Man Makers Mondays with Joel Shearer

Today’s Man Maker’s art is the kind one experiences with eyes closed on a backroad as the sun wanes and the flickering light between the branches times perfectly with the crescendo. Composer, producer, artist and musician Joel Shearer came onto my radar about 2.5 years ago during a sound bath in Los Angeles and the elevation I received from the journey has kept his creations close since. His soundscapes are spiritual hymns of the ambient kind. If Nasa captures images of the universe with it’s Hubble Space telescope, Joel’s guitars are writing the soundtrack for space travel. Music has always been my medicine and that’s the most profound wave woven into Joel’s music, it’s healing breath facilitates meditation while reinvigorating the union of mind, body & soul. The language of his stratospheric sound is one that can connect all walks of life to find a commonplace of peace, relaxation and expansion. Not only have I found it elevating but it’s been an invitation to let go of the binding human form and drift into the etheric realms of consciousness. The links to his projects Morning Loops, Brights & Libella are below. Enough with the words, get lost in the sound of Joel Shearer.

What is your brand/name/music project:

Joel Shearer. Musician\Composer\Producer 


What is your heritage:

German, Welch, French

What are 3 reference points of inspiration for your work:

Nature, Universe, Culture (Society). Basically, I’m inspired by nature, pushed or agitated by culture and dictated or moved by the universe.

The human condition doesn’t necessarily inspire me but it pushes me to create. It’s a mix of ego and of social ambition but mostly my wanting to create something that moves me and might help others feel something too, and maybe something they are not used to feeling. I am in awe of Nature, of this planet, of the animals and plants and the sun and the moon and of life force and of decay. I am big listener. I hear melody and rhythms in most environments. Like as I write this, the dog is walking in the kitchen and his paws are clicking against the wood flooring and it sounds like a snare drum flam pitched up. I could sample it, slow it down and create an original sound I could implement into a pop song, sourced from a living and breathing creature. That inspires me. I am learning to trust the Universe and allow it to move me in the direction it sees fit, whenever I fight this, I end up floundering and stuck. 


What are 3 skills you've learned in representing yourself as an artist:

Communication, authenticity and generosity.

What are 3 skills you believe are a necessity to be an independent artist/designer/musician?

  • Discipline.

  • Self confidence (yes, this is a skill, at least for me, that takes discipline to learn),

  • Finding your OWN voice


What moved you to make with your hands and how did you come to understand the language of making sound with your hands?

I grew up around music and in a very cultured environment where my sister and I were exposed to art, music, culture and chaos. I think I ingested the art and the culture and escaped into the music to avoid the chaos. I didn’t know at the time that the guitar would become my voice; that I could communicate with my hands and my instrument better than I could with words. As this relationship grew, I became more and more aware of the power of my hands, how I touched people, how I would wave my hands around while I spoke, enhancing words with gestures, the importance of that connection between the soul and the hands. I think the hands are a physical manifestation of the voice of the soul, not just tools for the body.

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If you could travel anywhere today, where would you travel and why:

Africa. I’ve only been to South Africa and was immensely moved by the landscape there. I have wanted to explore more that continent and have yet to do so. I believe Africa is the heart of the world

3 Favorite songs at the moment:

Oh Jesus, really? um, ok….. 

Tim Hardin “Reason To Believe"

Moby Grape “I Am Not Willing”

Brigitte Bardot, Serge Gainsbourg “Bonnie and Clyde"

What advice would you offer your fellow female makers? What business advice?

This is an interesting question because I think women are really making their mark at the moment and at the forefront of utilizing Social Media to build their “brand" or whatever you want to call it. I would ask for the reverse question: Would some of the bad ass women out there give ME some advice!? lol. The only advice I would give anyone is find your voice and be authentic. That applies to anyone. 


What advice would your 65 year old self to you today?

Slow down and take it in a little deeper. 

What change would you most like to see in the world?

