Friday, May 17, 2013

Art Strike

It's seems only right to end our Monty Python week with a bit of Monty Python.  So here for your viewing pleasure is "Art Strike."  Happy Friday!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Take 5 With Kyle Jones

Kyle Jones

Creative Specialties: 
Graphic Design, Animation, Illustration, Character Design and Typography

Current Location: 
Nashville, TN

Mini Bio: 
Kyle Jones is the creative director at Fivestone Studios in Nashville TN. He spends his days designing styleframes and animating broadcast graphics packages, commercials, and anything else that moves. Their clients have included Verizon, John Deere, CMT, ServPro, Honda, Dell, and Krystal among others. He has a passion for illustration, character design, and typography. Kyle has won several awards over the years, but none more meaningful than his "best friend" certificate from 6th grade. 

Follow Kyle on twitter @justkyle
Or check out his website:

1) What is one thing you've learned as an artist that you wish you'd known when you first started out? 

Making good art takes a lot of time. I used to think that if something didn't naturally come together quickly that I just didn't have the talent. When you see great art it often looks effortless; you can visually take in a painting or illustration in seconds and you forget that it actually can take days or weeks of hard work for something that looks so simple. I think it really clicked for me right after college when I interned in New York at Eyeball NYC. They had such an amazing talent pool of designers and animators, and I saw that what really made their work stand out was the amount of time they spent working. It's really amazing what started happening once I let myself push past the initial "well this first attempt doesn't look that great" phase of everything I've ever done and allowed myself more time to push it into great work. 

2) What is the greatest challenge you have faced as a creative person? 

Confidence. Pretty much as soon as I create something I hate it. Maybe for a few days I'm happy and think it's the best thing I've ever done, but I quickly realize all the things I could have done better. I think there's also timidity in proclaiming that you are an artist with something to contribute. Who says my aesthetic is valid? Who would pay me for drawing? Do I really have the experience for this? Don't people know there are other people better than me? I try to just focus on the fact that what I do makes me really happy, and in holding myself to high standards, hopefully people like what I do and pay me for that. I don't have to prove anything... even though deep down I think most artists, including myself, crave validation. bad.

3) If money was no object, what would you make?

Children's books. To me, they have always been the holy grail of art and story. Short, beautiful, fun. I love that one person can craft an entire world in words and pictures. Some of my favorite books growing up were Dinotopia by James Gurney and Santa Calls by William Joyce. I want to be able to capture the same joy I got from reading and looking at these when I was young. In fact, my friend and I are collaborating on a story right now for a children's book that I want to illustrate. I've always wanted to make a children's book... why wait? Maybe we'll kickstart a printing of it if it comes together.

4) How do you deal with the inevitable uncertainty that accompanies a creative life?

I've been pretty lucky to crave such a commercial line of work. I started out doing web design and development, then transitioning to motion graphics. I've only recently felt confident enough to do some freelance illustration. The great thing about this industry is that there are so many outlets to be creative in. I had no idea I would be doing motion graphics 5 years ago, but I got the bug and went full steam pursuing it. I'm pretty sure in 5 years I may be doing something else, but as long as it is creative I know I'll be happy. Solving problems creatively has a lot of applications. It is daunting to think about going freelance. That would be much more uncertain. It takes a lot of work to find and maintain clients, however I think I may end up doing that sometime in the future.

5) What moment/place/time/setting lets you function to your fullest creative potential?

I am NOT a morning person. I wish I was. I do the best when I can get in a moment of flow, and really focus. I actually really like listening to podcasts and interviews with other creatives while I'm working because their stories really motivate me. My favorite and most productive time is actually between 11pm and 2 am when I'm working on something that's got me excited and I can't stop for bed because I'm afraid I'll lose my creative flow.

If you are a passionate creative and want to share your own Take Five on The Art Abyss shoot us an email at and let us know!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Doing Something Different, With Unexpected Results

This week, we're doing things differently. For me, this hasn't meant so much of a change in my behavior as it has a behavior in my thought process. You see, I've always hated running.

