Sunday Reflections: All About the Benjamins, Life Without Instagram and Self-Improvement

Sunday Reflections: All About the Benjamins, Life Without Instagram and Self-Improvement

March 08, 2020 2 Comments

On Sundays I reflect.

A Boozy Farewell

I drank alcohol this week, on Tuesday night with J. Cost before his departure Wednesday. We each had a few shots from my whiskey stash. We finished off whatever was left in my Mike Gnann @merge_scientific decanter using two of my favorite shot glasses from Salt. I used my Salt x AKM and J. Cost used my serum Salt solo. We spent the night telling each other how grateful we are for each other and discussing what’s next for each of us and Drinking Vessels.

J. Cost is the only person in the last five years that was willing to drop everything and move to Vail to sleep at my studio or wherever he could end up each night with the sole purpose of helping me to grow and develop this brand into our vision. He spent years as my graphic designer working remotely and rarely charging me for his services because he wanted to support this project from the day we met. I’m eternally grateful to him and wish him the best in the next step of his journey. I’ve commissioned him to illustrate the many faces of “Ben” in a monthly installation of a project we’re referring to as “It’s All About The Benjamins.”

In the beginning of the week I got my first laps of the season at Beaver Creek with my friend Vinscent Van Grow. We haven’t gotten a chance to ride together yet this year, and he took me on a tour of the Beav that included fast groomers and fun but challenging aspen groves I would have never found on my own.

Moving Chess Pieces

Between wrapping up with J. Cost and meeting with interested investors this week, I did not have the time or energy for much else. I spent as much time in my bed as I could. I’m still exhausted. I’ve been talking with friends and supporters about solutions for how to move forward with this brand. The ultimate reality is that I’m going to need to hire staff for a number of roles including but not limited to PR, marketing, admin, and production. There are a few artists I’ve been speaking to over the years about helping me to produce my designs in volume so that we can offer a full line of in house drink ware ranging from shot glasses, tumblers, and pints to stemware, decanters and more. Those conversations have evolved and we will be offering the first three to five products from that line soon. I’ve been developing these products for years, and I accept that I will not have the time to produce them myself in the kind of volume we want to offer. I’m unwilling to take my designs overseas and am committed to employing artists needing supplemental income to support their own projects. It’s very exciting to be able to make this vision a reality in the coming months, and to use these products as a canvas for 2D artists to merchandise their designs through.

Social Media

My brother has been managing the Instagram account for me and I can’t thank him enough. I’ve been using the app Planoly to schedule our posts and he’s been checking the DM each night and sending me summaries and pertinent information. I’ve logged into the Instagram app less than ten times this week, to make sure posts are working and to contact a few artists for whom I don’t have another way to reach them. I deleted Instagram off my phone, and have never felt so liberated. I also feel very disconnected. I’m still tethered to my phone for email, text, Facebook and a few other things that I will be removing from my life over the next few weeks. I probably used to check Instagram every ten minutes or less. It’s a strange transition and a lot of time I’m figuring out how to fill. I’ve found myself instinctually going into my phone and realized that I can just put it away. I’ve probably had a form of smart phone since high school which means I’ve been more and more a slave to the device for more than a decade. Now I’m trying to unlearn unhealthy habits and remove myself from the digital world that I’ve come to depend on.

Relationships Have Grown Stronger

After last week’s post, I had a large spike in website sales. It was nice to see names of old friends and some family members pop up to support me and this brand. There were also names I didn’t recognize at all and I’m glad to see we’re reaching new people as well. One of my clients Alex Robbins stopped by on his way from Mexico to New York and scooped a handful of new pieces and treated J. Cost and I to a delicious lunch at the Bully Ranch in Vail. I’m glad we got to spend that day together before J. Cost left town, as Alex has been an integral supporter of this project and of J. Cost's art as well.

Of all the messages that I got after last week’s blog, this one stood out the most:

“Ben, I saw your post. I just wanted to drop you a quick (and inadequate note) to say I’m incredibly impressed with everything you’ve done. You’ve poured your heart and soul into Drinking Vessels. You’ve created and you’ve allowed numbers of others to create without restraint. You’ve sent lots of the original creation out into the world. Few people can say that. You’ve hit a bump in the road. It won’t be the last, but you’re handling it maturely and with dignity. I respect what you’ve done over the last five years immensely and I’ll look forward to seeing what’s next.”

This message came from a distant cousin of mine who I don’t think is a blood relative but linked through a few marriages. Every Thanksgiving, my extended family gathers in Lake Geneva Wisconsin. This is where the idea for this brand came about between my brother and I. It’s where we developed the philanthropy project that recently allowed us to donate almost $2,000 to the four charities we work with, to add to our $10,000+ in donations over the four and a half years we’ve been doing this. The relative who sent me that note purchased a flask and pair of tumblers off my site after sending that text. I was immediately able to pay my student Keegan Lintz for a pair of cups he consigned me, and it was one of the proudest moments of my career.

So thank you to everyone who has supported us and helped us to get here. Thank you for helping me to provide artists with paychecks for five years. Thank you for helping me to build my studio and have one place in the world that is my own, where I can create my art in the moments when inspiration strikes me. Thank you for helping me to provide artists and friends a place to go when they’re passing through, after so many of you gave me a place to go when I had nowhere to be. Those were some of the scariest and most challenging times I’ve faced, and I’m honored to be able to give back in that way.

On Friday I flew home for a long trip compared to my LA excursion recently. After the delay from Vail, I spent about twenty hours with my family celebrating the Bar Mitzvah of my cousin Jamie. I made her a kiddish cup as a gift, which is one of the only things I’ll be making for a while. I’m so proud of my cousin and glad I was able to be there. It was stressful to go home and take time away from work, but that’s part of the point of this evolution. I have to separate myself from work in some capacity or it’s going to take me over.

Taking Care

It’s funny I chose this path because I thought work could only take you over if it was soul sucking corporate work. Turns out being an artist and broker can burn you out too. I’ve seen it in myself, and I’ve seen it in my fellow artists and friends.

J. Cost told me I have to take care of myself when I asked for his feedback. He’s right. I’ve neglected my needs for a long time to build this brand and establish relationships with artists and collectors around the world, so now I’m working on me for a while, which is taking many forms. Small subtle changes in my behavior are adding up, and I’m hoping to be feeling better soon. Taking care of ourselves is an ongoing job, unfortunately. After years of neglect I’m playing catch up, and I recognize that this is lifelong work I can’t afford to neglect any more.

Coming Soon...

We’ve got photo edits coming in from Reda regularly, and all products will be listed on the website as soon as they’re edited. We’re working on blog posts with Emily Marie, AK, RJ Rushmore, and others. I’ll be putting more effort into the blog moving forward, as a way to share more of this story with all of you.

As always, thanks for tuning in. If you’ve made a purchase I want to say thank you again, and if you’re considering making a purchase I hope you can find the right piece for you on the site. Your purchases are keeping this project alive, feeding artists, and providing resources for me to expand upon all of that.

Enjoy your Sunday,

2 Responses

Michael Behnke
Michael Behnke

March 13, 2020

All 💙💚 stay blessed my brother..

GG “Funk”
GG “Funk”

March 10, 2020


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