I met Megan Kelley in Nashville earlier this year, and really appreciated her interest in and care for the creative community. She is a wealth of information and happy to share.
As you will see, she has a definite passion for what she does. On her site, she describes herself as: "a painter, designer, illustrator, dreamer, doer, maker, thinker, sender, giver, finder, builder, tinkerer, writer, drawer, laugher, happier living in Nashville and open to any conversation." I definitely agree with that assessment. I am so excited to introduce readers to Megan and her work (she gives some stellar advice here, too)!
What does Creativity mean to you?
For me, Creativity is a way of life: a constant need to inspect, analyze, challenge, and improve on the everyday. Whether that’s in small, personal touches - to rethink how I do something or how something looks - or as part of my bigger work - to reconsider a situation through another lens, to explore materially what something needs to be or could be - I try to encourage new thinking from the smallest of ways.
How do you expand yourself creatively?
I look at a lot of work by other artists and fields. My reading list contains everything from science and space news, to artist interviews and work reviews, to Pinterest boards and curator discussions, to game development news, to treatises on disease vectors. Off paper, I wander, I go off-the-grid, I eavesdrop, I draw people and capture quotes, I introduce myself to strangers. I take a very inclusive view to inspiration and I am voraciously hungry for it.
At the same time, it’s very important to me not just to be a consumer of information, but a creator. I participate in a number of artistic trades or accountability processes; I keep office hours at my public studio and I keep a timecard; I draw and notetake often; I write, even if it’s just for myself. There’s so much opportunity to gather information today, and it’s so, so easy to get to, that it’s equally important to remember to distill it into your own voice. We have the responsibility as makers to contribute a diversity of voices.
Were you creative as a child? If so, how have you evolved through the years? Did anyone encourage you, especially?
I’ve always been a maker and a do-er of things, though I’m not sure I heard anyone used the word “creative” to describe me until I was much older, because the expectation when I was growing up was simply to be proactive. My parents were enlisted military and often deployed, and we moved around a lot, which is a very good teacher for learning how to engage the world and its people in a very personal way. Even as a young child, I expected situations to be fluid, and I was expected to be adaptive, to be self-sustaining, to figure out solutions to obstacles, to think critically about my situation and how it impacted others and what I needed to do about that. When you are small, you have to come up with creative solutions to these challenges because you don’t have the authority or physicality of an adult; when you are different or an outsider, you have to learn to understand what motivates people, so that you can talk to them in ways that speaks to their story. I learned to write well, and to read well, because if I could write articulately on the level of an adult, people listened.
Both of my parents made art from time to time - my mother did watercolors, and my father drew comics in his letters home - and so I was used to being around art. I remember my parents taking me to a few rudimentary art classes and to watch artisans at the international festivals. When I got older, my father retired, and my parents settled into a house, and I had the physical space finally to make more of my own things, to have time alone to write and think and read. The biggest encouragement my parents could have given me was the space to make work and the ability to take the time to do it. I was also encouraged to join the band; the discipline of playing an instrument was important in terms of learning to set aside time to improve an art, but it also gave me incredible self-confidence. Even though I don’t play much these days, it was a formative experience for me.
I think one of the biggest turning points for me was in high school, when a history teacher noticed I was drawing instead of taking notes in class. He could have reacted any number of ways, but instead he looked at my grades - which continued to be very good - and decided to give me alternate assignments to explore history themes in other ways. He gave me Art Spegielman’s MAUS to read, and it honestly changed my life. Art was something that had been “nearby” growing up, but the idea of it being “home,” of being an artist for a profession was nebulous at best. But after that, I realized I could use my making to tell the stories of ordinary people, to give voices to the extraordinary stories inside of us, and I knew what I wanted to do.
What inspires you most?
Brecht has a pretty awesome quote that “The Whole Universe interests me,” and I think that about sums it up for me as well. Give me the world to consider, and a little time to reflect on it, and I feel as if I could build a big enough lever.
What turns you on creatively?
