artist, Columbus OH, Ohio, Painter

Mandi Caskey

12.29.2015 conversation

How long do you expect this mural to take?

I’m hoping until the end of January. But that’s if everything goes smoothly and if nothing else jumps on my plate. I’ve been up here since the day after Christmas, everyday. Only a few hours at a time. I’ve been taking my time. Playing nice music. Just enjoying it rather than, “Gotta get done!” Which is how I usually am. As I see it, [this mural] is going to be up here for 40 plus years. Might as well take my time on it.

How did you get this gig?

One of my really good friends’ mom works up here. I met his parents one day and his mom says, “There’s this opportunity, I don’t know if you want it.” Then she explained it to me. “Yea I want to do that! Are you joking?” Then there was this whole process. It took months to get to [the painting] point. We talked about it. [Went through] all the legalities. We’re finally here!

Is this the first mural that you’ve had to deal with legal issues?

Yes. Did you see the football players that I did? laughter My friend and I did really old school football players on [the Landgrant Brewing Co Building] in Franklinton. We hopped on that and just talked to the owner of the building. That’s usually how its been. For this, since it is a public space and in a government building, it took months to get approvals after approvals. [It had to be explained] why this was needed, etc. It was cool to learn how to go through those things. [To learn the difference between work that goes up] in a government building compared to abandoned spaces. 

Most of the stuff that you do is larger scale? Or do you work on smaller canvases too?

There’s a pretty drastic difference between my street art and the things I do at home. I find that smaller works that people can actually hold and really be intimate with it is more impactful in a gallery space. On the street, it [should be] something big and more eye-catching. The “wow how’d they do that?!” I guess is more impressive that way. I’m actually starting this new series, bringing my gallery work outside. I’ll be doing bricks, single bricks, all over the city… I’ve kind-of already started the series. I actually built my own brick walls.

Finished cabin and sky on the left. Underpainting on trees to the right.

"Blocking in" or "underpainting".

I saw those! I’ve wondered, “What’s going on with this?”

I’m really excited about it. A lot of people are stoked about it. Brioso, Landgrant. They both have said “We want a brick! Paint one of our bricks!” I want to do a location kind of thing. If you find one, you could do a hashtag, you know what I mean? Something like a hide-and-seek game. Where’s Waldo… I’m stoked about it. No one’s really doing that right now. No one is taking street art and doing it really small and delicate. Everything is in-your-face and large. I feel like it’s really important to bring it back down to earth. Have a conversation with it, rather than it engulfing you. 

A conversation instead of a statement.

Yea, I’m really excited about it. It gives me goosebumps every time I talk about it. To have 20 to 30 bricks and to see those in a series. And have people taking photos with them and interacting with them. I’m excited for all those moments people will have. They’ll look, then do a double take, and go up to it and say, “Whaat?!” You know what I mean? That’s so special. I live for those moments. 

Did you grow up making art?

Yes I did. There were two things I wanted to be when I grew up. It was either an archeologist or an artist. And here I am. I have a huge love for history. I base a lot of my work on the way the masters did it. Very traditional style. Very emotional. I watch a lot of documentaries while I work.

Your plants, like what you did for Brioso. And also your birds. I loved all of those. They’re very enlightenment and turn of the century text book style.

Yea that’s what I really love to do. Institutional. That look where you’ve been schooled. You know. I only went to college for two years. 

So you quit art school. Did you feel like it just wasn’t helping you?

I was in the fine arts program and I didn’t feel like it was really carrying me anywhere. I was spending 30 grand a year just learning the same stuff over and over again… I also just couldn’t afford it. I was paying for it myself and at some point you just have to say “I’m going to be more in debt than it’s even worth.” I feel that to be an artist you don’t need to go to school. If you have enough drive and are determined and obviously a little bit of talent thrown in there. You’re going to do something.

I was seeing all the other fine artists doing a lot of contemporary, abstract work. And then here’s me, really focusing on a very traditional look. It was really frustrating. Seeing other people get praised for something….I understand conceptually there’s something there. I respect it for it’s conceptual side. But do I value it as much as I do the master’s and more traditional work? No. I don’t. 

You have to have that strong foundation before you can jump into the more contemporary stuff.

Yes. And that was always my argument. With everything. At a point I got frustrated. The whole fine arts program is this when I’m trying to do this. I’m not going to try please a different crowd. I know what I’m supposed to do. That’s the little rebel in me I guess.

01.13.2017 Update

Are you excited to finally finish this mural?

Yes! It’s going to be bittersweet. I love coming up here, it’s relaxing. But I’m ready to be done with it, you know? I’ve got 6 ladybugs, some buckeyes, two bumble bees and these carnations to finish. I’m going to be done at 9 tonight. I’m ready to move on to other things.

Columbus OH, Craft, Ohio, Service, Food

Dan Riesenberger : Dan the Baker

How did you get your start?

I was working at North Star Cafe… The main baker there left... and I ended up buying a bunch of his in-home baking equipment… I started experimenting around in my house baking breads. Mainly just eating them myself, but I brought some to the farmers market and started selling them. People were like, “Oh, what is that? Who are you? What are you doing?” I thought it was cool. I’m making bread, making a few bucks here and there. I realized I liked doing it. One of the shopkeepers at the Clintonville farmers market let me set up next to their store. That was my start. The first day [that I set up at the farmers market] I sold out in 90 minutes. The bread definitely wasn’t as nice as it is now but it was cool how much demand there was for a product like this. 

I’m not professionally trained in any way. [North Star] was its own type of baking. So any of the bread making training that I’ve gotten has been self taught. I’m growing with the recipes, just working with them. Trying and failing many times. 