I would like humanity to rediscover that it IS nature and there is no separation of us (humans) and nature. If we could learn that all the species and plant life and oceans and soil and biodiversity have a way better plan than ANYTHING humans could come up, everything on this planet would benefit. I would also like to see the war mongering, greedy old white bloated and puffy male archetype evolve or die off. We need to expand our social conversation.

Any additional thoughts on the importance of artisanal/handmade goods in a fast pace Western World? Why do you believe it's necessary to create with your hands?

I love the underground (can it be called that anymore?) movement of artisan craft and the rekindling of old knowledge and the preservation of culture though craft. This is a bonfire I am excited to be around and contribute to. I can’t wait for humanity to get over its “Shock and Awe” phase and realize that if we all slow down long enough to really feel, we’d be able to feel one another on a deeper plain, not just the ego centric plain. Not just the surface of the human emotion, but the infinite depth that exists in ALL of us. I think creating hand made goods, preserving old artisan techniques or even creating new ones is vital in this rediscovery of ourselves. The meditation of molding, shaping, cutting, playing, sewing, weaving, writing, touching, hitting, pounding is our way of communicating with not only each other but the soil and the wood and the rock and the sand. We should all put our hands into the ground and feel the instant communication that happens. When we create with our hands, we’re communicating with the planet in a very intimate way. 

Please do yourselves a favor and take a ride with his music. The links for his music projects are below.


Morning Loops-



Man Makers Mondays with Ben Renschen

Man Makers Mondays is back with my pal Ben Renschen. Ben’s name circled around through a group of friends before we finally met in 2016 and what a gem he is. We’ve worked together on a few projects and each time, I am so grateful that I have the opportunity to work with people like him. His personality is similar to the way he exhibits the beauty in front of the lens…There is a thoughtful articulation of his subjects, a mindfulness as he clicks away and departs gently as to not alter the natural beauty. One can easily sense the reverence he carries for the environment as he explores it all behind the camera. When I look at his photography, I find streams of philosophical thought embedded within them in the way he captures sun streaks, fog, mist and the totality of nature’s stillness. I bet Henry David Thoreau and Ben would have been able to sit side by side on a mountain top somewhere, one with a pen, the other with a camera and just be. He’s traveled around the world as a photojournalist and one would be very lucky to caravan with him on assignment, he is easy, accommodating and walks with a warmth that makes human connection memorable. This maker has been a great ally in helping me recognize the merits of the marketing and strategy. His educational work at Society 6 boosts moral in developing creative content but also strives to uplift artists so we may all achieve the success we hope for. I am honored to share his work, recommend him for any and all assignments and call him a friend. Enjoy.

What is your brand/name:

Ben Renschen


What is your heritage:

Human? In spirit, I wish I was more aligned with aboriginal or early human communities – it's the purist way I know to scrub myself of modern, judge-able stereotypes. Ignoring ancient DNA though, I always assumed I was a European mut. My mom said she had Swedish/French blood and my dad is Greek/Italian. I did the 23andMe thing and found out that’s true (among other bloodlines). We never really had traditions associated with being Swedish or Italian or any region for that matter, so my heritage, in the traditional sense, is pretty middle America.


What are 3 reference points of inspiration for your work: (philosophy/culture)

1. The natural world is a master of solutions. If I want to learn anything, I'll just see how nature would handle a problem.

2. A rising tide lifts all boats. Support the growth of each other, and you support the growth of all. Join or create communities.

3. Find, practice and teach empathy. It seems so obvious, but it bears repeating over and over and over again.

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What are 3 skills you've learned in representing yourself as an artist:

I feel like I’ve been slower to implement the self-representation skills I recognize as most valuable in other artists. I work at Society6 as our Artist Development Manager so myself, and our awesome Community Team, have over 300,000 artists educating US every single day. I’m always soooo impressed by how artists do what they do. So, please forgive the educator in me that’s coming out!! I get so excited about this stuff!

