Creative Specialties: I work primarily in pen and ink, but I'm learning more about digital methods. My sculpture background has led me to favor pattern & texture over color, generally. I find inspiration from old books of specimens, fairy tales, and science fiction. My graphic design work is another natural extension of my love for stories. The right typeface has as much narrative power as an illustration.
Current Location: Huntsville, AL
1. What is one thing you've learned as an artist that you wish you'd known when you first started out?
It’s okay to introduce yourself by saying, “I’m an artist.” You have nothing to be ashamed of-- the amount or quality of work you’re doing, the possible negative perceptions. For the longest time, I didn’t do so because I didn’t “feel” like an artist, I was just trying to be one. F*** that! If you’re trying to be an artist, you are an artist. Even if you’re just a high-school kid drawing ponies.
2. How do you remain positive and hopeful when either the ideas stop flowing, the work dries up, or the money stops coming in?
I try to always have a project going. Even if the piece isn’t very technically or conceptually challenging, I feel much more positive if I’m creating something. That endlessly quotable Picasso said, “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.”
I keep two inspiration boards-- one hanging in my studio, one on the website Pinterest. If I don’t have a deadline or an organic inspiration, I look to those for new project ideas.
3. What is the greatest challenge you have faced as a creative person?
Time management, in the forms of procrastination and saying “no” to people. I am a very people-oriented person, so it’s difficult for me to carve out studio time or decline project opportunities. Sometimes if you’re the “creative one” in a group, people will automatically turn to you for artistic projects.
I’ve had great fun taking on some of these challenges, but you also have to consider 1) If it’s within your scheduling and technical abilities; 2) If you can make the person happy. If you draw like Edward Gorey and your best friend wants a Thomas Kinkade mural, you might want to think twice.
4. How do you cope with creative anxiety and societal expectations?
On the one hand, I want to create revolutionary, important work. On the other hand, what is revolutionary in art anymore? Society expects art to be controversial-- so much that controversial art has become boring. Then you also have people who just want something pretty to hang over their couch. There’s nothing wrong with that.
I would like to create art that people buy initially because they think it’s beautiful. But I want them to one day be sitting on that couch and be disturbed. Not necessarily grossed-out or upset. But I want them to notice a subtext, and wonder if it’s the artist’s intention or if it’s all in their head.
5. If money were no object, what would you make?
I would go to an old church, or chapel, or some kind of sacred space, and transform it into a massive encaustic installation with beeswax. I would paint it in the winter, then let it slowly melt in the warm Alabama summer. I’m not sure what I would embed in it, that would depend on the history of the location or what’s fascinating to me at the time. But I like the idea of a piece changing and revealing itself. I think that walking through the piece would be overwhelming-- the warmth, the smell of the beeswax.
6. What moment/place/time/setting lets you function to your fullest creative potential?
I hope I still haven’t found it yet. Right now I do best in my studio space, right after breakfast. I’m not hungry or tired, and I haven’t committed to anything else in the day.
7. Do you have a ritual way of preparing to create?
Yoga pants are a must. Music, radio, or background noise so I don’t feel lonely. Coffee. Ridiculous amounts of coffee.
8. How do you deal with the inevitable uncertainty that accompanies a creative life?
I think about this moment: when I was cleaning out my childhood bedroom, I pulled out my old portfolio. I started flipping through the stuff that I worked so hard on, but thought was crap at the time. I’m still unsatisfied with my work, but it’s gotten better. It was in that moment I decided I wanted art to be a part of my life, no matter what, and I would fight for it.