It Doesn't Happen Overnight

The Merriam Webster dictionary defines ‘success’ as “the fact of getting or achieving, wealth, respect, or fame”. This is the primary definition, and followed by the secondary as, “the correct or desired result of an attempt”. In my own opinion, you cannot define success completely based on wealth, respect or fame. If a child throws a ball into the air, attempts to catch it, and does - he has made a successful attempt. This scenario exemplifies no connotation to wealth, respect, or fame, but the term ‘success’ still applies.

I believe in the secondary, and that your success is defined by YOU.


The Start (I Think)

I have very little recollection of early primary school years. From what I've been told, sometime when I was in the 3rd grade (2002-2003), my mom received a phone call from the school. On the other line was an art teacher who wanted to speak to my mom. Expecting the worst from the call, she was surprised when the teacher suggested for her to enroll me in private art lessons.

An unfinished sketch from 2010-2011. Probably out of a religious calendar or something. They have the illest and most detailed artwork.

An unfinished sketch from 2010-2011. Probably out of a religious calendar or something. They have the illest and most detailed artwork.

From about 2003 through 2009, I studied under Claudette Delpozzo, a self taught artist working as a teacher offering private lessons out of a small studio in West Warwick, RI. During this time, the structure and practice allowed me to find myself through art and develop the necessary skills of translating proportion and understanding how a light source influences shading and tones. Within the time of these early teenage years, I discovered my passion which laid out the plans for my future.

 

Skateboarding & The Digital Age

I was a few years into practicing art when I discovered another passion - skateboarding. Sometime around 5th or 6th grade, I stepped on a friends skateboard for the first time. He could ride around the street and pop ollie's (not molly's) over the small cracks in the pavement. It was so cool, it reminded me of 'Rocket Power', and I was hooked without even knowing it. I spent countless hours practicing how to ollie on his board and bugging my parents for one of my own. (Side note: My first setup was a custom complete from Smitty's off of Cowesett Ave. It was an Element - Bam Margera deck with Bam's pro model Destructo trucks, matching wheels, and Abec 3 bearings - lol.) Happiness achieved though.

From there, I became fascinated with watching skate edits and delved into the culture. I was subscribed to CCS Magazine and used to steal The Skateboard Mag from friends when I could. As a teenager, I analyzed everything and took it all in. I noticed the styles and trends of the clothing the pros wore, the camera angles and movements in the edits, the music, the attitude, everything. I received a Nikon Coolpix point and shoot camera for my birthday or Christmas and started making edits in Windows Movie Maker with my friends. We would film everywhere - parks, streets, and neighbors stairs and ledges until they kicked us out. It was the first taste of individualism and freedom.

 
 

As computers became more and more involved in our daily lives, I would experiment with Microsoft Paint. I eventually graduated to a free downloadable program called 'Photofiltre'. I would fuck around with photos by adding text, warping and skewing them, changing the colors and contrasts, and eventually learning how to use cropping tools to make composites. I developed a process of using the Photofiltre software in combination with photobucket.com's editing tools to create horribly pixilated poster and magazine ad designs, profile pics, myspace backgrounds and icons and more.

 
A collage of all of the skateboard ad type of things I did way back in 7th grade before I even knew what photoshop was. I'd take an image that one of these guys would send me and just pop it in Microsoft paint or Photofiltre and edit away. This is where it all started.

A collage of all of the skateboard ad type of things I did way back in 7th grade before I even knew what photoshop was. I'd take an image that one of these guys would send me and just pop it in Microsoft paint or Photofiltre and edit away. This is where it all started.

 

stumbling into practicality

As I entered high school I found more structure within art and was able to experiment more. By this time I was pretty set on the fact that I wanted to go into a career with art as the focus, but I had no idea what. I was familiar with the term "starving artist", and knew that drawing and painting would be a tough path to make lucrative unless I could find a special market niche. (Which is very do-able, but extremely difficult.) I didn't stress it too much and continued to progress through my first 2 years of high school with the thoughts in the back of my mind.

Sometime around 10th grade I took a semester long elective class thats main focus was building and completing your capstone portfolio. Creating and presenting this portfolio was a graduation requirement at the time, and a pretty big, looming project for a teenager to make on their own - the reason the class is offered. Long story short, I did not finish my project within the semester, failed the class, and was pushed in the direction of capstone ramp-up, a $100-per-class after school program to help students finish their capstones. This shit was a huge NOPE, so shortly after that I discovered a loop-hole, and enrolled in the Graphic Communications VOTEC program with my buddy Nick.

The first tee shirt I ever made was a die-cut stenciled version of The Notorious B.I.G. with cut vinyl and heat pressed to an all white Gildan tee. (We all have to start somewhere.)

The first tee shirt I ever made was a die-cut stenciled version of The Notorious B.I.G. with cut vinyl and heat pressed to an all white Gildan tee. (We all have to start somewhere.)

Students could enter a Vocational Technical program in the 10th grade, and that would span the next 3 years to focus on technical skills or trades. Programs like culinary, IT, cosmetology, carpentry, automotive and graphic communications all were responsible for helping those students with their capstones over the course of the 3 years - I was set. Because we enrolled for our first year a little late, Nick and I were placed into a 10th grade Graphics class as 11th graders. This is where I met Matt.

