The Independent Artist Podcast

Outside the Box/ Joachim Knill

March 13, 2023 Douglas Sigwarth/ Will Armstrong/ Joachim Knill Season 3 Episode 5
The Independent Artist Podcast
Outside the Box/ Joachim Knill
Show Notes Transcript

Joachim Knill describes himself as a conceptual artist who, once his idea comes into focus, becomes a slave to completing his vision. The individual pieces he creates fit into his installation narrative. Where some artists make a booth to display their work for sale, Joachim builds an entire installation where the viewer, knowingly or not, steps in and becomes part of the overall experience.

In the preamble discussion, Douglas and Will discuss universal thoughts, displaying prices, and getting off to the year's first show.

Visual artists Douglas Sigwarth and Will Armstrong co-host and discuss topics affecting working artists. Each episode is a deep dive into a conversation with a guest artist who shares their unique experiences as an independent professional artist.

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artist podcast sponsored by the National Association of Independent Artists also
sponsored by zapplication I'm will Armstrong and I'm a mixed media artist I'm Douglas sigworth glassblower join
our conversations with professional working artists
good morning Douglas it's lovely to see your bright and smiling face here on the podcast uh how are you doing today sir I
am actually getting down to the wire here I am feeling the crunch time we're down to the last two weeks here of of
getting geared up for the first show in eight months and it's a little terrifying yeah that is scary yeah I'm
right there with you I'll be at the same show I think Bayou is the first one for a lot of us so good luck with that I
know exactly what you mean to pay all my work to a gallery you know at the beginning of the year and
um that kind of screwed me a little bit I mean it's it's great to do that but you know try to keep it balanced and
stuff but that's all well and good if you have a lot of inventory you can crank it out fast but I work too slow
we'll see where I get I've got a bunch of pieces started and some new ideas and some of them are successful and some of
them I hate myself for creating yeah so it's like a regular day for you
oh yeah sure yeah self-loathing it's dripping with it for me it's just getting back into that whole Rhythm we
started back into the the producing our work again which it's happy like I've said in the past it's a happy change to
be able to kind of get back to the old world that I knew but there is a little bit of a of a sense of Crossroads here
like wondering what the future holds and wondering like what the next steps are
and how it's all going to play out and it's like a reinvention I feel like for
10 years everything was just rinse and repeat and everything now there's a lot
of aspects not just my ankle situation that is causing us to come to a point in
our lives where we can reassess how we've done things and do things differently so getting off to this first
show is a little bit of that like what kind of pace do we want to keep what can we afford to do how how minimal can we
get so anyway that's just that's what's going on in my head yeah you know I thought that that was interesting
talking to iwakim in and seeing he was talking about cutting corners and some
artists that continue to do the same kind of work and cutting Corners I'm like gosh I don't I'm sitting here
trying to get a little bit more minimalist I'm like is that going to be coming off as cutting corners without my
work because it's always been so busy in the past and all right I don't know you know it's it's funny you'll you'll
probably see my work and you'll be like yeah I don't see any difference it looks
it's still you it's like your work that's the same thing meanwhile I'm like oh if going so minimalist it let my
characters breathe and it's like they're not breathing dude there's the same amount of garbage isn't that though the
just the nature of being an artist I mean we're constantly our in our heads with stuff wouldn't you say I'm not
saying just you and me but I think the nature of of our artwork I mean we we attach such meaning to what we do and we
can really live in that and just take it to the extreme yeah that's right just
well wait till I go to Peru with with Trey and Helene I'm gonna come back all loosey-goosey oh there you go we'll see
how that goes that'll be an interesting live from the road um yeah but anyway to get back to what
you were saying I I parlayed that into uh my own neuroses and and um but what
you're saying I mean are you trying to talk about are you worried about like uh the state of the industry are you or are
you more concerned with how you build your business model are you trying to change your model interesting yeah
um well I guess the first part of your question that is curious to me you know being out of the market for so long I
haven't really sold anything since I went under the knife so that's been kind
of four months dormant with sales so I do wonder if I'm gonna step back into
what I experienced last year or if it's gonna not be as predicted that one I can
put on the back burner the one I'm just trying to figure out is our station in life not having to to pay for children
and and if we can pull back as we're aging and the physical issues
and the you know do we want to make the same stuff we've been making or how do
we take that next leap and there's just all of that's going on in my head and usually that stuff just gets wiped away
the minute the first customer walks in and you start that interaction again and that just kind of wipes away yeah I do
think you know we have a tendency like we said to kind of get inside of our own heads and there's got to be a little Rip
Van Winkle syndrome you know you're coming down from the mountain you're like what's all this I hear about rocking and rolling and it's you know
you're you're wondering you know but it's we're gonna get right back on the horse and it's going to be the same thing and I just got back from Baltimore
yeah five minutes into the show and it was the same deal my wife hadn't
done a show since September sure and she was like wow like right off the bat
somebody just irritated the hell out of her you know just like boom like she's
like well back in it okay same old industry right I used to think that uh
I'd have these unlucky statements uh that people would come into my booth and
say and like if somebody says this to me it's gonna be a bad show oh that's like an old man yeah it's gonna be an omen
and I gotta I had to get over myself pretty quickly and and kind of adopt that uh adage that I've mentioned here
on the show a bunch but you know the hottest human in the bar it's their intro getting hit on they're just trying
to make a connection and and they're they just say dumb stuff you know they're fumbling over their words
because they're moved by Your Word I sometimes they're just being a-holes but uh more often than not they're just
trying to come up with an opening line and typically the opening line is uh
dumb yeah yeah it can be yeah for sure so hey um there was a topic on social
media recently somebody kind of I think it might have been a newbie asking a question to the artist's Community about
how to display prices or you know do you how do you price your work do you not
necessarily how what do you mark as your price but actually how do you show it how do you display it and um uahim had a
really interesting way of describing in his talk coming up here about how he does it what are your thoughts on that
about do you actually post prices and how do you show the prices and blah blah
blah yes I 100 always post my prices because it it does away for me
um a lot of unnecessary conversations and um embarrassment really because my work
takes a long time and I've got a high price tag on it and I think very highly of myself and so in spite of myself from
the beginning of the show you you know it's it's like it's it takes a long time so it's got a high price and it's big
and I don't want to scare somebody off or make them feel dumb by not having it
on there I typically will I write a little couple of lines too about the
piece non-rhyaming poetry or make it sound like a like a song lyric uh I used
to rate songs and I used to really enjoy that and have not done that in a while
because I've kind of put that energy into my work but I'll write a couple of lines and make it almost sound familiar
or take like a couple of lines or a couple of words from a different song and then add it into it so people it
kind of throws people off which is what I do with a lot of my storytelling anyway so yeah yeah
it definitely fits into the greater theme you know like like we talked about with
yohim and the SAT he he has it as part of his overall narrative it's not just about this is
how much this costs that he tells the story and I don't want to give the installation right right exactly how it
fits into that and I've seen you how you do it and it is it is it adds to the
piece it's it's information to pass along of course but it is also it's an
opportunity for the the piece to get more information more meaning or whatever right I I I overthought it for
a long time I have decent enough handwriting so I just hand write it but I had these little little letter stamps
and I got the little letter stamps out and I put them you know in a stamp the
thing so it looked like a a sloppy typewriter or an old broken typewriter I've seen
um one of my art show Heroes uh Paul Andrews uh typed his out on uh little
things and would write something up there I think that's an interesting approach um I think it's totally fair game to
borrow from your your friends and Neighbors on display and and pricing and
I don't think you have to come up with an original idea every single time out of the box for that you don't need to
overthink it um yeah I like also coming from a jewelry Booth yes um I was helping still
Jules over the this past weekend in Baltimore and I know a lot more than your average
bear about jewelry but I don't know what the prices are I could guess within like
this one's expensive yeah right there's well it's 18 karat gold I can I can
recognize that yeah right see this and I can see the size of the gym and and I know you know I went to the gym show so
I know what that cost yeah I don't know it it she had a price sheet and several
price tags within the display but if you tag all of your jewelry
that all of a sudden becomes part of the the way it looks yeah it really impacts the visual look of cases yeah you can't
see a ring on your finger you take it out of the case and you put it on your finger and almost it's got a great big old price tag and you know it looks
weird it doesn't so some of those are priced so it gives you a ballpark yeah I
found this interesting there was at some point in my past I was talking to a high
dollar artist and their theory was that if a patron has to ask for the price ask
what the price is then that means they can't afford it and I always thought that was a little that was a little uh
too snooty for me right yeah yeah yeah that's the classic but at the same time I I don't want to embarrass people sure
you know yeah you know I don't I don't want to like hey how much is this piece I just fell in love with it I'm like
well that's that's thirty five hundred dollars and if it's two thousand dollars more than what they were thinking I
don't know I don't like that exchange they're like they're hot coals you know walking on the hot coals and we're like
oh okay we did we did have a lady and this was awesome I I repeated this like
over and over again she asked excuse me how much is this ring
um well that is 18 karat gold with a half carat diamond and a setup so it's 3
800 she ran like she felt literally like like cartoon ran like yeah
fist pumping uh up and down ran away like just like just a Road Runner right
just poof eating just out of there and I loved that I love like can we make this
exchange as quick and as harmless as possible like it is painless she just took I've read it went to the next Booth
it reminds me of my fine dining days so what you just described when someone would ask the price and the first thing
I do before I give the price and give the sticker shock I would explain well
what's in it like you said that it's 18 karat gold it's this and you're kind of setting it up for the
value before you kind of break it to them right yeah but then I also don't
like I mean they're everybody's got their own thing right I mean some people are yeah they get asked the price and
they say well I'm if if they're open for a deal and they want to wheel and deal and that's how they do their business
then they're like well I'm asking 2500.
