How to Make it in Calgary

Here’s something I’ve been listening to a lot lately.

It’s no coincidence that I was first introduced to Washed Out through How to Make it in America. 


At this point it should come to no ones surprise that my favourite TV-show-of-all-time featured Scott Mescudi.

The two short seasons of How To Make it in America were an utterly exhilarating experience for the 16-year-old kid that watched them when they first aired in 2010. That same kid—now an adult (I use that term lightly) has re-watched the same two seasons every year since. For my sake, you have to understand that it’s not as much of a chore as it may seem. The entire series can be watched in a mere 480 minutes, which is roughly translated to the entirety of a regular workday.

What’s one day of work when you’re gaining the inspiration of a lifetime? That’s the question I’d ask myself in order to justify my actions—or lack there of.

“What are you twelve? How many more times will you say f**k the man.” “Until we are the man!”

For those of you that haven’t watched the series before, here’s a brief and unbiased summary: It’s the greatest show ever created and it’s about two twenty-something-year-olds that embark on the predictably challenging journey of starting a fashion company.

Sound familiar?

A vast majority of the moves that I’ve made in my life over the last six years have been made with the subliminal intention of recreating some of my utmost beloved fictions and works of art. In other words—I’ve never been particularly gifted at anything, so I’ve had to depend on the things that inspire me the most in order to create.

“We’ve been outsiders our whole life, I want in.”

I’m a self-proclaimed creative with a Journalism diploma that has spent the last few years trying his very best to animate his favourite fictional moments; and that’s something that I recommend everyone do—albeit not forever. Listen to your favourite albums everyday, re-watch your favourite TV shows, make sure to study your idols methodically, and try to take all that you can from the things that capture your imagination the very most.

It’s important to create a broadminded environment in order to allow your vision to thrive—both mentally and physically.

And speaking of physical environment, as an artistically inclined kid, I wasn’t necessarily dealt the finest of hands by landing myself in Calgary, Alberta, but it quickly became a place that I closely associated with who I was becoming. I’m immensely grateful for the opportunities I’ve been granted and the people that I’ve met in the city of Calgary. I mean—one of our very few claims to microscopic fame was in the form of a design that many of you remember as “403 vs. Everybody”. Hundreds of you (I use the pluralization of the word ‘hundred’ playfully) supported us with that project, and I hope to find the time where I can one day individually thank every single person involved.

“I used to look at it like it was mocking me. Tonight I feel like I got a shot.”

However, I promise (or suggest) you one thing—there will be a time where you may come to the realization that you might have gleaned all that you can from you physical surroundings.

Today I find myself writing this to you from Denmark, so it’s safe to say that I hit that point a few months ago.

This realization will often leave you faced with two distinctive paths that eagerly plead for your attendance.

  1. You drop everything and go start over somewhere else.
  1. You take a break and you change you physical environment. Let you mentality develop free from the restrains it was previously bound by. Then you bring that perceptual growth back to your previous physical setting and help it develop in the same way it initially helped you.
“Don’t think of it as ‘being fired’. Think of it as ‘being free.’”

I’m happy to say that I’m choosing to go with the latter. I’m roughly 32 per cent finished with my experience abroad. It’s been great. I could relentlessly bombard you with photographs and details about all of my experiences—but becoming an ostentatious travel blogger is the least of my intentions.

And what are my intentions?

To learn, to grow, and to then (and only then) apply my newly-acquired knowledge to all of my endeavours going forward. Essentially, I’m trying my very best to do what I outlined for myself (and others) above in path number two. I know that I have my work cut out for me because the consumption of knowledge is the easy part. The difficulty comes alongside the aforementioned application.

I’m really starting to understand the idea that we’re living in a world where our talent (or knowledge) is only as good as our ability to market (apply) it. I find myself overwhelmed by this concept a little bit. Raw creativity plays second-fiddle to the formulaic ways to find success from within industry, and I struggle with that.

“Things come and go – money comes and go, tee-shirts come and go. Sometimes there are greater forces at work than we are aware of. You just gotta role with those f**king punches.”

I struggle with it because my interests aren’t intrinsically placed within the popular standards of society. It’s starting to become clear to me that my inability to better succeed in my field correlates closely with my inability to understand the marketing standards of the creative culture that surrounds me.

I guess it’s all part of growing up.

I think (or hope) I’m not the only one starting to struggle with the idea of finally getting started with the rest of my life. I stated above that I’m roughly 32 per cent finished my year aboard. Which also means that there’s only 68 per cent of the last year of my formal education remaining. When I come back to Calgary—that’s it, I’m finished.

I’m officially a Bachelor of Communications graduate. I can toss the degree next to my Journalism Diploma in the basement.

Now what?

“When you’re young you have ideas and no money. When your old you have money and no ideas.”

In between my daily routines of living as Danish-ly as possible, I find myself perusing a plethora of job posting websites, studying self-marketing techniques, contemplating several different start-up opportunities, and finally, studying the success of my friends and peers meticulously.

The latter is an interesting endeavor. It’s the odd sensation of not only feeling pride for your friends, but simultaneously, the resentment towards your own lack of success.

“My mom can’t be our only customer guys.”

Respect to all my friends for the moves they’re making—but also thank you for always keeping my inspiration in check.

Our intent with redleafgoldteeth was always being able to build a brand that cultivated the community around us. The harsh reality is: you can’t truly cultivate shit if you don’t understand it. But—you can’t realize that you don’t understand something unless you make that initial effort in the first place.

So in a weird way—mission accomplished, right? It’s a continuously evolving process that begins with simply starting.

Simply starting got us a long way. Now that I think about it—it got us the whole way. Because it would be a pretty obvious fallacy if I tried saying that we’ve always put forth our best effort since the beginning. The way I see it—me and a few of my best friends have had a great time talking about music and making shirts.

“Money, right yeah it matters, but it’s one piece of the puzzle. Let me tell you something. Sometimes who you are doing business with is a lot more important than the business that you are doing.”

If you’ve read up until this point, I’m sorry to disappoint, but I don’t have the answer. I haven’t made it anywhere.

In retrospect the article should have been entitled “How to Start Making in Calgary?” Or anywhere else for that matter. Because I’d love to know.

For those of you that, again, haven’t watched How to Make it in America—the series was only two seasons because the filming of the Mark Wahlberg produced masterpiece wasn’t renewed for a third season. A travesty right?

Ben and Cam (the main characters from the show) made a few moves, caught a few L’s, and were just beginning their journey of building a brand that was starting to catch the momentary attention of their city.

Sound familiar?

“Can’t knock the hustle.”

A lot of what I’ve written today molds my life’s character into a very conventional niche.

I’m about to be an Arts graduate that has to face the menacing world of creativity head on—and the moves I make from here on out will become the most imperative ones I’ll ever make. It’s scary and I wish I had the answers. I wish Mark Wahlberg gave me a third season, but he didn’t.

And now I think its time to stop trying to recreate my favourite fictions. I probably won’t watch How to Make it in America again for a while. A few years at least. Your strongest of influences should be used as an aid to help you make it, they shouldn’t make you.

Essentially—your influences should be the quotations that are used sparingly throughout the stories you write.

All-in-all, I’m doing great. Copenhagen is a beautiful city filled with art, joy and ease. I can’t wait to be home—but simultaneously don’t want to ever leave. That’s a great position to be in. There are so many important decisions ahead with not very many discernible answers. But it’s okay.

We’ll make it.

“Gentleman to our sons, may they have hot mothers and rich fathers.”

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