The Independent Artist Podcast

Wrestling the Subconscious/ Thomas Wargin

June 06, 2022 Douglas Sigwarth/ Will Armstrong/ Thomas Wargin Season 2 Episode 11
Wrestling the Subconscious/ Thomas Wargin
The Independent Artist Podcast
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The Independent Artist Podcast
Wrestling the Subconscious/ Thomas Wargin
Jun 06, 2022 Season 2 Episode 11
Douglas Sigwarth/ Will Armstrong/ Thomas Wargin

Join co-hosts Douglas Sigwarth and Will Armstrong, professional working artists who talk with guests about ART & SELLING.  This week's topics include ACC Baltimore, show producers, and rejections.

This week’s guest is Thomas Wargin, a sculpture artist from Menomonie Falls, WI. Thomas talks about his past and describes how the struggle from his environment shapes who he is as a person and influences the stories he wants to tell in his work. His work encourages the audience to unlock their subconscious mind by relating to the human struggle within us all.

PLEASE RATE US AND REVIEW US.......... and SUBSCRIBE to the pod on your favorite streaming app.

VENMO/ username @independentartistpodcast or through PAYPAL.ME by clicking on this link

Email us at with conversation topics, your feedback, or sponsorship inquiries.

Mailing List

The National Association of Independent Artists (NAIA).

Music  "Walking" by Oliver Lear
Business inquiries at

Support the Show.

Show Notes Transcript

Join co-hosts Douglas Sigwarth and Will Armstrong, professional working artists who talk with guests about ART & SELLING.  This week's topics include ACC Baltimore, show producers, and rejections.

This week’s guest is Thomas Wargin, a sculpture artist from Menomonie Falls, WI. Thomas talks about his past and describes how the struggle from his environment shapes who he is as a person and influences the stories he wants to tell in his work. His work encourages the audience to unlock their subconscious mind by relating to the human struggle within us all.

PLEASE RATE US AND REVIEW US.......... and SUBSCRIBE to the pod on your favorite streaming app.

VENMO/ username @independentartistpodcast or through PAYPAL.ME by clicking on this link

Email us at with conversation topics, your feedback, or sponsorship inquiries.

Mailing List

The National Association of Independent Artists (NAIA).

Music  "Walking" by Oliver Lear
Business inquiries at

Support the Show.


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


welcome back to the podcast ladies and gentlemen here it is Douglas and Will are back on the air arrested and not so


ready but let's do this yesterday we were gonna do this but you said you had trees down what the heck happened did


you have a storm what's going on yeah we had a nasty storm it's funny I have joked about not even joke I've just


talked about the fact that I've been through the worst drought personally I've been ping-ponging between New


Mexico and Minnesota we spend our summers out here well last summer we had Minnesota's worst like 10-year drought


in the three month I think we saw about a quarter of an inch of rain okay I had I had not seen personally any rain in


the two years that we'd lived in New Mexico so I I love rain and I just


hadn't seen it well we got like three and a half inches in two days [ __ ] and


uh tornadoes whipped through the area and knocked down five power lines and um no damage here just a couple of Limbs


and and a big tree down in front of my mother-in-law and father-in-law's driveway so okay went down with a next


door neighbor and made quick work of that okay I know you guys were just pulling in around Memorial Day here I


wasn't sure if this was what had come down over the winter or if this was a storm that just happened so we had some


yard cleanup I mean there's always always stuff to take care of when you come back it's like the wear and tear of


having a place that gets you know negative 25 degrees in the winter it's just [ __ ] breaks and freezes and turns


weird but uh yeah I guess you're you're more used to that than I am but yeah a


little bit a little bit yeah hey if you'll humor me okay and I think you will


um I'd like to say hello to uh not necessarily a new listener but a


listener that is um newly aware to me I didn't think my mother paid any attention to the podcast


like a funny story about that like I'm talking to her on the phone and I I don't really curse in front of my mom


and I do curse on the podcast I just kind of let it flow the way I normally would yeah she's listening to the


podcast and I'm a little uh horrified I guess let me guess she started off by saying well I am surprised that you read


it's insane I'm like I'm 51. just because I had a hard time in the seventh grade with Tale of Two Cities doesn't


mean I can't read mom anyway the the point being I'm talking


to her about the podcast and I'm a little shocked three seconds later I


just switched back into full will mode and it's like she asked me a question I was like I don't [ __ ] know oh there


you go and I'm like uh uh excuse me Mom sorry I I didn't mean to drop the F-bomb


but it's no surprise to you folks out on the listener land so she's here now she knows that it really isn't a script that


you're reading from that this is actually her son exactly Doug isn't just


scribbling and he's like okay now tell somebody to go themselves


Hey so uh you just got back from a show that you picked up on the Fly tell us


all about ACC Baltimore I mean it's been talked about before about my whole trials and tribulations with artist fear


and covid and not being able to do the show but being on the road with a full booth and being ready for a show I was


taking my wife to Baltimore we were setting up and I was setting her Booth up I was talking to the director and I


kind of half jokingly was like look if you have a cancellation here's my card I'm not technically craft but if you


have a an empty Spotlight craft you are not craft okay I'm crafty so I'm a


hustler uh Hustler culture but anyway I was like well look here's my you know


these are the shows I do here's my website check out my stuff I'm gonna be over here in this booth helping my wife


if you want to fill a spot she was like I've got a bunch of people canceled I might take you up on that cool so anyway


she took me up on it uh I set my booth up how'd it go for him well I learned a lesson what


[Laughter] the American craft Council show is for craft and the people coming to the show


want to see crafty you don't do craft and therefore if


you're doing the math along at home they didn't want to see me so I quickly uh I


quickly learned that I had zero interest uh in my booth and I quickly abandoned to my booth and just went over to my


wife's and hawked Jules okay you know what Doug I love the ACC folks and I love that show and I love that it exists


yeah um well what do you love about it well I mean I'd be I love the fact that there is an appreciation for real craft


out there that's how I was raised my folks are huge appreciators and collectors of American craft of what uh


you do what you know a lot of folks out there on the on the road would know my parents if they walked into the booth


and now my mom gets a kick out of introducing herself as well you know do you know do


you know will Armstrong it's cute but uh there's like six degrees of separation


famous now I guess but it's interesting to see that show and they haven't done


it for two or three years it was a lower attended show this year and well it's in a different time slot so I mean it is it


has to catch the people who are really you know looking for it when it's in a different spot right I mean that's the


thing isn't it I mean we've got a show happening in February typically for Baltimore ACC this year it's happening


in May it just within that area there was uh Reston was happening the northern


Virginia Fine Arts Festival which is a huge one yeah you had I believe Howard Allen had one kind of in the area there


was stockley Gardens happening down in Norfolk so drop a pen with a 300 mile string around it you're hitting like


five or six shows that are going on uh quality shows right no not quality juried Fine Arts festivals that are


happening and plus February and Baltimore it's nice to go into a


convention center and and you know see a show May that people like to be outside


it's spring yes you know yeah it was 100 degrees that weekend but oh really um yeah and then they had nasty storms on


Sunday outside so it felt real nice to have that this is just real nice Doug I


really like just going outside and grabbing my truck and the pouring down rain and then driving it back inside


yeah to load out you know I do I've thought about this we've talked about it


on the Pod this whole model of doing shows outside and it's like why can't the indoor venues just hit why can't


people with weather and whatever why there's something about the enthusiasm of being outdoors and Under the Sun and


that just it's so appealing I I don't know I don't understand it you know some


indoor shows work you know the um and some some some great work the


uh One of a Kind works great for me it's typically in my top five shows of the year yeah um and that's saying something if I'm


only doing eight you know if you get covered six right


um yeah exactly one of a kind I don't necessarily suggest it for everyone uh armadillo another indoor show that works


great the ACC model for craft works really well I think well you know I've participated in a lot of those high-end


craft oriented shows like you know used to be run by Betsy Kuby we talk about


this with Tom this week uh done in West Palm Beach and New York and in


Washington in fact one of my favorite stories about doing Washington craft in


DC was do you remember back during the Obama Administration when Hillary was


stepping down as secretary of state and there was all that drama about putting


Susan Rice into her position you know yeah sure that week when they were it was all on