Conversely, I’m also spurred on by doubt and failure. Dealing with failure and doubt is completely not easy, of course, and I definitely wallow in it for a while like anyone else, but I inevitably turn it over and over in my mind and try to pick apart what went wrong, what didn’t work, what could have gone better. I have to take time to heal from failure, but some of my best ideas and best work have come from picking apart something that didn’t work and tempering them with the resolve to do it justice the next time around. To succeed, you have to give yourself permission to fail, because your best work is going to come from not giving up.
Do you have any gratefulness practices?
Whenever I am having a bad day, I always buy other people candy, or leave an unexpected gift, or purchase the cup of coffee behind me, or whatever. Seeing that you can impact someone’s life even in these small, unnecessary ways is a powerful kick to remind yourself of what you have or can be. And - I feel like I don’t do it enough, even, but - I try to remind the people around me - online and off, in words and in work - how much I appreciate having them around, and how they inspire, encourage, or influence me. It’s easy to be buried in your own work and forget to look up.
Do you daydream often? If so, does it inform your work?
Ha! Daydreaming - perhaps at this point it’s more meditative practice, maybe - is the starting point for the worldbuilding I do for The Inbound Lands, which is this whole transmedia world I’ve generated. There’s an online game, there are physical artifacts and objects “from” this world, there are “Outbound” or real world puzzles and interactions. I gave myself permission over the past year to indulge that daydream fully, and it’s been such a driving force in what and why I make now.
Not everything I make is Inbound, and I don’t always “dwell” there when making or writing, but it’s sort of like having dual citizenship, I can go back any time I want and it’s very easy to do so.
How does a relationship and/or children affect your creativity?
I am very fortunate that my partner is also a very creative person. I’m always pushing him to make more work, of course, he’s incredibly talented and insightful, but he’s equally supportive of me and the work that I do and it is so powerful to know that that stands beside you. We voiced early on in our relationship that our personal work was very important to us and that we needed to be able to make that, so we’ve been conscious about giving each other the room and support to do that.
My partner makes me more creative, in many ways. He gives me a sounding board for my own ideas. We have worked collaboratively many times, which teaches you a lot about yourself, your relationship with the other person, and how you approach work, but I’ve also been fortunate to work as an assistant on several projects for him (and vice versa, him for me). Being comfortable doing that - to take a back seat and let the other person’s experience and expertise lead - not only introduces me to new materials and methods of doing, but it also strengthens our relationship: we have a “give” dynamic, and our life in general becomes very much about filling the role that is needed, when it’s needed, rather than trying to force ourselves or the other person into being or doing something.
We don’t have children, but we do make the intentional community choice of having a roommate. This person has also always been creative (we didn’t necessarily plan that, but I think those are the folks we become close to), but we’re very aware they also help balance us. We argue more constructively, for one! But honestly, having a third person who shares our meals and makes plans with us helps us look outside of ourselves, to think beyond our own immediate needs and perspectives.
How do you care for yourself to ensure you’re available when ideas present themselves?
I have always fallen into the roles of mediator or peacekeeper, and my natural tendencies are to find solutions of the biggest communal impact...so it’s very easy not to care for myself, and I have to be very cognizant of remembering to factor myself into the equation and to honor my own needs.
I have become very sacred about sleep and downtime, which has been a rocky relationship for me. I suffered for many years from terrible insomnia, and even these days am a very light sleeper, so I can be super protective of my rest. Occasionally it’s even indulgent. But I find that when I honor my rest, I do better: I feel more positive, I think better, I interact better.
I still work on this, but I have given myself more permission to say no and to let go. It seems like such a simple thing, but it’s not always: I am an incredibly active person by anyone’s standards, and I thrive on being active. But when you thrive on Doing, there’s a part of you that wants to Do Do Do and Do, and when others think of you as a Do-er, it is hard to step back because you feel like you’re letting them down by not doing, not to mention feeling like you’re letting yourself down by not Doing. For a long time for me, success and quality was an expectation, not a thing for generating praise, and growing up in that kind of thinking can make it difficult to let go of attaching yourself to a success: you are expected to work hard, work well, you MUST. Even as an adult, as a society, we have such incredible pressure on us to continually be moving forward, and I am always aware that I have more projects I *could* be doing.
