I met Marrus when she emailed me after visiting Fan To Pro. She's an artist and creative person who created a book called "Lightsurfing: Living Life
in the Front of My Mouth" as a call to how people can live their dreams. She's had an adventurous life (which intersected some of my own comics reading), traveled, and far, far more.
So of course what do I do? I interview her! Let's meet a true free creative spirit- who has some advice for you!
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m a non-trustfunded painter who owns her own home. I spent 12 years in NYC, dipping into many pools: art forger, comic book illustrator, animation sales rep, computer networker & business incubator-er. After 9-11, I moved to New Orleans looking for a safe place to live – just in time for Katrina. My partner and I bought & rehabbed a flooded house in the 9th Ward while I supported us by selling my art and painting skin all over the country. I also storyboard movies. Then I wrote a book called “Lightsurfing: Living Life in the Front of My Mouth” about how all that came about.
You've written a book on creative people and their lives and ambitions – as a guide and tale on how you lived your passion. Tell us about it!
It took three years for me to distill the question “so, what’s your book about?” into one line! “Lightsurfing” is an illustrated how-to for the path less traveled.
After getting bombarded with the same questions, like: "You really make a LIVING like this?" "How do you market yourself?" "How do you keep it all going?" I realized that a lot of people had only ever been told why they WOULDN’T succeed, not how they could. I've been blessed by the knowledge of so many people in so many ways for so long that now I can repay that kindness by teaching how to do what I do.
“Lightsurfing” is part autobiography, part coffee-table art book and part instruction manual to thriving as a creative – with a substantial sidecar of kinky clown!
How did you get this book published? Give us an outline of how you got this book into reality – what resources you used, what websites, etc.
Lightsurfing” became a reality in the same roundabout way that everything I do becomes a reality: a mixing of serendipity, nurturing healthy relationships, and rising to the challenge.
Jeff Gomez was one of my editors at Valiant Comics in the early 90s. He insisted that no one lived the way I did, and that I should write down my stories. Years later, after he created his own company, Starlight Runner Entertainment, he said, “So, you finished my book yet?”
I responded, “Oh, you were serious?”
And he said, “I’ve been serious for almost two decades.”
o I got off my butt & wrote it, and Kissena Park Press, the publishing arm of SLR, brought it to life.
Did anyone help you with this?
The crew at Starlight Runner, many of whom I knew from my comic book days, made this a much better project I might have created on my own. Jeff pulled connections out of me that ensured the book would be more than a loosely jointed series of anecdotes, and Chrysoula Artemis & Maurice Kessler kept the layout elegant and professional, thus balancing all the gallivanting madness & wisdom within. I am fortunate that my talented friends were as excited about bringing the project to fruition as I was.
It’s vital to have a tribe whose members’ expertise differs from our own. My network isn’t limited to artists or writers (most of whom make me crazy, anyway). I play with many types of brains: architects & doctors & jugglers & musicians & administrators & hunters & fish breeders & mechanics…you never know where the next idea will come from, or the next connection. If I hung out with people just like me, my world would be a very boring, narrow little closet.
What were the challenges of publishing? How did you overcome them?
Getting work out to the people who will love it is a thousand times more difficult than creating it. I was lucky – I’d cultivated wonderful relationships with people who did different things than I did, but who had similar ideas about how to go about life, so my book just kinda happened. But the larger challenge is marketing it, promoting it, proving to the world why they should buy it, love it, and tell their friends about it.
I’ve had some experience with this because galleries didn’t know what to do with my paintings, either. I got the same response everywhere: “These are brilliant & beautiful, but they won’t match rich people’s sofas.” So, I took my work on the road, seeking the people who would love my stuff rather than making them find me. I’m doing a similar thing with my book!
Your book is on people living their passions. What are the major lessons you'd like to share from that?
It’s not enough to want to make a living to do what you do. Nor is it enough to be extraordinarily talented – the world is full of passionate, talented failures. If you want to earn money with your passion, you’ll be running a business, and the sooner you accept that, the sooner you’ll be able to plot your course.
A self-supporting artist/writer/costumer/insert-unusual-vision-here-er has just as much in common with the bar owner down the street as they do Picasso – maybe more. You must compartmentalize your head: THIS section of time is when we figure out where the next show is. THIS section of time is devoted to branding & marketing. THIS section of time is for making the wire armature for the robot. These slots can be juggled, but they all must have their due attention paid, or the house collapses.
Entrepreneurs have more resources available than ever before – the web has changed everything. You can research your profession, conduct online informational interviews, apply for loans, take classes, form communities, promote your business, often with very little money, as long as you’re ready to put in a lot of sweat equity.
Remember above all else to BE PROFESSIONAL. If you’re a costumer, and you want to sell your costumes at a fantasy convention, that doesn’t mean you get to play at that convention. You must be at your booth, talking to your customers, taking orders, running your business. Yeah, work and play can brush up against each other, but if that happens too much, you’ll know it, cuz you’re gonna go hungry.
What are the major barriers people find in living their passions and making a career of them?
Fear, in all its insidious forms, is the major barrier to people making a career of their passions: procrastination, egotism, shyness, laziness. This wonderful, terrifying, wild idea you have IS possible, and you are not the only one who has ever walked this path – it only feels that way. There are people who can help you, but it is up to you to find them, ask the right questions, and then follow through on those answers. I’ve been approached by hundreds of hopefuls who ask to pick my brain, and then do nothing with the information I give them. They don’t want it enough. Rest assured that someone else WILL want it enough if you drop the ball.
What's next on your artistic schedule?
I’m slated to be all over the country in 2010, from renaissance festivals to kinky events to sci-fi conventions. I also am booking intimate engagements to talk about living on your own terms. I want to teach people how to open up their channels to creativity and life – wait, they’re the same thing. I also have a few paintings backed up in my studio, and Mardi Gras is right around the corner, so I have some costuming to do!
Any final closing advice for our readers?
You’re probably really good at that thing that you love. Work ceases to be work when we’re doing something we’re passionate about. But anyone who has told you why you can’t
do something has put their OWN fear of failure in YOUR head. Are you gonna let them do that to you? Love yourself first – it’s YOUR life, not theirs, and you’re the one who needs to get on living it.
So, you have questions? Figure out who might have the answers and ASK them. You feel overwhelmed with the list of what must be accomplished? Pick ONE thing to start with, and DO it. I know it’s scary, but the fearless have no imagination.
If you want your passion to earn your keep, do it well, treat it like the business it is, and anything is possible.
Thanks to Marrus for her time! If you want to find out more:
- You can buy her book here at Amazon.
- You can visit her website.
- You can visit her livejournal.
- You can fan her at Facebook.
– Steven Savage