CNN and everything she came to the show and she walked the show and she came into our booth and bought a piece so she


was talking her daughter says mom is that going in your new office and I'm thinking that's going in the secretary


um office but then you know she didn't get the job but anyway so and then it turns out she got really


sick I was selling something like right on the line of selling something to the


office of the head coach of the Bears okay that was I was really excited I was


going to get into the um what's the name of the field you're asking the wrong person


I was going I was against Soldier Field there right on Riverside Drive I was excited and um


like read in the paper as she was going home to measure for his office he got fired like that he had a really another


bat I'm like okay that's uh that's not meant to be so at least she bought it yeah optimism was there


you know what Douglas another thing that happened at that Baltimore show besides me taking uh my first to zero


like my very first complete zero was the uh who cares who gives a [ __ ] it's


sometimes it's your turn yeah it I don't know I I just sometimes you


take one it was just like it was a calculated risk and it turned out to not fall on my side but yeah I think we're


kind of seeing a little bit of a return to a time these stink bombs do drop kind


of like they used to so we have to ride the averages like like we were used to before the big shutdown yeah we'll see I


don't know um I'm I'm nervous going into the Summer with the economy and everybody saying the sky is falling again so uh we'll see


where that takes us yeah right I I think you're right I think there are a lot of us that are holding our breath to see


what happens but you know we've we've built our careers on faith and on putting ourselves out there and


we get through we'll get through we just have to we just have to be flexible and adapt uh bless your heart


yeah that's bless your heart is what will says when his mom is in the room


and he really means [ __ ] you


talking about hey uh speaking of Betty Yeager I'm going to segue into another uh pet peeve mostly it's for Jewelers


but it happens for me too um why in the world do other artists


always come up to you and talk to you when you're finally grabbing a bite to eat I swear to God you get a sandwich or


something and another artist comes over and they're like they just start running their mouth and I'm like you you're going to talk to me another artist that


that knows that I'm like I'm by myself and I'm finally cramming a sandwich down my yapper and you're going to come and


talk to me did Betty Yeager come and talk to you while you were trying to shove a sandwich in your mouth I'm sorry


I'm saying Jewelers especially are on display they cannot leave or duck behind


their booze yeah yeah they're stuck and so that's that's out of empathy for Betty I'm sorry she'd never do that


she's like [ __ ] she's like you're in Minnesota I'll drive up there and kick yours so anyway


I'm just saying what in the world are you thinking to come and talk to somebody it always happens and it's


seasoned vets that come and run their mouths at you when you're trying to eat right just right give someone buddy


leave a tender moment alone Billy Joel so that's your big eating thing I


thought for sure you were gonna votes that you want to talk about eating here on the Pod today I thought you were


gonna like give me a little advice on having a healthier diet or something eat a banana dog eat a banana don't trigger


me for crying out loud no it's uh yeah I just I feel like it's


a it's precious time that we only get to ourselves and it's so funny to me when not funny funny like Punchy in the face


that's funny like haha toxic masculinity funny don't talk to me you know one good thing


about the Baltimore show for me even though I didn't do uh any sales was the fact that I did get to talk to a bunch


of other artists and I had one in particular that came up to me and was talking about how valuable they thought


the fact that you and I were talking about rejections uh yes they're like oh my God if these guys get rejections then


maybe it's I'm like oh you said anyone would even think think that we don't get rejections I mean I'll speak for for


Renee and I no I mean but nobody likes to talk about um you know it hurts the


ego a bit but no we get rejected plenty plenty you know I never ever get cocky


about what I you know I I do feel like I'm at a certain point in my my career where I can apply to the shows and put


together a nice a nice season a season you know right you know but I look at it like that I'm like I'm putting together


a nice season but I do I always get what I want no am I going to Denver in two weeks no I mean I am going to go sell


some Jewels but I'm not showing my work right right um you know I guess I early on in our


career when the rejections were a little more of a regular occurrence I do


remember saying to myself we've got to pay our dues and we've got to get better I mean I I do feel like there needs to


be some self-reflection in those applications and in those reactions that


pushes us to work at a higher level at that I agree with I don't know about paying your dues I know about like


getting there and I don't think there's a certain amount of like okay I applied 15 times and now I'm gonna get the show yeah um I do think I understand that me


using that phrase that that's what it would mean I guess what I mean by paying the dues is


showing up and they're showing up alone isn't the pain you dues it's the showing


up and learning learning how to get better learning how to have a better Booth learning how to make better work


all of that stuff so that's my dues yes also knowing where your work fits yeah


because a lot of times people are getting rejected from the same show year after year and it's like well maybe that


show is trying to tell you just that your work doesn't fit and it's like well it could be a plus work but they don't


want it in that show because they're going for a different feel for the environment I am also quite fortunate


that my wife and business partner is of the mindset of when we do get a


rejection she might have that momentary second of disappointment but she makes that mental switch so quickly too all


right wasn't meant to be we'll make it up somewhere else and she doesn't stay down on that for very long and that's


good because this this perfectionist over here can really get his head into a spiral we've heard


we've definitely heard hey again for you do you think that more


letters to our in our inbox get more um applications


do more letters to our inboxes get yeah like if you're if the deadline's coming up for


um oh no like say like or one from this week for example yeah it's like I got an


email every day and I got to tell you like by the end of the deadline I was actually going oh [ __ ] maybe I should


apply I mean I guess my reaction to that is when I get a day after day after day it's like maybe they're really hurting


on their application numbers you know okay but um I thought they were trying to build panic and me because it was


working I shouldn't tell them what's spamming me uh I guess my only


point in bringing that thing up is that we're all kind of in this uh I apply to the shows that I apply to and and have


know that I'm gonna have a pretty good chance of getting in but we all put together a schedule however we have to right oh yeah for sure totally


um I'm going back to Chicago for the first time in like six years coming up here I know you're going to really old


town yep nice I gave that area quite the break for a while did you give the area


a break or did that area give you a break they were getting a little bit uninterested in uh what we were bringing


to town so I said see ya I'll be back when you missed me enough that's all


right that's how that story is going there I don't know do you have trouble in Chicago or Chicago works for me to be


honest I I I I don't know when the teat will dry up but I just love Chicago I


love the area I haven't been back in a long time because even though it's a huge metropolitan area it just feels


like every time we go there there's a show that's going on down the street it's going on in a suburb next door and


you know whether or not people like what you're making or what you're showing up with there's still that feeling of well