To be available, I had to make myself available. I learned to give these things - these potential Doings - space and time to mature, so that, like a garden, the best ideas are cultivated. And I learned to give myself permission to let others do, to give away the starter ideas (even if they are perfectly good sprouts) that I have no room for in my available plot. Especially in big picture ideas, I’ve come to realize that I don’t always have to be the person who does the work, to be the one who is personally attached to a project, because it is more important sometimes that the work gets done and gets out there where people can use it. What good is a community-changing project if I never get around to it? Better to give a good idea - and give it generously, and without jealousy or strings - to a community or to a leadership who can take it forward and give it justice. It’s not a very Western concept of ambition and I’m sure some people don’t care to do that and honestly that approach is probably not the best action for everyone, but it gives me the permission to focus on what is truly important or necessary for me to do, so that the work I focus on Doing is Done Well, and Done Right, and Done Wholy. In honesty, this is a path I still work on walking, but I know that if I can be true to that idea, I can serve my own work and my community best.
How do you balance life and art effectively? Or, do you?
Some people have hobbies. I have art; art IS my life. You could argue - perhaps successfully - that that isn’t a balance, but I feel immensely satisfied in giving myself over completely to art as a sphere. I work to insert new ideas and perspectives into my life - and it helps that I derive inspiration from such diverse sources - but I don’t feel unbalanced by being so immersed. It’s definitely not for everyone and I wouldn’t recommend it for everyone, but it works for me.
How do you deal with creative dry spells? Do you make space for them, or push through?
Though there are a lot of small things I do on a regular basis - draw, for one, even if I’m not always sharing it - generally, I try to give space. Often a creative dry spell is simply the unconscious me telling the active me that I need to take a break from making and instead feed my work a little in other ways. Sometimes that’s re-engaging with friends or family. Sometimes that’s taking time off to just be. Sometimes that’s making a choice to attend a class, lecture, or coffee conversation about something that is tangential to what I’m doing, to give myself the freedom to learn from something without the pressures of being wholy invested in perfecting it. And sometimes it’s because I need something new or different to infuse the work.
A friend of mine who often writes about the idea of “resistance” - the tendency we have as creatives to push against the changes we need to make, or to find new ground - once worried that “maybe it’s not resistance, maybe it’s just boredom.” I figure there’s something in that sometimes. If I’m not engaged with something, there’s a good chance I’m bored with it. Maybe I need to try a different medium and see how it speaks. Maybe I need to do it differently.
How do you deal with change, especially when it comes to creative mediums and passion?
Oh, I’ve definitely spent my days on the couch, bemoaning the concern that “I’m not really a painter anymore” or “I’ll never join another collective” or “I’ll never work with so-and-so again,” and in that way I’m irreparably human. Initially I stagger in the face of change, just like anyone else. But I’m fortunate to have grown up around the idea that not only does strength exist in being receptive to the possibilities that change brings, but to embrace the challenges of it, to truly own change as an experience. I’ve grown up considering all the possible directions something might take. It’s made me look at change differently as an artist, to be open to embracing the unexpected.
If I could say anything negative about it, it’s that for many traditional practices, you might argue that I’m too receptive to change, that I could spend more time in one medium. But I’m more interested in the exploration, in finding the best means for the appropriate message, than in commanding a single language. Sometimes the word you need doesn’t exist in the language you’ve been speaking.
How does criticism affect you?
I think that because for many years I wasn’t very confident in general, now I can be both very headstrong and very vulnerable at the same time. My initial reaction is to feel that I’m right - if only as a way of defending myself or my actions - but at the same time I take criticism very much to heart, turning it over to see if it applies or is accurate - if it is, how to change and be gracious in that change, or if it isn’t, how I could make a better case for myself. Sometimes this happens all in a matter of seconds; sometimes it takes me months to decipher. For better or worse, there are very few times I can just toss criticism away: I learn from it, true, but I often spend too much time engaging criticism that isn’t valid or questioning perceived criticism, when sometimes I should just let it go. I suppose we all do that.