1. Authenticity is everything. In your work. When talking to clients. On social platforms. All of it. Be you. Pour yourself into the work. Without authenticity, we’re building a house of cards.

2. Create until you can say "this is why I create". Boil it down to one sentence. It’s hard, but worth it. The answer will almost always be a work in progress, but you should be able to answer that question when asked. If you can create a consistent body of work (or a series), you’ll have a marketable narrative. But if you’re just getting off the ground, simply create until a theme or motive is clear across your body of work. Then, put it into words. Get feedback on your bio from friends and/or customers to see if they can add anything. Have thick skin! Feedback is important, but can be challenging if you’re not used to it. Once you have your “why” down, take those words to #3...

3. Pitch yourself regularly and be precise in that pitch. Whether it’s for press/social coverage, collaborations or new commissions, this could easily be #1 on my list. It’s not enough to just reach out anymore. The thing you’re trying to accomplish should be very clear within the first sentence or two of outreach. People love bullets and high level facts. A 4-5 slide deck featuring your best work and most popular collaborations, partners or press is HUGE. Add logos! Create value for the recipient of your pitch. Your pitch should also be easy to email around without explanation. You want your pitch to impress people on it’s own merit. Don’t slink into the background or get super heady in there. That’s what makes follow up convos so great! Think of every cold call/email/DM as a cover letter for a job. Devote time to getting your pitch down and improve it with every rejection. Then ignore my advice, light one up or pour a few fingers of whiskey and experiment with new work until your hands fall off!


What are 3 skills you believe are a necessity to be an independent artist/designer?

1. Embrace the business side of art if you take it seriously. Business is not a competing philosophy. It's complimentary. Money does not rule all, but we do need to find ways to sustain our creative work if it’s truly important to us. Sometimes that's stressful. Sometimes you get to do a deep dive into the work. But unless your strategy is 24/7 pumping out work until you start landing big clients/gigs on the regular, you'll need to find a balance between business building/outreach and creative time.

2. Learn to say "no". I feel like I live by this. Don't waste your time–it’s a finite resource. Saying no gets a lot easier the more times you say yes when you wish you didn't–to clients, to friends, to events, to collabs, etc. Still say yes to things that challenge you and feel right, but as you identify why you create, only say yes to projects you see growth in–personal or business. Our gut is usually on point.

3. Get out of your own damn way. Show the world your work. Be diligently aware of pride and ego limiting your opportunities to get your work to a larger audience. Fear sucks. And everyone suffers from it. I do. It’s not an easy thing to shake, so check in with yourself every now and again and actually answer the question, “What am I afraid of?” Is it failure? Is it success? Is it time commitment? Knowing the answer to what’s preventing your growth is the first step to getting out of your own way.

What moved you to make with your hands:


I’m a firm believer that we exist to support the journey of others. From what I can surmise, one of the most challenging parts about being human is our ability, or lack thereof, to manage or resolve pain–whatever the source of it is. That said, my need is to inspire greater expressions of empathy in others. That means the medium doesn’t carry much weight. Whether that’s 35mm, drawing, imagery of people, plants, animals or landscape, I always try to remind people of their contribution to a greater purpose.


If you could travel anywhere today, where would you travel and why:

Ask me again in ten minutes and I’ll have a totally different answer! haha. Buuuuut I want to be shooting water-rich, biodiverse ecosystems these days. So, I’ve been seriously craving a jungle trip w/ epic waterfalls. Just got back from Hawaii in August. Amazing, duh. Haven’t been to South America yet! I went to Norway last year. EPIC for waterfalls!! But also, feeling like a return trip to SE Asia is at the top of the list. I've been to a handful of places over there (Indo, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, etc), but I've barely scratched the surface! I’m also on an alerts list for Serengeti trips because who doesn’t want to go back to Africa? Long story short, I did a crap job answering your question. Anyone feelin’ like an adventure? Email meeeee!