I'll catch you next time I'll go to your website there's nothing special or new about it because they happen everywhere


out there I don't know Doug I think that's an old tired Trope I feel like in Chicago uh like that's just just


something that people say like I will give you this the the big producer that's there in Chicago I have a feeling


like my customers have said that those shows tend to look the same so they'll


hit one and they'll assume that you're going to be at the next one as far as that goes but as far as Chicago goes I


found it to be very neighborhood-centric I do big work so I have the opportunity to tell where people live because most


people want it delivered so I'm delivering at Old Town I'm delivering like Old Town in Wicker Park I'm


delivering within like I don't know a two mile radius at most most often it's like a six block radius


and I'm just I'm right there in that in that section in that neighborhood if I'm doing a downtown show it's downtown I


look at their address and where they want it delivered nine times out of ten I'm not moving the truck I'm just wrapping it up in case there's weather


and walking at the two blocks to their apartment neighborhood Centric show for me you


know I see your point on what you're saying about the whole neighborhood thing uh last season we had talked about you


and I that we wanted to kind of look into that whole idea of of show promoters and talk to them and you know


we kind of went down that road but then it started to feel like just this hard conversation I have because their


business model is built on the backs of of artists and so it just felt like when


we'd have conversations that we might have on the Pod it was hard to to not have it sound like we're promoting a


particular promoter for example right yeah but one of the conversations that I had had with with one of these promoters


was they said that each of the locations that they set up a show it is almost


like its own thing its own Community behind it and they also use this point


they said the shows are going to be created with or without them so they


feel like if they were just to step back and say we're not going to do a show over here for example that somebody else


will jump in and do it for


it does it sounds like a virus here anyway it's like somebody's gonna


be in charge of this fungus it might as well be me there are people who are such fans of some of those promoters out there like in Florida and Chicago they


they feel like they will do all their shows they like how they're produced they like how they're marketed and


that's that's great I'm not saying that we shouldn't have them for a particular person that's great one of the things


that I do like about uh the promoters it's like look if you're having a hard time with during uh but you know your


artwork is good and it's up to a certain level if you can jury into a promoter show you're done you can you can just do


those shows if you want so not my business model but uh it's some people's


and I'm not gonna not gonna take a dump on it if that's the if that's what it works for but he'll take a dump on our


guests today ladies and gentlemen I won't take a dump on our guest I loved your talk with Tom I'm gonna tell you


this though okay you know me everybody in radio land knows me pod land uh I say


exactly what I'm thinking and Tom is the kind of guy that says exactly what he's thinking sometimes I'm gonna rub you the


wrong way sometimes he's gonna rub you the wrong way too he doesn't on the podcast but when you said that you had


him on I was like this [ __ ] seriously I'm serious it's like I ran


into that guy actually at uh Baltimore ACC the first time and he rubbed me the wrong way he was in the middle of


something and we tried to have a conversation and I was kind of like this guy's a jerk and I'm like but I'm a jerk


too and then to listen to the conversation sometimes your uh best and known by The Company You Keep I love


Mark winter he's a dear friend he's good buddies with Mark winter I'm like let me give this guy another chance you listen


to him on the podcast it's a great story it's super interesting I feel like I know I'm Different I have a different


appreciation yeah you could catch any of us at a bad time like let's say if I'm eating a sandwich and you come talk to


me it's gonna be out of my boots exactly exactly I I love the fact that you know


anybody that's listening is Never Gonna interrupt my lunch again they're just not gonna come talk to you will it's


kind of happening it is that's it well I'm really excited to share this


talk with everyone with me and my friend Thomas margin from Menomonee Falls Wisconsin


this episode of The Independent artist podcast is brought to you by zap the digital application service where


artists and art festivals connect hey well do you remember the old way of doing these applications with red dots


on the slides and self-addressed stamped envelopes do you uh still have a rotary phone Douglas no I don't remember that


well I just like that they were with us back then when we made the switch from analog to digital it's a huge switch and


now zap is the industry standard and they're always creating features that make our lives easier too so I do like


what zap does and I do like that most of the shows I apply to are ons application


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 that's a pretty cool wall behind you so this was the pulse is built in 18


1845. so what you're looking at is the outside of the house I'm sitting actually in the backyard the part I'm


sitting in now was built in 1960. and like an Edition or whatever yeah and I built the whole what you're looking at


is the right is all stuff I built when we moved into cool so it's like a family room it's pretty it is it's not like


it's like a uh All Season Four Season edition whatever it's like an all-season


open concept kind of like Outdoors indoors type bold style Old Farm House type thing you know like a typical


artist buys an Old Farm to start his studio and his uh artistic stuff and and


that's the way I was brought up you know ah you gotta be artists and get an old fire you know yeah and now I did it


nowadays it's churches I'm seeing all these are artists we went through that face too I was like


oh [ __ ] like hurts it'd be kind of yeah but I spent too much of my time in church when I was little so there's


too many ghosts rattling around those places


well I'm glad we're able to to finally make this happen we've been trying to do this since geez well last August or


something well we had a strange year last year remember oh yeah I remember I haven't been well last year because I


haven't done shows in like three years yeah I took off a year because I had a


bad shoulder I had a surgery had it replaced and then I got a job because I


didn't think I could do sculpture again like a like a Joby job type thing like yeah kind of similar to what I had


before um I quit that I reason I quit is because I didn't like to work for somebody else uh-huh so now I'm back to


doing sculpture again but I might change sculpture was that in industrial design correct correct because that's where


that's where you went to you got your education is and that yeah I mean I I got I I got an education and I mean I


went to see tool for industrial design and actually I was a drawing major in the first University I went to yeah and


I wanted to learn more and work with my hands and then I went into engineering and then when I had to take


prerequisites and art the professor at the art at school there at the time says


what am I doing in engineering so like you're in the wrong field buddy


yeah so I think it was like two years later I switched to uh Milwaukee Institute of


Art and Design okay so I switched my major from engineering to fine art with like one semester to go in engineering


yeah and then I went to my ad and then I applied for a full scholarship you know


against all the other students that first year and actually won and then I thought oh I guess this is my college


okay and then I went to school and double majored in industrial design and sculpture because I was drawing before


so I figured out let's just do that well that's the thing with you that I mean I've got like five thoughts in my head


all at once just come back come to me the first the first thought is all the


show directors out there must think our work looks pretty good together because how many times have we been Booth neighbors it seems like over the last so


many years we show up in there oh there's that guy again I thought it was a requirement like okay


we'll put the Wisconsin people over here maybe it was Wisconsin I thought it was our work look good together but uh yeah


it's probably the Wisconsin thing we speak each other's language we speak they would know they understand


yeah right Booth or Ben your neighbor you're


sketching all the time man you've always got that sketch pad in front of you gosh you know what yeah it's like you should


catch me sometime and ask to take a peek in that book um I've been doing it for probably about


10 years now um often I want to have the book with me most of the time I do have it with me it


allows me to escape the world of sculpture so basically when I'm at the shows I can get into my own little world


and and just create and it's nothing like my sculpture okay so those sketches


that we're talking about those aren't necessarily to create an end you're not


like designing work in that moment that's just you kind of getting your thoughts out and channeling and yeah


it's just it's it's just a step away from everything yeah instead of me thinking about my work it gives me an


opportunity to think of something else it you know it makes me feel free I don't feel confined to just sculpture


when I'm at the shows then and then plus I'm so excited and motivated when I see other people's work there's so much


variety at the shows it's ridiculous right so the creativity is just flowing


and it's not like it's not like creating what you're seeing or replicating it's


just about getting your own creative juices flowing and feeling inspired it's weird because I actually inspired a


lot of other people when they've seen what I was doing uh they actually would do it with some other artists too at the


time oh I mean over the years and uh actually over the years I've the last couple years I've been just taking other


artists and other people off the street because they're curious what I'm doing and they will just scribble on the book


in my Sketchbook and I would turn it into something oh and um I'm saying it's all about subconscious thinking creating


something that's not actually there but something that you bring about based off your own inhibitions and your visions


and whatever you put in the back of your mind you know you're just letting it free letting it go and and that's what I


do I'm planning on doing an event or some shows with the drawings but I want to


make them larger nice so within the next probably next year or two I'll probably I had done one show with the with


something with drawing yeah um a little show in Wisconsin a long time ago people just didn't know what to think of it


okay I had one other artist buy one of the drawings so that that made me feel good yeah I mean if anybody understands


the work it's going to be another artist to be honest yeah well It's Tricky being for myself being a 3D artist and when we


think in three dimensions and if I try and put something in my hand and translate into that into 2D it's it's