...I quit North Star before I started a bakery… I didn’t have a plan for after that. The baking gig turned into “well, I need to make money, so…” Definitely grew very organically. It was never, “I’m going to be a baker and have this huge operation.” I kind of fell into it all. “Well, I’m good at this, it makes sense, people really like it, I can’t turn back now.” ...

All of this time and money spent.

Right... I grew the business slow and methodical. I didn’t really change the processes a lot. I have a really small staff, it’s very personal. It’s very much a passion that we all have. It’s not some large corporate production. Yes, we make a lot of bread, but we try to have that handmade feel, bring the love to the dough. I mean whatever but it is true. 

It’s something I never really want to grow so much that it loses that feel. Because then what’s the point? That is why I work in the first place. That is why I’m happy with it in the first place. So many people want to grow so fast, you lose that initial excitement and then it’s just another corporation. 

Do you still wake up excited about coming to work?

Oh yea! I love it! So I went to San Francisco for the first time last week. That was just a mind-blowing experience. I’ve always followed Tartine Bakery and Josey Baker and Don Guerra in Tucson. So I finally got to make a trip out there. It was so inspiring to see all of these bakeries and compare your bread vs theirs. To have that experience, [I came back] more excited to work with the product. To bake what I know. We do a really good job, I felt like ours held up. We’re making an awesome product and we don’t need to change much. 

What is an unexpected favorite thing about running your own business?

…I guess finding people that are as passionate as you about it. That really has been awesome. [It’s also] something I’ve had to come to terms with, because I’ve not wanted to give up the responsibility of dough shaping, mixing, baking, all that… To grow the business and to have free time, I’ve had to [let go of some responsibility.] It’s been fun finding people that are as passionate about the product and the business and the whole philosophy as I am. I’m a pretty introverted person in general. So bringing in other people has been something outside of my comfort zone, but it’s been one of the best things.

Creating your own bread community. 

Yes. Watching that bread culture grow, and I don’t mean the sourdough culture. I mean the community around the city that appreciates this bread… Watching that grow and materialize over the last six years has been super sweet. It makes you feel a lot more grounded. More responsible and influential in a way too. You can really affect change in a pretty cool way. By making a product that people can’t find elsewhere and can really get behind. That’s one of the things I picked up from baker Don Guerra in Tucson. His community out-reach philosophy… Instead of just making a really great loaf of bread, really connecting to the community. Teaching people ... how it is different from something they would buy at the grocery store. It made me really appreciate that and want to do something like that in Columbus. 

Bringing the bakery back down to the community level. Like they used to be.

Right. It has become this celebrity thing, and I don’t feel like that’s necessarily how it going to ride out. It’s awesome that it has that sort of exposure right now, the local foods and ‘back to the old methods’ foods. I think in the longer term it is more going to be more intimate than that, less flash. But you know, it’s always going to change. 

What gave you the idea for the Toast Bar?

In San Francisco, Josey Baker has a shop called The Mill. They took the artisan toast trend of San Francisco [started by Trouble Coffee] and opened their own. I went to Intellensia Coffee in Chicago and they were doing a flight sort of deal as well. and I thought, “Man that’s a perfect idea!” People can get exposed to the bread and in a non-pretentious way. It’s really funny, because as soon as I launched the idea, people were like, “That’s so pretentious.” That’s exactly what I was not going for. People can feel how they will about it and come see it if they like. It’s just a way to try the different breads and grains and spreads and such without committing to a whole loaf! And it allows us to make our own butter, jams, almond butter, [etc].

To have an excuse to expand into more things!

Right. I’ve tried to expand things too much before. I get really crazy ideas and try to do too much. Business is better when it’s focused and streamlined. I’ve had to realize, with these crazy expansion ideas, what we’re the best at. Keep it limited, keep it focused. Until we’re really, really ready to grow past where we are… Knowledge is half the battle. To know that, to see how to adapt. 

The options are limitless. You have to calm down about trying to do everything.

Absolutely. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

Bruce Grimes

You started ceramics in college. Where did you attend?

I started at Milligan University in Decatur, Illinois. I got my Bachelor of Fine Arts. I took my first ceramics class as a senior there. I didn’t know much about pottery at all, but I knew I liked clay. So when I got to graduate school [at Ohio University], you could take one elective. So I took ceramics. I was putting about 40 hours a week in for a three hour class. At the end of that first year, Professor Lin came to me and he says, “How would you like to be my teaching assistant?” I thought, “Wow, I’m down here all the time anyway, I can get paid.” So I said that I would like that. After I said yes, he started telling me all the things he wanted done. Being a smart mouth, I said, “Well maybe I should bring down a cot.” He says, “Good idea.”

I lived down there. When the students left at 11 o’clock, I started mixing glazes, making clay, and we had to be there at 8 o’clock in the morning. He didn’t care if I hadn’t finished a firing until 5:30 in the morning. 

[Professor Henry Haun Lin was the dean of the Ohio University’s College of Fine Arts. He was the father of Maya Lin, the sculptor who designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.]

You see all the air bubbles in here? I’ve got to knead all that out of there or I can’t center the clay…

You hear that pop? You can’t center the clay, you can’t throw symmetrical pieces. It will have a thin and a thick side. If there’s an air bubble in there, you’re going to let up when you’re throwing or else it will tear. Where you let up, it will be thicker.

Ok. I’m going to throw a bowl. 

What I’m doing as I’m centering the clay is I’m actually kneading it. You want to center your clay as near the final shape as you are making. So this is going to be a bowl… [Bruce centers and shapes the clay into a low, wide cylinder.] 

Now you see how the walls are pretty straight? I’m going to come back with a throwing rib and you’ll see how the volume will change. I never used throwing ribs until I started making lots and lots of pieces. People began to look for sets, looking for pots that are similar in shape. With a throwing rib, I’m getting the same curve every time. 