3 Favorite songs at the moment:

Cocaine Jesus by Rainbow Kitten Surprise

Ancient Light by Allman Brown

Breaker’s Roar by Sturgill Simpson

What advice would you offer your fellow female makers? What business advice?

My advice is agnostic of gender. Use your internal, socio-emotional climate to inspire work that changes the world. As for business, be aggressive in having the world see it. To live self-sufficiently as artists, we need income to meet our financial needs (housing, food, travel, etc). Duh, but also make sure income is a part of your thought process when you're in business mode. We invest a lot of time and energy into our creations. It only makes sense to give them the best chance to be discovered so we can keep doing what we do best–making things!


What advice would your 65 year old self give to you today?

Grab the bull by the horns while everyone else wonders what it's like.


What change would you most like to see in the world?

This question was hard as fuck to answer. And I wasn't intending to self-promote a new project, but it feels very relevant bc I recently dug deep to answer this question for myself.

I’m in the process of launching Good & Gone, an online mag of sorts. It’s very much in it’s infancy right now, but the mission is to provoke greater expressions of empathy within storytelling, travel and daily life. It's the sum of my interests and will evolve as I do. To your question though, that mission is the change I want to see in the world and I want to build a community around that parent philosophy. 

When I realized that my mission statement supersedes my interest in photography, I knew I’d be shifting focus (at least for now). For me, being a publisher in the world allows me to have a much greater impact, while still allowing me to shoot whatever I want (art, lifestyle, landscape, photojournalism, etc).


Any additional thoughts on the importance of artisanal/handmade goods in a fast pace Western World?

It's an incredible time to be an artist!! It feels like we’re accelerating into the age of information, but we also still have control of our creative processes. I can walk into the woods and spend 3 hours photographing less than a quarter mile. No one can rush me and I love my pace. I also love bringing it back and sharing that stuff. That's where I think the value is...the "why we create". The world will change and so will landscapes and mediums, but the "why" will always matter–even if only to encourage new work the world needs at that time.


Man Makers Mondays with Daren Thomas Magee

Welcome back everyone to the Man Makers Mondays series. Happy Autumn, happy full moon and as I write this, I’ve got a smile from ear to ear. Not only has the return of the series reminded me how much I enjoy reading what inspires these makers, but this interview comes from a friend whose art and success has grown since I sent the interview. Today, I unveil Daren Thomas Magee, the artist, illustrator, muralist and delightful human behind Real Fun, Wow!. I’m lucky to know this guy in person and I’ve been so excited to see his work popping up around town here in Ojai. Daren’s artwork has significantly blossomed ( in my opinion ) since the birth of his little one and I believe the cosmic creation of making a child has enhanced his overall ability for making more meaningful artwork. His work has this charming vintage feel, like I’d open up a scribbling from Ram Das’s journal via the 1960’s and there would be a print of Daren’s work inside. I love when modern day folk are able to put that timeless age on their artwork and can equally appeal to the future generations to come. There is something so reminiscent in his work of the colorful landscape of arid Ojai here and the thoughtful words he incorporates into the artwork really are inspiring tags we all should see everyday to remind us to live brightly, to live fully and live more happily. I’m so proud to call this guy my friend as he’s such a pleasant person to be around and I’m proud to see more of his talent painting it’s way into the world. Enjoy and hire the guy!

What is your brand/name: 

My name is Daren Thomas Magee, my brand is called Real Fun, Wow!

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What is your heritage: 

My heritage is very fresh in terms of generations. I can only really trace it back as far as mother. She is the one  who showed me that you can be a creator in an infinite number of ways. There is no one definition of creation. She implored me to create any chance I got. We all have the ability to create within us, its a matter of choosing to use it. When it came to giving gifts my mother would always encourage me to create something as opposed to purchasing something. Even if it was just a card, it was important that it came from my mind and that my hands brought it into existence. My heritage is creation. My heritage is variable a mixed bag. Not equal parts Irish, Scottish, Italian, Sicilian, Lithuania and Polish.