pretty impossible but it seems like you're skilled in in thinking flat and


thinking in three dimension yeah yeah but I'm having a tough time trying to break away from the structure of design


what I mean by that is um in design it's like it's methodical um kind of


mathematical I mean there's you know you have um ways about going creating your work like as well as you do there's a problem


process that you do like me with with my sculpture is a process that occurs before the final outcome and what I like


is for a while I was experimenting with the sculpture because I do sand casting I was experimenting with new processes I


mean I was giving some really neat things that were happening that nobody's ever seen before I just never could get


a big enough body to work together to do something and it seems like we make most


of our financial gain on the street by people relating to the work that they


see I've noticed that doing the shows over the years some of the people that have the most exciting work on the


street are people that shouldn't be on the street are people that are usually way up there in a different thought


level and if you if you enter that thought level you're not going to make a living down the street that's just my


opinion yeah but I think as a creative artist you know we strive to be at a


level that you don't care if anybody understands your work or not you just want to do something uniquely different


that that's just my thoughts so are you saying that there is doing the outdoor


fine art festivals that there is that kind of need for it to be relatable and


sellable and product kind of visioned as opposed to some of these other events


which you've been getting into lately that are more highbrow well it's more of the controversial type work yeah which


is more conceptual yeah I'm not sure if all artists on the street do the same thing I do but I know I've seen a lot of


them at some of the venues that just go to look around um because they just like to be inspired


and it's what I mean by that is this conceptually you couldn't put like the when I've been to a lot of the major


events in Miami and New York and even in L.A you know it's just a whole different


thought process us and I'm one of those people for fun who sits and watch YouTube videos of people traveling


through galleries in London or Upstate New York or whatever and it just because I like to see what's out there not not


more or less to get motivated but if I want to see where where the artistic environment or the Fine Art world is


going and getting out of the bubble that we're currently in yeah speaking out of the bubble that we see because I noticed


when I over the years I've done the shows stylistically there was a certain you could see a stylized Motif sometimes


when you work through the work when you walk through the shows you could you can almost group some people together and oh


there it is it this kind of work you know it feels this way like we're all influencing each other yeah yeah exactly


when I first entered the the circuit coming from a background of industrial


design and futuristic and I was a big fan of H.R Geiger in the movies and and


theatrics and all this other stuff my work was there's a few people that just hated me because I thought it was just


too weird and whatever no but you know I was big into uh fiction


and sci-fi and all that other stuff yeah but it was just cool to look at and nobody was doing anything like what I


was doing a long time ago I was almost ahead of my time is the way I feel like 30 years ago


um if I took the work I had 30 years ago I could probably easily take that word like if I went to Japan my field I've


been to Japan a couple of times I took that work to Japan 15 years after I


actually had shown it okay and it was actually very well received there so it


was okay gotcha it just tells me that and they're really into like they're into the cutesy stuff now but there was


a futuristic movement there at one time a very futuristic feel yeah and I think eventually things are going to change


again I mean we have a whole new world which I think of Fine Art that we haven't even tapped into on the stream


and we're just starting to get into it the last few years you know as well as I do it's the digital world yeah and I


have I do have something lined up with Chris Vance coming up down the road in a few weeks we're going to be talking


nfts and all getting into that sort of thing and that's a whole new world for this you know yeah I think that's uh and


I think the world that they haven't tapped into yet and I've been watching that movement since it started probably


two years ago where it heavily started um and it's like oh wow I was very pleased


to see that because more even my daughter who just graduated from Art School recently oh


cool very heavy in the computer Graphics nowadays really most of the universities


um that's in the curriculum that's something yeah I mean actually there is


no more there when I was young they definitely had a program just for sculptors just for oil paintings


um people who are doing etching and lithography and all that today they group it all into one in a lot of


universities and they'll just call it Studio Arts practices oh so it's no longer being separated starting over


like overlap them so that you have a diversified skill set and a lot I like


like you're touching baseball a lot of different mediums yes exactly okay exactly matter of fact well I wanted to


go back and get my Master's Degree but I felt like I I because I took sculpture at myad in the new University I went to


I didn't want to uh take more I actually went for a few Summers I went took some


glass casting classes glass blowing next I took a summer all right


of course absolutely yes yes I mean Wes hunting


um I went to his Studio a couple times I was really fascinated by the way he was working so I took some class stuff uh


not with West but I really want to watch them at a studio a few times jeez Tom you're making me feel like I'm not


working hard enough here


oh God had to be about 10 years ago when these guys were still they they don't go


on the street anymore yeah for sure um yeah I mean so I I actually I wanted


the cast class and there was really nobody really doing that much Jeremy and his wife were doing


it a little bit they sure are um his wife is actually doing more of it um and I seen her Stephanie trenchered


yep yeah and I really liked her work a lot so and then I I actually set up my whole studio one whole part of my studio


just to do glass casting and then did a lot I did that for like one summer maybe about a year and then I just you know


the shows got busy I was curing in with metal and I just had to do that gotcha I


still have all the equipment there and just haven't touched it okay well jumping back to when you got started uh


30 years ago I know one thing we've talked about is your initial body of work was more what you described as eye


candy and then you really wanted to to transform your work into having you know


telling stories and having a point of view can you talk about that yeah yeah I mean like heavy into design


and and stuff that was fictional way back then yeah I was just building the skill sets you know I was still learning


I mean I did a lot of mixed media stuff as well back then but mostly 3D mixed media but just in a different way that


people are doing it today I was really heavy in the process once I knew all


that and started working in the bronze I mean I the only reason I used aluminum


and wood because I could I could afford to do that I had that that was I had access to that material that was back


then so you're working closely in bronze my first piece oh God first piece I ever


did was just hand pouring aluminum okay a flower pot and uh and buying some leftover parts and


carving into some like fence posts and stuff that I would incorporate into my work and then some computer work okay in


the little shiny aluminum things that he was doing a long time ago and I could carve into wood so I I did that too I


mixed wood with it eventually and then what happened was I think I wanted to


um get away from the whole eye candy thing and then the first series that I did that wanted to say something was a


series of dresses that I did right I saw some of those pieces grass actually that they were wearing told a story and I was


it was about how we visualize uh women in society and how we perceive them yeah


and not just men but people in general um and how we perceive women and um I


might have a few on my website I saw it on your Instagram I think I scrolled back I did a little deep dive recently


and looked into it that was the first series I did where it actually started to tell stories on the work and my wife


for a while thought it was something that that I was trying to say about her but no no you know it's just what I know


best is how you really with the person you live with a lot yeah he's a very giving person and and all the people I


meet so you know it's just my thoughts on that on on women and Society well did


it take you back to like your relationship with say like your your family I mean your mother is a hard


worker she oh yeah yeah I think my mom was very watching how giving she was


but her giving led to me kind of reflecting on people in general because


I grew up in a foster family okay and uh the foster children we had weren't


normal foster children that you would normally a normal child it was all my mom was the kind of person who always


stuck in a child that was less fortunate okay mostly um physically handicapped


children um children that were mentally or physically abused by their parents kids


that were in gangs that's the neighborhood that I grew up in I mean there was a lot of kids like that so we


had a lot I mean we had always had about like six or seven children in the house and I was the only adopted child so it


was interesting because I was able to communicate with all these children that came over and you'd hear stories from them


and their lives and that actually would transpire into the work later on


as well kicking back about the neighborhood what people were going through


all the children all the fathers and the mothers you know all their I mean between abuse and alcoholism and drug


abuse and all the stuff you've seen right in the area that I grew up in but you really didn't really talk about it a


lot wow and all the various amounts of trauma that come into Under One Roof


yeah I mean I'd have like some of my friends when I was a young child we'd have lived with us because they were


