- We're in Manhattan now outside my old apartment.
I used to live right here on the second floor for about two years, and now I'm standing in front of this apartment, I'm starting to think about that day and all the memories in this place.
My name's Eric, and I create under the name Efdot. I'm a muralist, designer and illustrator, and I'm a creator.
I felt like I was living the dream because I was freelancing, I was living in Manhattan and everything was like I pictured it, or some cheaper version of how I pictured it.
But then on one Friday morning I was painting a sign for a friend's tattoo shop, and all of a sudden I just smelled something weird.
I looked outside and I could see that the whole backyard was on fire, this was just the scariest sight that I'd ever seen. My body instantly went into panic mode.
As I closed the window, I burned my hands. The window just shattered right into my face, into my body. The fire alarm starts going off, the smoke's billowing into the apartment.
It was getting really hard to breathe in there really quickly. I knew that I had a lot of valuable things, but I knew I had to get out of there and save my life. So I didn't have any shoes on, I didn't have my wallet in my pocket, I just saw a clear exit so I ran out the front door and called the fire department.
The fire, you could see it from the street going up two, three stories, so I didn't have a lot of hope for the apartment being okay. After they finished putting out the fire, we were able to go back inside, and it was the most scarring image I'd ever seen.
Everything was either burned, black or wet from the fire hoses. The ceiling was on the floor in crumbles and pieces, you could see just the inside of everything.
It was really shocking to be walking around that space, not knowing what to do next. I found my printer and my scanner that were melted shut, and I opened up the scanner and I found this drawing that I'd been working on, and it said "optimist."
I was transported back to when I was drawing the piece and what I was thinking about. And I remembered, I am an optimist, and I can get through difficult things.
I think optimism is a choice. It's tough because optimism sometimes gets confused with happiness. You can actually be sad a lot and still be an optimist, but I do think to be an optimist, you have to be able to look for the silver lining.
So I took this sketch and started creating products based on it, so literally I was selling things that said Optimist. So I ended up creating a whole project out of it, I called it the Optimist project, where we would sell these goods and raise money for homeless people and people who went through disasters.
I just think that after that project, I saw how much my lettering and my artwork could change people's lives because I started getting these messages from people around the world, and they were just pouring their guts out.
And they were just telling me about all their struggles and what they were going through, and saying that my story gave them hope.
So that really inspired me to say, if I keep creating work like that, I can actually make a difference in this world.
And I just have this sense of purpose where I had never had a project like that where it impacted people so deeply.
My art is everything to me, I feel like it's such a big part of my identity. It's a release from the stresses of everyday life. I started doing murals after the fire, beforehand I was mostly just doing lettering and illustration on paper, but I was definitely curious about mural.
And I wanted to figure out a way to work bigger but I hadn't done any myself.
It just felt like, if not now, then when?
I had a moment in my freelancing career where I wanted to do more murals but I wasn't getting hired to do more murals. So I would use Photoshop and I would take photos of walls, and I'd mock them up on the walls.
And sometimes it would actually work, and I'd get a mural. But I still wasn't really getting the kind of work that I wanted, and then all of a sudden I got an email from this company called WeWork.
And they saw my murals, whether they were real or not, and they wanted me to work on their team that creates the interior artwork for their spaces.
So I gave it a chance, and I'm so glad that I did because they ended up having me grow a whole team of artists and travel around Latin America creating murals and artwork for all the different spaces.
If it weren't for the internet, I don't think I'd be able to have such a broad career. I've been able to get my art all around the world because of the internet. Digitally and physically because people will end up buying a print from me or having me come teach a workshop or talk, or paint a mural.
It's just a snowball effect. You get a little bit of an audience and then that helps you get clients, and then the client work helps you build more of an audience and then the cycle repeats.
And you can get better and better projects and do less and less of the work you don't wanna do. The biggest takeaway that I got from this whole experience with the fire was gratitude. It made me feel so grateful for everything that I still had, still having both of my hands to create this art that I'm so passionate about.
And so, everyday when I wake up now, I try to remind myself that this is a gift. This isn't something that we can take for granted. And so, when I sit down with a pen or with a brush, I actually channel that and sort of meditate.
And feel like whatever I'm creating right now, just the fact that I'm getting to create it, that's enough.
Topa um desafio?
Se inspire na história do Eric, e escreva um artigo sobre: "How to Become a Creator". Pode escrever em português, e usar o Google tradutor.
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Junte-se à nossa causa - and Happy Writing! ;-)
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