I don't like doing that but that works now some people there's the auction people too you ever run across those no
no no this is interesting and I'm just going to present it without comment
yeah so they've got a I've seen this happen and I wish I could remember the guy's name because I've seen him on the
road a bunch but I think he's he may be a digital guy this guy I've seen him do
his booth and he has little tiny clipboards and he has literally the Buy
It Now price of the top of the the thing okay and then he has your offer and your
phone number and email and then the auction closes at four o'clock on Sunday
and so he goes in and at the end of the the show on Sunday he'll go through and
call text email the different people would be like congratulations you're the winner that's yours yeah I accept your
price and come by and pick up your piece or I can do the delivery so at the end of the show
I've never heard of of that approach that's interesting I mean it is
interesting I'd never do it um it's it's interesting like a TV show
that I don't watch okay all right well next thing I wanted
to ask is one of the things where we had talked here coming up is all about artists stubbornness and and doing what
we want to do and not not wavering from that and we touch on the topic of if we
could make something more sellable is that is sellable being sellable is at the death of creativity no I mean I
don't think so and we talked with uh Dolan and Ali Marie uh Guymon quite a bit about that about the Venn diagram
you know like I I work right in the center and it's like okay what am I
capable of making what do I like making what do I what charges me up about it
and what sells and then I I kind of ping pong right around the center which is a little you know lucky for me it's a
pretty big Center um there are things that I I have done like there's I mean take for example
there's this one client that I have that I'm absolutely in love with I've met them and their family and their
daughters when they were little and they they asked me when their daughter
started getting married to do a wedding portrait within the piece on top of all
the the ephemera of the wedding oh I love those people like just dearly and I
love their daughters and you know their their new husbands and the babies on the way and that's something that I'm gonna
do for them if I advertised that I did that if I told people that I did that
just throw a rope over the center of my craft Hut and lift me up on my neck I
would be done I would hate myself for doing that but it's a sweet little thing that I'm gonna do I don't know because
of who they are and what they mean to you right and I'm only doing it three times and I've already gotten two out of the way so and I love it Paul and that
that's cool but it's like I would never do that at a show I would never advertise that I do that I would
never you know here I am telling our entire community that I do it but I don't care you know yeah no it's a
different it's a it's not like you're posting it too let's say your website and then you have collectors banging on
your door saying I saw you did that for this one yeah exactly and I'm not asking for um Absolution for it I don't I don't
have any problem with how can I do I guess my point is is that I don't focus on that part of my ability
that I'm capable of of cranking out and I could do that and sit in my studio if I posted images of those things I could
I could do them by the hundreds and probably never do another show um but part of my creativity is is um
you don't want to be like a factory worker I mean then it's just like Hollow and empty yeah and I do repeat you know
I I do have an element of the craft to it so I do repeat images but I always try to find something that I'm like okay
this could be a little bit better this could be a little bit different this could be a little bit so everything's always different evolving if you looked
at my first body of work versus my current and we're like oh wow you've really come along so
we had an interesting customer request once that that at first I thought well
kind of like what you're saying I don't want to make this a regular thing but it was almost like one of those challenges where you're like let's see if we can
actually do this and then it was it had a good outcome but they were huge beetles fans and they wanted us to do
they had us make a glass onion and so that was kind of fun it was kind of like
a unique thing but yeah we certainly don't want to become Glass Onion people you know what I'm saying but sometimes
because of who the collectors are it can push you into doing something fun and outside the norm yeah absolutely I and I
love those kind of clients that push you into a way that you would not necessarily think about your work
there's there's elements of those wedding portraits that I mentioned that I do I had to learn how to how to paint
something a little bit differently wedding dresses are white and I painted black Douglas how do I do that you know
so I just fill it in red great exactly so it's it's interesting
though that they do push us and they do make us learn and I've used techniques that I pick up here and there on other
things so yeah so um you know you've been talking about this year about
adding more space to your work more space to your booth and I found it a really interesting conversation we have
coming up here talking about space and and yeah and realizing how his Booth is
an installation and how a lot of us are trying to open it up he's actually making it more intimate I
love that kind of different take on it because it's something I hadn't thought about you know making it more intimate
making it something you step into and you're kind of immersed in it and right he's not wanting to hang from every
angle of his Booth so people see him on the inside and the outside or whatever it's it's kind of like bringing it down
bringing it in directors know who he is and what they're getting and it does add to a show like I said it does it kind of
elevates the whole business because so few of us none of us besides him yeah do
a full Booth install like is there anybody else that you can think of that that is telling a story within like as
their booth and as an installation I mean we have we've all experimented with different displays but this one it's
completely unique yeah so definitely I'd say all the rest of us are out here
selling the work that's on a pedestal or on a wall or you know I mean in that you
take and you put in your space but you know what he's doing is kind of outside of the box so we'll just put it that way
it's outside the box you know that's actually not true I was thinking about Brandon Styles and uh Ellie uh Russo
Nova I think is more of an installation it's like a circus tent it's a sideshow tent kind of display and that really
works for them and what they're like who he even kind of plays a character in his Booth too so that's that's really
interesting as well you know I wanted to also bring back something you brought up in this talk that we haven't talked
about before and that's this idea of Universal thought or or creative ideas
that are kind of out in The Ether out in the universe and there is that impetus to kind of grab it before it gets
snatched up by somebody else who might dream it up right and I'll try it yeah so let's talk about that a little bit
um I don't know maybe we talked about that a little bit with him but I mean lots of different authors have have uh
you know deeper thinkers and whether it's Liz Gilbert or uh Rick Rubin most recently that I've I've read about you
know it's funny once you start thinking about a certain thing the yeah I find myself noticing those those things as
well like that's definitely happened to my wife with jewelry whether she's she's thought about a piece and thought about
creating a certain piece and then somebody comes along and does something and it's like well shoot now I
can't do it now I'm not even excited about doing it anymore because somebody else has has done it yeah I mean
typically they'll do it so differently um but yeah I I do think that a lot of authors have written about that so uh
what are your experiences with it what do you what do you think about that when I first started with glassblowing and we
were visiting other Glass artists Studios and kind of getting our getting our feet wet and kind of learning just
learning the ropes and a good friend from way back when Joe Becker who is no
longer with us but he was really impactful to our journey and and our us
starting in glassblowing and I remember him telling us that about the idea of universal thoughts and Universal ideas
and and how a lot of us think that we have that one original idea but stepping
outside of our own kind of mind and what we might access that there might be a greater spiritual
realm out there and kind of like you said you know you said you ever feel this this impetus to jump on something
before somebody else dreams it up and does it and then you feel like you've You've Lost That opportunity to make
your own mark on it because now it's like you're copying this other person that's out there yeah I do I I you know
I've come to be a little bit more comfortable like I know I love writing but I don't write uh
I'm not a writer I don't I don't have the time so I've come up with a like I've dabbled around with a couple of
book ideas and it's it's felt really okay with me to just let them go and see
those ideas you know another thought Douglas and here's here's my boy Michael schwegman uh coming into my brain who's
just like here's what here's what Micah would say he's like well maybe it just wasn't that original of an idea maybe
it's not the ether maybe it's not religious maybe it's uh the fact that you just didn't have that good of a
thought okay I guess there's the yin and yang for Africa right right so Comics go
through that too I mean they're observational comedians will go through that whole thing and I I listen to a lot
of Comedy or watch them it's not two different comedians make
jokes about Costco it's like well Costco's right for the picking you know just just go ahead and that's easy
there's you could just but if you told 20 different comedians to sit down and
come up with 10 minutes on Costco okay you come up with about a bunch of the same jokes oh you know that you start
thinking about the observations and you start thinking about what's ridiculous about about the place and what could be
original about it you know how many different people are gonna make jokes about 30 gallon Vats of mayonnaise and
uh chicken hot dog football don't need to shoot the fish in the tank as they say right yeah exactly depends so
interesting um you know that comes up in our talk with ilahim and let's just get right
into it take that as a segue and jump right into the talk absolutely all right so here we go this is yohim kanil
currently in Hannibal Missouri the great state of misery
this episode of The Independent artist podcast is brought to you by zap the digital application service where
artists and art festivals connect no Doug I was sitting down and talking with my wife yesterday she had just come in
from her studio and she was complaining one of the big shows they decided to do a do-it-yourself reinvent the wheel
application I hate that hate that so much seriously I mean it's like typically an application that would take
you two minutes on zap all of a sudden it's going to take you an hour and a half to reformat all of your images to
their specifications it just made me think about how easy applying with zap
is you just click a few buttons you've got your 1920s all formatted and you are
good to go exactly so I personally appreciate what zap is doing and thanks for not making us reinvent the wheel
every single week like we used to have to do before we start uh and this is a
