At A Certain Point In My Life I Blew it up!

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At a certain point in my life I blew it up!

I'm talking about my career. But it's more than that.  See, running a business is one of the most demanding jobs in the world. 

If you do it right and you are "all-in" the business becomes all consuming.  There are products, associates, banks, margins, vendors, competitors, marketing plans, transportation, customs, laws, taxes, inventory, and audits.  Oh, and please don't forget our friend the customer.

I hired great people.  But I thought about it all day.  And night.

See, things change.  And they change fast.   So I would make decisions.  Some days, hundreds of decisions.  Little ones.  Big ones.  I had to be a great decision maker. 

On top of that, to lead you need to have a vision, and a passion, be a team builder, and have compassion for everyone. 

We were very successful. 

So "to diversify and grow", we sold the company.  And you know what?  Investment bankers do not have empathy.  They may be great people.  But they only care about one thing!  Making money.  And more money.   They hire lots of analysts to ease their conscience.  See, if the numbers say it so.  Then it is so.  Everything else be damned.

I was totally stressed out.  Losing my mind.

So I would get up at 3 AM and paint for a few hours.  It put me in another world.   I could escape into my imagination. It was better than drugs.  It was better than drinking.  After being lost in creation,  I look back at my art and say "how in the world did I create that?"

Then the investors and a few other companies asked me to take on more.  I was asked to run multiple companies.  I was offered jobs in Seattle. In San Diego. In Florida. I was offered more money.  More stock. Do more.  Be more.  Make more.

Renee would talk to me sometimes and wonder where my head was at!    Renee would say, "I want Stick back!"

I wanted to be with Renee.  I wanted to spend time with my kids.  I wanted Stick back!

So, I walked into work one morning and sent an email to our board. Then,  I talked with my management team. I quit.  I walked out the door. I never went back. I gave up stock. Prestige.  A career.  But, what sort of career kills you?  Too many I suppose. 

I blew it up!

I chose my passion.  I chose my family.  I chose my art.  

I was and am still lucky Renee loves me.  I love her.    

I love to escape. I love my art and to blow things up.  I work at it every single day.  It's frustrating.  I'm trying to "diversify and grow" as an artist. 

I'm alive.


Stick Vega is the American Gunpowder Artist.  He creates and blogs from The Blast Factory in Madison, WI and Bucktown, Chicago, IL.  Follow Stick at Facebook and/or Twitter.   


Vega Readies Explosive Artist Edition Clothing

American gunpowder artist Stick Vega is preparing  to introduce an initial collection of fashion items that will look cool and embody his explosive art.   The limited edition graphic tee shirts, hats, and scarves will feature original artwork of Stick Vega.  The items will be selected and designed by Vega  in collaboration with Renee Vig.  Stick Vega has partnered with Alternative Apparel and Mad Town Printing for the initial production.  The items will be made in small quantities and have soft, sexy, feel with a graphic edge. Incorporating the original art will be unique to the market and will be a blast to wear.  The items will be available at and select retailers.

"A few months ago, I blew holes in one of my tee shirts by accident.  It looked cool, but didn't wash very well.   This new line is a much better way to make some cool and explosive looking fashion", said Stick Vega.

Stick Vega is the American Gunpowder Artist.  He creates and blogs from The Blast Factory in Madison, WI and Bucktown, Chicago, IL.  Follow Stick at Facebook and/or Twitter 


How to buy a $75,000 piece of art for $1,200!

Cai Guo-Qiang's Tiger and Eagle

Cai Guo-Qiang's Tiger and Eagle

Stick Vega's Overburn

Stick Vega's Overburn

In 2007, the artist of my inspiration, Cai Gou-Qiang sold a a painting for $601,000 at Christie's in New York City.  The piece, Tiger and Eagle, is gunpowder and ink on paper and roughly 118 x 157 inches.  I love it.  

But in thinking about it and doing a few calculations I computed the cost per square inch of Tiger and Eagle is $32.44.  My work, Overburn by comparison is 52 cents per square inch.  At 48 x 48, Overburn is less than 2% of the cost.  At this market valuation Overburn could be worth roughly $75,000.  Incredibly, you can buy it today for $1,200.

I learned my process by watching Cai work.  My work is smaller.  Brighter.  And in some cases I do more pop (pun intended) art than abstract work.  But, I use the same gunpowder.  The same black powder, fuses, fire and explosion.  The cool uncertainty of the explosion and burn is a great feature of my art.

So one of two things. I need to charge a lot more for my work.  Or, you need to buy a Stick Vega.  I hope you love my art and find value in it!  


Stick Vega is the American Gunpowder Artist.  He creates modern, primitive, explosive art and blogs from Stick Vega Studios in Madison, WI and Bucktown, Chicago, IL.  Follow Stick at Facebook and/or Twitter



Equity Analysts. Detail. Explosive Art.

Close up of Buzzifolia. 

Close up of Buzzifolia. 

I was in a quarterly board meeting a few years ago.  The private equity firm we were working with had brought in a number of young analysts.  Smart kids from Duke, Harvard, and Stanford.  They had poured over our numbers in great detail, eager to make their mark.  To make an impression.

Our numbers were good.  Sales up.  Inventory down.  Expenses down.  Profits at an all time high.  One rookie analyst asked me, "Why are margins off from .6724 to .6721?".  Everyone at the table turned and looked at me.  A "gotcha moment!"   

 Are you really asking me to explain a .0003 difference?   I said, "Well, we sold a few more goods with less margin than we did last quarter".  

Stunned with my quick response. The group looked at each other.   Then back at me. Then back at each other. The analyst furiously took notes and said, " You sold more... goods... with less margin... than last quarter."   

I said, "Yes." 

The kid smiled and the meeting moved on. 

I know its hard for people to see the big picture.  And that's okay.  I hope you enjoy my creative work on many levels.  The immediate explosion.  The full work.  The detailed texture.  

Even if you went to Duke, Harvard or Stanford.

I have left my mark.  My impression.


Stick Vega is the American Gunpowder Artist.  He creates and blogs from Stick Vega Studios in Madison, WI and Bucktown, Chicago, IL.  Follow Stick at Facebook and/or Twitter