I tell my students, there is a fine line between a piece that is successful and one that’s not quite there. After you get to a place where you think you are done with it, take a look at it. Usually you go back at least one more time and clean it up.

Wanna see a vase?

Before I ever touch the sides or the walls, I get the curve I want in the bottom and I compact the clay base. If the base is not compacted, you get what’s called ’S cracks’ on the bottom of your pieces. Your sides get very compact as you’re throwing. If the bottom is not compacted, [as the clay dries] it’s going to pull away and crack in the place of least resistance. I’ve got a curve started on the bottom, I’m going to continue that curve. Even though it’s a vase and you don’t see the inside, I don’t want a pot that has a break [in the curve]. Each time, [each pass,] I’m just moving the clay up and thinning it out. So the clay becomes the same thickness each time. Instead of having thick someplace and thin someplace, it’s the same and just gets thinner with each draw. I’m going to collar this in as I go… If I wait until the end to do that, most of the time it will twist and that will cause it to tear.

I’m going to have a broader lip for a vase. It reminds me of the frame on a painting. …If you’ve got a shout down here [indicates vase body] and you end up with a whisper [points to vase lip], the two don’t go together very well. I’m preparing this so that the top acts as a visual stopping point. So that’s where your eye stops.

Here it’s really important that the inside hand supports and shapes the clay. It’s the one that’s drawing the shape. So that you get a curvature and not a straight line.

So there’s a vase. 

You can find Bruce Grimes' pottery in and around Yellow Springs, Ohio. He has worked extensively with the Raku process in addition to stoneware.

Bruce taught ceramics at the college level for nearly 50 years. He has also held group lessons and lead many workshops. 

 

Contact Bruce:

grimespottery@yahoo.com

artist, Craft, California

Tim Bessell

How long have you lived in La Jolla?

I was born in Wichita, Kansas. My family moved down here when I was two years old. I’ve been here ever since. Right up the street. I like to joke my umbilical cord isn’t very long.

How did you get in to making surfboards?

On my 13th birthday, my brother and my best friend gave me a stripped down long board. They had all these old beat up surf boards that they stripped down, took off all the fiberglass. That was it. I made that board and it came out pretty decent. So my neighbor gave me a board that had turned out really bad. I stripped it down, took off the fiberglass and shaped another one. I sold that one. I was in high school, only 13 or 14, when I started. It’s hard to turn down work when people are paying you! 

It takes you about an hour to shape a surfboard?

Well, it depends. This model, I have it down. I can do it really easily and fast, but a longboard takes maybe two or three hours. It all depends. Whether the foam is cooperating that day. 

Most surfboards are made off machines. I still like to do it the hand-crafted way. 

Does it make any difference in performance? Do people notice a difference board to board? Hand making them must allow you to make them in more sizes.

I can make anything any size, any shape. 

Where do you get your foam? It is already in a rough surfboard shape.

They have molds. They start with a liquid foam and they pour it into a mold. There’s probably hundreds of different molds for different styles [and sizes] of surfboards. 

After a foam board core is shaped, what are the rest of the steps of making a surfboard?

So there’s this fiberglass cloth, it’s like any kind of cloth made out of fiberglass, you lay that, you dress, the bottom of the board. You cut the fiberglass and wrap it around. Then you take this resin, which starts off as a liquid and turns into a solid with a catalyst. You squeegee that on. Then you flip the board over and repeat the lamination on the top side. Lamination resin never really dries. It always stays tacky. That’s so it won’t de-laminate from the board. After the whole board is laminated, you take a different kind of resin, which has surfacing agent in it, and paint that over the bottom [of the board]. Sand that down and that’s your basic high performance surfboard. 

If you want something with art [on the top face of the surfboard], you have to laminate that into the board. That has a third layer of resin, called a gloss coat. You polish that out like a car, that’s how you get it so shiny. Most of the high performance shortboards are just sanded finish. They’re light. 

You could actually use the art boards? They are meant to be used?

Yea! My idea was to put my best work with Andy’s artwork…With the Warhol boards, those had to be approved by the Andy Warhol Foundation.

What gave you the idea to put Andy Warhol’s art on surfboards?

Ok, I’ll tell you how it happened. So my friend and protege, Ben Blank, he told me about this website Fab. Have you seen Fab? This was three years ago, so Fab was a little different than what it is now. He was going, “Tim, you need to put your surfboard on Fab.” And I’m going, “I just don’t see it.” Well one day I saw Warhol skateboards. I thought, “Ooooh, that’s it! I could be the surfboard guy. They’re giving licenses to skateboard guys, I’ll see if they’ll give me licenses.” And they did. Now we’re in our third year [using Warhol’s art]. 

When did you start making your own art?

My whole life. 

What’s your preferred medium?

I don’t know. I just like making stuff.

As long as it involves your hands.

Yea, exactly. 

When was your last show?

August, in New York. We sold out. We’ll be in New York again next summer.

What influences your personal art? 

[Some people who influence me] are Andy Warhol, Duchamp, Picasso. 

What subjects are you drawn to?

Duality.

How often do you surf?

I try to surf everyday.

Any quick advice for first time surfers?

Start on a longboard and work your way down.

Giles Clement

How did you get into creating tintypes?