What are 3 reference points of inspiration for your work:

( philosophy/culture) 

Firstly, my greatest inspiration comes through the ceremonial use of sacred plant medicine. I have been able to see more of myself and my existence from being in the plant medicine realm. It has lifted me above my ego and helped me transcend a lot of obstacles allowing for my creative expression to flow forth. It has also left me with a lot of confusion, curiosity and  questions in the best way possible. 


Secondly the inspiration that I find from just paying attention.  Paying attention when I am out for a walk. Paying attention to conversation. Paying attention to other artists and creators. Paying attention to the world around me.  

Thirdly, I find there is endless inspiration in what is happening in the natural world. Life itself. Plant life, insect life, animal life. Naturally occurring patterns and textures. Life as a whole is the reason I am here and at the same time my reason for creating.  


What are 3 skills you've learned in representing yourself as an artist:

Confidence! If I don’t believe in my work then no else will. Everything I do must be done with my whole belief behind it because if I don’t believe in it, it will show.

Consistency. Since I am lucky enough to represent myself as an artist I must embody that entirely. I must continue to perfect my craft as regularly as possible. I must never rest on my laurels lest I become complacent and uninspired. 

Seeing things through a constant creative lens. I look at everything as inspiration. Every line, every dot, every shadow, every shape has something in that could possibly ignite something in me to create.  


What are 3 skills you believe are a necessity to be an independent artist/designer?

I believe having a sense of business is a necessity to being an independent artist. For me, its as far from the creative side as possible, but its a necessary to converting art into profit. I am still learning as I go, learning from mistakes made and successes achieved. I stay as humble and receptive as possible. Asking questions as often as I can and utilizing others who work in the business as resources for invaluable information. Don’t ever be afraid to ask about something you’re unsure of. Never stop learning. 

Systems! Having a pricing structure in place and staying true to it. Being firm in your systems and sticking to them for every job. Being consistent will not only help you stay organized and sane but it will give your clients the impression that you are a professional who deserves to be treated with respect for what you bring to this world. 

Be bold! Reach out to people, introduce yourself, embody your craft, be your brand. At the start of 2017 I moved to new town where no one knew who I was. When I arrived I created a postcard with my art on it and went around to local businesses asking if they would be willing to give them away to their customers. I got such an overwhelming positive response and it was a solid way to introduce myself to the residents of the town and those passing through who I was and what exactly I did. A little pavement pounding and handshakes give that personal touch and put a face to my brand. People appreciate that human connection to art. 

What moved you to make with your hands: 

Around 2015 I was at a point in my life where I didn’t have much creatively going for me. I was working really hard in menial jobs, draining all my energy and leaving none for any creative outlets. I would see other artists making a living and not really being able to fathom how that was possible. I had reached my wits end with the work that I was doing and decided to make a promise to myself that I would start drawing everyday, no matter what. I have stuck to my word, more or less, since that day. It started to gain some momentum when I began sharing my creations online with friends and strangers who would stumble upon my work. The feeling of appreciation and satisfaction I got from sharing what I was working on and getting near immediate feedback is what compelled me to continue with my promise to myself. I was fortunate to find my passion through such an accessible, affordable medium. You can generally find a piece of paper and a pen in most situations so it allowed me to not have to limit my practice to a studio or workshop. To not be limited in my ability to create through my medium of choice is largely what has moved me to work with my hands in such a way. 


If you could travel anywhere today, where would you travel and why:

Morocco. I love the vibrancy of the Moroccan aesthetic in juxstapostion of the arid desert landscape. The patterns and color schemes of the culture are very reminiscent of some visual experiences I’ve had in the plant medicine space. To see it in such an integral application of a culture aesthetic is stunning. To be surrounded by such beauty on a daily basis has a such a draw to me. 


