Outer Breathlessness

Outer Breathlessness

Or: The Second One About Chronic Nerve Pain.
(and the unending quest to find out why)

I've spent the past three weeks going to doctors and talking to people about my neck. And my arm.

This has raised some dread in me. The idea of having to end up back in consistently scheduled, managed care freaks me out. Physical therapy, two or three times a week. Monthly follow ups. Monthly x-rays. More MRI's. Trips to the pharmacy. Scheduled operations.

When you engage in medical care like that, it becomes a part time job. You have to take notes. You have to exercise and monitor weight, diet, everything. Constantly. It has to become a process. And it becomes draining.

My last visit ended with more questions, unanswered. It's not 4 things. There's no "anatomical reason" for my pain. So now we have to check the wiring. :electricity emoji:

It could be worse. It could be much worse. I don't mean in that 'oh, so and so has it worse' or 'starving children in [insert country name here]' that was paraded in front of me as a child when I complained. I mean one of the 4 possibilities that's been ruled out so far was a tumor, which may have been taking shape *in* my spinal chord. Not a pleasant or hopeful thought, generally.

But somehow the mystery is just as bad for me.

Like dogs trying to understand the internet, I'm sometimes left feeling like with some kinds of medicine, we're still asking more questions than we're answering. My view on the subject is admittedly shallow- I've been a recipient of a few particular kinds of medical care- but some of medicine still seems incredibly archaic.


Anyway. Work continues apace. I've set off some surveys and have all of the answers I'm going to get for now. I'll be printing some shirts in the next few weeks, along with some screens and prints. I started 12 paintings last weekend. Things are moving.

Inner Restlessness

Inner Restlessness

So, I'm in pain again.


Most of you who know me know that I worked through a serious issue with chronic pain over the course of the last five years or so. It was due to two herniated discs in my neck, and ongoing damage to the median nerve in my right arm. You probably also know that about two years ago, I underwent surgery to receive a spinal fusion to correct this condition, and how that changed my life for the better. 

Simply put: that surgery fixed me

Even though I had a long recovery period, I awoke and immediately knew I was in the least amount of pain I could remember. That might seem like a weird sentence. Chronic pain skews your ability to feel and understand pain. Because you have to live and work with it, constantly. But chronic nerve pain? You can't *see* nerve pain. It feels like it's inside and outside and spread throughout the body all at once.


Anyway, rather than struggle to explain the inner restless qualities of nerve pain, I have to focus on the external effects. 

About a month ago now, some pain started to creep back in. I began reflecting. And I started to realize that I'd been letting little things start to slip- exercise and stretching, as well as some of the smaller things I'd done in the past to adjust my posture.  It's hard work attending to a body that's falling apart, with everything else going on.


So I have to take some breaks. And I have to take it easy. I'm trying to make sure my time from Saturday afternoon to Monday morning each week is free for rest, relaxation and reflection. To goof off and read comics instead of creating paintings or to join a raid in Destiny instead of working on logistics for the studio.

As I mentioned in my last post, a lot of the successes we've had (and the failures) can be attributed to factors around time. How much we spent on something (or didn't), how long it should take to do something well vs. how long it takes to do something sloppily, etc etc...


But an important factor is also working on not overextending. To pick good projects and good times to accomplish things. I'm working hard on keeping that balanced, because I if I go too far afield, I'll have a harder time coming back. If I don't get enough rest when I can, or I strain my neck or arm further, it may take weeks or months to recover enough to continue working at a good pace, pushing forward towards my goals...

Burnout defeats opportunity. So, I have to block burnout at all costs. Because I don't know how many "burnout moments" I have left to come back from, if my body won't cooperate. It could be ten. It could be a hundred. It could be two.

In short: I don't want to fast forward to burnout.

More soon.

Time & Time Again

Time & Time Again

Well. Hello, and there you are.