perhaps a little obnoxious we've done it with a couple of other people but I have so many different friends and I
think every single one of them has you know mutual friends with you and we all pronounce your name in a different way
so let's just get that out of the way so we're not awkward if we care you know I don't even know if
I'm saying it right anymore I say yes you pronounce every vowel so it's like
okay yeah yeah you're doing really good because you know I'm from Minnesota and
every time somebody will say something I'll repeat it back with a good old-fashioned Minnesota all in there
somewhere so yeah you got the right accent to get my name correctly
so I'm gonna kick us off a little bit because I think I've met you uh you and I both have in common that we've both
had at least in our incarnations two different bodies of work and I I first
met you when you were doing your large-scale uh large format Polaroids
um that was oh God it must have been like 2003 or yeah I think it's been like 14 years or something like that I keep
saying 10 but you know it's probably more now everything is like gets lumped into the 10-year thing does that the
10-year Mark exactly at our age it just makes it easier yes 10 years so your previous
body of work was photography yeah I had a giant Polaroid camera that I built and I was building scenes and then
photographing them and actually the body of work I have now came from out of that because it's basically a big
installation for a photograph but this one you can go in and interact with it the other ones they were all they
started out really small scenes and then I would photograph them and you know like with uh I use plants and found
objects I got like a whole museum of stuff I collected to build scenes out of and then it would be like a whole
foreign surreal landscape they got bigger and bigger and eventually they're a huge I don't know if you know anything
about the Polaroid cameras the Polaroid had made six cameras that can shoot full format film from the factory and they're
like 20 by 24 Polaroids and the school I went to they had one of the cameras and I was like oh these look gorgeous and
they're so sharp and wow I you know but I never used their camera I was like I'm gonna build my own camera and then um I
built it and Polo I didn't actually want to sell me film because it was like their promotional thing to have these
special cameras out that nobody else can use and luckily oh wow well I got lucky
because there's a photographer who was leasing one from them uh Elsa Dorfman she's a portrait photographer was a port
of photographer in Cambridge and they were going to take her camera and open another studio and then she wouldn't have her camera anymore and so she was
hurt that I was building one and she was like oh could you build me a camera too and then I was like well I don't really
want to build cameras but I'll consider it and then she talked to people at Polaroid and then they came and looked
at my camera and I hadn't even finished it I pulled like a test film you know you have to like two pieces of film that
have a gap in between it has to be perfect otherwise you get uneven development and it was totally uneven it
didn't work at all except it came out and they were like well you've got some
work to do on this but um we will sell you film if you don't build more cameras and I was like okay that sounds great
because I I don't want to build more cameras yeah I thought you were going to go in a different place like maybe you
bought films from her but but they are no I'm not basically paying you not yeah they even gave me a test roll to to get
it to work so what was the reason for building your own was it so you could shoot a bigger cameras are huge Studio
cameras that were really heavy and you couldn't bring him anywhere plus they were super expensive to rent I mean you
couldn't just go use their cameras because it was a special situation so I was like I just made my own and I made
it so it folds up and it was still like 100 pounds but I was able to carry it around and bring a place and I started
taking some uh Landscapes and it was always like oh I want to do this landscape with you know I want like a
stone wall over here and a tree over there and you know I had an idea of what I wanted but you can't do Landscapes
like that you don't find the thing you want out there you have to recognize the
thing you see that's being something good so it's kind of a opposite approach one is actually discover things and the
other one is you create things and I wanted to create things and so while I was testing the camera I would just take
like a piece of fruit or a flower and light it and photograph it I was like oh these are gorgeous and so I I just did
that and they got more and more complex and eventually they're like these giant scenes of things set up with lighting
and handheld lights painting with light and so that's how that evolves it almost sounds like like filmmaking almost
anyway I actually studied film amazing kind of fall in line with that yeah because of the lighting it's a lot of it
is like really pretty much all of it is lighting and you I feel you can take anything and light it well and turn it
into something special that looks great and so I did when I went to art school I
did photography and filmmaking mostly but also I mean I really was a painter
and drawer before I went to art school and I took some classes and I was like I don't really want to learn something I
feel already comfortable with so I decided that to take classes I mean plus they could squash that out yeah it kind
of was that way there was like this one teacher he was like from Czechoslovakia and he was like your stereotypical
artist from Eastern Europe you know he had like black on he always had a policy of young women following him around and
and he would have a thick accent and sound important and be like Oh more abstract like if you're in class and
he'd always say like more apps and not do like realistic stuff and he would be like do you like this do you like doing
this so where was this where where did you go to school that was the museum school in
Boston it was it was a great school because you can do whatever you want there basically they have a department in every medium and you can just they
don't have grading or you don't have to do anything anybody says you can just
make whatever and then at the end they look at what you made and decide if if you learn something or if you're
evolving so it was it's kind of a self-guide it's cool which is what I
really needed and so I could go and learn and everything you know like put it Ceramics and metal smithing and
Welding I loved welding and yeah pretty much everything but I really got into
film because in film you end up showing your film you got this audience and it's like haha here is my piece everybody's
looking at it and I think that's really what's right into that group experience yeah it's that group experience but then
uh I don't really collaborate well with people I like just doing my thing and I don't have to tell people what to do and
compromise and all that but the experience in a communal setting enjoying the work not necessarily
collaborating yeah and making the work yeah not the making it's like there's that aspect of of yeah like like
filmmaking in a way yeah yeah that's that's what I like about art fairs is that you actually have an audience
you're going out you bring your workout and you can watch your audience interact with your work and see what happens and and see if they hate it or love it or
see something else that you didn't see before right yeah so to go back to like
uh meeting you at this kind of um I don't know you were almost at a Crossroads you were you were living at
the at the time you were living out of your van and thinking about Hannibal yeah or you had been staying in your van
or at shows I don't know tell us about that what was that experience yeah I drive the studio for
like two months a year and then rent a dark room to make smaller versions of them because I'd make like photographic
Productions and then I'd be just doing like 30 40 shows a year and just going from show to show and camping and which
was great but then eventually got kind of boring it's like oh and at that point you had said because I remember talking
to you because my my business model at the time was to lock out as much stuff as I could and just move it and and your
business model at the time was like well here are the 12 pieces that that I have and well the award money is is plenty
enough to keep me going uh were you kind of living on on award money at the time it was like half my income was I more
money at the time because that people the only people like really bought my work were young and they had no money so
they would only buy small prints of the of my pieces like I hardly ever sold an
original Polaroid at the time but so yeah I was like I just want to do what I
want to do and then you know get my expenses to where that matches the
income from that which is why I ended up in Hannibal I was living in Boston at the time and Boston is really expensive
and basically end up having to make something that you can sell and you're constantly thinking about how much money
you can make so you can just Scratch by and I was like well I don't want to think about that I just want to make
what I want to make it seems like you really are fighting making art into a
commodity basically right I mean well I'm not exciting it I just means something or say something well yeah I
mean that's that's what I I yeah I think there's like different approaches to being at art fairs and there's like
there's the business person there's the creative and um then there's the producer who
organizes everything and you're kind of being all three of those at the same time and you might enjoy the producing
the most or the the the selling some people enjoy the selling and money making the most and some
people don't enjoy any of those things like I don't I didn't really enjoy those parts I just enjoy the creating and
coming up with ideas so like I said with some of the Creative Edge of that you know we all balance all those parts
get juggled around and it changes too I've always admired that within your
business model because it is so different because you keep your expenses low and I feel like that's that's something that
is uh within like the Hannibal kind of contingent uh there are a lot of artists
out there in Hannibal and it seems like a lot of you guys tend to have a similar
lifestyle almost you know whether it's it's like let's keep the expenses low let's less of a credit card kind of
thing less of a moving units kind of kind of business model you're not out there well you know we're all out there
to sell our work but yeah it seems like if you're in Hannibal you're making a decision to
keep costs low and you don't have to produce so much in order to stay where you are like I'm kind of a slave to that
in Santa Fe right now because you know keeping talking to Jack Charney Jack is
moving to Hannibal and he was talking about the the rent versus the mortgage and it's like well you know for four
thousand dollars a month think about how much Pottery you have to make versus two hundred dollars uh a month for a
mortgage payment on a gigantic church right that he's renovating so yeah I mean I I bought my house for two
thousand dollars so and about it on the credit card yeah but even like the dedication of say
you know living in your van for four years and saying just how how kind of like stripped down can I make my life
you know what I mean how simple can I make it so that what's important to me is is at the Forefront I mean it sounds
like you really you know each step along the way you're evaluating that yeah or I don't know I'm I'm just stubborn too so