3 Favorite songs at the moment:

‘Gilli Men’ - Baaba Maal

‘Walla Illa’ - Tinariwen 

“Alone/ EA6’ - 6lack

What advice would you offer your fellow female makers? What business advice?

The advice that I feel most confident in giving is to be consistent. Practice your craft everyday.  If you find that you’re not called to do that, or that its too much of a struggle, then I would say it may not be what you’re mean’t to be doing for a living. Its not to say you should stop doing it all together but it just may not be your livelihood.  I believe the thing that you love to do more than anything, the thing you’re most excited to do when you wake up can very well be the thing that sustains you finically. I think that thing should be very clear to you before you take the next step into business. You should have the love and passion before you even start thinking about how to make money doing it. 

Once you have found what that thing you love to do then there a myriad of resources to help you make the most out the business side of it. As I am still learning myself how the business side works the most solid piece of advice I can offer is to stay organized. If you’re going to make this your business you will need to start acting accordingly. Create pricing systems (and be willingly to adjust them accordingly depending on how you feel your business is shifting) and stick to them. Although it can go against the free spirited nature of an artist, be professional. Be reliable. Be thorough. If you don’t act professional then people won’t feel like they need to treat you that way….and pay your taxes on time!!


What advice would your 65 year old self to you today?

Relax dude! Slow down and truly enjoy every moment you have. Only this moment is real, so be here now. 


What change would you most like to see in the world?

I would love to see more people explore their consciousness. Be that through psychedelic aides or through mediation or whatever calls to you most. I believe there is a vastly other world that exists within the depths of our minds. A place of peace, stillness and love. Its vital that we visit and explore these places and bring back as much as we can from there to share with the world.  


Any additional thoughts on the importance of artisanal/handmade goods in a fast pace Western World?

- For so long in our existence the only things that were brought into this world were handmade. Therefore they were unique and special and were treated that way. They were made with such love and attention and thus carried with them that energy. I am so overjoyed at the resurgence of handmade items because it puts that energy back into the world and the things that we choose to keep with us, to wear and to display in our homes are manifestations of that love and care. It is so vitally important for us to support artisans who spend their lives bringing beauty and originality into this world. When we support creators we support having lasting, quality products in this world and for that the world and its inhabitants are better off for it. 

Thank you Daren for participating in this series and sharing your work with the world. Please visit Daren’s website and IG for more.

IG: realfunwow

Women of Woven Wednesdays

Hello beautiful folk,

What a rich and adventurous this summer has been. My cup is overflowing with creative companionship from all the talented friends I had a chance to visit this season. As the high summer sun starts to wane, I've been dreaming up new possibilities to connect all the creative women in my life and through the web. I'm excited to share up a new woven series on the vast array of talented artisans I've had the pleasure of coming to know and all of those who are waiting to be met. It's time to cull the Woven Woman series.


As the Man Maker series proved to be quite an inspiring opportunity for me ( and there are still 8 more interviews to be divulged), I'm aspiring to tell the story of the other half of the human species as a means of connecting one and all together. In my life of work, creative community is everything, cross pollinating with clients, stores, collectives, shoots, all of it is essential. Here is how you can help.


What I'm seeking for this series:

The woven woman is a highly skilled artisan who is devoted to her craft through and through. This is the primary source of her income and the quality of her work shines like the sun on the most perfect day. It's memorable and it fills your life with your beauty. She is the woman who creates it all by hand. She may be a beader, a weaver, a painter, an analog photographer who develops her imagery, a sculptor, a chef, a baker, a leather worker, a landscaper or anyone else who has an innate connection to her work through her hands. As the series expands, it will be with great honor to highlight all of the incredibly successful designers out there but presently, this project is devoted to the handmade artisan as this is my journey.

Basic requirements:

A curated social media presence, a website so I may send followers somewhere to support, a willingness to share about herself online and a fine eye for her craft. I would absolutely love to welcome my indigenous sisters and my women of color to be in touch as it's time to highlight you.