"It was kind of a progression from my earlier work. [I was shooting] a lot of large format film stuff. I [began using] film when I first started photography. I started with 35mm [film] and then quickly switched over to digital. I used digital in my professional work. I worked for newspapers and stuff like that. At one newspaper I was working for I found a bunch of old 35mm and medium format cameras [they had stored] in their basement… I started doing assignments with old Mamiyas and old Nikons and stuff like that. That’s how I got back into film. Once you shoot with medium format, 35mm is no longer that fun. And once you shoot 4x5, medium format is pretty boring. And once you shoot 8x10… 

"So I was shooting 8x10 and I hit a point where I couldn’t afford the film anymore. I thought if I could make my own film, it would be cheaper. I looked into doing that. [While researching that] I had seen some photos shot as tintype that I really liked. I liked the aesthetic of it. Part of the reason I shoot film is because it’s a very fallible medium. You can fuck it up pretty easily and tintype is 20 times more fuck up-able. Tintype appealed to me. I got the chemicals and stuff for tintypes on a whim. Once I started shooting it, it got really addictive. You get instant gratification, you shoot the photo and then you see what you got. It’s like shooting polaroid. It’s a rush. A year later I was broke and figured I needed to start making money with this. I guess that’s the long story of how I got into tintypes."

Did you consciously make the decision to become a traveling tintypist?

"No I didn’t! It kind of just happened. I was borrowing a friend’s apartment in Columbus, Ohio for three months when I first started doing it… It was the middle of summer. The apartment I was staying in was like an oven. So I decided to go to the east coast and live somewhere there. I found a room share in Camden, Maine on Craigslist. It’s way up on the coast, a tiny little coastal town. I went there for a month and a half. I was doing tintypes and goofing around. I had my other photography business going as well, just to pay the bills… [After Camden] I went through Detroit, came back through Columbus and then to Wisconsin. I lived in Wisconsin for six weeks or so. Then continued to doodle across the country. I ended up in Portland. I was planning to keep going, but I was working on a project. I was photographing Centenarians, one in each state, with tintype. That was part of my travel, but not a huge component of it. Just something I was working on. So I ended up in Portland. My friends there [encouraged me to stay] and open a studio. So I stayed and opened a studio. And I spent the next year just losing hundreds and hundreds of dollars. Not taking tintypes of anyone in Portland… 

"I got lucky… I got a call from somebody planning a music event down in Texas. They [asked if I would come down] and do tintypes for the event… I said, “Yes, absolutely.” I shut down [my studio] in Portland, got rid of everything that I had, packed up my car and went out there with no real plan. I had that one gig, shooting at Willie Nelson’s ranch down in Texas. So I shot that and then started finding other stuff. A year and half later, I’m still on the road doing it. I didn’t set out to do it, but I’m kind of glad I did." 

What is your favorite subject to photograph?

"I don’t know. I like collaborating with other people. I really enjoy the process of working together. You get a few creative people in the room and you don’t even need a [pre-conceived] idea. Someone will have a spark and you just go back and forth from there. I have some ideas for photos that are my own but I don’t know if coming up with concepts for photos is my strong point. I think what I’m good at and what I really enjoy is working with somebody and collaborating. To the point where you don’t know who’s idea it was anymore. You’re just bullshitting until something happens. I’m good at execution. [Everything that has to do with ‘making’ the photograph. The chemical and the technical aspects. Sometimes I don’t even get that right.] I certainly enjoy and really like some of the photos that have happened that way. [The ones] where the time has flown by, its three hours later, and at the end you get just one or maybe a couple images that you really like…

"I’ve got a few favorite images over the years that have happened like that."

What was the first tintype that you made? 

"The first tintype I did was at three or four in the morning. My friend was doing sleep studies on people. She was the only person awake that late. I [had just received] the chemicals [for tintyping] and mixed everything up. It totally didn’t work. You can kind of see an image, but not really. That was my first tintype."

artist, Craft, Columbus OH, Ohio, Service

Allison Chapman : Igloo Letterpress

Allison Chapman owns and runs Igloo Letterpress; a small letterpress, design, and book binding business.

How did you get your start in letterpress?

“My grandfather was a hobby printer. I learned by hanging around the studio with him. He was really interested in machinery and how things worked. The things I like about [running] Igloo are process and problem solving. That’s the creative part that I get energy from and get excited about. 

“We use three types of plates: plastic, wood and metal. It’s not all antique stuff. Most of the work we do now is emailed to us as a PDF. Then we make the plastic plates from those designs.“

"The green press was my grandfather's."

A plastic plate ready to print.

How do you do that?

“It is a light sensitive plastic. The area that is exposed to light becomes hard and the rest of it washes away with water. There are two things I like about the plastic plates. One, we can recycle them when we’re done. There’s less waste. We print a lot of wedding invitations and things that are single use. Two, it allows us to have a deeper impression, or bite as it’s called, into the paper. Our customers ask for that.”

I’ve had quite a few people ask me what the difference is between letterpress and computer printing.

“That’s funny, we always joke that letterpress is better press. When you look at a design, sometimes it’s hard to imagine what it’s going to be like when it’s printed. It’s so different looking a [screen] with light shining through it compared to ink on paper. We mix our ink colors by hand most of the time.”

Do you work much with antique plates?

“In our classes we do. I do in my designs too. I wasn’t trained as a graphic designer on a computer. So I learned by setting individual letters together. If I ran out of an ‘e’ I would have to choose a different font. If it was too big to fit on the paper I would have to start over. It’s hard for me to design on the computer. There are too many choices. I like the limitation of saying, “Oh, yes, this will fit on this paper. This type looks good with that image.” It’s a little bit easier to make decisions.”

When are you hoping to move into your new space?

“We did a Kickstarter to fund our classroom area in our new space. So right now we’re in the process of printing all of that stuff and getting it shipped. We will have our grand opening party this fall.”

Were you surprised/impressed by the response to your Kickstarter?

“Yes. All of those things. It’s a humbling experience to go through a Kickstarter. We did ours for 30 days. We wanted to give time for information to travel… We had around 350 donors. It started out with our friends and family. Then the [local community]. In our first day I think we hit 20%. It was amazing to feel that people were investing in our success.”