like I want to do something I want to do it and then I just do it but I mean I wouldn't say
that was like evaluations like oh if I made something more sellable I could have like a I could stay in Boston or
whatever but it's also I meant as well so Hannibal was also a very central location and I ended up there really no
good shows on the east coast and so I ended up always having to drive really far I mean that first was like if I can
just buy a super cheap house in Hannibal I could stop somewhere and do things and if I don't like it here it won't even
matter because it's so cheap it's like okay you know buy a house for seven thousand dollars then
um if I don't like it I could just sell it again but basically it didn't cost me anything and still like we don't have
any mortgage when the taxes are super low and I don't really have to make we don't have to make much money yeah so
when you bought in Hannibal however many years ago that was kind of take us through a little bit of the history of
that as far as like was there already a an art scene there were there art show
artists living there that kind of attracted yeah there's a Potter Steve Ayers he's he lives here and he's been
kind of pushing to get artists to move here and he got like a few people from uh Milwaukee to move here they don't do
shows they're not here anymore kind of rotated but then a friend of theirs he moved
here and then he knew some people um there's a bob and Terry who were doing glass lamps oh yeah I knew them
from shows and we were friends and they invited me over a bunch of times and I stayed at their house between shows a
few times and I really liked the community and I mean everybody was partying all the time it sounds like fun
at the time and so I was like well this are they still or is that social network a little
bit Yeah so I ended up like well okay I could just you know get something here and see how that works out and I liked
it so then that then I came and then um oh then Michael Cole he passed through
here while I was in Oklahoma City with a broken down van he was going to visit me and I couldn't I wasn't actually here
and while I was gone he bought the church in the house that Melissa now lives in and he now owns a warehouse
then who else so there was a Matthew nafsker he moved here because Janice
moved here yeah did you meet Janice uh so Janice you're talking your wife yeah now right so did
you meet her at shows or did you yeah I kind of because oh meeting her to um Matthew Cornell because I was on the
waitlist for Kansas City okay they had a spot and then Rachel his wife was next
to Janice but she was supposed to be next to Matthew and so she asked to be moved to Matthew's spot and then I got
moved to her spot which was next to Janice and that's how I first met her the Serendipity of it yeah that's pretty
cool took another couple of years because like okay so tell us about your relationship with Janice and how you got
to know her her and and you know how you guys formed a partnership well I I was next to her that show and I thought she
was really cute and funny and great but she was like married and so I
was like oh forget it I can't and so I kind of avoided her for a year or so and
then um I think it was a dogwood I think I asked her out for dinner because you
know we were both tearing down late and you know I was still liked her a lot but I didn't
yeah yeah but uh and then after that she went home and she realized that that she needed to get divorced yeah just from
having dinner with me yeah but she didn't tell me any of this I didn't know any of this we were like texting while
we're on the road and and she was going to uh Cherry Creek and it's the only time her husband came with her for some
reason he decided that he wanted to come with her even though they had just broken up and and at Cherry Creek
because she asked me like hey when were you in Madison you should go out and she knows all these restaurants because she used to live there and we should go out
eat dinner in these great places and and I still didn't know what was going on and then we went to Madison and it's
like oh and then that's yeah and we really hooked up that's when yeah it's like can
you make sure not to bring that guy uh when you come to Madison yeah like that's kind of a wet blanket yeah that
was ruining my goodness so when you settled down at Hannibal was that before you met Janice yeah that's kind of like
all kind of yeah I was already in Hannibal at the time I was renovating the house we live in now I had bought
another house first and then I bought this house which is much bigger and more in the spot I liked but it had like no
roof and basically was you know it needed a huge amount of work but since I wasn't doing that great at shows I had
time and no money but I knew how to fix houses so I was like oh I got time to do this and so I was fixing up this house
and Janice and I were constantly texting and calling and and that winter uh she
was like well maybe I should move to Hannibal I was like okay I'll renovate one room for your studio in this house
and so I renovated this one room it was her student video and the rest of the house was just a war zone but she had
her studio so she could work and then the funny thing is she was sharing a studio with Matthew nefzger in
in Philly and he had always talked about moving to Hannibal and she always thought that's ridiculous
divorcing and moving yeah it was it was actually divorcing and moving to Hannibal and she was like that's ridiculous how would you move to
Hannibal and then she ended up being the one who divorced and moved to animal wow yeah
I'd love to jump a little bit because you're talking about kind of your your photography and
I do want to talk about the the fact that you had that photography and you had that kind of narrative and then how
that translates into the next body of work and you said something interesting about that it's still almost like the
same universe or the same almost like the same body of work but it's a different um perspective is that is that true was
that yeah I mean it's a it's an installation art piece so it's like you know people like oh we nice Booth it's
not really a booth this is a whole art piece and you know it's like it's only six by six feet because it's supposed to
be a shipping crate that somebody just dropped off on the street and it has like this cultural treasure in it and
nobody knows where I came from what it went through and why it's here but but people go in and they'll see these
stuffed toy animal paintings and go like oh how cute or whatever but they but it's just like when you go to like an
antique mall and you see like some ancient mask somewhere and you're like oh this is so cute this will be great on
our on our mantelpiece and maybe it's like a death mask or who knows what it was from and maybe totally inappropriate
to put it over your mantelpiece you know artwork gets integrated in our culture
from all over the place and most things we don't even know most people won't know where it came from I mean patterns
I mean your shirt has a pattern that comes from somewhere that was like some other culture and it all just gets mixed
in because somebody acquired it and started doing something with it and in the process it got lost where it came
from but so the idea was like people go in there and it had initial meaning yeah that initial meaning it came from
another culture and so I had to come up with a culture to make something up because I you know I can't I didn't want
to take a specific culture because I didn't want the piece to be about that culture and then I realized well when I
was a kid I had this whole world of stuffed toy animals and I had like a book with maps and and portraits of the
different animals and even building codes of the city like all that stuff was in there I was like oh I already
have the place where this comes from and it's kind of perfect because I'm objectifying a culture because it's
tough toy animals yet everybody relates to a stuffed toy animal everybody has a relation to it so it's kind of like
humans but it's an object objectification of it and and people go in there and they buy these things from
an objectify culture and then some people go in they just buy something because it's cute and some people go
into the bite because they like the whole concept of it but the people go in and buy something or come out or just go
and look at it and come out it's like oh these are so cute they're kind of like the actors in the scene because you that
you can be an observer and read what it's about and then see how it's happening how people are going in there
and they're not picking up at all what this is about or what it's where it's from or the concept or anything or the
context well we talked early on when I first met you about about how it didn't matter as much to you about selling the
the big original Polaroids and it's like of course you want to but at the same time you don't have to in order to fund
it whereas you are not necessarily getting the exact same flow of traffic you have to almost make a commitment in
order to see your work uh I am I'm claustrophobic and I only get to see
your work when it's early morning and I can dip in and as soon as somebody else wants to come in I'm like I gotta get
the hell out of here it really is a visceral feeling where it's like I'm really enjoying the paintings but then
I've got to be like okay uh here comes some people I hear I got I gotta I gotta Scamper away do you find that with your
with your customers like it's got to be a different way of dealing with the with the clientele it is I think it has a lot
of advantages in a way in terms of customer interaction depending on the city some places people
will just make a line like a very orderly line and take turns in some places they don't like it goes Des
Moines they'll be like a a neat line of people there's never been more than two people who go in at the same time and
then they go to other places and it's just people just squeeze in and don't care at all so it's kind of interesting to see the dynamic of the place do you
ever feel like Des Moines I feel like Stephen King has his like individually talked to the to the people ahead of
time be like don't you people embarrass me
like I'm bringing you guys some culture don't you mess it up don't embarrass me
and that's I feel like everybody's kind of on their best behavior but I maybe that's just my booth and but I that
speaks to it with an orderly fashion that they're going into your space do you feel like that and I guess you
wouldn't know maybe but do you feel like that hurts or or how do you even make a sale like do they come in and be like do
they come back out yeah there's no prices in there because it's that wouldn't fit this theme so there's
a packing list on the outside like in the shipping crate and the packing list is just the little pictures of the
paintings and and the prices and the description or whatever yeah like a
shipping company would go like oh there's a bear here this is that it's not like meaningful titles because
that's kind of been lost it's just a shipping company took care of it they dropped it off and they're trying to get
rid of this stuff and so people will be like where the prices and that usually
points to the packing list like there's a packing list outside and surprisingly people are not annoyed by it like you
know I was like maybe people will be really annoyed having said oh why don't you put the prices on our pieces but instead they go oh oh oh sorry I didn't
see that and a lot of people and it's kind of fun because people really in there looking and then they'll lean out
to look at the price list and and it seems to be a fun experience for people
