Who are you and what do you do
I’m Austin Kleon, and I’m a writer who draws. I’ve written two best-selling books: Steal Like An Artist, an illustrated manifesto for creativity in the digital age, and Newspaper Blackout, a collection of poetry made by redacting newspaper articles with a permanent marker. When I’m not writing books, I make art and speak about creativity and being an artist online. I grew up in a small town in southern Ohio, but now I live in Austin, Texas, with my wife, Meghan, and my dog Milo.
What makes you get up every morning?
Curiosity, anger, and a fear of destitution. Also, my dachshund.
What do you love about your job?
When I was a kid, all I wanted was a bunch of people around I could talk to about art and books. The people I’ve met and the friends I’ve made are the best rewards of my career.
What are the most essential tools in your life today?
I’m on book tour right now, so I always have my Timbuk2 netbook bag with the following contents:
- iPad 2 w/ charge cable, camera connection kit, and VGA adapter. There were a few times where I wished I had a Macbook Air on me, but overall, the iPad worked great for travel and presentations. Trouble happens when a venue wants you to use their computer — just be sure to tell them ahead of time you need a VGA input. Sometimes the projector is far away from where you’re standing, but if you have an iPhone, you can get the Keynote Remote app and control the slideshow over Bluetooth.
- Kindle Touch 3G.
- Copy of Steal.
- Small paperback. For takeoffs and landings when you have to power down your Kindle.
- Shure SE215-K Live Sound Monitors. Fancy ear buds, because I hate having to carry around noise-cancelling headphones.
- Bandanna. For snot, sweat, tying stuff together, and other various purposes.
- Flash drive. Had my standard slides on it, in case a venue (usually a conference) needed to use their own computer.
- Safety scissors and tape. Believe it or not, the TSA allows scissors up to 4 inches.
- Pens and Sharpies. Black for signing Blackout, red for signing Steal, Marks-A-Lot for making blackouts, Pilot G-2 Bold for writing.
- Cosmonaut iPad stylus. I love this thing. Like drawing with a huge crayon.
- Rathole $20 and quarters. Because you never know.
- Earplugs. For on the plane and getting to sleep in noisy hotels. Don’t leave home without them.
- Vitamins, Advil, and lip balm.
- USB rechargeable battery. The size of a pack of gum, and it’ll recharge anything USB.
- Chewing gum.
- Square credit card reader. (See above.)
What is something you’ve been dying to get?
I really want a Wacom Cintiq, but I just can’t make myself plop down the two grand. So I stick to paper and marker!
The website is in BETA and is already following in the foot steps of Threadless by socializing designers and introducing talent.
To find out more about the newest contest, click here.
Oakland artist Slvstr has done some design work for my friend Donnis, and just recently created the cover art for Kreashawn’s new album, Somethin ‘Bout Kreay. His artwork sometimes evokes the likes of New York graffiti artist Keith Haring, but in essence his designs tend to be very whimsical with saturated colors and a hip hop feel. My favorites are his hand drawn typography and illustrations shown here:
(via Slvstr Design)
No, this isn’t a story about a certain quasi-newscaster comedian (although it is about a dude who is equally as cool.) After a short three-year stint working as an Art Director for an ad agency, Steve Cober was suddenly let go. 9/11 had just shocked the nation, dot come 1.0 was saying its last goodbyes and advertising budgets were dwindling. But instead of searching for another company that could potentially put him in the same position, Steve decided to create his own oppurtunities.
Have you always been a collector?
Oh hell yah. I’m interested in collecting things and I’m interested in making things and I’m interested in objects as culture. When I was a kid my favorite toys were a Japanese line called “The Interchangeable World of Micronauts,” a predecessor to Transformers. They were based on magnets and interchangeable pegs, a little bit like Lego in a way, and you could buy 3 Micronauts and make 10 new toys out of it. That became the premise for how I thought about toys.
What’s the value in collecting?
For me personally, collecting is in part a way of remembering. I can remember people and times and events because of objects. When I see a comic book or a ticket from a movie it instantly snaps me back, like a catalyst for your life. Collecting helps you explore who you are or what you’re into. I never collect for money, that’s not really interesting to me. I collect for the object itself and the moment in which you collect it.
That said, at a certain point it becomes a burden and you start to be weighed down by just the physicality of it all. So it is important to cull everything – I just recently threw out all my clothes from high school because I had to face the fact that I’m never going to wear this Jane’s Addiction t-shirt again. But I’m not one of those people that is obsessed with youth culture. I think getting older is far more interesting.
