On this Labor Day, I want to address the disturbing number of Americans without jobs, having trouble finding work, or worrying about stimulus payments running out in the face of a looming recession.
I’ve spent the bulk of my weekend answering texts (323.310.2844) from those of you who are feeling alone and anxious in a historically catastrophic job market: brand upstarts who are losing hope. Influencers, models, and freelancers who are being forced to pivot. Musicians who can’t tour. Recent graduates, especially, are facing the worst prospects since the Great Depression.
If this speaks to you, I want you to know that you are not alone. I’m alarmed by the number of close friends and followers who have reached out to me over the last few months seeking employment help (I’m even more bothered by the lack of openings I can find for them in the marketplace). I understand there is a certain sense of shame and disappointment associated with being jobless and nobody likes to publicize their hardships. But, it’s very real and happening all around us, if not happening to us. It’s a collective crisis.
So, if I can lend any unwarranted advice…
1. Lean on your network. The most successful people I know did not elevate in their career by blind resumes or job search engines. They were referred by friends and juiced their social connections in landing the jobs of their dreams. I know it’s especially hard to do this in a pandemic, but utilize social media contacts and scrub your Address Book for anyone who can grease that link. And you don’t need to have a fancy social scene to do this. When I say “network,” I mean your wacky uncle who runs a deli, the girl you graduated with who started an app, your friend who works at a company and can get your foot in the door.
2. Take this pause to master a skillset. Employers are looking for specific roles to fill. I get a lot of people asking if they can work for us, but when I ask them in what capacity, they say, “I’ll do anything.” I don’t need you to do anything. I need you to do the one thing. And be the best at it. For example, if you are interested in design, learn the Adobe Creative Suite by following YouTube tutorials. Master a diversity of styles by tracing other designers’ work. Once you’ve gotten fast and proficient enough in the design programs, add your personal opinion to develop your own style.
3. If you don’t know what your interests are, it’s time to open your mind and gain some experience. Look for an internship in a field that you are remotely curious about. I interned for over a year (for free) at a skate magazine. I didn’t go into that industry, but I did discover a passion for clothing and editorial through that time. Speaking of which, although there’s a lot of chatter in our culture on the subject, it’s actually pretty rare to identify passions, let alone build a career out of them. Follow your curiosities instead. I didn’t grow up being obsessed with fashion, but I was curious about the youth culture industry, and that wonder led me to where I am today.
4. Maybe you know your interests and have the knowledge, but the circumstances have to be aligned just right in order to move forward. This hesitation is a result of fear, self-doubt, and laziness. Just press Start. You have to get the car moving in order to get anywhere, even if it’s in the wrong direction. You need the inertia to steer the car and direct your life towards a destination… anyway, that’s the easy part! The hard part is getting yourself out of Park and committing to a path. Unfortunately, the majority of people will be too comfortable or scared to ever leave that space. There is no better time than Now to release that parking brake.
Lastly, if you do have a job or a means of income, hold onto it. I know I’m out here preaching inspirational messages and urging you to follow your dreams. But once the unemployment checks run dry, once the elections are over, I worry about the fallout. So, while I advise you to be reckless in your dreaming, it’d be irresponsible to also not warn you of the oncoming storm. I’ve been coaching people to lay low for the next 6 to 12 months. I know there are those of you who hate your jobs or are dying to get into your own thing. But think about launching your passion project or seeking a shinier job once the dust settles on 2020. Until then, you can always stack more skills, raise capital, or strategize your future. Just make sure the next lily pad is secure before you jump.
I hope any of this is helpful. Always here if you need me.
The Olympics and Paralympics. Wow. This is big. The world’s stage! When #LA28 asked me to help design the logo for the 2028 Games – along with the #LACreator class – I was beyond honored. I wanted to champion the city’s diversity in my art. I wanted to put on for fellow business owners like @joytostada. Selfishly, I made it a point to draw my “A” in front of my children. Eight years from now, they will be teenagers. We’ll go to the Olympics together and the story of this logo will have chronicled their youth.
However… as much positivity, attention, and growth the Olympics brings to their hosts, there is also a problematic history surrounding gentrification, displacement, and other issues that can arise from a massive event moving in and out of a city. LA28’s response is that the LA Games will use existing infrastructure around Southern California (no new permanent venues). There is also a concern, with Los Angeles especially, that there will be a rise in police akin to what happened with the ’84 Olympics. Considering we are eight years out, LA28 has told me that no operational decisions have been made about security. In the meantime, LA28 is enhancing direct community input through a community advisory council and youth council, in the hopes of setting a new standard for event security.
Regardless. I welcome all the feedback. And want all the pushback! It makes me proud to see that of all the artists and athletes who worked on this project, our The Hundreds community is loudest in challenging WHY. Make yourself heard. You have an opportunity to speak up and create real change in how these Games are conducted in our city. And they have eight whole years to get it right. No excuses.
– Rainer Maria Rilke
Ezra Klein: “How little…the advantage is built on… You need to make other people both believe in the story or reinforce the story, because if the story goes away, the whole thing goes away.”
Isabel Wilkerson: “Because it is so fragile, it is defended with such force and such rigidity.”
Please listen to the podcast episode HERE.
A constant, unyielding state of grey.
Like a baseline hum. A drawn out note. A blur.
