It’s a happy little cereal

It’s art! It’s cereal! It’s both! If you remember the soothing voice of Bob Ross, then just add milk to this add listen to him talk as you eat. Okay, that’s not going to happen. But you can still enjoy some cereal inspired by the guy that inspired many artists. I know that some people think he was not that great and basically painted the same type of thing over and over, and I think those people are missing the point. The point was in the joy of painting, which Bob Ross often talked about. He also shared the basics of technique, brush types and how and why to use them.

And the fact that you can still get Bob Ross branded art supplies, books, instructional videos and yes, Chia pets and cereal, only speaks to the creativity and appeal of this artist.

Besides, it’s a happy looking little cereal, and it looks good in the bowl.

If you really want to grab a box (or two) here’s the link:

Watch That Self-Talk Boss.

self-talk-bossI was texting with a friend the other day who said he was glad my business was going well. Jokingly, I replied that my boss was a jerk (I’m self-employed) and that I was too hard on myself. He replied, “You should fire that guy.”

You know what? He was right. As I thought about it, I realized that there was no way that I could speak to an employee the way that I internally speak to myself sometimes, and if I did, the employee would either quit or sue me.

We all have an internal dialogue going on, and I’m not sure if it’s just a self-employed trait or the way that I’m wired, but that voice in my head never shuts up. I’m constantly critiquing, reviewing, analyzing, and monitoring my work. I noticed that in my case, that voice is a mostly negative fellow, and not the nice, forgiving and patient guy that outwardly speaks to people I work with.

Now I’m more aware of the feedback that I’m giving myself. If it’s negative, I stop and think about why I’m thinking that way, and then I’ll reframe the incident in a more positive way. It’s only been a couple of days, and the results have been good. I’m less angry at myself and as a result have been way more productive. Nice bonus there.

So I’m sorry voice in my head. Your performance isn’t what we’re looking for at Graphic Zen so I’m going to have to let you go.

My advice? Give it a try and give yourself a break. You’re worth it.

Album Art #2: Destroyer

KISS DestroyerContinuing with (IMO) great and iconic album covers, I present to you Destroyer from “the hottest band in the land” KISS.

Destroyer came on the heels of their worldwide hit KISS ALIVE!, which was the biggest selling live album in history. Knowing that the follow up album to this had to be every bit as good, an artist was sought out to produce the album cover.

Enter Ken Kelly. Born in 1946, Ken was always interested in art as a kid, but didn’t pursue it as a career until he left the Marines in 1968, after a four-year term. Back in New York he sought the guidance of fantasy artist Frank Frazetta, who took him on as an apprentice and helped guide his early work.

In 1969, Ken landed a book cover project and has worked for every major publishing house since, including working on a series for fantasy writer Robert E. Howard.

For the Destroyer cover, Ken was faced with a tight deadline and many revisions, one for the first cover version being “too violent”, (it was the mid-seventies). The second happened as he was almost finished and was asked to start over and paint the band in their new costumes. According to all involved, Ken was a professional and took these challenges in stride with no complaints.

Growing up in the mid-seventies I can say that this was one of my first record purchases, and made me very popular at school, as the cover was so visually striking.

Ken also painted a follow up album cover for KISS, Love Gun, which is very unique and identifiable in its own right. He continues to work today and his website can be found at

My Manifesto

I think it’s amazing sometimes that people in the same line of work find themselves on a similar path. Kim Doyal, aka “The WordPress Chick” recently posted her manifesto after experiencing some “creative frustration” (my interpretation). She inspired me to create my own manifesto, which I’ve added here. It doesn’t matter if you’re the creative type or not, if something resonates with you like it did with me when I read Kim’s, then I encourage you to create your own.

My Manifesto

by Rudy Vaughn

I AM a Strong, Confident, Creative and Compassionate man. That’s who I was CREATED to be.


I will CHOOSE the projects and clients that I want to work with.

