It only took a year, but our first T-shirt is here!

The picture you see above is not, I repeat not, the Effin Artist boardroom. If we have a boardroom like that, we wouldn’t need to sell T-shirts.
But it’s nice to dream right? Dreaming is basically what set this whole “I’m an Effin Artist, man” thing in motion–for better or worse.
Dreaming is basically all we’ve done from the start.
We used to a write an Effin Artist email. It went out to our family. We’re Italian, so it’s a pretty big list. And the other benefit was, we’re family, so they got the damn email whether they wanted it or not.
For a while, it was pretty lively. Then, my schtick wore off a bit (right about the time I stopped offering prizes for responding to the email… hmmmn). So in search of a better audience, we launched Effin Artist and the email stopped.
I kept waiting for that moment when the email readers would reach for the leg that had been amputated and realize it’s gone.
And then I got tired of waiting. So I went ahead and sent a newsletter offering a “future” prize of a free T-shirt! It went something like this:
I’m back. EFF you all if you don’t like it. Go to the bottom, find the unsubscribe button, click it and the demons of cyberville will unleash digital hell upon you because that’s what you’ll deserve. MERRY CHRISTMAS!
Yeah, it was a Christmas email. Cheery, huh? Now maybe you understand why the email “subscribers” were less than enthusiastic participants.
Anyway, the point of all that brings me to this: Those T-shirts I promised last Christmas, are FINALLY here! Right here, to be exact.
Who needs a boardroom?! We got T-shirts!
T-shirts make incredible Christmas gifts. Trust me on this. It is not too early to shop. I’m experienced in Christmas failures.
Buying “stuff” isn’t really my thing. Yet, I do like stuff as much as the next heathen. Stuff is like that. Sneaky, lusty and all that. But still, I’ve never been great at the whole make-a-Christmas list and fill it with a lot of stuff, wrapping said stuff, mailing said stuff and all that stuff. I’m a stuff failure.
The last few years I’ve tried to make stuff for Xmas. Some have gone over better than others, I guess (you’d have to ask the email list subscribers). Most arrive late though. So my made “stuff” is really more like a “hey, it’s a new year and it’s cold and it’s not all bad,” kind of gift.
Last year I tried to remedy that by promising Effin Artist T-shirts, something I make, but something someone else would deliver! It was foolproof, except, one snafu, which I wrote about back then:
These T-shirts are going to rock. Our only problem is our logo because, well … it doesn’t rock. In fact, it’s pretty much crap. Nothing worse that getting stuff that looks like crap that you have to wear on top of that. Even I’m not that cruel.
But thankfully, after four designers, we fixed the crap logo. Now it’s a great logo (made by the wonderful Ilaamen Pelshaw), which means we also have the long-awaited T-shirts (For real, right here. You can get one. To be clear, they aren’t Christmas gifts I’m giving you. I think they should be Christmas gifts you give others. Just want to be really clear on that point!)
And they make great Christmas presents because these are more than the first edition Effin Artist, “unFuck The World” T-shirts. The funds raised by the sale will go to the production costs of the Effin Artist authors and a feature film that we are working on right this very minute to get launched in 2017. After all this time basically mucking around and cheering Effin Artists everywhere, we’ve finally decided to get serious and do sh*t that matters. For us, that Sh*t is elevating great artists and stories that inspire change.
So buy a whole sh*tload of T-shirts to help these great stories get told.
Tis the season, right?!

Emily’s story needs to be written

Effin Artist exists for a single reason: To elevate great stories that inspire change.

Emily Green has such a story. And we’re committed to helping her tell it for a simple reason: Her unique approach to surviving cancer represents a serious shift in healthy recovery. Her story represents a sea change in treatment paths chosen by the millions stricken with this disease. This is inspired change at the root, right where it can do the most good for the most people.

Emily is the mother of three, ages 16, 5, and 4. She is the hearbeat of a family that has endured its share of challenges and trials over the years before she learned that she had late-stage breast cancer.  Her story may sound too familiar in an age when cancer plagues so many of us, but it is utterly unique in its message of hope for those afflicted.

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Emily doesn’t view cancer as a “fight.” She’s not battling for victory and not waging a war. Instead, she has chosen to step outside of that story to find her own. It is one flavored with such tenderness, healing and grace that a temperature of warmth rises from her words. Like that time when her doctor asked her if she wanted to transfer care after Emily opted not to follow her advice.

“That doesn’t mean that we stop working together,” Emily wrote. “It means that we disagree, and that we remember that I am in this body, driving my healing, and I weigh many factors in making a decision and we continue to move together toward our common goal of my healing.”

Emily’s story was captured this week by the local news in her hometown. Her energy flows through this news report.

Emily doubts she would be alive had it not been for critical decisions she made about her treatment. Vital financial support that “allowed me to take specific healing steps that otherwise would have been out of reach,” empowered those decisions, she wrote.

Which is why we unabashedly ask you to become a champion for Emily today and help bring more healing for herself and others within reach. How?

First, a donation to Emily’s GoFundMe page provides critical help for her care. Some of you already have donated. On behalf of Mike and Emily, we can’t thank you enough. You’ve helped save her life.