to actually have to do that for most people well it's a unique experience they don't have with any other artist I
mean in fact when I look at your website your booth is an installation titled the
National Treasure and you actually have a price for the whole dang thing on there right oh yeah but you could buy the whole installation yeah no one's
studying yet usually people got oh can I get one of these boxes in my yard I said bar or something it's like no I don't oh
I don't build these boxes I mean when I built it originally I was
going to have a different installation every few years because I have a whole bunch of ideas and then well I have one that's been in
the works for like 10 years but since we have kids now I haven't really had that same amount of time to like evolve my my
work so that's kind of a slow thing they do kind of cut into it a little bit do you think that's important
um as far as as uh being artists I don't know that there are many of us Matthew nafsker does it to some extent creates
an environment Eric Lee created a completely different environment his was more of a living space and trying to
convince people you know of a feel of Once you walk in of how it's going to
feel in your modern living space do you think that more of us should do that or do you think that that's an important
thing as far as the the environment that we create not necessarily I mean I didn't do it to make a better display I
did it because of the whole concept of it and it has it has some big advantages
that I didn't foresee like setting it up is so easy like the first time I said it I was like
wow this really beats putting up walls and a tent and it just your walls could be your tent
and then the other thing is it's like storm resistant it's not going to blow over I never I never have to worry about
wind or or those sorts of things so that's another advantage and then also I
have space around it because it's smaller yeah it's kind of worked out but you but you never exhibit on the outside
pieces on the outside it becomes a display then suddenly it's not the shipping rate anymore so that would
break the the theme yeah yeah I mean I used to in my old Booth I would play guitar in the back all the time and it's
like I stopped doing that because that's not that doesn't fit the themes like if I was sitting next to it with a guitar it's like oh what what's going on here
this is not a shipping company that's a some guy with a carnival box or something
all right which is anyway the thing the thing you have to like watch out for when he brings things to a show is it
there's things you didn't think people are going to see like they're they're going to see something that you didn't predict like when I brought this out
bills out oh is this the Tardis from from Doctor Who it's like first I was like I don't even know what you're
talking about because I never watched the show it's like oh oh right right or or a lot
of people go like oh this is a porta-potty it's like oh I didn't really think of that either oh my God
yeah please no please please no that is all interesting reaction to people that
you wouldn't expect that people might have yeah so you kind of learning closets yeah is this a good place for me
to vomit yeah find my find my little spot yeah I just
kind of like that so do you find does it attract a different kind of a collector than let's say the cash and carry kind
of person who would all over the place like I like you know some people are like oh I know what my customers look
like and I can tell you this person's gonna buy something this one definitely won't I've had the biggest mix of people
I could never tell you who would buy something or not it's so all over the
place which is kind of cool because I guess it doesn't fit into a a concept of
a typical you know this is landscapes for your country house so this is uh you know it's not like a typical thing for a
certain type of person it's really kind of outside of the box in that sense plus
it is traditional looking the paintings look like old traditional paintings so it's still interesting for people who like traditional things while also being
totally not that so it kind of you can go in and any direction but who buys
something yeah did you have any this just kind of occurred to me but I mean I know that um Matt heminghouse is also
from kind of that area he's close enough for for dinner parties anymore but were you one of the folks that that kind of
convinced him to start doing art shows was that yeah
there was a little art supply store for a while and she ran into him there and talked to him and then we started
hanging out and we kept telling him he was doing paintings at the time so I kept telling so you should try shows and
and then eventually he did some t-shirt designs he was doing that and his paintings and so we totally got him into
the shows to doing shows and yeah I love that and because I can kind of see the
environments that he creates uh I could see a little your influence yeah he was he was using our printer for his prints
for a long time until he bought his first printer I gave him a big roll of lighting gels for color lighting so I
kind of helped Supply and I was like oh yeah actually are doing what I was doing in some sense
different different things you're a drug dealer you're keeping it but I just
started with some gels that's right you get hearing those jills
for free and he comes back so what would you say is the inspiration behind the
subject of your paintings you mean you work with images of stuffed animals and
it almost feels a little post-apocalyptic like you know back when the stuffed animals roamed the Earth or
something like that I mean can you tell me about that about what inspires you to create those well I wanted images yeah I
wanted them to look like old historic paintings so it's from my last old culture and when you look at what like
European culture what the paintings are it's always either royalty or romanticized peasant scenes or battles
uh generals so I try to have a mix of like all the types of things you'd find
in Old like that historians look at for figuring out a culture and then I don't
actually think of the story I'm kind of a I like to create a visual that contains a lot of things but I couldn't
actually tell you what happened except it all makes sense like all these things connect the right way like there is
obviously a battle there's people fleeing but I don't know why there's a battle all that it's kind of like when
you find an old painting that there's a battle scene it's like and you don't know where it came from you kind of have
to guess okay this obviously these people must be attacking those or maybe this is not even a battle maybe it's
just a fire and it was a disaster that they're fleeing from so I kind of like
to keep it vague Yet full of information because I kind of want people to be able
to go into a painting and or into my scenes like the whole installations that way too that there is kind of
as little limit as possible to how far you can go into it but yet have it vague
enough that you can interpret it in many different ways when it's even in the Expressions on the creatures it so I was
like okay this is too smiley now it looks like it's just smiling it now it just looks like it's just angry I have
to like tweak the mouth a little bit so it's like I think it's smiling it's like oh but it's also kind of sad like also
it looks kind of angry so it's like this kind of a full all-around creature and
then people they know this that and they go like oh because then usually if you have painting a lot of stuff toy animal
it would be just cute it's like a look at the cute stuff Toyo but then these have like a whole feeling behind it that
is clear but vague at the same time right you had done a painting
um that that speaks to that it really spoke to me but it was um I think you called it the lovers but it was like two
bears and they're sitting around a kitchen table and there was an element of uh of weight and you know like the
the couple that that off the fights all the time to me yeah it looks like and maybe that's because I was going through
a divorce at the time but like it's an open-ended story and and you can bring to it whatever you want to but like the
couple that's sitting around the table that's just to me like they they just kind of been through it you know uh
should they should they part way should they not but it's still called the lovers it is uh yeah I mean I put into it to make it I wanted to be to be heavy
but not clearly heavy in which way I mean it could be like a very deep love that they have and and you know they're
just like in awe of each other but you know you can be so much in love you're tired of it too you know like kind of
worn out in love but right right so I I really wanted you
know to have a strong emotion but not just uh yelling it out in one direction or another because and that's like your
experience of it is kind of exactly what I aim for and in a different mood you probably would have read it differently
you would have been like wow they you know they've been together for a long time and their Bond's still strong and
and they live in this Hut in the country somewhere and but they have no electricity like who knows
totally right open-ended enough that the viewer can bring their own experience to
it and put their own meaning onto it yeah for sure well that's like kind of what Ben Frye was saying sometimes what
uh people sometimes what our artwork is about is is maybe none of our business yeah you know people bring their own
stories and and um I I'm remembering too after I'd seen that painting
I had been to dinner with another couple of artists and it was just one of those couples that and I'm not going to name
them here but uh they sense have broken up but it's like one of those couples that you wish would break up you're like
oh my God the burden of this and I saw that painting and I remember asking you
about it and you're like no it's it's not about them but maybe it is to you
and it just it kind of seemed like a portrait but I I love that that uh that
kind of Storytelling there's there's a there's like almost like a Tolkien element to it there's a meow wolf
element to it too if you're familiar with with any of those insights I haven't been to one yet we do want to go
yeah I think you'd really enjoy it I think they'd uh I don't know your your aesthetic would
fit right into a room in meow wolf I think you'd really so come to Santa Fe yeah good dive into it it's really
really interesting yeah I think our kids are old enough to enjoy it that's not for everyone that's just for him I'm not
inviting him you all should come
that's right everybody come um not just him so you you've talked
about it in your work and and in your life that you like to keep things you
know kind of simple so you can live the life that you want you don't want to have high overhead regarding Studio
expenses living expenses have you found since starting a family that kind of
challenges that a bit or are you able to have a family and keep things more on
the on the simple well the biggest challenge is time when you have a family is just like this it's a lot of time
especially living at home working at home you can't really I know I know people have nine to five
jobs and you know they they just their kids and go to work and one of them stays at home and they still get the
same amount of work time in but it's not really how we work and I built a house around being like I I don't really like
to go to work I guess I'm kind of lazy but stubborn so so I had to build it
like the old house I had a studio that was upstairs and I'd be downstairs and I'd always be like oh I really wanted I
want to try this thing with painting or something and it's like maybe I'll do it later because it's like upstairs and I'd
