knowing clearly that we were merely a couple of undergrads with a cool video, this guy was just cordial enough to give us the time of day. We naively left him our contact information and a copy of the video. Back at Casa Vaquero, it was only a month or so later that our little proactive project aired on MTV. We thought we hit the big time, but in reality, we'd just been ripped off. There were no papers signed, no witnesses, and clearly no recourse. Faking professional and skipping legal are never advisable, but for creatives it's a really bad idea. Luckily, for Scott and I, the spot may have only aired a few times, at best, so the idea of having it as a piece on the video reel in our books wasn't jeopardized. "Didn't I see a similar video on MTV?," would be the last thing either of us would want to hear during a review, and we never did. Time, was on our side.

Han used to tell me that I really seemed happiest when I was working on my movie projects for Joel Bass's film class. Writing, shooting, and editing a movie, while you're living in LA, even if it was a Super-8, black and white, student short, made my assignments never feel like they were work. It is said that if you do what you love, and love what you do, you'll never work a day in your life. During that first year at ArtCenter, it wasn't so easy to find that love, but spending countless hours hand-coloring an 8mm film with magic markers until the wee hours of the morning had a certain instant satisfaction about it. My first and only appearance on film, as an actor for what it's worth, was shot in an abandoned warehouse in Los Angeles by my classmate and neighbor, Yishai Jusidman. The real star of the movie was the legendary Australian performance artist, Stelarc, who had suspended himself using sixteen flesh-hooks that allowed his naked body to be winched into the air and then float above the rubble and debris.

Yishai was one of the few Fine Art students at ArtCenter, and as a Jewish, vegetarian, Mexican artist with an insatiably curious mind, we became fast friends. Living on the second floor of an old house up the street from my El Molino apartment in Pasadena, Yishai taught me to cook cous-cous, drink wheatgrass juice, and listen to Pat Metheny and Stockhausen's 'Sternklang'. If being creative was about thinking different, Yishai taught me that being an artist was about living different. Creative is something you do, while an artist is something you are.     

Frustrated by the disciplines, Yishai had transferred out of ArtCenter by the end of the first year and ultimately graduated from nearby CalArts before moving to New York City. Two months prior to my own graduation, I already had a job lined up and a place to live - in Yishai's loft. As an artist, living in a four-story, walk-up in Chelsea was practically a prerequisite. Our place was an old dance recital space, complete with a mirrored wall and skylights, that Yishai turned into his studio, gallery, and our semi two-bedroom apartment. My room, if you could call it that, was nothing more than a futon and shelving made from cinder blocks and wood panels in what, in any city other than New York, would have been a storage closet with a window. It was exciting, it was home, and it was a mere two blocks from Korey, Kay where I was now working at a starting salary of $18,000. With no student loans, a beginner pseudo-vegetarian lifestyle, and no commute to speak of, it was practically enough to live on. As it turns out, you can be a starving artist whether you're doing fine or commercial art, and Yishai and I were hungry for more, each in our respective disciplines.


Reference Key:

Scott Worth - see Book Smarts

Han S. Lee - see Academics

Korey, Kay & Partners - see Paying Dues

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