That seems counter-intuitive since Magic Pony seems to be all about playfulness and youth.
Getting older doesn’t necessarily mean getting serious. It’s about the fact that as you get older you get wiser, and you can be wise and playful. As long as you stay involved and you keep excited about things then you only get richer as a person. Thinking back to your youth and focusing on what was important and what you learned from it, not that things were better then.
I don’t think it’s wrong to love all of those things that gave you energy as a child or an adolescent. I just think it’s important that you have perspective on them and to develop them. At Pony, we’re essentially just trying to find things that’ll make you happy, whether that’s tiny food objects, original art, or a really interesting book like aShary Boyle or a Micah Lexier. We try to cover the whole gamut. And it’s also really interesting to witness what is meaningful to different people.
You worked as an Art Director at Leo Burnett before deciding to go out on your own. What was your motivation?
It was one of those situations that I think every creatives feels, where you’re like, “I have all these great ideas, or I want to pitch these things and work with these people, but I can’t seem to push it through on any project with clients or even with my team.” My business partner, Kristin, was feeling the same way at the time, where she was interested in all these innovative fashion lines from Japan but she couldn’t find a place for them in Canada.
We both travelled a lot and were aware of what was happening in London, Tokyo, New York and Hong Kong, and I was noticing that all of these places had this kind of culture prospering that was a design-cum-art toy multiples, and I was wondering why this wasn’t happening in Toronto – the fifth largest city in North America. The simple premise of starting Magic Pony was: “If not now, when?” Why be the person complaining that it’s not happening? We decided to just make it happen and we thought the worst thing that will come of it is failure.
And with that enthusiasm, we basically just went for it with no plan. We loosely just wrote it out on notepads, like “This is what we’ll do!” In hindsight, it would have been wiser to have created a business plan and sensible targets. Instead, initially we traveled to Japan and New York to search out products and invite creators to collaborate. And most people were into it – no one had ever asked them to be part of something like this in Canada before.
Why be the person complaining that it’s not happening? We decided to just make it happen and we thought the worst thing that will come of it is failure.
What was that first year like, working without a plan?
The first year of Magic Pony was probably the year I grew the most as a human being, because we realized pretty quickly the size and scope of what we were trying to do – which was ridiculous without a formal plan. But, what propelled us forward was the immediate connection we made with people.
We opened Magic Pony on a very small scale – a salon style pop-up that was open for five hours once a week and people had to make appointments via email. We met people like Mars-1, Kozyndan, Derrick Hodgson and emerging art collective Team Macho and they ended up being the first artists that we worked with. So right from the get-go our customers were practicing designers and artists and they shared the same vision that we had.
We basically ran the business off of shared enthusiasm. After four months of that, we opened up a small second location and Kristin and I were both working other jobs at the same time – she was doing freelance writing and I was doing freelance design – so Pony was really a labor of love, not money.
We each have a personal interest in traveling and collecting things, so the business is pretty much an extension of me [laughs], and Kristin and I are both really interested in the idea of creative commerce and how it doesn’t have to be soul-sucking to shop.
Today, Magic Pony is sort of an ecosystem. It has expanded from designer toys to include two galleries, events, a publishing imprint, and a summer camp for kids.
How do all of these things make sense together?
I think any sensible person would just think we’re crazy to be so multi-faceted. We’re only seven people; our company is pretty tiny. But honestly, when you say Pony is an ecosystem that’s perfect because we want to be kind of a dynamic platform for opportunity. It’s all about opportunity and participating in art.
Our goal is to curate a selection of creators and goods and there are numerous opportunities to get people involved in this goal. We have the shop because it’s an approachable way of connecting people with artists whether that’s through a piece of jewelry or plush mushrooms or a toy. We appeal to people who like to make things or who are creative themselves. It’s part of their vocabulary to collect or to spark ideas from going to a store like Magic Pony.
We’re quite DIY, so it’s a natural extension to create products ourselves. Part of the opportunity for us is not only getting to collaborate with artists but also to participate. So that’s when it takes the form of, say, publishing. We wanted to make books because we wanted to make our selection of products better and we wanted to champion the artists we work with.
And the camp is for fun. We have a little generation of art kids that are growing up with Pony and they collect Dunnies, Tokidoki and mini foods. And we thought it would be really cool to have a character camp so that kids can get involved with making the kinds of things that we have for sale at Magic Pony. And also, kids are good energy. You learn a lot from them.