have to get a bucket of water and you know get it all set up but then I'll be upstairs and I don't really want to go there right now and so when I built this
house I was like it's got to be open I took a floor out and all the rooms face a main Center and if I'm in my studio
it's like I'm still connected to the living space and I don't feel like I had to go leave and work but now that we
have kids it's kind of uh coming back to me they always need something right
there's always to pull you away from it yeah then you know they'll have fights or or you know
there's some struggle and and and and because we're home all the time they need us more too they're not used to
just being on their own I mean it's all gotten easier since they're older now they play together but but then every
time there's like some struggle I was like I'm pulled it I feel like I'm I gotta go do something about it even
though they might be able to figure it out themselves but it's like oh I gotta go even if I don't like Janice might be
there doing a lot of it but I still hear it and I'll be like ah um
less time like before you know we'd both be in the studio working all the time and now it's like at the most one of us
can be in the studio and sometimes we can both do things and does Janice keep her art practice up too are you both uh
two artists practicing your work uh well what happened was when we had kids she was kind of while she was uh burned kind
of burnt out from doing jewelry and she really wanted to get out of of it anyway and then we were kind of naive things
like go away with kids you know they'll just be the baby will be in the playpen we can still do things which we didn't
have a baby like that we had a baby that had to be on you all the time and wouldn't fall asleep unless and or stay
asleep while you're carrying him and so yeah so because she was not done doing jewelry she wasn't she hadn't actually
started anything new and that didn't happen until now she's playing around with Ceramics and and finding her voice
in that because I just um with a line on showing it or is she just enjoying creating and trying to figure out where
her like you said her right now I think it's more the the creating and finding out what to do I don't there's not
really a plan yeah oh in terms of the question was the financial thing or simply simple living having kids so like
for me I feel like when when Renee and I went into this business as being two
artists and we kind of had it laid out that everything was going to be simple
and low cost but as our kids grew it's hard to fight the American way of things
you know the kids want iPhones they want technology they want games they want and how to keep things on a level where it
doesn't get out from under you you know yeah well so far it hasn't I don't think
it has gotten expensive I mean they're they're like five and eight now so high
expense period right right but also luckily coincided with my painting
selling well so I haven't really we haven't really had to deal with having any Financial restraints especially
since we have no other expenses I mean we have no rent or mortgage that the taxes of the house are like 400 a year
it's really just Foods car insurance health insurance right there now is
pretty much free because of Obamacare and but it Harkens back to my my what I
think about with my conversation with Duke Claussen and and it's really about every every spending thing becomes
intentional so that you can be independent and you can make choices that aren't based on being like
overextended and it sounds like you have crafted your life that way where you
keep the overhead down and perhaps we've talked about this aspect a lot but it kind of seems like an overarching theme
for you it's really being intentional about how you live your life and about the choices that you make yeah it was
like I realized that living in Boston you know there's all these fun things to do and uh and I realized I never do them
there because I'm too busy you spend all your time trying to make a
living so you can live there and then you have no time to actually go do any of the great things or for going out to
the restaurants and doing having having been doing shows I was like well I go to cities all the time and I do more in the
city said I go to a show ads than I ever do and I'm home in the city and also
personally I'm not I'm not that social of a person when I'm home I really like to just be at home and make artwork so
like I don't need to live in a city and spend all this money when I could just have the same exact thing in a place
that's free basically do you uh do you carve time out then when you go to cities do you carve time out to to do uh
things and take advantage of the areas that you're in not as much as I we we
used to I mean when I first did shows I would always stay an extra day and do lots of things and do sightseeing on the
way to the show I mean but I kind of got kids bored with it and then of course not with kids it's like wow that's just
so much involvement getting them ready to go anywhere and then keeping their attention to want to stay at this Museum
or you know like going out to eat is just a struggle sometimes I mean it's
all this is all getting better yeah do you travel with the whole family then or we used to at the very beginning and
then it just got too difficult yeah and now we do about three shows a year that we go together we always go to Houston
and Janice has family in San Antonio so afterwards we go to San Antonio to visit there Houston has amazing restaurants I
mean it's just like you can have any kind of food that's like the best version of it and so yeah and then the
museums are incredible and now with the kids like they love the like the Natural History Museum that dinosaur collection
there and the Children's Museum they're all just fun great things to do and then the show has shorter hours so you can
actually enjoy being there it's like some shows you just yeah there's like no
time basically Janice would just be babysitting the kids all day and having to do things with her while I'm sitting
at the show all day and then the day's over but really have anything else I remember distinctly when we were young
parents and traveling to art shows and really one of us was a babysitter in a
hotel and that's not fun for the kids you know and it's not fun for the parent who's basically trying to keep them from
bouncing off the walls so you know there is that that aspect of being artists and
making a living and the logistics stuff that just has its own added complexities
when you're a family yeah when then Chinese likes to not just stay in a hotel she likes to go see lots of things
so then it gets extremely stressful when you have two kids and trying to go lots of places she's always very positive
about the possibilities and then but then it turns out the reality sets it yeah the reality gets pretty stressful
that's I feel like that's like 10 a.m me has all these plans for 10 pm me yeah
and uh 10 a.m me is is like very ambitious and at 10 pm me is just like a stick in the mud it doesn't want to do
anything like I'm not going out I'm doing that I don't care that much about that band
I remember going to see I think that wasn't by you actually a big group of us went down and went to the Continental
Club um back when when uh our our good friend Mark Orr was still with us took him out
to see Southern Culture on the skids and and had a big time and but man that that
was probably 10 or 12 years ago yeah I think things have to slow down with our generation yeah yeah for sure and I
don't know there's different factors here too like I remember first doing shows like be like this group that kept
getting bigger that would go out every night to some restaurant and eventually became like a wedding a wedding
reception every place we went there's like 40 people in a restaurant all ordering different things I was a part
of that one time somebody had organized one of those things and we had said no we're not gonna go but but three of us
still went and we got our own separate table and we still got to visit with everybody but we got our own separate
server and you guys had this huge banquet I think it was in Coconut Grove I think it was this gigantic impromptu
banquet that they had to take care of and we just had a little four top and everybody that we wanted to visit with
still came over and visited with us and I think other people were like man we should have done it like that because we
had the best service we could get a drink whenever we wanted we got the food and our food came out and they think of like an hour and a half before
and then when the bill comes it's like it's it's easier you don't have this one bill for the whole table which can take
all night to pay you know did you have the whatever or whatever yeah it's like that stresses me out I I love the people
but I it stresses me out to the point where I can't actually even do it anymore yeah I'm like well I I have to
ask I'm like well wait a minute how many are we how many people are coming and they're like well it's gonna be this this that that I'm like I gotta say no I
love those people but I'm gonna have to say like I'm out I kind of wondered like how it ended uh I think partially I
noticed like at the time I was making hardly any money and you know they'd always go to really good restaurants
which I love but I had no money for it really but I'd be like I'll just get a salad and then I go in and I get like
the most expensive steak if you just couldn't help myself but still it's like everybody else was having like you know ten thousand dollar shows and and or you
know way more than I made and they could do whatever they wanted and I'm like oh
I just want to hang out and then there was their downturn in 2000 I guess was it whatever the one of
the big financial downturns and suddenly everybody's income went way down and and after the show I'd be like oh anybody
going out it's like no we're too tired I think we're just going to the hotel
yeah you're hanging out with the big boys all of a sudden and they're making all this money and they're like well
let's just uh and you you get yourself you know a tiny little thing yeah you know you're trying to cut corners and
everybody they're like well we'll just split it five ways for 14 cocktails
but I mean that does remind me will of our last talk when you asked me about going to up to shows and going to really
good restaurants and stuff Renee and I always for years we kept it so simple with groceries we were that person who
we'd buy a bag of groceries and eat out of our hotel room because we just wanted to keep everything so Bare Bones and um
yeah so I mean that is definitely a way of life for a lot of a lot of artists out there you know we don't want to
throw away all of the the profits yeah for me though it's always been like in this kind of carries on our conversation
last time to me it's like they're these carrots that I have along the way and
I'm like well Houston I'm gonna bust my butt and like I know there's a barbecue
place that I know about that I've already been like you know I texted Cliff about him like you gotta try this
so we're gonna go hit some barbecue so I'd like that's a carrot for me I get to go see my buddy and have some incredible
barbecue and then like the food of the of the city is like Houston Justin like
you said is amazing and oddly incredible Sushi yeah there's a couple of really great spots have you been to Uchi yes
best I think I might have been with you oh really that's possible yeah well we
stopped going because I got too busy and loud and with the kids it wasn't possible anymore but yeah for sure but
but that's that's always been one of our big uh carrots along the way is just to kind of see okay well we can go to this
this spot or out of the way that maybe the not so fancy but the but the the