getting abused by their parents and my mom was always the kind of person who's like why is your friend so and so still


here he's been here for a few months and I'm like well you know his mom was sick or something and but you didn't really


think about that you just treated everybody mom treated everybody the same everybody that came in the house was like family and um


was it a bit of a revolving door then that it's like people would come and go and oh yeah yeah well I mean the the


kids that we had that or handicapped almost like nobody wanted them I had Brothers my brothers who lived with us


we had one that was CP if you don't know that's cerebral palsy and then muscular dystrophy the one we


had monster dystrophy came into our house walking at like six or seven years old


and I watched him as he slowly lost all his bodily functions over like 11 years


and he died when he was like 17. so I mean


it was weird because only the people in the close neighborhood your neighbors and the people close by you in a small


community would understand all the children that lived with you wouldn't understand what your parents were doing


but once me and my brothers and anybody else who was a foster brother time we get outside that and we go to a park or


something we would get into some you know where people would make fun and oh


yeah and you know only as you know you learn how to I don't know why you say Protect defend


and help and make sure try to make people understand you know and you know young kids and back then I thought


bullying was different than it is today yeah um I don't hear my kids complaining about bullying as much as I heard when I


was young I mean it was bad well it's kind of a nameless faceless kind of bullying now where it comes from from


the cyber world where back then it was face to face and aggressive and you know


but um it's all hard and it's weird because all that stuff I'm talking about if you look at my work a lot of the


different series they all stem off how we relate to things in life totally I mean it makes


me that story helps me I mean I have always felt drawn to your work with that


tension that's in your work that tension of finding yourself that tension of having a deep kind of struggle and


you're holding on with all your physical might but it translates to being more of a mental struggle than the physical


struggle that really gets to the heart of it from me anyway what you told me I


couldn't do this work that I'm doing today the work I'm doing now there's no way I could do it 20 years ago I think


there comes a sophistication and understanding our life in general yeah and the more you live and understand


what's going on and how you react to people it's easier for me to say that


now with the work and actually it's it's feels I shouldn't say it feels good but


it feels it does feel good when even when somebody's crying when they look at my


work has happened over the years like the last five years every year at least twice a year someone cries


I was in your booth at Sun Valley this past year and we were just having a chat and it is a different reaction than what


I'm used to when people walk into my booth I watched your collectors come in or the people who are interested in your


work and want to have conversations with you and it is it's almost like they want to reveal their life story or their


struggles with you yeah yeah it can get pretty uh deep uh-huh


um and it's not really my intent my intent is usually to have people just understand that it's just part of life


yeah it's just a part of life that just happens and I just make it more aware by


creating sculpture that relates to that topic whether it be you finding yourself in life a state of being a mindset or a


potential goal I try to portray something that signifies that's what we're going through well no matter what


our struggles are in life it is intense to us personally I was having a


conversation years ago with somebody who was talking about they were going through some kind of trauma therapy or


something and and she was talking about what was really hard or whatever in her life and then she was saying she was in


some group or whatever and then she's listening to what somebody else was going through and she's like oh my God that's like so much worse than how I had


it or whatever but they didn't experience what that other person did to


them what they experienced was extreme so having that relatability can come from whatever level or threshold of


struggle we all understand struggle you know and I I kind of say I I'm doing


what I do because I mean I mean when you go to art school and you study art and stuff and it seems like way back in the


past there's always some artist making Renditions on politics or things that were going on society okay yeah I mean


even caveman paintings are are referencing what they were dealing with but just to live like society and


societal issues yeah I'm just doing the same thing but in a different way it's very deeply personal deeply personal


work for the viewer definitely and it sometimes scares me it's sometimes I kind of want to one of the reasons why I


do my my sketchbooks and my drawings because I I get to escape from from the realities of everything and then just go


into a different world oh wow someday you'll see those I walk by your booth and I think I might I hear my dad uh


singing The Beatles song boy you're gonna carry that weight


that's like my Mantra when I walk by your boobs


yeah it's funny because I tell people I said the people who look at the work and if they just see a guy carrying a stone


that's all you see yeah but if you open your mind if you could actually see a


lot more than that oh yeah so I'm almost forcing you to look beyond what you see and go beyond and interpret what you see


yeah so um I kind of like doing that I'm not running out of ideas but I'm kind of


at the point where I feel like I've I've said and I'm almost I think there's another phase of me coming somewhere okay I mean I don't know what you're


gonna see in the next two years to be honest I know the sculpture is really difficult to be doing nowadays I mean


I'm sure you deal with the same thing as you get older you find out man this the work's getting harder to me you mean the


physicality behind it oh yeah sure anything three-dimensional I think there's some physicality behind it were


you gonna say well I don't know if I can do this anymore I've talked to a few sculptors over the last few years ever


since we've been doing shows like 25 30 years and over the last few years you


can tell the guys who pour their own metal and the guys in the camera and doing stuff that oh yeah you talk to him


personally and he says yeah it's it's starting to get a little hard I'm not saying that everybody has the poor


little metal I just started and I feel guilty but I just started looking for foundries and working with the founders


to help me out a little bit because after a shoulder replacement I can't make the big works anymore yeah


that I've been wanting to do but and I think that's what I want to do I mean the pandemic actually gave me a great


opportunity to do bigger works well that does make me want to transition into that next issue first of all one thing


that I find interesting about what you do you got away from the mechanical aspect of it and a lot of sculpture it


can be like a real mathy thing like you create your mold you pour the mold and that's your thing but you really work


with components you cast pieces and you assemble so that each sculpture you make


it's a one-off yeah it's like you know how it is I know you do glass and you can kind of create similar things but I


choose to I show people a few of the sculptures they did that had the same name yeah but different compositions and


as an artist I don't want to really make the same thing because there's no creativity involved in copying what you


just did look there's some creativity of figuring out how can I make it a little different so that this is still unique


and it just it just drives you to be creative and continue to work because if


you're just doing the same thing you're doing something mundane yeah um if that's just my opinion it just


keeps me I think it's me because of you know if you feel like I have I feel sometimes I have a little add it's


because it's like I need to do something different so it just keeps me going


so I have no idea what's going to happen I mean to me even making a visual


sculpture that's similar but making it three times larger right bringing it all over from scratch like the piece that I


did for the apartment building in Wisconsin here in Milwaukee the piece named The Artisan right The Artisan


uh-huh that was something they saw at the Milwaukee lake Bunch so I did a


small version when you say small give us scale so what was the one that was seen in Milwaukee it was a 12 inch figure oh


it was and then you turned it into a how big 20-foot yeah that was uh that was


probably a nine foot figure and then the ring was like six and a half seven feet okay


um so what happened was when I did that body of work it was I


needed a break from the the storytelling for a while okay so I went back to my thoughts on my kids were in gymnastics


everybody was in sports I need to do something that just signifies some kind


of like what it takes to achieve that sort of physicality so if an actual man


could balance a ring on his feet it would look like what I did but what


did that actually individual go through in order to achieve that feat and that was my thoughts because when I used to


go my sons were in gymnastics and when I used to go watch them I would say nobody sees how he trained for five years to do


this one trip everybody just sees the trick and goes wow yeah but they don't


see what it took and so to me when I did those pieces a whole body of work that signified that type of thing it was to


say but nobody really knows so my whole story behind that was you see the feet


but you didn't see what it took so think about what it took to be able to do something like that wow the the


dedication the hours the intensity what you know diet everything it takes to get


to a certain level to achieve something that you didn't even think about except for what you saw like even when you


watch a football game people think oh my team we had great but all I could think


about do these people know how it takes how much effort and how much ability it takes to even make that touchdown well


it's the frustration as artists who dealing with the public we all deal with that oh yeah how long did it take you to