Has your work ever been copied? If so, how did you deal with it?
Never too terribly: mostly just instances of someone in other countries completely recreating my website (which, while a hassle, is a matter of legal conversations with the hosting companies and which generally resolves itself), and a few instances of over-zealous young fans, writers or artists with more admiration than good sense sometimes. Unfortunately I have the expectation that within today’s world that a more serious offense will probably happen during my lifetime. The growing pains of developing an open-sourced culture is that artistic work - which has a long history in our current society of being devalued by the mainstream, both in labor and in experience - is, like many things, undergoing a huge cultural shift in the idea of property and ownership and ideas of creation.
If and when this happens, I hope to approach the instance with grace and perspective. If this is, like before, an instance of someone simply having poorly developed ideas of how to properly source or incorporate influence, I hope that I can educate them in a way that respects my work but doesn’t kill their desire to make their own individual work. But if this is someone whose intent is to make money off of my work without acknowledging or compensating me for that work - for example, the artistic community has seen many designers speak about being jilted by larger companies such as Urban Outfitters - education and action is even more of a must. Educating ourselves as artists as to our rights and contracts, and to the public about what’s going on, and to these entities and individuals, to let them know we know what our rights are. Thankfully it is easier than ever to speak up and provide documentation.
Do you enjoy collaborating, or prefer to work alone?
I enjoy both. I need personal time to investigate my own work, to pursue my own objectives and materials, and to develop my own perspectives on making work. I find that it’s difficult to collaborate equally if you don’t have a sense of your own work or intention; it’s too easy to be swallowed up into someone else’s project. That’s not a terrible experience - I think honestly that you need that from time to time, to create distance from inner judgments and to explore - but I feel you can’t make a career out of that. Even in social practice work, where your role is more about facilitating work with someone else, you need to have a strong sense of what you believe, why you’re doing it, and how to encourage quality. And I feel that I, at least, can’t do that if I am not asking those questions during the times when no one else is listening.
But I get a lot from collaborative work and engagement work. It keeps me looking at things beyond myself, to question the practices and methods I generally employ to arrive at answers, and more importantly, to question those answers themselves.
Do you work in a studio/space designed specifically for your creativity, or on the spur of the moment/anywhere inspiration strikes?
Yes and yes. I maintain a public studio at the Platetone Printmaking, Paper and Book Arts building, with office hours, and this place is focused very much on my printmaking work and on my Inbound Lands world. I’ve had folks describe it as a set from a Wes Anderson movie, or as an elaborate costume, and I’m fine with that: it helps me inhabit the Inbound world purposefully and with intent, to consider things as they need to be to exist there.
My home studio is much more open-ended and serves as an open canvas. Whether I’m making one or one hundred of something, it remains flexible; other than storage considerations, it’s not really designed.
And I do a fair amount of work out and about. Most of my writing work takes place outside of the home, as does sketching or idea constructing. I always keep a sketchbook on me so that I won’t be afraid to break away mentally for a moment and record something that might be worth coming back to.
Is it important for you to have a creative, inspiring environment?
Only in the sense of having a place to do it. Images are nice, Objects are nice, white walls are nice, space is nice, but at the heart of it, I simply need a two by two space to work and the ability to think and remember. Memory can be the best tool for distilling inspiration: the ability for your perception of something to wane, alter, shift, recompose, become your own.
Do you plan thoroughly for projects, or go with the flow?
I do big outlines but it’s not uncommon for these outlines to change, sometimes dramatically. I usually spend the first few minutes of a project outlining and prioritizing: this thing needs to be included, this color needs to happen first, this idea should be pursued. As a painter I was trained to respond to the language of paint as a living thing, to allow myself to respond to the previous marks and continuously act with the intention of editing and adjusting: to be open to what a thing is and is becoming, rather than fighting to fit it into what I expected it to be. It’s not an easy way of working but I find it takes me to places I did not expect, and which are often better than what I planned: to trust my intuitive hand. In client works or commissions, I’ve tried to take this into the rest of my work as much as possible: to meet the goals of a project while still engaging the potential within a project to exist fully.