During the time in this program, I not only completed and passed my capstone, but I also connected some dots. I fell in love with graphic design and custom screen printed tee shirts and realized that graphic design was a better career path than being a fine artist. I'd actually be able to get a job and make money before I was dead and in the ground like Van Gogh or Picasso. At the same time, it was something that although I was still learning, I enjoyed it. From there, Matt and I became close and he introduced me to the idea of starting a clothing brand, Something Simple Clothing Co. (the name at the time) was born.

 

Random side notes / facts about myself and sosico.

  • My first art piece I ever created was of an old style Chinese fishing boat. The medium I chose was chalk pastel.
  • I used to think I'd get into writing and illustrating children's books, but I was never fully content with the idea.
  • In 2008-2009 along with 2 other friends, I tried starting a clothing brand called Z3N.
  • At first, Matt and I hated each other, but we eventually bonded over our similar fucked up sense of humor.
  • Until Matt approached me with the idea, I NEVER even thought about starting a legitmate brand. It was originally his idea.
  • I picked up a DSLR (camera) for the first time in college, but didn't start taking photography seriously until Fall 2015.
  • I've never learned about business through a textbook or college classes. I learned by diving in and doing it, making mistakes, losing money, etc. I still have A LOT to learn.
  • We launched the first Something Simple website the Summer of 2013, along with our first full seasonal collection.
  • The first order of tee shirts was placed towards the end of the Summer of 2012. It cost $508 (I think), and Matt and I split it halfway and went in out of pocket.
  • We didn't introduce sewn on hip tags until 2013, or sewn on size tags for fleece products until 2015.
  • I've enjoyed writing short stories, poetry, and anything related since I was about 10 years old.
  • Up until this point, this blog entry has taken me 4 days to write so far. I've never documented these things I'm telling you.
 

Moving into present & future-tense

There's so much more that I could write about to further elaborate on everything you've read until this point. Doing so would make you - as the reader very bored, tired and sleepy, and myself - as the writer, would be overcome with carpal tunnel. So to focus on what's going on now, we've just entered the 4th quarter of a pretty crazy year so far. Extreme up's and down's, and everything in between - it's been interesting to say the least. Personally, I've been further developing my primary (or secondary, I don't even know sometimes) business, zackdeus.com. This is my day job, working as a freelancer designing websites, creating logos, shooting weddings and events, and helping other small businesses with marketing. Aside from that, I function as a personal photographer to recording artist, Brodie Fresh, when I can make the trip out to NYC for shows, radio interviews, etc.

"Rare" selfie from the balcony of The Red Room Recording Studio in Brooklyn, NY. Brodie pictured to the right.

"Rare" selfie from the balcony of The Red Room Recording Studio in Brooklyn, NY. Brodie pictured to the right.

As a precursor to 2017 - yes, we have plenty of things in place, and ideas and concepts waiting to be put into action. What many people fail to realize is that almost everything that you've seen happen this year as far as growth, was paid in dues last year. It has been in the plan, but is thoughtfully executed over time with proper planning. Remember this for next year when you see some potentially "big" things happening - it was planned prior to the date you're reading this, and that plan is in motion NOW.

You don't get to where you want to go by just snapping your fingers. It would be nice, but unfortunately that is unrealistic. If you're working towards any kind of goal, expect it to take a long time. If you want to be an entrepreneur, you need to understand that the commitment that you're making is for the long haul. You're going to have to put blood, sweat, tears, years and tons of stress and anxiety in before you see any results. Your life will more than likely be torn apart, causing you to question your very existence, before you can start picking up the pieces and sewing it back together. I say this not to scare or deter anyone, but to honestly and realistically prepare you for the long road ahead. I've heard the same thing from many successful people, but I hope that this resonates more coming from someone who has just begun to "pick up the pieces" (so I think and hope). I have gotten a few small tastes of success, but nothing more than that. I, myself have a very long way to go still, and with patience and persistence, we will all make it to where we are going.

Thanks to Matt L. for this sneaky photo.

Thanks to Matt L. for this sneaky photo.

To conclude - success is what you make it to be. You have to find yours and it takes time. They say the expression, "Rome wasn't built in a day" and it holds true to anything. Surround yourself with good people and good things will happen. Work hard every single day, not just Monday - Friday. Most people only see the success, never the struggle. Things aren't easy, anything good takes time. Always remember, It doesn't happen overnight.


I want to extend a small thank you to everyone who made it through to the end of this long winded essay on tying in my self reflection to a sort of "pep-talk" - I'm sure not many did. I plan on writing like this more often and when I can find the time, so bear with me as I re-develop my writing skills I've seemed to have lost after High School - I know this was jumpy and hectic and wacky - but so is my mind. If anyone has any suggestions for topics or questions you'd like to be covered in a short essay form as this, comment them below or shoot an email to info@somethingsimpleco.com, and I can try to answer them.

Peace + Happiness

- Zack