make that piece and we all do the uh well it took me uh 20 years plus an hour


or something you know what I mean it's like you try to justify it yeah right it's all the hourly thing which we've


talked about on the Pod here but I see what you're describing in that piece that sculpture you made it is it's


trying to encapsulate this beautiful form like you said what it went into the training to it isn't just a moment in


time where it just gets Frozen and he just probably just happened to be holding that he had to work up to that


point right right I mean that's the way I thought about when I was making it cool you know the really fun thing about


that piece is I was with another sculptor friend of mine finishing it up because I didn't have the space in my


studio um his name's Mark Winter by the way yes he's a good guy he's coming up here soon


on the Pod too he might have already aired after I don't know where we're at with timing but because we do these a lot of order but yes he's in line


yeah yeah that was um it was interesting yeah because um I remember when we both


took it to a studio and um I've never had it fully assembled yet and um put it


fully assembled it in his studio and we had it on a crane and I was like and this was what I was thinking in my


backhand I go you know what's good design when you take the cabling off and everything the whole sculpture stood and


that one 12 by 12 inch Flint yeah at the bottom all by itself yeah and I didn't


know I didn't have any way to know where the center of gravity was or anything but it stood all by itself we just kind


of both looked at each other and go right like the balance you could have taken the supports off and then the


thing tipped over and then you'd be like back to the drawing board the ring was gonna tip it one way but it


was like the weight was so visually that tells me that as as a visual person that


you got the balance of something it would work if it works visually and it actually transpire that into this large


piece that I couldn't even see completely together and then all of a sudden it just stood by itself I was


like I had to Pat myself that for sure science and physics the supported your


your uh design idea annoyingly well let's talk about the


process of getting pushed into such a big piece like that it started small a


collector had an idea of what they would want to commission and you you step into that working that big tell me about that


process well with the the company is called Wimmer Associates okay um their


architect firm that does Condominiums high-end and medium Type n and this was


a high-end one okay and they just wanted a piece that signified sort of the strength behind what it takes to do


something or whatever and I said sure and then when they pick that piece out I was like oh I I didn't even know if I


could do something and actually the piece was only half that size so they saw you at a regular show that we


typically do they saw me at Lakefront Festival the Arts and they wanted to know if I could do that piece larger like almost human scale and I said sure


I can do the human scale and that's our first reaction all the time is it's like you bet we could do that yeah and I was


like oh because I've done human-sized molds and stuff yeah and I was like yeah I could do that so I kind of figured


then I went to the site and this was during the pandemic and I stood there and I'm like this piece is gonna look so


small oh so in actuality I went and said I tell you what I'm gonna do and I


didn't ask for any more money matter of fact I only I didn't make that much money off the piece but I knew where it


was going and I wanted something substantial because I wasn't sure if I was gonna even be doing sculpture for a


long time anymore because of my shoulder yeah I wanted to do something that was going to stay for a very long time so I decided to make it three times the size


of what they actually paid for okay uh and the goal behind it was um they have


something there that was going to be in our area where we live something that I did and that was going to be there after


I passed away if all need be and they they picked out the material and they picked out everything else and the


finish and all that and I didn't really think about the money I was just more or less thinking about the achievement could I do it


right so it was all driven off whether I could do it or not so basically everything was from scratch and that was


during covid too so basically that could be your sole Focus for a good amount of


time right correct the problem was at the same time I got


for full-size figures and so in theory is the one that the theory it was but in


practice it didn't turn out that way well I was super busy during covid with


only three pieces of work um which was a lot of work but uh get


paid as much as I would just doing the street shows but I was at home I was confined and I was I was doing what I


wanted to do so that's that's how I got to call it it really got my mind focused


I mean I couldn't wait to see actually I was really excited about the big piece only because I didn't know if it was


gonna work but so it was a puzzle it was like that puzzle to solve right and I


remember when I was a designer at Harley Davidson I was doing like I was a designer at Heart of the mechanical


designer doing work for Harley at the time and during my free time during lunch I was also working on like other


like some of them I early artwork on the computer and the engineers would always


say you that's better so I guess that right then and there


when I first the first piece I did on on mixed media piece was designed on the


computer but I just I I was hoping to make it so that someday I could have everything else done and I didn't have


to do anything like at work when I was working at Harley I just designed everything somebody else made it but in


the studio I design it and I make it all yeah so it's a different scenario you're


invested in every step along the way right right every step yeah I do and today it's like I'm hoping to make more


transitions into uh less labor and try to be emphatical about it yeah because


um so back to this project yeah so was there a pressure in moving into this


larger piece kind of out of your comfort zone of what you produce on a regular basis and then the pressure of like you


said there were a lot of puzzles to solve that when you got to the end of it was there pressure in committing to


something that large and committing to a certain kind of contract and then maybe not being able to fulfill it was that


any kind of worry with you no no you do it you know that's the weird thing


um I think that's just part of my nature yeah even like when I quit my job


and my wife didn't have a job and I said I'm just going to be a full-time artist and that was 20 25 years ago


think about how I was going to support my family at that time you know because


I just had my oldest son and then I just had my daughter and then my wife was she she didn't have


a job at the time she was taking care of the kids at home yeah and I was just like same thing it was I think it was just that


I'll figure out a way and when I quit my job I couldn't believe I did have some


reasoning behind it though and it's a show that you just recently did yeah with this Coconut Grove okay


well it was it a Payday yeah and I never went outside the state before when I was


doing shows I always did shows like Chicago Wisconsin area I remember I had taken my vacation I don't know if you


ever heard this story what motivated me I said well I gotta find the people that's going to want my work besides


local so it took three weeks of vacation I have five weeks at Harley yeah I took three weeks of vacation from Harley and


went down and I did a Coconut Grove uh the Palm Beach show and one other


show I can't remember what it was but I did three shows down in Florida when the times were good yeah you


probably remember back then there was some a really good time when everything was you're talking to Palm Beach the Betsy Kuby show the yeah yeah I remember


that was a wonderful show at that time it was always done really well yeah um and I really she was a really good


promoter I thought yeah um well anyways I I had matched my income


I actually did a little bit more than I would do it hardly in a whole year and I came back home from those three shows


and told my wife I said I'm done I quit Harley


it's not like that happened overnight no I was making work and actually Mark winter my good friend Mark winter had


said dude why are you still working at Harley yeah and he says you should get out and she said you should focus on


sculpture and you'll be happy with what you're doing he was actually had conversation with it actually made me


quit too you know and was he already in in this he was enrolled already so he knew what he kind of knew with some


sense of confidence what you'd be stepping into in your skill level and all that stuff yeah yeah it was him and


his his family that was had made me change my mind yeah uh working for a


company and just doing my own thing yeah he was he's a real good guy his mom's a really wonderful woman really good


artist from um which motivated him and it just how would I trip Circle down the


line where I saw him at a show in a local show here where we both where


his studio is and where I live uh years ago like 30 years ago and I said oh and


he you know I saw how he lived in Menomonee Falls and started talking to him visiting with him talked to his mom


and seen his mom at a few shows yeah and then I just basically like I said and


then after I did those three shows in Florida came back home I had two weeks of vacation I put in my six week notice


right there don't you feel like coming from humble beginnings and a background where like me included a hard-working


family with not a lot of money don't you feel like you kind of have a little bit


of a sense of you can't [ __ ] up uh that you can work hard and it's like you're not afraid of of not having anything


like you know that you can get by on little and you can just kind of it's all up from there it's weird because you


know you and I have been doing shows for a very long time yeah I mean I know that in the circuit you know most of the


people circuit like I do yeah there's people in there I know that don't do the circuit anymore because they didn't like


the like it's like the stock market you never know if you're gonna make any money or not yeah and I was always when