Many of the cards Igloo Letterpress prints and sells are collaborations with local artists.

The Snow House is the gift shop for Igloo Letterpress. They also carry goods from local artists.

How has Igloo grown over the years from a hobby to a full time business with employees?

“Our family moved here from Minnesota in 2008. At the time I was pregnant. Igloo in Minnesota was me, in the house. I had a job at the time where I taught letterpress printing [in a different shop]. I didn’t know anybody [in Columbus]. It was my way of building something for myself here and meeting people that cared about the same things I did.

“[The first Igloo Letterpress studio in Columbus was in an artist warehouse outside of town]. I had 300 square feet and shoehorned everything in…When I was out there nobody would go meet me [at my studio]…I got tired of meeting people in coffee shops. I looked [everywhere in Columbus] trying to find the right spot for Igloo… We live in Worthington. So I chose to look for a space around here. I really appreciate the Worthington Farmers Market. I thought the people going to the farmers market might have an interest in the handcrafted stuff I’m making. It was the natural way for me to grow my business, but it’s not a traditional way to do it. I worked while my daughter was in kindergarten and my son was in preschool, 9 A.M. to 2 P.M. Then I would pick my kids up and it was family time. I would work again from 9 P.M. to 2 A.M. It let me grow slowly. I am thankful that it isn't just me anymore. Igloo's staff is so talented. We’re a big small business… [I’m comfortable with our size and work load.] I feel really good about the quality of our work and the quality of our customer interaction.”

artist, illustrator, Indiana

Penelope Dullaghan

This is Penelope Dullaghan. Penelope is an illustrator.

I read on your website you used to be an art director.

“Yes, I started off as an art director for an ad agency. I worked there for close to five years. I kept getting illustrator's promos across my desk and thought, 'Oh man, there are people actually working as illustrators! What am I doing hiring illustrators, when I could be the illustrator?'

So I started using my own illustrations for clients. [A fast food restaurant] was one of my agency clients at the time. I hired myself to do their kids' menu. That went well, and was fun, so I started moonlighting at night as an illustrator. After about a year, I felt ready to make the leap to full-time freelance, and my career as an illustrator took off from there!”

“I did an event this past winter at the Indianapolis Museum of Art benefitting their teen art program. I don’t generally do my art in front of other people. It’s intimidating. I prefer to be alone in solitude. At the museum event I was so nervous! Just walking in and seeing all those people watching the other artists [made me want to] turn right around and go home! But it ended up being really fun. I did three pieces that were auctioned off ­ and they sold right away! That was a good feeling.”

You have an agent. How did that come about?

“I’ve been with Scott Hull for over eight years. I approached him in the beginning and asked him to rep me. He said I needed to do more work. It sucked hearing that at the time, but it was the right thing to say. I appreciated the honest feedback. So I went to work. To get my portfolio up to speed and pad my portfolio, I started a website called Illustration Friday. The weekly assignments kept me accountable. From those self­-assignments and some client work here and there, [my portfolio grew.] I would keep Scott updated on what I was creating. About a year later he wrote me back and said, 'I think you’re ready!'

“I no longer run Illustration Friday, but it's still a great site to inspire personal work for newbie illustrators.”

Does he find you most of your work or do people contact him wanting you?

“I think most clients contact him directly. After you've been doing illustration for awhile, people see your stuff places and want to work with you, too. Sometimes clients contact me directly, but I send all new business through him. It’s much easier.­­ He handles all the paperwork, budgets and timelines. ­­Stuff I don't necessarily enjoy. I get to [focus on] the art.”

How did you get started in watercolor?

“Watercolor is a pretty recent medium for me. I used to do mostly acrylics and digital. Two years ago we moved to a house with a river right behind us, That inspired me to try watercolors. I walk down by the river almost every day. Then do paintings based on my observations. Watercolors are great because they're pretty immediate. I can record my thoughts and observations quickly. As soon as I return home. A lot of these paintings end up in my shop. For my illustration work with clients it’s more of a mix.­ Some watercolor, acrylic and digital too.”

I see you’ve been experimenting with Lino cuts.

“I have. I’ve been doing this pattern­-a-­day series on Instagram. It’s really fun. I do them Monday through Friday and take the weekends off. Lino cut is an easy way to do them quickly. I also work with watercolor and drawing. It’s all experimentation ­­ seeing what works and what doesn’t. I love that it’s been influencing my client work so much. I’m more playful in my illustration work because of the daily pattern making.”

Are you experimenting with any other new-for-you processes?

Yes. I’ve been playing with making stencils. I’m experimenting with different ways to make a mark, rather than just paint or pencil. It may be the beginning of something new... We’ll see. Even if it doesn't go anywhere 'productive'. I think it’s always fun to play and explore with art. It’s how I learn the best.

“It’s also really fun watching my six year old daughter do art. Witnessing her progress and watching her try different things. She’s been my number one source of inspiration. She’ll say, 'Look how I drew this cat,' and it’s the most bizarre, awesome thing! She's not judging or reining herself in at all. That's so inspiring!”

Find Penelope:
Penelopeillustration.com
Instagram
Tumblr

 

Fun fact: Penelope's front yard is one big strawberry patch! No lawn mower required.

Indiana, artist, Craft

Aaron Scamihorn : Ronlewhorn Industries

Aaron Scamihorn is an art director by day, and silk screen printer/graphic designer/illustrator by night. AJ, his wife, works along-side him and is ‘quality control manager.' Together they are RONLEWHORN INDUSTRIES.

Do you print mostly your own designs? Do you screen print others’ designs?

