Then imagine that you might die tomorrow. Really, think about it. And if you did, what would you do with the time you had left?
Oshri Hakak knew that if that was the case, he wouldn’t want to spend his time sitting in front of a computer building spreadsheets, like he did at his office job. Oshri knew that he would want to be creating… creating drawings, sculpture, music, friendships, ideas, collaborations. Creating something bigger than himself.
Speaking about his art, he told me “I think there’s a pretty diverse spread of emotions and topics that I cover. From love to psychology to political commentary with humor. The point for each one is to – as much as I can with the combination of image and words – just dive deep into whatever it is. One thing I realize is that a simple image can actually do that.”
In March, Oshri took a trip to India. Seeing the millennia-old tradition of cremation on the Ganges brought the meaning of death into clear focus. “When you’re that close to death, it changes you. Especially when you haven’t seen anything like that before – there is no better call to life. It was just this thought that I’m going to end up there anyway, so I should do something that I feel like has a better likelihood of being valuable to the world,” Oshri said.
He came home, and left his job to start his art business, Living Ink Flow, focusing on creating… creation… the process… the image… the thoughts… the feelings… each piece different, each piece a reflection.
Using a unique two-handed brush technique, Oshri creates images with a few fluid lines and brief phrases, based on ideas that flow through his head during the day. Loosely based on his emotions and events he experiences, they are intended help you reflect on life in a way that brings out your joy and uplifts your spirit.
And then there’s Living Foil. Sculptures made out of foil, perched precariously on trees. Sitting next to you on a bench. Proffering a hand to you outside the train station. They are placed in a guerilla style, popping up where you’d least expect them – filling each day with a pleasant little surprise if you’re lucky enough to come across one. They are Oshri’s foil people.
Oshri has been creating art all of his life. He had just never before considered turning his passion into an engine – a business – that would allow him to share it with an expansive community. But when he returned from India he began thinking about channeling his passions in a practical fashion, while still retaining the fulfillment he gains from the creative process.
“I’ll always be creating art. I know that’s one thing I’ll be doing my whole life, so I might as well build a business out of it, especially since I love to travel so much. This would allow me the flexibility to travel more often to Sierra Leone, plus it would work well because I can produce art from anywhere. And it would make the art more interesting too, to conceive and produce it in different places. So I feel like it’s something that can really
, work in tandem with everything else that I love to do.”
To understand a bit more about why Oshri travels to Sierra Leone, you need to know more about his idea-making adventures.
In college, Oshri co-founded a non-profit called SLEEP which delivered used textbooks to Sierra Leone, and which since has coordinated a book drive with Los Angeles Unified School District and World Vision to salvage about half a million books to be used for donation. He has also been developing BeeFreed, a social enterprise for agriculture and food processing, also in Sierra Leone. Let’s just say that he’s a busy bee.
He hopes that with the financing from Living Ink Flow and Living Foil he can continue traveling to Sierra Leone like he has done almost every year since 2008.
So Oshri has a clear purpose for selling his art: first and foremost to share it with more people – to “create meaningful impact through the images that can subtly, but poignantly, affect people in ways that they want to be affected.” Second, to allow him to continue making an impact in Sierra Leone and other places close to his heart
Although he knew what he wanted to do, Oshri had none of the skill sets that would prove helpful in trying to build a competitive website to showcase his artwork. As he said, “because although I’ve been creating art my whole life, this is really building from scratch in terms of presenting and sharing it with a larger audience, with intention.”
That’s where his friend Bhumi came in. She loved the idea and generously agreed to create Oshri’s website. The simple and sleek design presents Oshri’s work in an accessible fashion, and also allows him to easily scan and upload his inks so he can manage the process himself.
What I love most about Oshri’s stories are his unique marketing methds. He is willing to try almost anything, as long as it seems viable and fun. Like arriving at the reception desk to deliver a sculpture to a billionaire art collector in Manhattan whom he has never met. Or meeting a celebrity musician after her concert and promising to mail her a sculpture as a gift.
At this point the operation is a one man show, and Oshri is drumming up more business by offering greeting cards, posters, and other forms of presenting his artwork.
But ultimately, the business takes a backseat to the joy Oshri gets from sharing his work with people who care about it. “I love how it connects something about my essence to something that other people can relate to and enjoy.”
And that, in essence, is why I know Oshri will be successful. Because when you’re passionate about something, other people will be passionate with you. They will cling to the life and joy you exude, to the life and joy that comes through in your work.
Oshri’s Advice for Aspiring Artists and Entrepreneurs
- Each time you feel ready to up things up a notch or make an exploratory move, start from a point of gratitude and love – towards yourself and all so-called others. (As his music teacher repeated to him, “An attitude of gratitude best befits us in the eyes of the Creator.”)
- Use O Desk for the things you don’t want to do, but that are necessary. You may not want to work on every element of your business yourself, and that’s okay.
- If you want to develop a skill over a lifetime, you have to find a way to keep it fresh every day.
- If you have something to put out there, don’t wait. Ultimately, you decide when the time is right, not external factors.
- Don’t be afraid to ask the questions you know you need to ask – and take time to breath and reflect everyday to make sure you’re getting to the right questions, paddling down the right stream.