Artist Statement

I wrote the following this afternoon as part of a little "leave behind" package for an art gallery. For so long now I've gotten used to the instant gratification the internet affords me. And sadly I've lost touch with the patient practice of going in person to introduce myself and talk about my work a little. It felt odd. Awkward even. I don't think of myself as being "bad" with people, but I'm self aware enough to know that I lack charisma. I'm the guy who would rather let my work speak for itself than try and impress you with my people skills. But I digress, the following statement is an evolution on how I think/feel about art and the why/how I approach making art. I thought it was worth sharing publicly. Or it could just be total shit. Either way I'm working on making things happen instead of sitting back and hoping things go my way.

Working in my home studio | Photo by:  Justin Clemons

Working in my home studio | Photo by: Justin Clemons

I’ll be honest. I’m not good at these things. This whole “selling myself” thing I mean.

The belief that art seeks not to answer our longing questions, but implores us to dig deeper for those things hidden in plain sight.

We lack understanding when we try to use our words. Our language is like a long walk off a short cliff. We will fall, and fail, everytime we attempt to sum up our lives and work with words. These things are best left to the experiences and actions our lives are made up of.

Using my hands to connect a piece of the unknown with the known world is really the only honest way I know how to do what I do. I’ve lived and died by the computer. At least felt like a piece of me was dying. That sounds dramatic. But coming through the other side I’ve found that there is nothing of substantial value that can’t be made more beautiful in the real world. Our little digital kingdoms we’ve all built motes around to protect ourselves and our identities will surely fail us. These too are long walks off short cliffs.

The world is a much bigger and better place to live in. This is the space I want to make work. The spaces within spaces within spaces. Where people walk and talk and sweat and breath and wear their feelings on their sleeve.

Time to Check In

Looking back on this year so far

It's been one helluva year so far. Everyone asks how things are going and the same stupid response comes spilling out before I even have time to think. If I say good then it's easy to just keep moving along unbothered by the deeper recesses of my heart. And if I dare to say bad, then well... I don't know what would happen because I have yet to test that one out. But neither good nor bad can fully explain the way things are. It is both and yet so completely more. If I were to even dare to say how things are going it would be this one word — emotional.

It's not enough to just admit we don't know what we're doing, because that's how everyone feels.

I'll start where it seems most obvious. At home. With the birth of our new daughter in February came a whole new set of emotions that filled our home. Joy for the second time at the sight of this little bundle of flesh and blood and beauty. Without even knowing it our children express such a crisp picture of what healthy dependency looks like. I've struggled my way into parenthood with taking each step as a learning opportunity about myself. To see yourself less than perfect, full of flaws, and completely lacking in patience is hard. It's also humbling if we allow ourselves to be vulnerable. It's not enough to just admit we don't know what we're doing, because that's how everyone feels. But it's more important with we do about that fact.

I've been going to counseling off and on this year. A lot more "off" than "on" though to be honest. And I'll spare you the boring excuses, just know that I am trying. In the last month though I've really been making an effort and committing myself to the times we schedule. Even going so far to turn down an opportunity to visit a prominent figure in the tech community. The me a few years ago would see that opportunity and nothing else would stand in my way. But the me now has to stand upon something stronger. Something of real value and substance. It doesn't always feel good making the right decision though.

Another thing, probably one of the biggest things, counseling has taught me is about curiosity — or my lack thereof. It's been quite the challenge to come to terms with the fact that I don't wonder enough about things. I'm really good at snap judgements. I throw around my criticism like Chunk doing the truffle shuffle and it's every bit embarrassing. I pull my nose up in the air and decide "right and wrong" or "good and bad" in a matter of seconds. Everything. From music, to books, to what you eat or drink. Some people call it being snobby, I just call it being me. But this is where I lack understanding and empathy. This is the place I have fallen short of being curious to know why I think, feel or act in these ways. For that, I am truly sorry.

There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to creating, only what questions we leave behind.