“Almost 100% my own stuff. I have taken on a handful of contract print jobs. People who have something fun or interesting. I’m happy to help them out. Primarily it’s my own stuff…This is my passion project. I do the corporate-y stuff by day. I want to keep myself creatively re-energized. At this point it’s 50% gig posters and 50% art prints.”

What do you do AJ?

AJ: “I am an account coordinator at a design firm. I do that by day and helping him out takes up the rest of my time. I’m learning a lot about the [screen printing and design] process. There are plans in the works to get my own table this year.”

Do you usually do pretty well at craft shows?

“We do. It takes proper strategy. We’ve learned over the years. For instance we need to have new stuff [that is different] from the previous year. Indianapolis isn’t a huge market, those kinds of [craft shows] are often a pretty similar demographic. If you’ve done a couple craft shows in town then they’ve probably seen what you have at least once.”

AJ: “You also need to have a good mix of sizes. Wall space comes at a premium for most people.”

“Some years all I’ve had are giant posters, I don’t do so well. When I have more art prints and smaller stuff [giving] people options, everything sells better. The bigger stuff sells well when they have the option of the smaller stuff. They look at the smaller stuff [but then decide to buy] the larger print!

“We’ve been prepping a lot of stuff for a show coming up. The Indieana Handicraft Exchange.”  (June 13th, 12-8pm, Indianapolis)

How did you get started screen printing?

“I grew up playing in bands. I really love music and [wanted to stay connected to] music…Growing up, my parents were potters and my dad was an art teacher. Everything we did growing up was very hands on. [I work in] a cubicle and the digital design world. The one thing that was missing from the process for me was creating something with my hands.

I started doing a lot of show flyers, and [I was] looking at a lot of gig posters. I began to have this desire to figure out [how to screen print.] With the help of YouTube and some buddies who had a t-shirt printing business…I began trying to figure it out. There was a lot of trial and error.

“The first band that was coming to town that [hired] me [to design and screen print their gig posters] was Mayor Hawthorne. After the show, we got to chat about it, and he said, 'I’ve had a lot of gig posters done for me man, but this, this is the shit!' That solidified it for me. I want to do this! From there I got the one for Cake. Now I’ve done seven for them. Having those in the portfolio gets a lot of other bands to work with me.”

When you are working on a new design, do you hand draw or design it on the computer?

“It depends. This design [that I’m printing now] was 100% digital. I’m working on a piece right now for Gallery 1988 out in LA. They do pop culture shows. [The show coming up] is a tribute to Tom Hanks. (June 13-20, Los Angeles) My piece is [inspired by] the film The ‘Burbs. It was all hand done. I used a light box, photo references, tracing paper… And then scan it into the computer for layout. I do a lot of my typography by hand. The DropKick Murphy’s gig poster was all digital, but I did the type by hand. 

“Early on, [an older artist] was giving me advice about the industry and whatnot, his first advice was, 'Robots and pretty girls are what sells. Do as many robots and pretty girls as you can...' He also gave me advice about type layout and, 'You can have the best illustration in the world, but with bad type it’s still a throw away. A crappy illustration with great type can be an awesome poster.' I put a lot of time and effort into making sure that [my type] is solid.”

That’s interesting how language is a larger draw than pictures.

“It’s crazy how some people do these illustrations and they’re so basic but they have these really cool types surrounding them. [It’s frustrating because] I put so much time into my illustration AND my type. You never know what people are going to be drawn to, but when it looks really bad, people can tell.”

Indiana, Richmond IN, Craft

New Boswell

This is (right)Rod Landess, owner, and (left)Shawn Davis, head brewer, of the New Boswell Brewing Company.

How did you start New Boswell’s?

Rod: "Basically I wanted to start a business. My senior year in college I had to do a project for a business class I was taking. I did a business plan for a brewery. [At the time] I was home brewing with my friends…up at Ball State. That’s where this idea for a brewery [came from.]"

Where did the name New Boswell come from?

Rod: "Ezra Boswell started a brewery here [in Richmond, Indiana] in 1816… We were reading about the history of beer in eastern Indiana. It turns out the first brewery here [in Richmond] was started by a Quaker, Ezra Boswell. He was the first town clerk, he was a school teacher, and he was a brewer…

"There was one physical description we found of him. He had one eye. So everyone in our pictures has an eye-patch. [Points to posters and t-shirts hanging on the wall. The drawn characters all sport an eye-patch.]" 

Shawn, how did you get started brewing beer?

Shawn: “I got started brewing as a hobby. My friend and I started making home brew beer in his garage. [Starting out] it was all extract brewing. Which is basically a bunch of sugars. We just kept advancing our equipment and moving up. We moved [up from extracts] to what’s called a partial mash. It still uses some extracts, but going towards more grain… As we put more money into it, we went to all grain brewing. Which is what all the brewing is here [at New Boswell]. 

“From there, we joined a home brew group that meets here [at New Boswell] every month. Started talking to other people that are home brewing. It’s such a wonderful pish-posh of people. We’ve got people who are chemists, professors, and the laymen, like me. Everyone has their own style and [different ways] of breaking down brewing. Some people break down the whole thing in a scientific way. For them it’s really neat, the chemistry and the biology of it. 

“For me, I was a cook for 20 years… [Then] this became more and more of a passion. Every night I was brewing beers. I was giving them out to everyone I could. Just to have people taste them…I still home brew… It gives me a chance to experiment on a smaller scale...

“Cooking is a wonderful passion. You get to take a whole bunch of things from everywhere in the world, and you get to make this delicious melting pot… When I make beer, I incorporate everything I know from cooking into it… I sit and eat the grains, tasting the different maltinesses to them. I just start throwing things together as if I was making a gazpacho. That’s how I make beer.”

