The Art of Lax Blog

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Thanks, Dad! Lax & Life Lessons – off the field.

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A little shout-out to all the Dads for yesterday being, Father’s Day.

Vicente Ricasio.

I think I can count in one hand the amount of times my Dad (Vicente Ricasio) saw me play lacrosse – Four.  He was not against playing and/or watching sports.  Rather,  he was always focused on working extremely hard to make sure his children had the opportunities for a better quality of life.  Better than what he and my Mom had before immigrating to the United States.  Those opportunities were to be hard earned with strict lessons learned.

Back in 8th grade, I was playing at a youth lacrosse festival in Long Island.  At the days end, I slung my gloves, pads and helmet on my goalie stick that rested on my shoulder, and headed with my Dad to the parking lot.  Passing the game fields, I saw in the far distance a bucket of lacrosse balls by the substitution box that was partially full, with nobody around.  I looked at my Dad, who was about 10 yards ahead of me, his attention grabbed by talking to some parents and yelled that I ‘would meet him at the car’.  I quickly dropped my equipment on the ground and ran towards the bucket of lacrosse balls in the interest of taking a few home.  I searched for unused or hardly used ones while the worn-out, “slick” or “glossy” ones didn’t grab my attention.  Regardless, I grabbed about six lacrosse balls in total.

I ran back to see my lacrosse equipment already taken from the ground and found my Dad waiting for me in the car.  I hopped in the passenger side, placed the lacrosse balls at my feet and buckled up.  On the return trip home, I noticed my lacrosse equipment wasn’t in the back seat, where it usually was.  I asked my Dad if he placed [it] in the trunk.  He shook his head, ‘NO’.  My false of stealing lacrosse balls gave way to my lacrosse equipment being stolen.

I argued why he did not take care of my equipment and he answered by telling me that, that was NOT his responsibility.  He eventually told me that there would come a time where people, or strangers, would not know or care what’s really important to you.  It was tough love he dished out but I eventually understood it.  I made sure that my equipment was always taken care of, always in my sight and under my fullest responsibility.

Hindsight is 20/20.  Lesson Learned.

Look, it’s pretty simple, now that I’m an adult.  If something is VERY important to you, you really need to be accountable for it.  My Dad set the self-reliance factor at a high-bar and at an early-age.  It might have been unconventional, but he was RIGHT.  In lacrosse, just like any sport, you have to be accountable for your actions.  Most importantly, that definitely goes correctly for your decisions and actions off-the-field.

When I started The Art of Lax™, I had no clear idea how the venture would start, but I knew NOBODY was going to do it for me.

Thanks, Dad!

(L-to-R: Vicente Ricasio & Vinnie Ricasio, family trip to Harbour Island-Bahamas.  Jan. 2011)

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Written by theartoflax

June 20, 2011 at 8:10 pm

The making of “In The Crease”.

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“The Dive”.

It was all the rage/hype at the Johns Hopkins University “Blue Jay Lacrosse Camp” during my time in high-school in the early-to-mid 90’s, because Doug Knight (UVA) kept on doing it & doing it.  Maybe those extreme “Mountain Dew” commercials, back then, were to blame?  It was one of the wildest things seen and coolest way to score instead of a “BTB” (behind-the-back) shot.  But as a goalie, when I saw 2 “keepers” at camp get hurt from attackmen/middies crashing into the net, I was more scared of “The Dive”  than facing the 95-100 mph shots coming at me!

When asked to portray this in a rendering for Jim Rood’s business, “In The Crease Lacrosse” based out of Maryland, my mind went right back to this personal time and experience of mine on the field.  However, off the field, I did remember doing an earlier version of something like “The Dive” for a customer in Melbourne, Australia (Mr. Alan Lewer/Altona Lacrosse Club):

Mr. Lewer not only hung the piece up in his “bar room” at home, but got it permanently “inked”…

Development:

I got approval from a quick sketch, but needed original reference pics… I just couldn’t “execute it cold”.  So an early morning pose on the living room couch simulating “The Dive” was done.

Final piece.  Pen & Ink, 8″x12″, 3 hours total time.

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May 24, 2011 at 5:00 pm

Posted in Art, Business, Childhood, Inspiration, Lacrosse, Risk

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The IMPORTANCE of being FIRED.

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“Packing up, Resigned, Terminated, Let go”.

Different words, but the same meaning.  The recent and huge ‘shifts’ of Div. I coaches: Tony Seaman (Towson), Richie Meade (Navy), Jim Stagnitta (Rutgers) and the overlooked programs at Wagner College and SUNY-Binghamton, reminded me of a very personal, yet VERY important experience and lesson – being FIRED.