I will CULTIVATE and DEFINE my purpose…and that’s how I will receive my income.

Being compensated for my talents is not asking too much. I am WORTH it.

I will always try to GIVE more.
It surprises people and makes them HAPPY.
LAUGHTER is much better when shared.

I ACCEPT responsibility for my circumstances.
If I don’t like it, I can CHANGE it.

My CREATIVITY increases when I share it with others.
I will SHARE more often.

I will SEEK THE GOOD in all situations, even if I have to look really, really HARD to find it.

Ambition, passion and creative fire need GASOLINE from time to time.

Alarm clocks have NO place in my life.

Exercise = energy.
I KNOW there will be days when I don’t feel like it.

There are 24 HOURS in a day.
I will NOT take that time for granted.
Nor the PEOPLE in my life.

LIFE is not a competition, I allow myself to be the BEST I can be.

I will never stop LEARNING and setting GOALS for PERSONAL GROWTH.

My COMPASSION and GENEROSITY is not a sign of weakness.

I will find the ZEN in projects I am involved in.

I will express my APPRECIATION to family and friends for who they are in my life.

It’s OKAY to cheat on the diet once in awhile. That’s why chocolate tastes good…and pizza…and ice cream.

I will keep an OPEN MIND so that new OPPORTUNITIES I have not yet DREAMED about can find me.

I will FORGIVE those that have wronged me, because SOMEDAY I may need to be forgiven.

SOMETIMES it will hurt. I will get stronger.

FAITH and TRUST will guide me on this journey.

Being “STRANGE” can be normal. It depends on your point of view. I’m OKAY with that.


In myself, in my wife, in being INSPIRED by others (thanks WordPress Chick), it’s okay to CRY, there’s no such thing as TOO MUCH Monty Python, people are generally good, MASKS are only for Halloween, without CREATIVITY I am nothing, that a COLD BEER with friends in the summer creates memories, that I WILL get better at golf, I MAY have to edit this from time to time, I will RUN a four hour marathon, letting go of fear EMPOWERS me to succeed, that I really CRACK myself up at times, I am a “10”, in reading BOOKS with PAGES that are PAPER and not on a screen, that I will watch an F1 RACE in person, FAITH carries me when nothing else will, “Big Trouble In Little China” is a CLASSIC MOVIE, in TEACHING others, leadership is defined by two words, “FOLLOW ME” and YOU should create a manifesto of your own.

Looking forward to 2012!

Cleaning out some files for the new year, and ran across a handwritten sheet of inspirational thoughts gathered from various friends, sites and seminars. Thought I would share them with you as you plan for 2012. May it be your best year yet!

  • Have a mind open to everything and closed to nothing.
  • Be free of attachment.
  • You’re not able to give away what you don’t have.
  • There are no justified resentments.
  • Send blame out of your life.
  • Take responsibility for your life and situation.
  • Don’t die with your best music left in you.
  • You are not able to solve a problem with the same mind that created it. Change your point of view.
  • Love a person or thing for what they are, not what you want them to be.
  • Treat yourself as if you already are what you want to become.
  • You are no accident on this planet.
  • Wisdom is avoiding all thoughts that weaken you. Shift your thoughts to empowering ones.

Everyone is creative – so let yourself go and express yourself!

The Art of the Car

Can vehicles be considered art? Watched an episode of “Top Gear” the other night and the hosts entertained the topic, going so far as to set up their own exhibition of what they considered art at a local museum. Of course, it was Top Gear so it was all a bit cheeky, and they caused me to think about it. Are cars art? Do auto manufacturers consider the “looks” of a model in the design phase? The Bugatti Veyron, yes…the Pontiac Vibe, no. Is it subjective? Perhaps. What do you think?

New look for Graphic Zen

Updated the site – call it spring fever I guess, or still striving for that “zen-like” state of the website. Looking to shake things up a bit – stay tuned for a new sister site, and something of interest for non-profit groups…