The Valley

The landscape of life is filled with peaks and valleys. Sometimes, you’re sniffing the crisp air at the top of the mountain; other times, you’re drudging through the muddy runoff at the base of existence. Your terrain is relative to your path, the road that you have chosen for your adventure. 

As I get older, the mud of the valleys seem to catch my boots and keep me from striding ahead. Last year was a strange year for me — with some high flights (publishing my 3rd book, launching my SereFire Candle brand, growing my audience, connecting with great people and influencers, just to name a few) but mostly lowly trespasses (cancellation of a Gallery show, Dad in and out of the hospital, layoffs at work, disconnection from friends, etc.). Progressively, the mud of my real life has been more difficult to remove from the boots I use to walk as Artemis Sere, slowing down my evolution, minimizing my artistic advancement and stifling the growth of my brand. The needs of my employers and my family (including my extended family) have forced me to choose between advancing as Artemis and stabilizing my reality.
The wise one doesn’t allow for excuses, and takes ownership of the turns in the path while maintaining direction toward personal goals, regardless of conflict and compromises.
But I was not prepared for the big picture learning around my Artemis Sere brand last year: for the first time, I published a book that received zero engagement, zero traction, zero support. Even though I was supremely excited about “Cacophony”, it was an artistic dud.

It’s difficult to admit that my third book — which operates both as an artistic “best of” and as an introduction to my antagonist for “The Skeleton Men”— was a failure. While I’m not looking for awesome commercial success from my brand, nor am I looking for sympathy or pity, I am putting time into packaging, promoting and selling my work for a reason: I have personal goals, and want to become relevant as a producing artist.
But, failure is the truth, if the metric is sales and audience adoption of my artistic product. As an artist, near zero engagement is a humbling thing to face, and has forced me raise all sorts of questions about who I am, what I’m doing and who my audience really is. 
I don’t have those answers. 

I would be lying if I said my confidence wasn’t shaken. This precipice is different than previous.
I don’t feel like I know my audience anymore — or, attrition of my fans has been so swift from year to year that I no longer feel confident that my creations will reach an audience. As a content marketer, I’ve pushed millions of impressions over the last year, advanced my brand recognition and solidified an interactive base — for what?
I often give away my first two books, give away art prints, candles and paintings because few are willing to pay for my work — or at least the value that I believe my work is worth. And I spend a great deal of my time creating artistic products and evolving my talent and making artistic connections, growing my footprint of art — for what?

I counsel and help other artists find their path. I push artistic thought leadership content and try to provide value to other artists. I study and research styles and approaches of other artists to try to complement my own — for what?

The easy answer is “for me”. I’m doing all of this because I want to, and it makes me happy. Right? The painful paradox is that I’m most happy when I’m creating and evolving — when I’m standing in front of a blank canvas or paper with infinite creative possibilities before me. The soft acrylic begs to be placed; the sharp pencil calls to be dulled; the empty annuls of my Bonesetter’s Series weep to be completed.
But I have very little time to dedicate to patient creation anymore. Too busy. Too burdened. Too bruised. Great creation takes time, not a rush to the finish line. A masterpiece isn’t usually made overnight. 
Time seems to be swiftly zooming away these days, and I am offered too little time to focus on mastery of my pieces.
It’s not just creation that makes me happy, but sharing an artistic experience with my audience, my fans, those people that really appreciate what I do and am trying to accomplish in my lifetime. Unfortunately, those experiences have also diminished. The fires of passion have been mostly extinguished by the disappointing journey through this valley of my life. 
The wise one also knows that valleys are just natural dips in the landscape, and that ascension is probable if you keep moving forward out of the trench. The question is who you are — or who you have become — by the time you try to make your ascent again. 
It’s clear that I need to re-evaluate the landscape and the priorities of Artemis Sere in it after 2015. There is no sherpa to assist with guidance in this valley.
Maybe I just need stronger boots. To climb. To stabilize. To kick ass.
To rise.

Cacophony: Dissonance of Serenity


Cacophony: Dissonance of Serenity

Who knows where the voices came from initially. The past. The future. Genetic echoes of a life once lived. Hauntings of a grimmer time. The netherside. Once I acknowledged the silent whisperings from the darker corners, they multiplied, harmonized, and plasticized in pencil and pixel, paint and poetry.

Voices became faces, faces became characters, and characters became ghosts — from a different place, and of the stranger inside.

“Cacophony” is a coffee-table book of some of my best art in full color, 8×10 glory, remixed and re-purposed as the effigies of my “Skeleton Men” antagonist, Aelister Aghast. “Cacophony” works as a character sketch, as well as a colorful mindtrip across the burning landscape of the fictional realm of Oblivion. It is strange, unique, authentic, genuine, dark, sometimes diabolical and sometimes frightful. It is available now for order on Blurb.com.

This project was originally planned as a gallery show of my digital art, paintings, photography, effigies and remixes from my Serenity Gallery and other sources. Unfortunately, the event was canceled due to logistical issues. Instead of shutting down the concept, I captured the gallery show and adjoining story in a book, which is connected to my 4th book coming in December, “The Skeleton Men”.

Why a physical book instead of a digital experience? They say “a picture is worth a thousand words”. Well, I bring that wisdom to life. I make books for people who still appreciate the book experience — filled with provocative imagery and vibrant content. My books are intricate visual works of art, not just text panels that can be scanned and consumed by the reader on a flat-panel screen. “Cacophony” will eventually be available via digital format, but much will be lost in the translation between tangible and virtual, and I believe fans of my work will value the rich experience of this book.

While “Cacophony” is aimed at the Sere Art enthusiast and discerning collector, I hope all those who appreciate mixed media art will order a copy. Due to the high cost of printing a full-color photo book, the piece is the most expensive creation in the Sere library; it is certainly an investment. With that in mind, “Cacophony” is “Made To Order/Print” from Blurb; I will not have copies on-hand for sale.

So, if you’ve got a free minute or two, check out a Preview of my piece via the link below. If you’re so inclined, buy a copy. It is the coolest thing I’ve ever produced, and I’m greatly proud of it. 

Book link:  http://www.blurb.com/b/6307513-cacophony

Attached are photographs of and excerpts from the book. If you’d like more examples of the piece, check out the following social media spaces:

Facebook: The Art of Artemis Sere (http://www.facebook.com/art.of.artemissere)
Tumblr: Artemis Sere (https://www.tumblr.com/blog/artemissere)
Instagram: Artemis Sere (https://instagram.com/artemissere)
Twitter: Artemis Sere (http://www.twitter.com/setinbone)
Pinterest: Artemis Sere (https://www.pinterest.com/artemissere)

Hashtags: #artemissere #artrovert #cacoeffigy #cacophony #seretic

“Cacophony: Dissonance of Serenity” Front Cover
“Cacophony: Dissonance of Serenity”
“Cacophony: Dissonance of Serenity” Title Page

EFFIGYXXIX: The Scarlet Crown, from “Cacophony: Dissonance of Serenity”

EFFIGYXLIX: The Tesseract, from “Cacophony: Dissonance of Serenity”

Seretic Studios