MEET AN OPTIMIST : CRAIG MARCANTONIO

We caught up with Craig, who works at Life is good, about creativity, why nature is awesome, and what it means to be an optimist.

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Craig Marcantonio works in the graphics department at Life is Good.  He’s the bearded, fun-loving guy who never misses an opportunity to make a normal day a little more memorable.  (Case in point:  that time he dressed up like Cupid for Valentine’s Day.)  He’s also an optimist.

Good Vibes: So tell me what you do here at Life is Good.
Craig Marcantonio: I work in the graphics department on men’s and boys’ products, as well as with customization.  I work with graphics that go on T-shirts, product, accessories, and also work with vendors so we can make sure the product is executed properly.

GV: Do you consider yourself to be an optimist?
CM: I do, yeah.  I think that if you’re not optimistic, then there’s almost no point to get out of bed sometimes.  I’ve been this way throughout my life and even more so working at Life is good, it’s made it a little bit clearer for me.  But I could always see the good in a situation, or I always look at the good side of a situation, regardless if it’s not ideal at the time.  I can look at the things that are positive and take that away from it, as opposed to saying what was bad about it.

GV: Is there a story there?
CM: Before I started working at Life is good, I wasn’t in a place where I was 100% happy.  I went back to school to really find what I wanted to do in life and what really spoke to me.  So I went back and got another degree [in Design].

Through all of that I was working at a gym, in a job that I really didn’t enjoy.  But I approached my job with this sense of optimism where I would tell myself, “Just stay on your path.  I have a paycheck coming in, I have benefits here, I’m making connections from members.”  I kept this positive attitude, this optimistic attitude, and I became very friendly with a lot of members.

GV: You graduated in 2009, but you didn’t start working at Life is good until 2011.  What’s the path that brought you here?
CM:  So I was in New York for a footwear design course, living there during the week and on weekends I’d come home to work at the gym.  While I was gone for that extended period of time, Rich Cremin [a member of the gym and a partner at Life is good], would come in and was like “Hey where’s Craig been?  I haven’t seen him.”  So then my buddy told him what I was doing.  We met up and that fall I started to intern at Life is good.

GV:  As an artist, as a graphic designer, where and how do you find inspiration?
CM:  You can find inspiration everywhere.  It’s all around you.  You’ve just gotta be present.  The more you are present, the more you’re aware of, and the more you pick up on, and the more you can make those connections — that’s where design and creativity happens.  When you take an idea that you saw on the subway, and you can relate it to something at work.  And then it’s like, “Ah, this is a new idea.  This is creativity.”

Another one is nature.  We’ve come so far as a species but we are still natural beings.  We’ve become disjointed from the natural world. Sometimes when you look at what nature does to survive, grow, change, or evolve, it’s huge.  It’s amazing.  I look at a tree sometimes, and it’s like the tree doesn’t know it’s there, it doesn’t have a brain, but it’s alive.  And it does what it has to do to survive.  It gets rid of its leaves when it has to get rid of its leaves.  And then in the spring, the leaves come back.  And it gets everything it needs.  It attracts everything that it needs and nothing else.  And that’s what I feel like we do, as people, to be inspired.

GV:  Who are your heroes?
CM:  This might be a cookie cutter answer, but it’s true:  my parents are definitely some of my heroes.  It’s like, you’re growing up and you just think that “those are my parents, that’s what they’re supposed to do.”  And you grow up and you get to a certain age and you’re like, “Wow.  How did they do that?”  It makes you really step back and think, “Wow you guys are really amazing.”  It’s kind of crazy to have that moment.  And I look back on who I am as a person now is a reflection of who they are as people so I’m very grateful for the way they brought me up and instilled beliefs and morals and all that kind of stuff.  So that’s a huge part.  Then there are other heroes, if you will, in the creative world.  People that inspire you.

GV:  Like who?
CM:  I think Einstein is an interesting guy.  There’s something to say about his thought process.  I’ve read a lot of his quotes and some of the studies he used to do when he was alive, what he was trying to tap into this stuff that we’re still trying to figure out.  He was a pioneer of that kind of stuff.  One of my favorite quotes of his — and I have a T-shirt of it — it says, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”  Especially being from a creative person, it really spoke to me because when I think about that, you can have all the knowledge in the world but to be creative and to look at something different and have that creative mind is huge.

GV:  There’s also an inherent optimism in creativity.  Because to try something new, to go out on a limb, to ask those questions of “What if,” built into that is this idea that it could work.  And it’s hopeful and it’s optimistic.  You have to have elements of an optimist to be creative.
CM:  Yes because the only way you will be creative is to do something different.  And to do something different, you have to be optimistic about it because if you’re not you’ll just be like “I don’t wanna do it.”

GV:  What is your motto?
CM:  I really like the Life is good motto of “Do what you love.  Love what you do.”  One that I always tell myself is “Just be.”  It’s simple.  Sometimes we think we have to be doing so many things. It’s pretty powerful to say “Just be.” Because our minds are amazing, that’s what makes us humans vs. animals, that don’t have our brain capacity.  It’s a double edged sword.  Because it’s amazing but at the same time if you let your brain get the best of you, your thoughts get the best of you, you can get wrapped up in this state of anxiety, and that’s where a lot of sickness or depression can come from.  You have a choice with everything.  Everything is a choice.  That’s another thing I’ve started doing this year, not saying “I have to do this” or “I have to do that,” but “I choose to do this.” And when you really break it down, “I choose to be happy.”  It’s pretty powerful.  Or like Bert [Jacobs, one of the co-founders of Life is Good] has said, “I get to.”  But choosing puts the responsibility solely on yourself.

GV:  Some people have this idea that happiness exists only in the future, only when you have A, B, or C.  But it’s like the greyhound chasing the rabbit.  There’s always gonna be that next thing.  As opposed to, if you’re focusing your energy on the now, on the “Just be,” then it changes everything.
CM:  There’s this line from a song, from a hip hop song:  “Everybody dies but not everybody lives.”  It’s Nicki Minaj and Drake.  And it’s true.  When you’re always worried about the next thing, the next thing, you’re never living life.  We have to plan for the future, but live now.