good the good thing well it is one of the exciting shows about doing our shows is you get to go to all these I'm going
to restaurants is one of the highlights of the traveling on the other hand for me staying at a hotel is a big waste of
money because all I'm just gonna do is sleep but then in my van I have a comfortable bed that that's actually
actually better than in a hotel so I'm almost like I'm not going to spend 200 bucks a night or 100 bucks a night just
for like a European prison and sell to sleep in when I could just simply my
band and then also you don't have to commute usually you can park right at the show somewhere and and in the
morning I just get up it's like 10 minutes before the show opens and just stroll over to my booth and I talked to
another artist who said the same thing they're like they sleep in their van better than they sleep at home or in a
hotel and it's just like there's something about that that just puts them out and lets them feel at ease oh yeah
it's well there's a whole culture of van campers too you know you can kind of to find your circle uh uh folks and I I
know that they're like the Coconut Grove van camping is a big deal the uh Winter
Park has a really nice parking lot and kind of a really fun parking lot party too uh whether you're staying in a hotel
or not the parking lot party is always a lot of fun there so um yeah so it's just a whole nother
culture yeah just not not with kids when we go with the kids we do get a Airbnb and have a nice yeah that's a whole
different yeah yeah but when you're on your own you do kind of like The Nomad land kind of
thing you you even now you still that oh yeah you know that you'll camp out of the van yeah there's a few shows where
it's very unpleasant like Fort Worth doesn't really have a parking lot yeah and last year might be the last year I
stayed in my van I stayed in the parking lot that was kind of for the show it wasn't free but at night some drunk guy
came and started throwing rocks at my car and it's like oh this is not good that had to move my van over to a
parking lot or to the street across from some cop cars like okay I can probably feel safe over here and it's just not a
pleasant show to do that plus they have a really cool hotel that I was like oh this is a hotel I would love to stay in
and then I did well last year I was like oh I'm gonna treat myself to a hotel room next year so I'm actually gonna
have a hotel room which is special very fancy yeah very fast and it's a fun
Hotel because it's all modern and it's not you know like the standard hotel Fair which right yeah okay so now
I want to bring it kind of back to your art and talk about you like how would you define yourself
or how would you define um you as an artist and what that means yeah I guess I guess I'm more of a
conceptual artist that it's more the ideas like I I don't like some people go in the studio and they'll just like splatter around stuff and see what
happens and then come up with something on the spot well I'm usually think of an
idea and I have it like visualized and fleshed Out In My Head by the time I do it I'm basically just some slave
following my orders oh it's not always the most Pleasant because I'm like oh you know I gotta
make this thing that I thought up and it's got to be precisely the way I wanted it
and do you like more details evolve as you're going down that road you know what I'm saying well a lot of the the
bigger on the bigger picture I don't start like an installation until years after I first thought of it like I'll
have a bunch of ideas that just float around and the ones that stick after five years and have gotten more fleshed
out once I really know what it's what it is I'll start making it but of course when I while I make it I'll discover
details that I didn't think of that need to be fleshed out more more precisely to make it fit right so have you ever had
any of your ideas as far as um like come up with a new concept that then you see
something else like um there this happens I I've read a couple of different writers uh whether it's uh the
new Rick Rubin book or uh like even Elizabeth Gilbert talking about ideas that just kind of belong out there that
are out there that somebody else might grab a hold of have you ever found yourself kind of coming up with a
concept that you you kind of see slipping away because somebody else does it not exactly there was that one
painting I had like some painting ideas that like a whole different thing and there are some that that somebody at a
show ended up doing something that was kind of like it it's like oh that that's kind of my idea and I might have told
him about it right sometimes I talk about my ideas and they ran with it it wasn't exactly
my idea but it was you know it involved like cell phone towers and and radio waves around it which is not a new thing
in itself but the whole all of it together sure was not the same thing as
and see what he did but anyway I haven't really seen that happen like the thing I'm working on now I have like every
year it's been kind of ready for eight years except it's missing a few details and I
haven't had time to work them out but like every Year's like well I can just bring that out next year maybe or the
year after and and I do feel like it's not it's not time constrained like you
know once I bring it out it won't be like oh you should have brought that out like three years ago and this was like a
really popular thing or before this other person did it yeah another question that I had that I
really wanted to ask you too is about your your paintings your your specific individual paintings within your big
idea uh of of the installation do you repeat uh compositions or do you ever
repeat things because it seems to me like you don't no not really I mean I'll I'll I have little portraits and I have
many portraits I do that for just a teddy bear but they're always different and definitely on the more complex ones
I've had one time somebody I did like a surgery scene and there was like a a bunny being having
surgery and being cut open and then yeah somebody bought it and then somebody else it was like a med student was like
I want that I wanted that painting can you do another one and just like I don't really ever want to do that because then
it's just uh I'm just in a factory making the same thing over and over so but then I did do a different version of
it it wasn't exactly the same but then he had no money at that time and then somebody else bought it and he still wanted it it's like I'm not doing a
third one of that I'm not doing another one but yeah I mean the fun part is uh
inventing something so if once I'm not in bed if I'm just copying then it's then I'm just having a job I'm doing a
job doing got to do more of these surgery scenes and after another 10 surgeries saying by Friday
so yeah I I avoid doing that that's good it's in I think uh part of that is is
your choice of where you live too yeah you know you don't have to become a slave to it like you know Mark winter
was talking about that and and becoming a a slave to an idea as soon as you you
as an artist in especially in this business as soon as you find something that hits I feel like you you do have to
kind of do it over and over again if you want to maintain that like well yeah or you could just that monetary values well
I think it could also trust that you're going to come up with other ideas that also of our hits but it is very tempting
like you do something I mean I see it so many times somebody had like something they did and then they sold a bunch of
those and they kept making more and then they started simplifying them they got rid of all this stuff that is not why it's selling and making it easier to
make and quicker and and suddenly they had a booth full of these paintings that these are not as good as the original
one was because they got rid of a lot of the detail but it still has like the three elements that make it sellable but
it's not now it's suddenly like a product but you know that's a choice you make what do you rather do make money
make r or sometimes both works out but sometimes
sometimes I'm a little jealous like there are times like I know I wish every piece I make isn't like a new challenge
and because every time I do a new one it's like okay what are the highlights Shadows what's this background and it's
like it's kind of mentally challenging to always reinvent the whole world in a way and it's like sometimes I wish I had
something repetitive I could just do like I just want to make something but I don't want to have to think about it like if I could just go and knock out
something that happens automatically I can just kind of do it like a meditation instead of a mental challenge that that
would be more relaxing and I think sometimes miss that that the reason I haven't done is partially because I I
hate working but then I had an idea I had some concept idea where it is about mass production like a whole concept an
installation that's about mass production and for that installation I would have to build a mass-produced
thing so I would get to mass produce but it's part of something bigger and then I was like back that I could do it I could
I could do a whole project that's about that specifically and then I could handle doing it and enjoy it instead of
it being to chore so that that's the way out maybe something
well something you said earlier about defining yourself as a as a conceptual artist and you have the idea and then
you chase that idea and you become kind of a slave to that idea and you know coming back to the idea of of being a
parent and something I'm it's only coming to me now that my kids have moved
out and they're independent and they're on their own is that I really didn't realize until now how much headspace
they occupy on a day-to-day basis that takes away from our creative you know
like we can't sit and and totally let this concept
take over our headspace for hours on end days on end weeks on end whatever because you've got these little little
people to to take care of and that's see that's why you should get a divorce uh
because I find myself I'm very creative when I don't have the kids yeah and then
when they go to their mom and then they they come back and then I find myself more Factory oriented and I'm just uh
just [ __ ] stuff out that I've done before in the past that's your solution will remember oh yeah and then they go
away I'm so creative like this is my week to be creative it's like you're an empty nester for like a few days right
absolutely focus on the kids and I'm like you can be the best dad in the world for a week yeah yeah right yeah it
is definitely the focus of the problem like having kids is like having roommates that never stopped talking and
it's like can I just think for a moment like can you just stop talking about these things that you keep talking about
but yeah we've come to we've come to be more social this year and and meeting more more artists out there on the road
who are who are childless artists and not that I would say it's a luxury to be
able to really live in your art because I love being a parent and I would never
want to trade that for anything I mean I just recognize that the shift when
somebody can only focus on their art and and and just live in that in that
concept or in that world or whatever right you know there's something lonely in that too you have like no no people
to share it with I'm like right now I got these two people who are who are like around like I have an audience all
the time maybe two months yeah audience but it's an audience and they can experience the things that we do while
we do them so it's not like when I was like living in my van by myself that was great for a while and eventually was
like well I'm just here by myself it's the same Campground the same Lake and I'm just waiting for the next show and