I did the shows I was always had a number in my head mm-hmm I feel for the crowd over the air get a


feel for what people wanted to see and just focused and once I knew who my


audience was I knew that I could create create a living for myself basically


and you know as well as I do it's like once you feel confident about your abilities at a certain time then you're


like I don't have to worry really I mean that's why I came back yeah you can ride the ebb and flow without having it just


be too emotionally difficult to manage yeah right yeah I do like um being My


Own Boss yeah you know I wanted to talk about a few years ago you've kind of


started to Branch out into a new level of shows you started in with uh going


down to Florida for uh Miami art week and doing some of the shows down there


as an individual artist and now you're kind of stepping into this Collective


Gallery thing can you talk about that whole process yeah well I mean all of us


have tried the gallery scene and there's still some of us that do the gallery scene still doing the gallery thing what


I didn't like is it takes me a long time as well as it takes everybody a lot of other artists a lot of time to make their work foreign


to give it to a gallery and then you sign contracts which usually whether they work or not it's that's


something to be said we can't rely on 10 pieces going to a gallery and then pay


our mortgage as well at the same time I mean especially if it takes you weeks to make pieces I mean I could do like three


months worth of work and haul that three months locked in the gallery for six months if I had five or five galleries


well that's going to take me at least a year and a half two years to make work to go on that unless I do additions from


a sculptors there you go yep and I may do that eventually


as a retirement thing but at this point I I still don't have the mindset I I


kind of like going in the studio and is what am I going to make today I'm just gonna I think I'm gonna make this I want to make one of these or try to make


something different you know isn't that kind of a hard hurdle to get over to that we invest so much into making it


and it isn't so much to having to share the money it's almost the mental thing of giving away half to the person who's


gonna sell it on their own time where we can we can sell it so much easier then


well the other thing I like and I'm sure you're the same way yeah really I don't


see the reaction to people's faces when I mean the gallery you're not seeing that initial reaction to somebody's face


when they see your work for sure when I do the shows you'll see the reaction to people's faces and that actually fuels


you it does it's like somebody appreciates me and it exponentially improves where you're gonna go with it


and it's hard to even to describe what what that means but it's so subtle but


it just it gets the ideas flowing for something different right exactly yep yep but so you started in with


um with doing shows down there during art week how like how many years ago did you start that oh um


think about like eight nine years ago I think I did a little so-called Spectrum


okay I mean I researched and do my demographics I look at the demographic stuff and do a little bit of research


first when I first did the first show I did there I was only doing like medium-sized


12-inch figures and I was like I want to do bigger but I want to get an audience that will appreciate the larger pieces


like when I would do Street chills I'd take one larger piece and put it out with a bigger figure because you know I


think about oh I need something to bring some people in you know they'll appreciate something that's more


relatable in scale yeah but then also they walk in they see something they can afford whereas the bigger events I would


bring a more percentage of the bigger works plus your Investments higher in the shows I don't know if there's not I


mean I did talk to a couple people on the street who do Street shows and I've seen them in some of the events but a


lot of them don't stick with it they don't like the to invest the big dollars in those Gallery type things especially


if you're promoting it yourself the last show that I did this last year in uh I did it's called the Red Dot and that was


a step up for me from a show that was where a show in during art Miami we was


doing I was usually only do Artists Own shows where they charge you an artist's


feed and they give you a small space okay and that's kind of shows I was doing but this year I decided to


um pick a few other artists mostly figurative and I actually gave my daughter who just graduated from college


yeah an opportunity by showing some of her paintings awesome I was like okay I'm just gonna do this and when I called


up the show asking for about group fees and everybody knows how expensive it is to do shows during art Miami week at


some sort of event down there and it could range from 15 well if you're doing it as a gallery


from 15 grand up to like 50 to 60 Grand okay some of them even more once again to the more prestigious events yes you


could spend up to 120 000 for a boot I mean the book that I spent I mean Financial wise not many of


us would I think I spent a total of like 15 grand and was not spread between other members of your Collective Gallery


no no and that's what I see other artists I mean I've seen other artists when I went to I've gone to sofa and


there'd be artist Collective yeah and then be like everybody would pitch in like three grand or four grand and it


was like you know what I could do that but you know I can't make it cohesive then so then I talked after you do like


if you just do it yourself you're running it as that you're showing a cohesive line everybody's work flows


together whereas I notice everybody's paying that everybody's button heads well I we all paid I get how come you


got more real estate like a lot of people I seen it I don't know if it still happens and I've heard


the horror stories of people working together to try to show their work you know not everybody knows what they're


bringing so also in some they'll bring this piece that takes up like oh you don't you don't get a four by four space


put your sculpture you only hit a two by two why'd you bring this forward you know and I've heard them gotcha um but


just I've heard the story so is your Collective led by you and you have your


own curated artists that join you but it's not like it's all we're all equals


and we all get to squabble over how this gets designed it's your gallery and what's it called the Contemporary and


what does it mean what's the I've never heard the term it was just you know you're not you're not gonna believe this


but maybe you are very well um so what I did a long time about three


years ago I was watching an artist called cause who came from the street I don't know if you know who causes okay AWS okay so pause this is street artist


I mean I I always watch different movements in the world of Art and he went from being a street artist to being


a um a major hitter in the Contemporary Art Market sure and I was like it's just


k-a-w-s and I was like wow what does that mean and I was like if you say it without knowing how it's spelled it's


spelled kaws but if you say it says cause think about what the word caused me yeah


you're like there's a reason for it right but you don't know but he doesn't say he just says oh I just like the way


it looked and that's basically what I sat down and I just liked the fonts yeah


and then I looked at you know all the different fonts I looked at letters that I liked and I just put them down on


paper and I just started mixing them up and like you know what it doesn't have to mean anything it just has to look cool and it has a bit of a Greek letter


feel even though it's not but it has I like the old Master stuff I really do


yeah um and anything that has to deal with taking a tie back to history of some


sort I'm all in cool I mean all of us started off that way anyway I mean I had I didn't go to a museum until I was like


16. right but that's because you know like you and I both if you come from a lower income family we didn't do much of


anything in arts I mean my like I said I mean my parents weren't really artistic at all I mean my adopted Prince I just


say yeah although this is very funny because this is off on a little tangent here but last year I found my real


brother my blood brother really by a Christmas gift that was like you know a


DNA thing the 23and Me Maybe um well look no this was a um what was


it um I forgot what it was Australian 23 and me I think it's called yeah yeah okay yeah okay


yeah so my actually my daughter took it and um my brother's son actually connected with my daughter and then my


brother and I were a little hesitant at first to take the test yeah yep but it was guaranteed and uh he was he only


lives like a few like five six miles from me right now how was that


but it was interesting to talk to him and and um you know and then this year he


started doing some kind of um drawings and stuff of stuff he likes to do and I'm like oh so the major artistic talent


in My DNA somewhere yeah so it got me a little excited to see that he was doing something that was artistic related that


he didn't know he was going to do either he had an injury that made him cause himself to retire early so he ended up


just started to draw and stuff I think I don't know him I I mean I talked to him but not as much as I probably should and


is he a full blood brother or half brother yeah wow that's awesome that had to be an interesting turn of events for


you yeah it was it was a little it was a little interesting although you know when there are always some I've talked


to a couple on Auditors that were adopted that I'm close friends with yeah and they were telling me their scenarios


too because I had to talk to another artist from the circuit who was adopted and said he met his brother and his


mother and family this past year as well so we had a really nice conversation he's a nice guy so wow


um but yeah it's it's interesting but I I do feel that your environment molds


you a lot um growing up for sure yeah and like I said I think the whole Foster family


thing actually really hit me on how I was going to do my current work right now okay and how so


um just that you know trying to convey what they were dealing with all the children that I lived with and


communicated with the neighborhood kids that I communicated with all the family issues that were going on in the


neighborhood and then I get people ask me all the time why does your work feel like you're always struggling and there's a lot of


you know they like that there's energy in motion but yeah there's always this struggle the tension I feel like well


yeah and I say to him that you know life to me that's it's just reminiscent of I


think it's just an extension of everything that I've I've dealt with and and trying to relate to but as an artist