Winning is memorable.  Losing is UNFORGETTABLE!

1996.  We were defending a New-England Lacrosse Championship title in our league.  The first full-time start against The Gunnery School my senior year in boarding school and I had a very strong 1st quarter (about 6 saves in).  Soon enough, I “tanked” and folded like paper – letting in about 15 goals in total at the end of competition.  Head down and disappointed, I was at the front of the line to shake the opponent’s hands.  Coach Brande pulled me aside from my teammates, who were all heading to the fieldhouse, and told me “as the captain, you really need to look at yourself in the mirror and question your performance…

I’m always asked what spurred my starting The Art of Lax™.  Yeah, I might’ve been drawing lacrosse players during English class in boarding school or my failed attempt for a “senior thesis” in art school.  But I think there was something else behind it.

Having enthusiasm shows.  Not having any enthusiasm shows, too.

2005.  There was not a lot to like about that current job, looking back, but I knew I hated it.  The work was more of a job than a career step.  Regardless, I thought I did my job well but my boss didn’t see me in that situation, thus my reviews weren’t spectacular.  I was told of a meeting with my boss was to come and I knew what that meant.  I talked to my parents for advice and my Dad mentioned that back in World War II, the 2 most successful, yet feared U.S. Generals by their enemies (Gen. George S. Patton by the Germans & Gen. Douglas MacArthur by the Japanese), were both eventually fired by their superiors, Gen. Eisenhower and Pres. Truman.  My Dad, being a very laconic person, left it at that for me to figure it out.

The Mirror Test.

As the meeting with my boss got nearer, I decided to meet up with some friends of mine at a bar to “take things off my mind” – that was easier said than done.  I showed up about an hour early and sat down at one of the ‘red & white’ checkered tables at Dorrian’s Red Hand in the Upper East Side of Manhattan.  With a blank sheet of paper and a pen, I questioned “if I had to describe myself in 5 words to somebody, what would they be?” 

1. Art

2. Lacrosse  

I don’t remember what order these two words came in but they were definitely the first 2.

3. History – AP History in boarding school and always known for watching The History Channel more than ESPN.  Ironically, Art History never appealed to me in art school.

4. Food – Cooking (and dining out), another thing I do a lot during the week. 

5. Travel – Love to travel Internationally and experience/learn the many different cultures of the world.

Getting into hot water hurts, but hot water keeps you clean.Malachy F. Cleary (former assistant Headmaster, St. David’s School – NY, NY)

I looked at Art & Lacrosse and realized the very rare combined interests of two polar opposite audiences and genres.  That rare combination, I thought, could be unique.  It turned out to be the BEST decision to have ever happened to my professional career.  Eventually, I had that meeting and I was “forced to resign” but that felt more of a relief, rather than a disappointment.

Hindsight is 20/20.  Lesson Learned.

2011.  Of those 5 words, the first two, simply put, describe me the most and the venture I decided to embark on.  Somebody told me “you have to do the things you do not like in order to find the things you do…“.  That situation, forced me to look at what I really LOVE to do.  Looking back, I shouldn’t have waited for something negative to have happened first, rather I should’ve drawn the line and “fired myself”.  But making mistakes is how you learn and if I wasn’t “let go” I wouldn’t have known what I wanted and wouldn’t have accomplished the many things to this day with The Art of Lax™.

It doesn’t matter what happens to you in life, it’s how you react to it.” – David Neeleman (former CEO, jetBlue Airways)


Written by theartoflax

May 20, 2011 at 4:41 pm

Making a “Win-Win”

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“There are no strangers here, only friends you haven’t yet met.” 

William Butler Yeats (Irish writer & poet. 1865-1939)

At the 2009 US Lacrosse Convention, the Power-Tek Performance Gear company were my neighbors in the Vendor Hall.  Owners and brothers, Jim and Tom Lalli, kept me company during the long hours of the event, telling stories and jokes.  During the down-time we perused each others products and inventory, telling the reasons behind both brands.  By the end of the event, Jim bought the original of “Clear” telling me it looked exactly like his son who is a lacrosse goalie.

A year later, at the 2010 Lacrosse Convention we found our booths diagonally across from each other and continued our friendship from the year before, while catching up on our business status. I told Jim and Tom that my spring club lacrosse team ordered their “Dominator shorts” and became a big hit among my teammates.