In doing so many things and running a business that never stays the same, do you ever feel like you’re spread too thin?
So how do you stay organized and focused?
Build a good team and delegate. One of the keys to building a strong company for us was in hiring people that are better than we are. By hiring someone that’s better at getting things organized or a better designer – you can make the vision and lead them and it’s always collaborative, but you’ll get what’s best for your business. I can use a D&D [Dungeons and Dragons] example to illustrate. In any kind of adventuring party, you need a warrior, a wizard, a priest, and a thief. The thief is for the delicate seeking, the priest is for when you need the power of the gods, the wizard for multitasking and the warrior for heavy lifting. And all of those people work together. Companies are the same – you need to build a creative system that supports a range of players.
How do you find the artists that you work with?
You have to search for them. I’m really old-fashioned, I travel. Truthfully I don’t have that much time to search Etsy or Tumblr, I find that far less satisfying and far more random. I’d rather take recommendations from people – artists, collectors and friends that understand us. We’ll seek out the work, if we like it we’ll meet with the creator, and if we get along personally then we’ll collaborate on a project or carry their work. So it’s very personal.
I’m an entrepreneur, I at the very least reserve the right to not have to work with people I don’t like. I don’t want to. If you like what I do and I like what you do then things will be amazing. But if you have some kind of reservation about what we do or if you’re in anyway not 100% on it, then there are people who will be. So why waste time, you know?
Any advice for aspiring artists who want to get their work shown?
Get involved with real life. Go to conferences, join groups, go to art shows, and engage with people face to face – it makes a world of difference.
Kari Mayo is as beautiful as her work. Her handcrafted tiles bring to life features of a modern designer with a mexican frontier. Having been contracted by various companies including Nike, she experiments with different materials to make sculptures that make art come to you.
Who are you and what do you do?
I am Kari Mayo, I’m an artist based in Mexico city. I make art, and design for a living.
How did you get started?
I went completely wrong at first and started studying marketing, then I took a course on photography and soon realized that studying fine arts was actually an option. I didn’t hesitate, and went for it.
What makes you get up in the morning?
My daily dose of duloxetine! Haha
What do you love about your job?
I love that i get to express things that otherwise would stay inside for god knows how long. It’s a need. I enjoy it so much sometimes when i’m working, it hits me and i think “Is this for real? Am i having fun for a living? Wow!”
What are the most essential tools in your life today?
My computer, iphone and ipad, which means: Illustrator, Photoshop, Google Sketchup, Itunes, Instagram, Skype, Twitter, and tons of utility and fun apps. Color markers, notebooks, sketch books, pencils, pens, acrylic paints, spray paints, rulers, calculators, and my camera. Im always looking for new materials to try out, like this “Radiant Light Film” from 3M that I found online. It’s gorgeous! I’m working on a sculpture that changes color depending on your view angle, you will soon see!
What is something you’ve been itching to get?
I would love to have my own lasser cutting machine, but now i’m obsessed with 3D printers!
Was creativity a part of your childhood?
Yes! For as long as i can remember i was always drawing, copying cartoon characters and creating color combinations. At the toy stores I always went for the coloring books.
Did you have a real specific “aha” moment when you knew design was what you wanted to focus on?
I remember signing up for a poster contest in college (when I was doing marketing in a pretty serious business school) for a campaign against tobacco, which is funny because im a smoker. I remember being so engaged with it. My poster involved a mexican wrestler, and one of his famous quotes mixed up with a catholic prayer. I thought it was hillarious and genius. I didn’t win anything, not even a mention but I was so proud of it, I thought they just didn’t get it. That was one of my “aha” moments.I guess I always knew I wanted to be an artist, though I got lost in the way for a while.
Every time I’m working on something I have an “aha” moment. Especially when there’s the fear that it could all go wrong, or when I’m facing a blockage and suddenly I come up with a solution, when it begins to take form and starts looking better than I had imagined it, there comes a big “aha” moment that makes me feel certain I am doing what I am supposed to do in life.
Was there a point in your life when you decided you had to take a big risk to move forward?
When I finished art school I knew I needed more technical design knowledge, and at that time I was aching for a change in my life so, after working in the city for a while, I gathered my savings packed my suitcase and took a plane to London to take a few summer courses at Central St. Martins… I came back a year later with the best experience of my life. It opened my eyes in so many ways. I learned a lot about art and design… but mostly i learned about myself.
