I am an artist working and living in Chicago, IL. I have been studying drawing and sculpture at The Drawing Workshop since 1999 and practicing graphic design and photography since 2006. I received a BA in Visual Communication from the Illinois Institute of Art. and am currently freelancing.
1. What kind of art weapons do you use to CREATE?
I typically work with graphite, ink, a Canon EOS Rebel camera, the Adobe Creative Suite, a Wacom Tablet, and a MacBook Pro.
2. When was the moment you fell in love with ART?
I don’t think I can point to a particular moment. To be honest, it took a long time for me to examine how I feel about art and decide if it was for me. Even still, I don’t always love art. Sometimes I hate it – sometimes I feel ambivalent about it. Ultimately, I know making visual art is my calling, but I think any kind of art that is true is also going to be complicated, even if it does not look it. It can never really be as simple as loving it all the time. As much as I wish I could say that I love it all day every day, it would be false. I don’t think anything can hold someone’s love at absolutely all times, not even life itself.
Where am I going with this? You asked for a description of one moment, right? I guess it would be when I was about five years old. I learned how to make snakes out of clay by rolling it against a table and poking in two dots for eyes with a pencil. Everything was very cool from then on.
3. What is your purpose to CREATE?
I think first and foremost, I create to give myself a sense of purpose and visibility in the world. If I were not making some kind of art I think it would be even more difficult than it already is for me to justify my presence and the kinds of resources my life necessitates. Anonymity is also kind of difficult for me to deal with. I don’t mean just in myself, I also mean other people’s anonymity as well. Art is in many ways like a giant discussion the world has been having and being a part of it does give me a chance to throw my two cents out there at times but even more importantly, it gives me a chance to ask questions and hear what other people have said. This leads me to another reason I create, because it helps me understand my life and world a little better. In moments when I can find greater understand of myself and my own life, other aspects of the world seem to come into a little more focus.
4. Is there a particular message you want to communicate through your artwork?
I want to communicate truth. No matter what style, medium, field, or subject I work with, I want to be a conduit for truth. In moments when I try to ignore truth in art or in life, it ultimately is detrimental to both. If the subject is beauty, the work should be beautiful, unashamed and unironically so. But when the subject is horror (and I say “when” because if there is ever beauty, there will also be horror), then the work should be terrifying, equally unashamed and unironically so. Gustav Mahler said, “Die symphonie muss sein wie die welt. Sie muss alles umfassen.” (The symphony must be like the world. It must encompass everything). What I’m saying is, whatever it is I make, I want it to be truthful.
5. What is your meaning behind the word, “philARThropy?”
I would define philarthropy as, creative action in the service of nurturing artistic wellbeing.
6. How do you plan on using your creativity and imagination to give back to your community and make a difference?
To be honest, I haven’t figured this out yet. It’s hard for me to imagine talking about the betterment of a community right now because I feel like I have so much work to do on myself. I have so many improvements to make on who I am as a person and on my artistic abilities. I think if I’m trying my best in all aspects of my life, it will make a difference in the lives of those around me and hopefully that difference will continue to radiate out to others.
7. What would be your contribution to the art community?
Again, I’m not totally sure about my contribution to the community. I’m working to improve myself in all areas, hopefully that will help the people in my life directly or indirectly. I could point to some pro-bono work I’ve done along the way for various organizations or schools but I think the real goal is to move people to be better in some way through my work.
8. What message would you give to a young artist who is trying to find their place in the art world?
I would first of all say, don’t worry about trying to find a spot in the art world. If you’re trying to read the art world to see where you can fit in, you’ll always be a step behind. Make the kind of artwork that you honestly feel drawn to and other people will feel drawn to it as well.
The other thing I would say to a young artist is, be honest with yourself. This is something that every artist struggles with. There’s an endless supply of stories that I could come up with about why a project of mine was or was not successful but in the end, only one is actually the truth about how it was made. I’ve blown opportunities and had people tell me that it was okay because I did my best. That wasn’t true. I’ve won contests and had people tell me that I won out of pure luck. That wasn’t true either. The truth is that you get where you are based on events in reality, not on wishes, hopes, luck, or intention. Find the truth and stick to it as much as possible.
One more thing, don’t let anyone try to tell you things like, “there is no truth, just what I think and what you think.” That is absolute garbage. Statements like that expose the speaker as a coward.
9. If you had the chance to collaborate with another artist, what would be the #1 thing on your art bucket list of creative projects you’d like to complete?
This is a tough one for me; I don’t think I’m so good at collaboration. I really like it and I work on things with my brother pretty frequently but I feel like I’m always either too hands off or too controlling. It’s something that I’ve been working on since I was a little kid. In sixth grade I hijacked a group project about environmental protection. Without anyone else’s input, I drew a series of overly dramatic posters that had desperate, pitiful sounding slogans on them and depicted things like fish caught in plastic soda can rings, oily seagulls, and woodland animals without homes. That project was for three people and I did it alone like a little tyrant!
I think the #1 project on my art bucket list would be something I take on solo and more on the fine art side like a collection of drawings and or sculptures. I may be saying that now only because that’s what I’m working on at the moment and I’m feeling really charged about it, I don’t know. My dream project has always been a real moving target, some days more graphic art oriented, others more graphic design oriented. I can’t really decide on anyone one thing right now.
10. What kind of art legacy do you want to leave with the world?
I have a hard time nailing this legacy thing down. The idea of leaving the world a legacy is so weird because it really presumes the world even cares that I’m leaving it something! When I die, I think I want people to feel like my life and work was truthful and it made people want to be better. I think all great art inspires people toward betterment, regardless of the subject. Over all, the most important thing is probably just that I be a source of positivity to the people I know. Ultimately, that’s what really matters.
That and a grotesquely large monument in my likeness with a fire on top of my head that burns 24/7/365 and a guard that has to pace back and forth next to it all the time. Did I mention that the monument would be in the center of a courtyard in front of a massive Rococo-style museum with my name on it? Around the roof of the museum there will be gargoyles (also in my likeness) with their tongues hanging out. Above the grand double-door entryway to the museum will be a gigantic pink and yellow neon sign of my face, winking at all those who enter. Coming out of the mouth will be a neon speech bubble with, “How’s it going?” written inside it in green cursive. In the sumptuous lobby, my wonderfully preserved body (dressed in the clothes of my youth) will be displayed upright, eyes open, in a glass case on a marble pedestal. Please, no flash photography.