like there's no one else here to see this beautiful place and I mean out of
that partially is came like about having a family they've got like this whole they got like a posse coming with it
yeah definitely so it's a little bit the the Romantic idea of it of course the
reality is much Messier and stressful but um well Douglas and I go to shows and we're
like well I wonder who I'm going to see you're like well I know exactly who I'm going to see you've got the you've got
those three that you're gonna see that you're gonna take them with you at every show I'm like oh look it's you again yeah you're here
companionship your entourage yeah if you want them or not they're
here well what's next for you do you have any projects or anything you're working on that's coming up well I I've
been doing the the Kentucky show you know Kentucky in Alabama and they got a sauce furnace has like a cast iron set
up there they cast uh people can go there and scratch like little bowls that they cast right on the spot or tiles and
and the bowls I was really interested in because it's like a big sandcast and you can carve whatever you want that's half
round it doesn't have to be a ball and so I started just carving these seed pod type things there and
um I've been doing those now for probably 15 years and I've got like plenty of work for a good season or an
infinite amount of work for bats something that doesn't sell but
it goes with the whole installation so there's like a laboratory it's all plastic in the aluminum and shiny and
and it's got these pockets and they're the seat parts that are being developed in these pockets
and so you go into this lab and there'll be these seed Parts in there and you can buy these engineered seapods that are
made of cast iron or they'll probably be ceramic ones eventually too and maybe cast cast glass I was thinking as well
I'm looking at that right now on your website they look like these these
metallic kind of like pot I mean that's what you just said right they're like these like from nature they look like
yeah some of them are look a little machine like but still like something that it could have grown from a plant and they're not I don't treat them in
any way because I like them getting rusty and just being this raw material that it is but the that we finished the
insta I finished the installation and Janice had done some ceramic pieces that were like petri dishes and things and we
had an insulation in a gallery and kind of finished the main part of the installation for that but then for
outdoor shows it needs like a roof section for rain and the the biggest idea I had for it that I haven't
finished is these little displays and they're basically counters so it
looks like this is an active laboratory each seapod is like has these numbers counting up because it's developing but
then the the numbers are actually the price of the piece but it's down to like a ten thousandth of a Cent and so during
a show the price would like click up because like ten thousands of cents would be going up up up up and over a
course of a show the price would maybe rise like ten five to ten percent but it's still it's like there's like this
nervous counting going on that's really just the thing developing but then when somebody buys a piece I would have to
push a button it stops the development and then that's the price that they have to pay and and so it adds like a whole
lot of psychological elements to the whole idea of people haggling or you
know waiting to buy or not waiting to buy like this whole other thing right but I have to make the counters and I
have to program chips to actually do what I want them to do and then I was going to add on the website that he
would have the opposite happening there'd be a price but it's like twice as much as at the show and it would
slowly count down over the years so like after a couple of years it would be that
show price and after that it would go lower so yeah so if somebody was like oh
yeah amazing do you have these on your website I'm like well yeah they're on my website but right now it's like twice
the price if you wait and nobody buys it you might eventually get it cheaper and then it would be like oh uh do I wait or
I could be gone yeah somebody else gonna buy it it's kind of like a reverse auction in a way and it's like this yeah
this weird psychological thing that will happen and and I'm curious what the reaction will be if people will still
try to get a deal or if it's just because it's so complex they don't even know how to do that or you know just
like what will happen what if I do that so this installation this this body of work is this something that's going to
make it out onto the the art shows at some point what that end goal is at some
point yeah I built it that it's easy relatively easy to set up it might be a bit of a Cirque du Soleil
it's got like this is floppy big plastic pieces that have to go into channels and
and you can only carry them if you bend them a certain way otherwise they flop around too much and if it's windy I
don't know yet how how challenging it will be to actually set it up but it's only like 40 pieces of things that stick
together I mean it's similar to what I have in that it's modular and should be relatively easy to set up but I might
have to do some training on it so yeah to make it work that's there's
always seem to be a learning curve and I think what what works with yours we've seen people over the years try to create
these you know the trailer booth that comes in uh yeah you've seen the the other booths that come in that are like
the my my ex actually had a really really interesting one but yeah I remember hers and yeah but it she didn't
like the step up yeah that's the first thing I wanted the whole thing with trailer Bruce I was always like well the
problem is to step up that you have to like step up and the other problem is you get bugs all over it from the
highway like you know driving this thing on the highway it's going to get smaller with bugs and stuff and you're gonna
have to clean it and and then how do you keep rain out of it like in a highway going you know 60 miles an hour with the
wind you might have 100 mile an hour winds hitting it it's got to hold up and be waterproof like four sideways and
upward swings and it's just like a little mobile home or something yeah yeah I mean it's like the the benefit of
of not having to set it up every time goes away when you start thinking about the like you said the bugs the wind the
whatever but what you're dealing with your piece is not a shipping crate because a lot of people do think that it
is a shipping yeah and I'm always telling set it up every time yeah it's actually so much easier like if it was a shipping crate I'd have to have a
trailer then dealing with gas mileage and parking and getting it in and out of shows and you spend all these extra time
and money and effort just dealing with a trailer and I'm like well this only takes an hour to set up an hour to tear
down it's it's probably taking me less time than if I had to deal with a trailer and all the side effects of that
right I mean in terms of logistics I am always wondering like every so many people set up walls now and then they
set up a tent over the walls like well you already have walls all you need is a roof you don't actually need a tent you
could just have a roof that goes onto onto your walls and would save you so much effort and stabilize your booth a
lot better than having these separate elements that are like funky tied together and precarious
yeah like you're building two things at once when you only need one yeah well
this has been a great talk and I'm so glad that uh we had the opportunity to sit down the three of us and you know
this is only our second time that will and I have have had a guest on where we've we've done it as a three-way talk
and I think it went really well so I'm I'm glad I'm glad we both had different
things that we wanted to talk about so I'm glad that we did it thanks for uh having patience with us as we kind of
ping-ponged between the questions but um you know it's it's so often and I've said this to so many of of our different
friends that we've had here on the show it's so often that you get to know somebody a little bit and you hang out with them but you never really get into
the actual art aspect of it and sitting down and talking about only the artist
is a lot of fun and I appreciate you I appreciate what you do and I appreciate a lot what you bring to our industry
when you are at a show it kind of elevates it you make us look good
so uh I'll see you in the whole family I think we all will the three of us will be in Houston my kids will be in Houston
as well so oh wow everybody's in Houston or yeah okay yeah me too yeah awesome all right
we'll see you down there see you down again thank you uh so will he this was kind of a
throwaway but you are him correlated staying in a hotel to being in a
European prison cell I don't I don't know what do you think about that I feel about hotels the way some people feel
about like chain restaurants okay yeah I like to know exactly what I'm getting into you know I wanted to feel exactly
the same no matter where I am so yeah I I look like a homeless person when I walk down the street going to my room
with my pillow and and my box fan and my my ratty old suitcase everything you
need to get a good night's sleep yeah turn that white noise on and you know get those decimal levels High to drown
out whatever's going on next door and and get my rest but I get what he's saying yeah I was wondering if the
European uh prison cell offers Reward Points because uh
this morning and this woman this old 86 year old woman who shot her husband uh because he was sitting around drinking
too much and I'm like you know what a hell of a hillbilly retirement plan you know like well and I'm 86 they're not
gonna mess with me too much in in women's prison I'll just you know three squares and a little bit of light and
exercise and a bed there's my retirement if you remember Kimber Kimber fee baker
said she actually considered if she went to Shakopee prison because they have an art program there she could do art and
have three squares on a place to sleep so yeah well sir I'm gonna uh let you get
out to the glass studio no I'm gonna go be a slave to the easel for a while and got some stuff to work out there yeah
before we um before we wrap today I just wanted to kind of tease next episode because I had a great talk I got to know
uh Kirsten stingle and some of the Roadshow artists might know her from about
I don't know like you always say 10 years 10 years ago um but she's kind of come off the road and is selling her work not through art
fairs and so it's going to be an interesting talk about when you're kind of butting up against the the
complexities and the challenges of a market that isn't working for you and how you pivot and make other decisions
and it was really good in open talk and and I'm looking forward to everyone here in it next week our next episode I
cannot wait to hear this one myself I have not uh you've not teased me with a rough cut yet so I'm excited she has
always been honestly one of my one of my art show Heroes really I just our work
could not be any more different but I just admire her creativity and vision and and what she brings so uh excited
about that talk thanks so much for sitting down with with her awesome but yep uh you and I we've got to get some
get some [ __ ] made and get our get our butts to the first show of the year so I'll let you go here and take care
everyone we'll see you vulgar bastard you know you're the vulgar bastard
hey I forgot it's all right see you now this podcast is brought to you by the
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