And all the while I have been working. It has been one hell of a bumpy ride. And I don't mean just a little gravel on the road, but more like that back mountain, slip and fall off the side road. More than any other year I've been making personal work. Which you would think would make for more enjoyable work. But when you're as critical as I am it's hard to see anything beyond your mistakes. There have been moments of clarity mixed in, but for the most part my work has struggled to make sense. I've wrestled with the mystery of my work. Which is part of turning over a new leaf. Trying to decipher and understand my work is an old habit I've carried with me from my days of doing design. I'm learning to let all that go though. There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to creating, only what questions we leave behind.

Just showing up for the day feels like all I got sometimes. The fear of the unknown is a big bastard. We have to be able to walk right past him willing to accept failure as an option. Because the only other option is to play it safe and keep our distance from our dreams. Listen, I'm not into motivational speaking or any of this new-agey bullshit like we have all the answers inside us. But what I am into is not pretending to be someone else and owning all my little quirks and things I don't like about myself. Because those flaws mean I'm human. Those mistakes I've made mean I need something bigger than myself. And my limitations mean I need help. We were never meant to go at this alone.

That's a Wrap

Over the past 3 months I've spent time getting to know the new HP Spectre. I've traveled from sea to shining sea, from LA to NYC, getting to meet people and discover more behind the brand and what makes it so great. And through it all I've been quite impressed by how simple and sleek this little laptop is. For me, there is nothing greater than simplicity. And that is no easy task to accomplish. Much respect to HP for making something that stands out from the competition without all the annoying bells and whistles that other companies frivolously add just for a competitive edge.

It's less about what you add to it, and more what you take away that people will remember.

Whether I'm working in the studio at home or out and about I always like to travel light. Doing more with less has become a big statement in my work. It isn't what kind of tools you're using, but rather how you're able to use the tools you've been given to make a difference. We have to learn how to maximize our limitations and be the best versions of ourselves we can be. But what the hell does any of this have to do with a laptop you may be asking yourself — I'm glad you asked. I look at it like this, technology in all it's glory still has it's own set of limitations and it's up to us, up to me, to find where we will allow technology to begin and end in the creative process.

Listen, in the end it's all about how you make them feel. Forget the ten thousand hours, forget all the fancy equipment, forget even the notoriety and accolades — if you don't remain true to your word and humble in your approach then you aren't going to make it very far. People remember more about the way you make them feel than anything else. That's what these past 3 months have taught me. I feel I'm walking away with a greater appreciation for not just HP but for the real people I've gotten to meet and work alongside of on this project. It's all about people, in everything we do. Even when it comes to computers.

This post is sponsored by HP, but all my thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you for helping to support the sponsors that make this blog possible.

Inspired by Luxory

I have never been to New York in the summer before. People spilling over in the streets. Tourists. The muggy subway gasping for breath underground. Long walks down the Lower East Side to grab coffee. Getting to experience the city in all its heated glory was everything I hoped for. There is a certain kind of expectation in the summer air. Some sort of hopeful attitude about the future and how refreshing it is to be outside under the open sky.

Part of my experience with the #ReinventObsession campaign was to show how the HP Spectre fits into my creative process. And I was stoked to hear that the fine folks from HP wanted to send me to New York for the Panorama festival. We talked through some initial concepts and decided that it would be a cool idea if I painted the front of a DJ booth inside one of the HP tents. So I set off on my journey. My process always involves absorbing as much information I can about the product/brand and seeing how I can interpret their vibe in my own way.

For me it came down to one word // Luxory.

I was inspired by the simple color scheme (black + gold) of the Spectre. I wanted to create a feeling of moving while standing still. Being in the city I couldn't help but feel this energy and movement from everything around me. I wanted to introduce that feeling of movement into my work. But combining the two, luxory and movement, together was my biggest challenge. Once I began to play around and have fun I came up with a great interpretation. By separating each letter and twisting/turning them to form more of a pattern I was able to create a sense of movement and energy that wasn't there before.

I believe anything worth making is worth making well. Doesn’t matter how big/small it is. There is no job too small. Meaning, we don’t always have to be the face on the cover or the most popular to make an impact. In fact I’m often more inspired by the unassuming and inconspicuous people/places/things. I feel like there was a common theme being played out on my trip to New York. I wasn't on the main stage. I wasn't front and center. But once you stepped inside you were able to discover something you didn't expect. And for me that's exactly what I was hoping for.

This post is sponsored by HP, but all my thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you for helping to support the sponsors that make this blog possible.