We even made their “Shooter Shirt” a jersey for the most recent “War at the Shore” lacrosse tournament in Brick, NJ with The Art of Lax™ image of “Crank” screened on it.  Unbeknownst to me, both Jim and Tom were at the tournament as well, as Power-Tek sponsored a few teams there and while my team was not sponsored it was good to represent their product overall.

At the 2011 Lacrosse Convention, our booths were far apart, on opposite ends, but that didn’t hinder us to say hello once in a while during lunch and/or bathroom breaks.

Present Day.

Power-Tek Performance Gear proposes to design a full-page ad for the 2011 NCAA Men’s & Women’s Final Four of Lacrosse using images from The Art of Lax™ portfolio.  The thousands of fans scheduled to pack both events, we agree that it is a “win-win” for both brands.

A few weeks ago, the three of us recently met up for dinner/drinks in Hoboken, NJ after work to discuss the possible things that may arise.  I mentioned how funny it was not knowing, back then, both business (practically strangers) would ever come to a stage like this.  Jim added this quote that really stuck and defined the unpredictable road looking back,

It’s not about the classes you take, but the hands you shake.

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May 10, 2011 at 5:29 pm

Expansion.

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“Uncertainty and Expectation are the joys of life.  Security is a insipid thing.”
William Cowper (English poet. 1731-1800)

The Art of Lax™ is officially a global business as of February 2011 partnering with  Northern Soul Sportswear Ltd., as the exclusive retailer in the United Kingdom and the European Union.  Developing such working-relationships TAKE TIME.  Looking back at the road in creating a global-working relationship, all I can say is it was very UNPREDICTABLE – especially the starting line.

“We must go beyond textbooks, go out into the bypaths and untrodden depths of the wilderness and travel and explore and tell the world the glories of our journey.” John Hope Franklin (Historian. Professor. Author, ‘From Slavery to Freedom’. 1915-2009)

After developing a good base through social networks (Facebook & Twitter) and meeting at the 2010 U.S. Lacrosse Convention in Baltimore, I pitched the Fit 2 Win Sportswear company (based in the area) an idea to collaborate on a creative idea.  I told them that the next time I was heading down to Baltimore was for the 2010 Men’s Final Four of Lacrosse and Walter Pennington, who heads Fit 2 Win’s marketing, graciously agreed to make time to meet.

It was Memorial Day 2010 and a sweltering 90+ degrees.  I brought with me a dossier of printed examples of my best selling piece “Crank” on paper as well as on two, cotton t-shirts to their headquarters, not too far from the venue of the Final Four – M&T Bank Stadium. Walter takes me around the facility, showing me the boxes, stacks and shelves filled with the great amount of product that makes up Fit 2 Win Sportswear.  It’s a “gym-rats” dream come true!  Unbeknownst to me, I find two representatives for Team Wales, Jason Perrin and Mike Black, who are in discussion with the Welsh National Lacrosse Team being outfitted by Fit 2 Win for the upcoming 2010 ILF World Games of Lacrosse in Manchester, England.  Walter makes the introduction and we trade off our lacrosse backgrounds, among other things.  He also includes me as the artist behind The Art of Lax™ and the direct response comes from Mike Black’s voice,

“Oh yeah, I’ve seen and read about the work.”

Hearing that response reinforces the positive of “knowing you’re doing something right”.  We stand overlooking boxes of Fit 2 Win’s brilliant collection of National-themed shirts for the World Games and Walter is very generous to let me choose one.  With my Fit 2 Win United States Lacrosse shirt in hand, Walter and I come to the table, trading off our ideas and forecasts between Fit 2 Win and The Art of Lax™.  The meeting is a good one and I leave behind one of two “Crank” t-shirts with Walter along with the printed examples in a binder for a future meeting.

“You MISS 100% of the shots you NEVER take.” – Wayne Gretzky

Jason Perrin and I are left sitting on an office couch waiting for Walter to finish things up before we make our way to M&T Bank Stadium.  We discuss the lacrosse industry in the United States and overseas and dissect our views and opinions as players and business professionals.  For some reason our topic turns to possibly getting The Art of Lax™ exhibited and sold at the 2010 ILF World Games of Lacrosse through a company spearheaded by his father, Clive Perrin, called Northern Soul Sportswear Ltd. based in the United Kingdom.  I knew that this was a personal goal at some point for The Art of Lax™ and if this was the road getting the artwork into the World Games of Lacrosse, I HAD to explore it.  As we were “clock-watching” to make the championship game between Notre Dame and Duke, Jason and I exchange final ideas for immediate action steps to take once we return to our respective home locations.  On a torn piece of paper, he writes and hands me his email address.  In return, I give him the last remaining “Crank” t-shirt to take back “across the pond”.