It's been a while since I've posted, and a while still since I've been in touch with our supporters. That might be an understatement. It's been over a year. I'm sorry for that, but I can't allow that to eat at me. So here I am, making plans and working on promises, as a kind of penance.

A lot of things have happened between then and now. To you, to me, to everyone involved with The Fold and Variate Dot Net. Even to some animals (our pets and friends- not just, you know, all the animals... But I suppose that things have happened to them, too...).


Anyway. The studio isn't open yet. Not officially. We have some bands working with us here already, but we're not open open... Despite that, the rewards are being crafted. They are coming out soon. I'm going to post a full update to all backers very soon with details.

But I want to explain how we have had to make concessions on our plans for The Fold. For the studio's life in general. So I thought it best to do that here, more conversationally. Less about the matter of facts and the facts of the matter. Just the facts, ma'am. Et cetera.

On the subject of facts. A sad fact that has taken us some time to process (especially me), and even more for the impact to play out, is this: we did not reach our goal.

That means we have to cut something. That something will be events. We don't have the time or the funds to do it right, and we don't want to divert our efforts to something we can't do well. Though largely unstated, a primary goal in all of this is to deliver quality content and we don't want to sacrifice that here.

It comes down to a simple (but thorough) calculation about time. Time is a part of this whole thing, again and again. Quality requires time, and the old saying here is true: time is money. But this isn't an admission of defeat. Or of failure. We are still trying to build up a studio and an audience for ourselves and our friends, but there are costs. The main component of those costs is time.

Because we need to use time to make money, and that time is relative to a million other things. Not just the studio but living, too. From dogs to jobs to health to rent to unexpected bills and on to lost jobs. 


Anyway, for now... We've guaranteed you some high quality creative content. We've had time to assimilate our situation(s). We are liquid enough to start working again. We are healthy enough to attend to this and not screw it up.

Look for the first wave of quality content hitting your inboxes and mailboxes in about a week or so.

More soon.

Reward Preview! Liz Suburbia x irrezolut Print

Reward Preview! Liz Suburbia x irrezolut Print

*PREVIEW*  - El Sub x co-founder Joseph Nicolia
- Cyanide Milkshake #5 Cover Variant (13x19, Digital Print, LTD ED 100)

IN FULL COLOR!!! Hand-crafted, limited edition digital print from my trusty Epson 2200.

I still have to do a few more layers here and there and fix up a few things- but I couldn't resist sharing. Liz's illustration is amazing and stands alone, no matter what I do. The figure practically lunges forward in the composition- the way she's just noticed you, is about to turn and put a sword through your belly... You can't really stop that kind of energy from jumping off the page.

Check out her amazing work, here:

This amazing print will be yours when you contribute $40 to our Indiegogo campaign:

Our Connections

It's been about a week since we launched the campaign. I'd like to have gotten an update out sooner, but we've been busy! And, as I go through this process, time becomes more and more precious. Despite that (or maybe because of it?), I can't help but stop and think on the connections we've made over the years, doing creative work in and around the DC/MD/VA area.

Our first and biggest connections are our families and our closest friends. They've stuck with us, here in the greater DC area, while many have moved far, far away or moved on to other things. They have supported us, mentally and physically. Sustained us financially and morally over the years. We couldn't be here without them and the thanks they deserve will only be paid in full when we have expended enough of our creative "mana pool", and made our very best works. Because without them, those works would never even have the chance to exist.

50 funders, and nearly $3,000...

But wait- the campaign page says 49 funders, and $1,862 now, right?

Well, we have one additional donor who's not on the list yet- our largest donor so far. She sent a check, and I'll be depositing it and adding it to our total later this week. I'm not sure she wants to be called out, but I have to do it, because she has been one of my biggest fans for longer than nearly anyone else... My grandmother, Patricia Nicolia. She's given us a thousand dollars to help this dream become a reality.