"We are a small brewery. I’m sure you’ve seen the larger breweries where they’ve got the huge brewing tanks. Those are seven to 15 barrel tanks. We’re only two and half barrel tanks. I like that about us. We’re sticking with the concept of being ‘craft’. Small batch. We’re not mass-producing these beers. " --Shawn

"We are a small brewery. I’m sure you’ve seen the larger breweries where they’ve got the huge brewing tanks. Those are seven to 15 barrel tanks. We’re only two and half barrel tanks. I like that about us. We’re sticking with the concept of being ‘craft’. Small batch. We’re not mass-producing these beers. " --Shawn

What’s the best non-traditional or craziest beer you’ve come up with?

Shawn: “I took a recipe that Rod had. We were trying to make a Christmastime beer. He was focusing more on a gingersnap cookie taste. For me that wasn’t really a traditional wintertime/Christmas taste. In the wintertime our bodies know that we’re supposed to bulk up and [we seek out heavier foods and beverages.] Things that make us feel warm and comfortable. With this [Christmas] beer, all I kept thinking about was my late grandmother’s gingerbread. The nice dark, thick, and gingery bread, but also the nutmeg, mace, and bit of clove. I ended up re-doing his recipe. So many people said to me, “Man, that tastes just like cake.” It was boozy, malty, and a lot of flavor in it. 

“My other crazy one is my bergamot beer. Rod pretty much threw a challenge at me. He ordered a bunch of bergamot fruit. He said, “I want you to make a beer out of these.” For three weeks I was taking little pieces of the peel and going over the flavor in my head. What flavors go together with it? Bergamot has a really peppery, basil-y flavor to it. I kept thinking it was like a bruschetta flavor. But what do I want to put that bruschetta on? I’m not going to incorporate the balsamic sauce that most people would associate with a bruschetta, especially in a beer. But I do want something that will highlight the peppery, the citrusy, and the little basil-y of it. So I started thinking of those little rye toasts. I can put the bruschetta on that and contrast the flavors with the rye. I ended up making a bergamot and light malted rye beer. It sold out so fast. The thing about bergamot is it’s so seasonal. It’s going to be next winter before we can get more.” 

above: "Grains. Different styles of grains from different regions… You get different maltiness-es, sweetnesses and flavors when you use different types of grain."

right: "We’ll throw together our grain blend, then mill them in our homemade hopper... We’re milling that down to a consistency like chicken feed."
You can see part of the homemade hopper behind Shawn.

left: "A brewer never makes beer. He just makes really good wort. Wort is what beer is called before it’s been brewed. Yeast makes beer...This is where all the chemistry plays into it."

Shawn: “When I joined up with Rod a year ago…I started volunteering with him. He’s always liked the beers that I’ve made as a home brewer. I would bring them in [to the home brew meet-up group] and everybody would like them. Part of what we do in this beer club is bring in our beers and everybody tries them. [We] critique one another’s beers. I was volunteering for him and he asked me if I would mind working three days out of the week. Eventually, he asked me if I would like to come on full time. I get paid to do a hobby, I don’t work. I haven’t worked for over a year. It’s great! 

 

Find New Boswell online:
newboswell.com
facebook.com/newboswell
instagram.com/newboswell

Find New Boswell in person:
410 N. 10th St.
Richmond, IN 47374

 

Special thanks to Scott Alexander for all your help!

Columbus OH, performance, Ohio

Donald Isom

This is Donald Isom. He is a dancer and the owner of I Am D.A.N.C.E.

How did you get started dancing?
“…I have videos of me as a little kid dancing. My father and his brothers used to do street dancing battles… My grandfather was interested in ballroom dancing and Lindy Hop… Even my mom was studying ballet. I didn’t know that until I got older and was [looking into] my family history. I came to find out that, genetically, I have it in me.”

Have you gone to school for dance?
“I did go to school for just a little bit… I studied at a small community college in Cleveland Ohio. I had a teacher [there]... who made me understand how [ballet and modern dance] connects to my dancing. ...About being a dancer and taking care of your body and health.

Donald auditioned for ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ and traveled the country studying different types of dance.
“[During that audition] I met so many incredible teachers… [They weren’t] what you saw in Hollywood, [they were the] people behind the scenes [in Hollywood] that built the dancer that you saw on TV…

“It wasn’t always the physical part of dancing [that I learned from people.] It was the mental, the thought process you had to have to actually stay in the dance world. A lot of people come and go. I think that’s any type [of artist]. There’s a lot of people that come in, they’re strong, and in a blink of an eye you’re like, “where’d they go?” I had to learn what it took to stay in the dance world long term, not just as a dancer but an entrepreneur.“

So you’ve studied ballet, modern, hip-hop….
“Yes. Every year [at a Traditional Dance Camp where I teach,] I have the opportunity to witness and learn [from the] West African GOREE Drum and Dance Company.
I also have a mentor here in Columbus Ohio who teaches me about the culture of dance. The roots of where everything comes from. That’s what makes me a strong individual dancer.

So you’re taking all the pieces that inspire you and incorporating them into your own thing.
“Exactly. I’m making it MY dance. I think everybody should do that, you’re building your own character and not looking like somebody on So You Think You Can Dance…That’s what my grandfather told me at 14, that as an artist you want them to see you. You don’t want them to see Donatello, you want them to see YOU. Then people respect where you came from and what you've done to get there.”