“Carpe Diem” Horace – Qunitus Horatius Flaccus (Roman philosopher, 65 BC – 8 BC)

On June 1, 2010, I received an email from Jason’s father, Clive (the owner of Northern Soul) mentioning Jason “…wearing one of your tees today”.  He concluded with Northern Soul Sportswear being very interested in “…trailing some of your art and apparel here in the UK and EU.”  Upon receipt of the exciting news, I stepped out of my office in midtown-Manhattan and “circled” the Empire State Building a few times with a proud feeling of accomplishment and wonder what responsibilities were to come.  The great people you meet from the sport of lacrosse always amaze me, and when they understand your vision it makes you want to do more.  I look forward to the possibilities with Walter, Jason and Clive and their respective brands.

I’m not a fan of the words “luck” or “got lucky” but I think another Roman philosopher once said,

“Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.” Seneca (54 BC – 39 AD)

Written by theartoflax

February 9, 2011 at 4:23 pm

Moving FORWARD while looking BACK.

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“It’s not what happens to you in life, it’s how you react to it.” -David Neeleman (former CEO, JetBlue Airlines)

Upon my return from the 2011 U.S. National Lacrosse Convention in Baltimore, I took out all receipts saved on that weekend and carefully seperated them from the 2010 receipts for tax purposes.  In my leather work bag, I found more 2010 receipts smashed in a notepad purchased from Staples, with the date of 1/28/’10 written on the top left-hand side of the page.  I knew exactly what this was – my “plan-book” for 2010.

Exactly 365 days ago.

(Above. The “plan-book” and the date of 1/28/’10.  One year ago today.)

In past jobs, I would have to write yearly goals or plans just knowing that they can (will) change.  I was never a fan of planning every single detail to an exact moment of time.  My biggest secret with The Art of Lax™ since inception – I never wrote down a formal BUSINESS PLAN! While perusing through the notepad, I came across drafts for client-pitching and networking, multiple lists for artistic content, strategy/marketing/advertising, quickly drawn mock-ups for apparel, phone numbers, emails, price points, reminder/note-to-self/to-do lists and anything important that came to mind.

The different color of pen inks used and constant editing made me smile at the things accomplished and wonder about the things ‘put on the back-burner’ or entirely crossed off.

I’m a firm believer that things happen for a reason.

I’m a firm believer that you can not determine the outcome for everything.

But I am firm believer that there will always be a right time for ANYTHING.

“I believe that success is not defined by how much you have, but how much you have accomplished.” – Larry Flint (Publisher & President, Larry Flint Publications-LFP)

 

Written by theartoflax

January 28, 2011 at 4:33 pm

The GREATEST Risk Is Not Taking ONE.

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“The Greatest Risk Is Not Taking One” – American International Group (AIG)

Over the weekend I celebrated the 2nd birthday of The Art of Lax™.  The celebration did not have a cake with candles or party favors, and such, rather it consisted with a lot of reflection accompanied with a smile or 10.  :o)

In the Fall season of 2008, The Art of Lax™ was being built and slowly taking shape – 25 drawings, 5 paintings and a lot of sleepless nights “working and wondering” into the unknown.

“He who would accomplish little must sacrifice little; he who would achieve much must sacrifice much; he who would attain highly must sacrifice greatly.”– James Allen (author, “From Poverty to Power”)

On Dec. 18th 2008, I took those images and created the Facebook Group Page – “The Art of Lax™ – by Vincent Ricasio“.  Crossing the line and pushing the boundaries, I “invited” as many friends (mostly lacrosse related) on the group page, hoping that they might ‘spread the word’.  After that, it was back to a state of “wonder”.

The next day, Dec. 19th 2008, I received an email at exactly 10:04 a.m. requesting a specific reproduction print for a last minute Christmas present.  I did not have a website up, nor any way to take orders and make online transactions, but I didn’t care (at the moment) because I was excited to get a response within 24 hours from launching [it] to the public.  I printed and framed that customer’s email and it hangs next to my computer at home, where I stare at it to this day as a positive reminder.

(My first business/promo card)

I opened this post with a quote from an old AIG commercial in the late-90’s or early-2000’s that is a favorite of mine.  It combines footage of the “Space Race” along with a narration of lines from T.S. Elliot’s poem: “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”.  It is a lesson and reminder that being scared is a realistic behavior when stepping into the “unknown”.  But The Art of Lax™ and entrepreneurship has taught me just that – risk, push, learn and REPEAT.

Written by theartoflax

December 20, 2010 at 3:29 pm