Do you have a preferred way of cataloguing ideas?
I’m a collector and archivist by nature: often I start with sketchbooks, and move to more formal lists or management software like Asana (though I have yet to find a 100% good digital solution). Curiously I’ve found Pinterest to be a great tool just in terms of building an idea via images, though I question the consumptive nature of it. It’s too easy to surround an idea with so much of other people’s visual baggage that you can lose your own, so I try to use it as a starting point and then disconnect for a while when actually working.
Do you utilize social media? If so, how?
I do, and I make myself very available online to people. I find it a great way to be very personable and to find new things, meet new people, and share passions and ideas. I’ve always been comfortable with written conversations, and so written connections online are easy for me to engage.
I haven’t always used it to share my work, but since taking that step, I have been so amazed and grateful that people seem genuinely interested and supportive of what I am making and doing. Social media has allowed me to share what I do and to find people who connect to it, and I try to be very grateful of that opportunity, to make that connection personal and honest and positive.
What is your typical day like?
Every day is a little different. One day I may be sitting in an armchair, taking tea to break up sprints of writing for arts journals. Another day I may be in-house with a client, working exclusively on their products. Another day may be hiking, taking resource photos for the latest Inbound item or code. Another might be working at 40AU, facilitating the gallery in some way. Another might be bouncing from meeting to meeting, coordinating notes or ideas. Another might be working on-site to teach a class, do a demonstration, or create a project. If I have one consistency, it’s that I keep Mondays and Fridays, from 2 to 6, as my office hours at Platetone, but otherwise, I don’t have a set routine.
Do you have any rituals that help to set your creative time and/or space?
I keep a timecard. Often this is a necessary practice - time tracking for clients, documenting a project’s hours for a budget - but generally it simply keeps me honest. I can be proud of the time I put in; I can know that I need to hit it harder next week; I can know that I need to spend less time and focus more on what’s important. It makes it easier to justify how people pay for my creative time, and it makes it easier for me to be honest to myself about what I need to do for my work and my well-being.
I am also very scheduled: I set hours for the studio, I set hours for personal time, and I schedule these at least a week out. Even setting an hour or two in stone makes a huge difference, and making a conscious choice to enter an artmaking zone (mentally or physically going somewhere to make) on a regular basis means I plan the use of that time better: when you put time and space priorities on your art, it becomes something real.
Does spirituality and/or culture play a role in your creativity?
Perhaps in the sense that all things play a role. I am multicultural - my identity derives from several races, traditions, nations, and lifestyles - and I am naturally drawn to the exploration of identity and how people navigate and communicate that identity. Do I practice a multidisciplinary approach because I am used to translating messages between multicultural audiences? Good question.
As for spirituality, again, perhaps in the sense that all things play a role. I come to the philosophy of the Dao through Buddhism, of the idea of non-forcing action and awareness. I should be clear that I’m a terrible Buddhist and I wouldn’t consider myself to follow either as a religion, but I like to think that my upbringing in the philosophies of Buddhism and Dao strengthen the reasons behind how and why I practice my art.
Do you believe that connecting with your creativity, or helping others to do so, can positively affect the world? If so, how?
I believe that art is integral to our engagement with the world. At a basic level it helps us to make sense of and comprehend ourselves, our place in things, and our personal visions. On a broader level, it connects us, forging understanding in immediate, visceral ways that words may not. On a forward level, it questions, challenges, and empowers, giving voice and providing commentary. And on a traditional level, it preserves, records, and translates our personal and social histories. These tools shape who we are, and who we believe we can be.
It is important on a personal, selfish level for me to connect with my creativity, but more important to give others the tools and skills to find their own. When you invite someone to express themselves, you are telling them that what they have to share is valuable and worth listening to, and the gift of listening is such a powerful boon to all parties involved.
Are you active in your local art community? If so, how do you help and support each other?
The decision to be active within my local art community is at the core of my artistic practice. I feel that when we raise others up, we lift ourselves: that the work that I do to help our community grow will help my own work and practice have room to expand.