But she's given far more than that for so, so long. She's helped me with the costs of art school, she's helped with supplies and moral support... Since I was little, she's bought me pencils and paper and given encouragement beyond measure. She is a true patron of the arts, having collaborated with fashion designers, supported small craft makers and theaters.

I- no, we- want to succeed and show our friends and family that we can make amazing things. Because of all their support in the past... And, now- because of the help we need- and the challenge that they are all rising to, we will be able show them what we are capable of.

This thing... What we are doing... It is not just for you. It is not just without you.
In the end, it is some magical mixture of both... That is why we will succeed.

Thank you! Thank you so much. I cannot print love, but I can print things that are made of it, and rest assured that it will come to you.

... and speaking of which- before the end of the week, we will have previews of our amazing rewards on the Indiegogo and here on www.variate.net.

More soon. /j.

Building a New Kind of Creativity

Well. Building a platform for a new kind of creativity. And insofar as we can tell, unique for the DC area. We'll be publishing more details on our full mission very soon.

We want to combine technologies, genres and mediums in novel ways. We want to record it in detail and show the world how it's done. We want you to be able to interact with it all.

But we can't do it alone. We want the help of the people who care the most about this endeavor. Not some disinterested bank, looking for profits. We want you- you who will enjoy the rewards we are preparing and benefit from the space that we build.

Please help, by adding your donation here: Into the Fold

You can do even more by posting our campaign to Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr:


In the coming weeks, we will be showing off some amazing artwork and highlighting some great deals for access to The Fold, as part of our campaign. We have prints from some great collaborators and we're planning events that will blow you away

Thanks for reading. More soon. /j.

Everybody Ready?

Well. Here we go!


We are looking to raise a modest sum to do a major renovation, complete with tons of elbow grease and help from our very best friends and closest family.

We're going to add a rich experience into the already amazing tapestry in the DC/DMV area. Please help us get there and serve the wonderful creatives of this area.

More soon. /j.

Installation with Kelly Towles

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Our first official installation as The Fold. Exciting as hell. Kelly Towles, an excellent pick by our Lead Curator, Darrell.

Kelly's installation piece feels so at home. His choices in subject matter are timely, wholly appropriate and easily connectable. That's a hell of a sentence, because it's a hell of a piece.

I'm completely blown away by the fluidity of his representation of space. The way the spray pattern blends so dynamically. 

I'm a sucker for space, to be sure. But despite that, this is just flat out amazing.

More soon. /j.

Finding Your Line

A kind of thing that you can practice, you can turn into a process. 

Tomorrow, we install our third show, and this weekend, we'll run two separate events, celebrating this endeavor. Everything has been pushed out of the way to allow Kelly Towles to do a custom installation, running from Feb 1 to Mar 1. A lot of great work has gone into this from a really talented group of people.

And we're going to do this a lot.

Everything is modular with enough effort. Photo: Alan Kayanan

Everything is modular with enough effort. Photo: Alan Kayanan

We know the direction we're headed. We'll be able to watch our line, and learn it.

Because when you're on a ride, there's something important about finding your line. When you know the line, you know how to set your speed. When you know how to set your speed, you know how far you can go.

More soon. /j.

Founding Blog

We're going to keep a record of our time during our launch phase. We've got a plan. We've got our resources and our team.

Bringing You Into The Fold.

The biggest challenge so far has been getting all of our content and resources lined up and ready. A team of 7 people, expanding up to 10 or so at certain times and then out to more than 20, when needed, have come together to create something amazing.

We did our video shoot on Jan 15, and it will be going up on Vimeo in just a few days, along with a launch on Indiegogo on Feb 1...

After our video shoot to launch the venue/space. Photo: John Lee

After our video shoot to launch the venue/space. Photo: John Lee

The video shoot was amazing. The folks who came in to help out did an amazing job. Our directory, Eric, was incredible. Alan's script and concept came together flawlessly.

We're super excited. Lots done. Lots to do. 

More soon. /j.