If you could give a piece of advice to another artist starting out, what would it be?
Travel, read, listen, watch, discuss and try. Try everything, anything. Discover the outside world the same as you inner world. And don’t be afraid of making a fool of yourself, just go for it.
Do you have any favorite books? Food? Music?
Books: I love the novels of Alessandro Baricco. A book that definitely changed my life when I was young was “A Brave New World” by Aldous Houxley. Art books: Im obsessed with this book called “Cosmic Communist Constructions Photographed” by Frédéric Chaubin.
We’ve got one last question for you. What kind of legacy do you hope to leave?
Josh is the man behind the #1 most funded sculpture project in Kickstarter history. Born in Iowa City, IA in 1970, he was declared a prodigy as a young child and assumed the identity of an artist early on. He has worked as a commercial sculptor in the toy, invention and design, special effects, and product development industries. He currently works as a fine artist in Chicago.
1. Gretsch White Falcon with TV Jones p’ups (gift from my wife & my musical voice)
2. Digital Calipers (for reverse engineering the world)
3. WACOM tablet & pen (for drawing like a human rather than a mouse)
4. Sunglasses (for protecting my sensitive baby eyes & feigning coolness)
5. Sketchbook, mechanical pencil & eraser (standard equipment)
6. Dunlop Tortex .60mm guitar pick (not too thick, not too thin… just right)
7. P-38 military issue can-opener (keep it on my keychain… works as simple knife, screwdriver, mini pry bar, etc… oh yeah, also as a can opener)
8. 4G Droid Smartphone (all the apps, messaging, GPS, & organization I need to keep it together)
9. Earbuds (to feed tunage into brain)
10. Flash drive (for taking & moving the files)
11. Coffee (wake up/stay up juice… I’ve had this coffee cup for 20 some years. Snagged it from the cafeteria at KCAI)
12. Ibanez TS808 Tube Screamer (makes me sound the way I like)
13. Spotify (for my tunage)
14. WordPress (for my website)
15. Google (for my searches, emails, & funny cat videos)
16. Kickstarter (for my discovery)
17. ZBrush (for my sculpting)
18. Facebook (for my friends & fans)
19. Amazon (for my shopping)
20. Innerwebz (for the online universe)
Tasha is the type of girl we’d like to hang out with: flowing locks, skillful hands, and she boards to the beach for fun?? Her love affair for the ocean and a fascination with nature inspires her work to draw draw on the shapes and textures of the natural world and the creatures who inhabit it. She creates original works of art as well as designs for t-shirts, phone cases, housewares, etc. To find more of her amazing artwork, click away.
Websites: Jewelwing, TheAtlanticOcean, Jewelwing-Society6
1. Walden Wahine Longboard-I don’t just look to the ocean for inspiration, I get in it. Art is kind of a solitary, sedentary thing so I dive and surf as a way to relax and work off some energy. You’ll find me at the beach most evenings. I don’t know what I would do if I couldn’t do that. It’s pretty important to my functioning.
2. Go Pro Camera-It goes in the water with me. I record the ocean’s texture to try and understand it’s shapes and movement. They’re always changing. Also I like to sit and watch these movies when I’m stuck inside.
3. Paper-There’s nothing I make that doesn’t start on paper first. The texture of watercolor paper is the best.
4. Watercolor brushes, pens, markers, pencils. -This is a small assortment for the photo but my real pen jar is much less manageable.
5. Wood panels-Something new I’ve been working with. The wood grain brings a warmth to everything that’s really nice. Again, texture is important.
6. Antique Singer Sewing Machine-All of my pillows and home goods are sewn on this. It’s from 1955. I like old things. They feel trustworthy to me. Also this machine sews beautifully and looks nice doing it.
7. Sharpie Stained Marker-I wanted to put my drawings on textiles and I thought doing so by hand would be more meaningful than having them produced. So all of my pillows and such are hand drawn on the fabric with permanent, washable inks.
8. Vintage fabrics in good shape, for my pillows. More character than new fabrics.
9. Olympus Pen-For documenting everything. I base what I make on things I see and experience, so it’s important to me to remember them.
10. Apple iPad-I’ll work outside as much as possible. This lets me take all my photos and references with me everywhere.
11. Books-Arthur Rackham, one of my favorite artists for his flowing lines and beautiful scenes.
12. Wacom Tablet-Often the drawings need to go digital. This lets me do that while still feeling like I’m drawing naturally. It’s one of the best things ever.