I think a lot of artists put their selves in their work yeah somehow either emotionally visually well


I mean it's the only way to make it relatable even you being a graph yeah there's something that motivates you to


create the shapes individuals that you're creating for us it's the color it's the vibrancy it's the energy it's


like it's it's what's going on internal it's emotional that's being translated into a fluid form and that's really the


best I can describe it so anyway you just turn the tables on me mister


well one thing that you've said uh that I I find pretty inspirational I think


your upbringing and and what you've gone through has just knowing you has made you an extremely compassionate and


empathetic person for one but then you've also described that being in the quality of great artists at these


different shows obviously being down in Miami and seeing the best of the best and being out on the road at the top art


shows with people on the street that you say there's something about artists where they're just never really content


and there's always that sense of I can do better tomorrow and this striving to always get better I I find that really


interesting about you well that's how I work I would hope that all the other


all the other artists feel the same way I mean when I look at even the like the


mainstream artists that every like a lot of people are familiar with even if like people you know in in the art world like


Pollock in general everybody's seen that movie yeah that was made on Pollock I


mean I don't know how many times I've seen it and it wasn't because of his painting style it was because of what he


went through um and that's what intrigued me is all us artists go through some sort of we


wrestle with something as as we are artists as we go through life we all Wrestle with something that relates to


our art somehow whether it be something like in Pollock's case he was he was he was an alcoholic I've seen that plenty


of times in family issues and how it relates to their uh the children's upbringings but I also see how it can


relate to how it can affect somebody's work not only there being an artist at work but also in everyday life yeah I


you know you see it firsthand I mean I mean I've seen school but my work is just based off everything


that's related to life in general right now that's the way I feel yeah


um my future work I can tell you that I want to get into yes we'll see you'll


have another conversation but you're gonna say God I've seen some


of the stuff you're doing now and yeah you're you're I don't know where your mind is and that's exactly what I want


to do I want to put my mind in a place that people are just kind of like where is this guy from


well do you have any anything tangible that you can talk about with that or is it all conceptual at this point


every well no everything's um no I mean a lot of us can't I may have a lot of pan El but they're all everything's in


school yeah and ideas on paper and stuff like that writings I do a lot of you


know I do a lot of like little short writing stuff I'll write something I do


it all the time I mean I'll write something out of piece of wood or just you know just thoughts in your head yeah and just like oh this


is a this is a idea I have or oh this was on a talk about in society or or this is what I want to say about


something yeah I mean people may there'll be a lot of times I want to text somebody something like what I


really feel I do it all the time on like Facebook and even messages I'll type everything in it'll take me 10 minutes


and I'm like and then I'll delete I do it all the time you know what so this reminds me of a conversation that


I've recorded with Justin tillett he talks about the difference between


artists who are always moving forward and and people who kind of stay stagnant in that they stop what they're doing and


they sketch it out real quick or they write it down okay he says you could be at a stoplight and that inspiration


comes you think I'll remember it later but you don't remember it later so those people who capture those moments and get


it down on paper or however you record it and then that can keep the whole wheel spinning and moving forward and it


seems like that's what you do you've always got those ideas moving forward well you know


I'm sure I don't know if you do this but I have sketchbooks of a lot of the sculptures that I have made


of the little doodles and I'm like for like the last five years I've always if


I if I'm like want to make a new sculpture I kind of scan through that book and it just starts to stem all over


again but it's like I look at these books like oh my gosh you know because I'm thinking this is


gonna be my years income for this year if I just pick up this book and look at it and start making stuff gotcha I keep


thinking about this is actually worth a lot of money and I actually put it some of my Snapchat but if I lose if I lose the Sketchbook please call me and


there's a reward I do because I'm like man if I ever lost this I'll never remember that idea that is gold I'll put


like a 100 reward inside Britain in the front cover or something I'll say if you find this Sketchbook then return it I


will give you a certain amount of money and blah blah blah keep on my phone number in there and everything because it's like I know it's worth that from


what an idea wise but for myself cool actually probably be Priceless


I'll never get it back yeah oh this has been fun Tom I can't believe


the hour is gone already we've we've talked through a lot of really great stuff and I really enjoyed that we've uh


been able to to make it happen here this has been a nice talk well I hope you can find something


I think I'll find a thing or two all right ramble hey take care and we'll


talk later bye oh yeah I'll see you down see you down at the next one okay all right thank you bye-bye great talk with


Tom Warden it left me with a new appreciation for him and uh I can't wait to see him out there on the road yeah


he's a great guy interesting thing we're huge fans of those like um Finding Your Roots shows like on PBS at the end of


his talk when he was talking about meeting up with his brother back on my mind I'm thinking we're gonna like this one a lot that's a whole different


podcast so it's a really fascinating story yeah so last episode with Annie


when we talked I hadn't had a chance to listen to it yet because we jumped on


and recorded right afterwards and I do like to have a little bit of follow-up at the end of the talks uh just to you


know do a little check-in yeah and I really like the part of her talk when she was saying that one of the things


that's kind of a misconception and about fiber art or wearable art she'll be at a show and people will walk by and she'll


hear them do the whisper is this art is this really art and the thing that I found really interesting is how she


described her process and what's important to her about how creating work


that people wear that makes them feel expressive and feel powerful and to feel


good in their skin and acknowledging the vulnerability that people feel in


stepping into her world and putting her clothes on that was a whole topic that I


never would have thought of not being a fiber artist that was a whole new concept for me yeah I the vulnerability


that it takes in order to let somebody else feel vulnerable that makes sense


yeah she has to put herself on the line in order for other people to put themselves on the line and I thought


that was a really interesting point I've been getting to meet so many great people this year on the road and I am


just so touched by that story that she said about the vulnerability and so many people sharing just so many touching


things and I'm really happy with this project I really feel like we've had some talks with people for over a year


now that are just so revealing about not to say what makes us tick because that is a little bit overused and a


little trite but really getting to the heart of what's important to all of us yeah uh Sometimes the best talks are are


when you get it little things that were like oh wait a minute I didn't even I didn't think you were going there I didn't


think that this particular artist had anything to say that pertained to my own path and it usually does it always does


it's a so nice work sir uh let's Pat ourselves on the back a little more


um you're on Apple reading all those five star reviews if you have something uh that you wanted to bring up a


particular review or no uh this last review was pretty funny I thought


um this is from the reviewer's name is keaney weenie


zakina must be and they say so even though these guys


don't have any murder stories this podcast is so awesome even if I worded


independent artist I would still enjoy the banter and the stories that these guys dig out of their guests I think


they're great interviewers and it's a must listen for any independent artist so well thanks for thanks for submitting


that review to Apple anyone else want to uh maybe uh entertain us or have


something clever and funny to submit we'll share it on the air that's right keep those low reviews to


yourself because uh we're trying to grow the show as much as we possibly can and um we have the typical artist's ego


where it's it's huge until it's popped like a balloon boom will only dwell on the one bad review it doesn't take much


for either of us to go dark I don't know clearly not all right sir once again


it's been a pleasure and we'll see in a couple of weeks I have no idea who I'm talking to next okay well I'll see you


in see you in Chicago perfect this podcast is brought to you by the National Association of Independent


Artists the website is also sponsored by


zapplication that's and while you're at it check out Will's website at

1:22:59 and my website at be sure to subscribe


to this podcast to be notified when we release new episodes [Music]