Still, two months ago, I started running with my husband. And I hated it, and sweated and whined and panicked my way through every single run, pretty sure I would absolutely die. Of course I didn't actually die, but that wasn't raising the fun factor.

I've been told that 5Ks are so much more fun than regular running -- so I figured in my case, that would translate to things being about a 5 on the suck scale instead of the usual 10. Thus, I signed up for the Neon Splash Dash with a group of friends.

And I dreaded it.

See how I'm regretting my decision here? Totally.
Here's the thing. I've always had this narrative about how much I hate running, and how much I am not a runner, but because of that silly 5K, I'm having to reevaluate how true - or useful - that narrative is for me.

We all know how this story ends -- I discovered that I might not actually hate running, I'm thinking about signing up for future 5Ks, and the whole experience was dramatically lower than a 5 on the suck scale -- maybe it even scored a point or two on the awesome scale. So yeah, breaking out of my normal beliefs is leading me to learn some pretty cool stuff about myself.

But what in the world does this all have to do with creativity? With making art?

Being a creative person isn't something that only happens in the studio -- your creative self is always there, even when you're not engaging it. Similarly, the parts of you that exist outside of your creative process are still present when you're making art, even if you don't notice them. And sometimes, this relationship between your creativity and everything else means that making a change in one sphere will affect the other.

That's absolutely what I've experienced with the whole running thing. No, I didn't come home from the 5K and start flinging paint at a canvas - but since I discovered I was actually able to do this one thing that I thought was utterly beyond me, I'm starting to suspect that maybe I can do some other things I've been avoiding -- like actually make some of the pieces that I've been holding in my brain, with the excuse that I don't have enough time.

I didn't think I was strong enough to run. What if my not having enough time to create is just another old outdated narrative?

This week's a good time to find out.

Pure, unadulterated enjoyment -- I mean, suffering. Uh huh.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Definition of Insanity

You might be wondering, why are we asking you to change things up a bit? Routines can be nice -- they can even help fortify your creative process. So why change?

It's like Mr. Einstein said -- if you keep doing the same thing, you're going to get the same result. While that may be comfortable and dependable, it isn't exactly inspiring.

(It gets bigger after you click.)
That's why this week, we're challenging you to break out of your routine -- it might be exactly what your creative self is craving. Go on, snag this week's challenge badge, and see what you can do to shake things up!!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Challenge #6: Something Completely Different

Remember back a few weeks when we talked about needing to get it on with other creative buddies so our ideas could have sex?  The whole point of that exercise was making new and varied connections in our brains; which in turn inspires us and get our creative juices flowing.  

Most of the time we stick to our own areas of expertise because that is just what we know.  It's safe, it's comfortable... it's like a hug from a giant teddy bear. Getting together with a creative buddy to talk shop can help unlock new ideas and vantage points we might never have seen on our own without something they said having helped put two and two together for us in our brains.

So yeah, ideas having sex for the win.

However, there is actually a way we can do this on our own, without necessarily needing to get together with anybody else. (Oh the places we could go with that statement and this train of thought...  I'll just let your imagination run with that while I continue on... don't mind me...)

The reason getting together with a creative buddy to talk shop works so well is because it lets you see the world from a different perspective.  If we want to accomplish this on our own we can't just keep doing what we've always done because most likely we'll just see what we've already seen.  If we want to see the world from a different perspective, we have to take a cue from Monty Python and do something completely different.  Or simply put, if you want to see the world, you've got to leave your hometown.

Staying where it's safe and warm and comfortable is awesome, but it doesn't always let us grow or help us build our creative arsenal.  To do that we have to mix things up.

Pretty sure this is our best challenge badge yet...
Don't forget to snag it off the blog and share it!
So, your challenge this week is simple: Do something completely different.  It's that easy.  Drive home a way you have never gone before. Bake a random recipe you've never tried. If you're a photographer try painting, if you're a painter try sculpture, if you're a musician try dancing.  It doesn't matter what it is as long as it gets you out of your normal routine and is expanding your wealth of creative experiences.

Have an idea for what you are going to try out this week as part of your challenge? Drop us a line in the comment section and let us know!