There is no punctuation. No beginning or end.
Just a forever middle. On infinite loop.
A metaphysical void. The absence of spirit.
In the pit of the tunnel
In that damp melancholy
It is most disorienting
Where nothing connects with nothing.
We are at the same time disembodied and imprisoned.
Stuck. Rudderless. Floating.
there are dreams that can not be
and there are storms we can not weather
to the following people, places, and things that have gotten me through this year:
- Jeni’s Ice Cream
- Dave Choe
- Lamb of God
- Lake Arrowhead
- Itaewon Class
- Juice Wrld
- Sunset and El Porto
- Taylor Swift
- The Plot Against America
- Group texts with old friends
- Texting with the community
- My family
The earliest art my parents have from my childhood.
I was 4. I know this sounds crazy, but I vividly remember the choices for the “L” nose and how proud I was that the checkerboard pattern made the beach ball look more realistic.
This drawing is from when I was 9. I wanted to follow in the footsteps of some of my favorite newspaper comic strip artists like Bill Watterson and Garfield. The medium didn’t survive, but I still found a way to draw cartoons for a living.
Egon Schiele was one of the most popular – and controversial – artists of his time. That time being the period of the Spanish Flu in 1918. His mentor Gustav Klimt died of the flu. Then Egon’s wife Edith got it. He drew this portrait of her as she lay dying. After she passed, he started feeling sick and died 3 days later.
An entire generation of artists – and art – faded away with Egon Schiele. The Spanish Flu changed everything, including the direction of the art movement.
Egon Schiele was 28 years old.
I have this dream
Where I feel like
into the sky
So I hold fast
to the earth
like my hands
through the clay
the crying branches
through my limbs
in my heart
in my mind
in my heart
in my mind
I know that Life
I don’t know
how to deal
It is much easier to believe a conspiracy theory than to admit that life can be chaos. Our brains are hardwired to search for narratives and reasons, but sometimes there is only entropy and disorder. It was always this way and we’ve always done the best we could. But, self-deception, spinning lies, and fabricating grandiose stories because they’re more comfortable is detrimental.
To parents, educators, students, and anyone else who understands that figuring out our schooling situation should be paramount right now:
There are many issues associated with the pandemic. My two biggest concerns (besides public health and the economy) have to do with domestic abuse and education, and they kinda go hand in hand. We need kids back in school for a number of reasons. They need the structure. They need to be mentally stimulated and to grow intellectually. They need to learn how to build relationships. They also need a place to escape violence if there is abuse at home, and a way to signal for help. Finally, we need kids in school so that parents can get to work.
However, students also need to be kept safe from contracting COVID-19 or transmitting it on to their community. The ideal scenario, therefore, is that kids stay home as long as they receive some type of distanced education that will equip them for the next step in life. If a student has access to a computer and an Internet connection, we need a standardized digital curriculum for every grade level set in place by experts and educators at the national, state, and local level. Their teachers can reinforce this framework through bite-sized Zoom sessions and add supplementary teachings that jibe with their personal approach. Parents or guardians should be expected to contribute 30 min – 1 hour a day to assist their child through the lessons, acting as a pro tempore teacher’s aide.
Some form of this already exists with home schooling, but most parents and students know how boring online-learning can get and how quickly Zoom Gloom can set in. We’ve stripped all the fun parts of school attendance (the incentives have always been recess, lunchtime, and hanging out with friends). Therefore, we need Hollywood studio-level programming interwoven in the school curriculum to keep young people socialized, entertained and engaged. If my children are eager to communicate with their friends over Fortnite, veg out on YouTube, and marvel at TikTok personalities all day long, they should theoretically be willing to sit in a digital classroom that follows the same playbook. I’m thinking Bill Nye meets School House Rock for 2020, but re-imagined as fun courses led by The Rock, Yara Shahidi, Addison Rae, or Naomi Osaka. Learning can be gamified, paired with popular music, and hosted intermittently by recognizable personalities, especially those who can teach a skillset (think MasterClass for the kids – How do Draw by Takashi Murakami. Coding with the FaZe Clan). When I was growing up, we had educational shows like Channel One and Sesame Street. In the age of streaming and content creation, we should be supporting and funding more “TV” like this for the next generation, especially in an isolated year. And – along with the oversight of education departments and teachers, this should be a united effort across studios and networks, game companies, the music industry, social media platforms, and sports leagues.
This begs the question of how to accommodate families who don’t have access to computers or the Internet. Since there are less students in physical schools, we can take advantage of wide open playgrounds and parking lots to set up tents and have students gather outside in properly spaced seating arrangements. This would be especially effective now while it’s still warm during the summer. They can view and learn from the same material that’s broadcasted online for the rest of the students.
I’m sure I’m missing a lot of important things here. I admit, I know nothing about schools, I am not an educator, I design clothing and write for a living – I am entirely naïve and think this is a simpler fix than it is. So, I will apologize for any ignorance. At the very least, I think we need to pump more money into education than ever. Many of our societal ills can be attributed to the poor education in this country, especially for underprivileged and marginalized youth. Also, in addressing the coronavirus’ strain on our economy, most parents can’t focus on their jobs until they trust someone to focus on their children. So, what will keep the children focused? And how do we prepare them for success?
You gotta know the rules before you break the rules.