In many ways I consider myself an advocate and an ambassador for the arts and for our city. I do my best to invite others into genuine, personal experiences, whether that’s taking a visitor to coffee or inviting someone to try a medium or join me in the studio. When I have office hours, I keep an open door policy: anyone can visit me during that time, have a cup of tea, and talk (sometimes work) with me. I think one of the most valuable things artists can do to build value for the arts is to invite others into the fascination of the work, whether that’s by interactive or hands-on experiences, or simply letting someone see how you do what you do.
I also work with a variety of arts organizations that are doing concrete actions to help the arts. The most of my work goes into HAUS Rotations, a curatorial collective I work with which has a gallery partnership at 40AU in the downtown Arcade building. Through 40AU, we pair exhibition opportunities for artists with the requirement that they do some form of outreach or engagement, in whatever way best fits the body of the work and the personality of the artist. Sometimes that’s lectures or studio visits, sometimes it’s demonstrations or classes, sometimes it’s interviews or writing, sometimes it’s helping create other exhibition spaces or doing some kind of service volunteering. As HAUS, we work to do artist-venue matching, and we offer professional development services and skill building for artists on a sliding scale or through barter. Lately we’ve been able to offer workshop scholarships to our past exhibiting artists, and we’re hoping to introduce a micro-granting program in 2015. No, we’re not rich, but we believe that small changes and actions add up to big ones and that if we want change, we should lead by example.
I also serve on the board of Platetone, where I have my public studio. As a printmaking, paper and book arts community, it provides functional studio space for its membership, as well as community programming, classes, tutoring, and day rentals. Our members come from a variety of training and backgrounds, but the most exciting thing we foster is the “and” in our name: the cross-discipline collaborations and explorations by our members - who are everyone from photographers to printmakers to paper sculptors to painters to fabric artists - makes for an exciting and welcoming atmosphere. We try to not just be an intentional community of makers, but a resource hub for whoever might be interested or engaged in all kinds of works on paper.
Lastly, I participate in several arts groups. Some of these, like CreateHive, are strategy-based, breaking apart existing issues, researching solutions, and planning implementation. Others are about creating creative networks, which help artists build trust relationships with each other, so that we have other artists to turn to for critiques and professional feedback. And in others, like the Nashville Creative Group, by acting as a group, we create platforms for arts specific messages: to spread education and awareness about creative business best practices and industry standards, and activating areas of change.
Do you surround yourself on a daily basis with creative, inspiring people?
Actually no, believe it or not, I’m an introvert. People are exciting but exhausting, and as much as I love my work, I need time to withdraw and process and respond and prepare. I put myself out there a lot but I’m actually very scheduled with my time and my energy; I have to be. I spend half of my week usually working by myself - at home or out “in cognito” away from the studio - in order to reengage myself. There are days I don’t answer my phone or get online at all, sometimes I don’t even leave the house. I can do this because I generally schedule a week out, including blocks of “loose time,” and so I very rarely ever agree to last minute meetings or get-togethers. It’s not personal by any means; simply that I know that if I don’t refill my reserves by taking time for myself, by myself, then I’ll be worse for it, I’ll withdraw mentally from a project or get ill or succumb to stress or otherwise push myself too hard by trying to be too available. If I am to take on responsibility in the community, I have to have a responsibility to myself.
As a counterbalance to the solitude, I follow a lot of creative people online. Facebook is where I listen to all of the big tidal shifts; Twitter I focus on positivity and on arts, creative, and development news; I follow a fair amount of arts blogs and magazines and designers. I may not always say hi, but I am watching.
What effect do you want your art to have on the world?
As much of my artistic practice is social, I hope it helps to build a value understanding of the arts, and to bring creativity into everyone’s lives as a personal practice. On a personal level, on paper and paint and code, I hope it sticks in someone’s head, that it encourages curiosity and an exploration of individual narrative and voice. I hope it makes someone want to go out and make something too. I don’t expect my work to speak to everyone, but I hope that it sings loud to those who listen.
What music, if any, plays while you work? What are you listening to at this very moment?