How did you start I. Am D.A.N.C.E.?
“It started about 5 years ago. A friend and I were talking about some of the things we had dealt with in the industry with dancing and art… I knew I wanted to build something that was not just for dancing, but for the arts overall, performance and visual art. Together we built I. Am D.A.N.C.E... "I Am Determined And Never Concealing Energy.”… We provide community programs and events throughout the midwest. We have two chapters, Columbus, Ohio, which is our home base, and Cleveland, Ohio.“

How do you integrate all these disciplines you are describing?
“…My dad told me, “Get to the basics.” And the simple thing is that every artist wants a platform… [We build] different events for performance and visual. For example we have a day called Eye Experience. It was founded by Nick Kelly, president of our Cleveland chapter. Eye Experience [was developed] to display other arts: poetry, dance and photography. The event has become a great success in Cleveland and we hope to [continue to] take it to new levels and [provide] opportunities for others."

“…As an artist, you can’t conceal yourself. Art is weird or people say we [artists] are weird. But we’re the ones that are creating everything that people do now. From photography, from dancing, to writers, we create everything that inspires people to want to do!”

Find Donald:
Instagram

I Am D.A.N.C.E.:
iamdancellc.com
Instagram
Facebook
 

Columbus OH, artist, Craft, jewelry, Ohio

Hannah Hoffman

This is Hannah Hoffman. She is a jewelry designer.

“I studied glass at Ohio State. A friend and I were making glass pendants… We were wanting to learn how to make bezels to set the glass. I was getting close to graduation.”

Soon after graduation, she took a jewelry class at the Columbus Cultural Arts Center.

“It kind of worked out, because glass equipment is so expensive. There is a lot you can do with basic metal tools at home. I wanted to continue making art and jewelry-making was very accessible.”

Pierre the cat has little interest in jewelry making.

How often are you creating new pieces?

“I feel like, often. I do a lot of production work. You have to do a lot of production work to make any money. But I’m always trying to experiment. I usually end up experimenting with my mistakes. I’ll heat something too hot, or melt something, or bend a wire in a way I can’t bend it back. That’s how a lot of new pieces happen. I also sketch and create things in that way.

“These [earrings that I am wearing] are new. These were an accident. They were pieces of scrap and I put them together. They ended up looking really cool. I would wanna wear these, I thought. So I should make them. They are an asymmetrical set.”

What has been your favorite part of having your own business?

“I like the independence. I like being able to choose how I spend my day… I can take a break in the middle of the day and go to the gym or yoga.

“I never expected to run my own business. I’m still surprised that I do it. People will say, ‘Oh, this is Hannah, she runs her own business.’ And I think Me? Oh yeah! I forget! Sometimes I feel like I’m just playing around. It’s fun to look back and see how my work has progressed. And get feedback. Some people have been interested in what I’ve been doing the whole time. So that feels good. And I get to do something that requires fire. That’s a huge bonus."

 

Find Hannah:
hannah-hoffman.com
instagram

Richmond IN, Indiana, Service, Craft

George Marinakes Shoe Repair: Shoes Expertly Rebuilt

George Marinakes is a second generation shoe repair man. His son, Ted, works part-time in the busy shop. Ted has a full-time job but helps his dad out in the evenings and on Saturdays. Both father and son are quick to laughter and very helpful. During my two hours in the shop, every customer left with a smile on their face.

George-
“I’ve had the shop since … 1952. My dad started it in 1928, September the 1st…
When I started working here 70 years ago, there were 20 shoe repair shops in Richmond. Now we’re the only one. We’re ‘the last of the Mohicans’. We’ve always had a good business here.”

Ted-
“I think Dad’s had me down here [since] I was about 6 or 7 years old. Shining shoes, starting out.”

In the 1930’s and 40’s, the shop was open on Sundays. People would stop in before church to get their shoes shined. This bench used to be twice the size and seat 6. The shop used to employ two shoe shine boys. Now, customers drop off their shoes to be shined.

In the 1930’s and 40’s, the shop was open on Sundays. People would stop in before church to get their shoes shined. This bench used to be twice the size and seat 6. The shop used to employ two shoe shine boys. Now, customers drop off their shoes to be shined.

Has business been affected by mass produced and cheaper shoes?
Ted-
“Things are getting harder to fix because there’s a lot of plastics. Glues don’t stick to the plastics. A lot of stuff is molded instead of built.”

George later introduces me to the only glue that works on molded soles. He was re-glueing the sole of a sneaker. The glue is from Germany and very expensive. He kept asking me if I could smell it. It is very strong. His doctor has told him to stop using it: George has asthma. George’s doctor has also told him to retire.

George-
“The old saying is:

‘If you’re happy with your work, then the customer is happy with your work, also.’  

So if you’re not satisfied with your work, if your work didn’t come out like you wanted, the customer will know it and will not be satisfied with your work, either. So as long as you’re pleased with it and your work looks good … then you know you’ve accomplished something and that works out to please both parties. That’s the main thing. Anything that you do. Your work or anybody else’s. If you look at it and say ‘Well I’ve accomplished something here, it’s amazing and something I appreciate,’ [then] the customer will appreciate it also. That’s what brings them back.

It’s not how much advertising you do. It’s satisfaction between the two parties that brings a better result.”

So you’ve never advertised?

“No, I’ve never advertised. It’s been mouth to ear and that’s about it. It’s been good.”

You seem to have plenty of work!

“Always. Too much work. I want to retire! I’m 85 years old and I don’t have a chance to retire yet because I gotta wait for Ted to retire [from his day job]… I’ll be 93 years old, I’ll be an old man then! [laughter] I know I’ll want to retire then. Oh well, that’s the way life goes.”

George’s parting advice:
“[Another] old saying is:

‘There’s no easy sailing when the sky is clear and blue,
There’s no merit in doing things that anyone can do,
Satisfaction which is mighty sweet to take,
When you reach something you never thought you’d make.’

There’s a lot of truth in that. That’s what I’ve always looked at and thought about. That’s what keeps you going. An old watchmaker told me that about 60 some years ago.”