Second, share this post and Emily’s GoFundMe page on social media. Invite others to become part of Emily’s reader community.

Third, Subscribe to our mailing list and we’ll send you updates of her book as we finish it. You can be part of her reader feedback. You can offer support and encouragement along the way. You’ll be honored guests at her book launch party and trust us, this is going to be a celebration of life you won’t want to miss.

So we launch this effort today, partners with Emily on her work. Soon we will rally this community to help her launch her words and support her effort to inspire badly needed change.

Just as her life was saved, this effort will help countless others heal as well.  Great stories, do in fact, inspire change.

Chief Dabbler recruiting creatives in San Francisco

Jemal “Jay” Swoboda developed two critical skills growing up with a dozen brothers and sisters on a midwestern farm: how to learn to do new stuff and how to get along with people. Both serve him very well as the Chief Dabbler of Dabble.co, a Chicago-based city exploration and local adventure platform now launching in San Francisco.

“You had to learn how to fix stuff,” Swoboda says about his childhood. “A lot of skills my family shared with me were ones I didn’t think twice about. Our limited resources made being resourceful a daily requirement. We reused the bath water for three to four kids to save water and money and when the hot water heater broke – we boiled water on the stove until we fixed it. There is a confidence that comes with the knowledge that I can fix something broken or take care of an animal that is sick and not have to spend a bunch of money for someone else to do it for me. Gardening, welding, plumbing, word-working, you name it, these are useful skills I learned just because of my upbringing.”

Dabble is all about creating shared experiences with people learning new skills or talents. Users purchase tickets to learning-based events that redefine the meaning of “diverse.” Classes range from important skills like welding and cooking, to more intriguing offerings like knife throwing, archery and how to dance like Beyoncé.

“For the price of a round of drinks or your monthly cable subscription, you can learn new things, meet new people and have a great local experience. Anyone can dabble,” Swoboda says.

 

Born to Dabble

Like all of the Dabble staff, Swoboda started out as a consumer.

“We’re dabblers and travelers ourselves. The team is made up of people who share their skills and experiences already. They are creatives who are inspired by the work and time shared with others. We created a platform we wanted to use,” he says.

The freshly launched startup that began in 2011 made a splash in Chicago, quickly emerging as a go-to site for finding new things to do, new hot spots or new talented people willing to share their skill set with others.

Swoboda, then a St. Louis resident with an entrepreneurial bent, helped Dabble expand. Beyond the viability of the business, he connected with it on an emotional level, seeing people dabble in learning new things, making things and connecting with others. It reminded him of home.

“There is a very clear connection in that world between what your hands do and how you live. This is important life stuff that we could really lose touch with if we’re not careful,” he says.

Swoboda had spent more than a dozen years as the founder and editor of What’s Up Magazine, a nonprofit publication written & sold by the disadvantaged and homeless of St. Louis. If he were a football player, he’d be described as having a “high motor.” His relentless energy kept him busy with St. Louis startups, building LEED-certified homes, teaching as an adjunct professor and racing in ultra marathons. Despite his full dance card, he dove deep into Dabble when the opportunity arose, heading up the company’s St. Louis expansion before moving to Chicago.

When Dabble’s founders shifted focus to other opportunities, Swoboda was ready to up his involvement. As the new CEO–or Chief Dabbler as he calls himself– of the company, he won an Arch Grant for $50,000. He brought in new investment funding and continued the bootstrapping effort to bring the site to more people.

Fans of the site are thrilled.

“I love me some Dabble,” frequent user Elise Taylor said. “A friend introduced me to it a few years ago, and since then I’ve done a class every couple of months.  For couples it makes a great date night–our last Surprise Date Night was an archery lesson–for individuals it’s great to learn a new skill.”

 

Taking the next steps

The next steps will be the most challenging in the company’s five-year history.

In addition to its strong Chicago base, Dabble has grown in Denver and St. Louis with pockets in more than 10 cities. With the next round of investment funding looming, Swoboda knew growth would be imperative to the site’s success. He targeted San Francisco and spent a couple of weeks in September making the rounds in search of the best teachers, classes and experiences in a city full of them.

“We want to dip our toe in the water of this Bay, because we know that is an unending limit of people and experiences here that we want to help share,” he says.

Soon San Franciscans will experience what Chicago resident Sara Omary talks about to friends all the time.

“I already love flying solo at Dabble classes, making new friends, and telling new Dabblers about the other great experiences I have,” Omary said. “I am down to try literally anything and have a good time doing it. Dabble has been an amazing way to learn new things, meet new people, and discover more of Chicago since I moved here in January.”

This, to Swoboda, is the other thing that drew him to Dabble beyond just learning new things. The People. Especially in urban centers that can seem isolating when compared to his upbringing. Swoboda loves the urban life but knows human connections are critical.

“What’s this pull to cities?” he asks “Why do we live in the middle of the bustle? We live here because of the energy, because living in cities collides us with this unending list of experiences and people.

“This is what makes a big city feel small,” Swoboda says. “We’re not just schelping classes.”

Calling all creatives, small business owners and artisans. Sign up your classes on Dabble now by clicking here. It’s fun, easy and doesn’t cost a thing.