It depends on what I’m working on (and where), and I create playlists based on the current work (or, in the case of explicit lyrics, the workplace) that I’m in. I have a playlist for Inbounds-influencing music, and another for a piece of fiction I’m puzzling through. I listen to glitch/dub/noise instrumentals so that I can tune out when I’m writing arts articles, and I enjoy rap and hiphop in the print studio because it gets me moving and all nation-conscious because print has always been about the messages of people. I have rainy day mixes, and classical music masterpieces, and foreign language songs mixed with Beck. It’s all very eclectic.
What is the best advice you’ve been given?
It’s honestly a bit of a tie.
“It is only when you realized you can fail, did you realize you can do anything,” because the moment we can tell ourselves that it’s okay to just do something even if we’re not sure that we will succeed, we begin to find the true horizons of our potential. Often we are capable of so much more than we think, if we just get out there and do it.
And “People are not persuaded by what we say, but by what they understand.” This was the most valuable lesson for the longest time. When you aren’t the usual voice, the expected face, the familiar and comfortable perspective, you have to learn to speak the language of the locals. It doesn’t mean you have to write your own story in that language, but you need to know how to translate, to build bridges. More importantly, you have to be willing to do that work, because if you are the overlooked, no one is going to do that work for you and do it justice.
Do you have any advice for aspiring creatives?
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. People are often more interested, excited, and supportive of what you’re doing than you’d think. Most of the time they just need your help in knowing how best for them to help you.
At the same time, don’t rely on help. If you wait to do something because you’re waiting for a grand bureaucratic gesture of funding, for a patron to come and pay for you to make art, for a big job to fall into your lap, or for someone to finally notice how amazing you are, or any of those lies we’ve told ourselves as artists as a way to justify our delays in doing something, then you will be waiting for a long, long time and it will not get done. The old models don’t work anymore, they may not have ever worked really, and if you want to do something as personally and socially challenging as being as an artist, you need to wholeheartedly pursue that decision and embrace what that means to you.
Lastly, and this is advice that was given to me: Make Work. Show Work. Rinse, Repeat. It seems so simple, but it’s a hard truth. Fundamentally if you are going to call yourself an artist, you need to be making work and showing work. Make it as a day job. Make it after your day job. Make it on the weekends. Make it during your bus ride. Or make it while you are sitting on the john, but for goodness sakes, take the time to make it. And then show it to someone. Send it to a gallery. Start a gallery with your friends. Do a pop-up exhibit in a restaurant or a park or someone’s shady van. Wheatpaste it on the side of your house or your car. Post it on twitter. Share it on Facebook. Load it on a website. Put it out there, as often as you can, and with as much quality as you can. What you are making has meaning, and that meaning will speak to someone else sooner or later and that is a powerful thing with more momentum than you can imagine if you just give it room to run.
Do you have any upcoming projects/collections to share?
If you fly out of Nashville before September 1st, swing by Concourse A and see the Platetone exhibit. I’m proud to work beside these folks and there are some things there to see.
If you fly in to Nashville anytime in the next year, stop in the Meeter/Greeter lounges just outside Concourse C and A-B. I’m in the LoveArtsNash Mural, I’m the goofy one in the hat. Take a picture picking my nose or something but especially follow the QR code. It links to the Facebook page where lots of community events will be shared online.
I’m releasing the next region of the Inbound Lands later this fall. To prepare, I’m attending a residency in the Appalachian Mountains, and also releasing a lot of physical artifacts around Nashville and the world. If you’re here in Nashville, you for sure can stop by the “Landmark” at 5 Points in East Nashville: it’s a Nashville Scene magazine distribution rack while I redesigned with Inbound clues, hints, and symbolism, which will open bonus content in the new Forest region. It’s free to play, free to visit, and free to grab a paper, so you really don’t have an excuse not to.
Where can we find your art?
The easiest way is to catch up with me online at studiOmnivorous where you can see bits and pieces of what I do, write, and make, though I frequently use Facebook and Twitter to post works in progress and ongoing work conversations. And if you’re a face-to-face sort of person, visit me at Platetone (535 4th Avenue South, Nashville, 37210) on Mondays and Fridays 2 pm to 6 pm.