13. Watercolors-My favorite kind of color: sheer, translucent, textured. All these colors in a row is excellent eye candy.
14. Apple iPhone-For FB, photos, staying connected and checking the weather.
Location: San Francisco, Ca
Trade: Northern California Stencil Artist
Sean’s unique point of view revolves around the juxtaposition of calm and chaos, a focal point that is expressed through his art in the medium of spray paint and stencils. To see some of his handy work you’d only have to venture as far off as the Mission Neighborhood in SF. Of course if we pointed out his work to you, we just might have to kill you. For more, check out his blog: seangone.tumblr.com
1. Duct Tape 2. Latex Gloves 3. Self-Healing Cutting Mat 4. Klean Strip Paint Thinner 5. X-Acto Knife6. Stamp Pad 7.Krink Graffiti Marker 8.Iphone 4s 9. Dre Beat Solo Headphones 10. Rustoleum Professional Spray Paint 11. Hand Widdled Muddler 12. Leatherman Mutli-Tool 13. Assorted Graffiti Markers 14. 3M Super Adhesive
Location: Augusta, GA
Bio: Mikaela Fuchs (pronounced Fox) spends her time baking desserts and bread for a local restaurant and farmers’ market, and doing free-lance illustration and design work. Mikaela is inspired by mythology, cut-away books, nature, magical realism, folk-art and children’s book illustration. Her work creates an intimate relationship between viewer and art; it tells a story and pulls the viewer in. Detailed and unexpected, it demands a second examination.
Favorite Author: James Thurber
1. Creative Mark Self Healing Cutting Mat
2. Kobalt utility knife
3. Translucent Grid Ruler
4. Camelbak water bottle (the bite-straw really helps me stay hydrated!)
5. Chai Tea (for when I’m antsy and don’t want to snack)
6. Dr. Ph. Martin’s Black Star Matte india ink
7. Paintbrushes (windsor and newton shown)
8. Screen by Pocano Mountain Screen Supply
10. Speedball Screenprinting Ink
11. Assorted black pens (Copic, Pilot, Pigma, Paper Mate, Staedtler)
12. Bic Mechanical Pencils
13. Prismacolor Magic Rub eraser
14. Scotch painter’s tape (clean release)
15. Tracing paper
16. Canson sketchbook
17. Miquelrius Journal- because I write down every. single. thing, and I love the grid paper)
Location: Austin, Texas
Bio: Both of these ladies graduated from University of Austin with art degrees and a pulsing desire to pursue it full time. After seeing a need for fun unique artwork that didn’t cost a fortune they teamed up to from Monorail Studio. The effort has let them achieve a self-employed status doing what they love. How’s that for a happy ending.
1. Silkscreen 2. Towel 3. iPhone 4. Stir Sticks 5. Ink tubs 6. Stickers 7. Sketchpad 8. Pen, Pencil, Paintbrush 9. Eraser 10. Ruler 11. Ink Stamp Pad and Stamp 12. Screen Tape 13. Cards (used to scrape up ink on screens) 14. Palette Knife15. Squeegee
Location: Chester, Vermont
Bio: Rebecca recently returned to her native Vermont after twelve years living and working in Brooklyn, NY. She creates her masterpieces in a converted dairy barn turned studio and finds her creativity fueled by tranquil setting and minimalist design. Her pieces can be found in galleries and boutiques across the world.
Shops: Rebecca Haas Jewelry, Fiddleheads For Fiona
9. Solder Pick 10. Bezel Mandrel 11. Third Hand (to hold things during soldering)12. Discarded Vintage/Antique Books
Marina lives in Sibera, Novosibirsk-city, Russia. She creates illustrations and collages that look like they should belong on the walls of some cute cottage kitchen in, well, anywhere. Her inspirations come from children, more specifically her daughter. One of the reasons we love her is because she makes photography prints of her breakfast with a simple Sony camera, not an overly indulgent DSLR and they are lovely. To get more of Marina, visit her Store.
1.Colored Magnets 2.Origami Crane 3.Colored Tape 4.Twine5.Passport 6.Cutter and Pencil 7.Business Cards 8.Small Pin9.Postcards and Envelopes 10.Spoons 11.Daughter’s toy 12.Album for Sketches 13.Colored Pencils 14.Breakfast Prints
“I use different spoons for my breakfast photos. Spoons is a little passion of mine!”
“I just had to include my daughter’s toy. It’s always with me.”
“The Origami Crane was added because it makes me smile.”