This post will be made on social media so please refer to the post and thank you all for tagging your friends to help reach all of these women out there. There is only so much ground I can cover with my two eyes and I limit my hours on social media to be a part of the world. 



Stay tuned.


Land of Enchantment

Winter 2018

After the rattling of the fires here in Ojai and the warning of floods on the land, I decided to take a reprieve in New Mexico. It was time to shake the fear that began debilitating my creative mind and safety. I packed the car with as many yarn spools as possible, my loom and my camera. The land revived my spirit and the opportunity to wander freely to gain inspiration was the reset I had been desiring for sometime. Whether in front of the loom or behind the lens, my hands and eyes find an outlet to capture beauty. Sometimes, it's just me and the wind and upon other times, I've blessed to have a friend that I may work seamlessly with. Be beauty, make art, just be. 




Self Portrait. Adobe.


Pink Rock.






Give way to the light.


Shadowplay Santa Fe.

 Holly and I up on Chimney Rock during the Full Blue Moon, Abiquiu.

Holly and I up on Chimney Rock during the Full Blue Moon, Abiquiu.

 Tiny amongst the Red Rock   

Tiny amongst the Red Rock


 Landscape at Ghost Dancer shot by Holly Takoda Rhodes.   

Landscape at Ghost Dancer shot by Holly Takoda Rhodes.


 Somewhere in Arizona.

Somewhere in Arizona.

Man Makers Mondays with Matt Hurtado

When I came across Matt Hurtado's work through instagram ( Working Man Customs)  a while back, the first thought that came to my mind was Arizona Highways Magazine. Matt's work would easily be gracing the pages of the magazine with his custom leather work, seats, jewelry and motorcycles. Any man that can build a motorcycle from the ground up definitely gets a high five and a gold star in my book. Building motorcycles requires not only design detailing but the additional skills to keep one safe and functioning, a mindful engineering. His craftsmanship carries a timeless spirit with it and one of that stirs adventure within the soul. As a woman who has a serious weakness for motorcycles and the open highways, I really respect the way Matt bridges both in his craft. When I'm ready to overcome my fear of riding a chopper, I'm heading straight into the shop of this Man Maker. Take a peak at this interview below. 


What is your brand/name:

My name is Matthew Hurtado and the company name is Working Man's Customs.


What is your heritage:

I am of Spanish and Native American decent 


What are 3 reference points of inspiration for your work: (philosophy/culture)

*The number one inspiration is quality work/craftsmanship at a reasonable price. I'm not here to gouge anyone and believe quality should be within everyone's reach.

*Second inspiration would be working aesthetics from architecture and art history (modernism, art deco, eclecticism, etc...) into my motorcycle designs.

*For my leather the main inspiration is the clean, bold designs of tattoo art.


What are 3 skills you've learned in representing yourself as an artist:

*Communication. Clear, concise communication with clients is a must. You've got to know who you are as an artist and be able to communicate this effectively to prospective and active customers.

*Marketing. It's definitely an odd feeling to have to promote yourself, but social media, a brand message, etc...all go a long way to speak to your individual vision as an artist.



What are 3 skills you believe are a necessity to be an independent artist/designer?





What moved you to make with your hands:

Working Man's Customs was created out of necessity. Years ago i commissioned a bike build from a shop in Texarkana, TX. I was eager to own a bike and kinda check out from the craziness of my life at the time. I was going through a divorce, where I lost everything, including seeing my kids on a daily basis--that was by far the worst part.

 So, I commissioned a bike that was delivered  3 months later. In hindsight, only paying $3500 for a custom motorcycle should have been a red flag right off the bat. LOL.

I was a novice at the time and did not see the obvious signs of a poorly built  motorcycle. On the third time out, riding the bike around Austin's back roads, I got what they call the "death wobble" and ended up in a ditch on the side of a road. Luckily I landed on my feet and walked away with only a few scratches. Unluckily the bike was a total loss. This is when I realized the poor quality of craftsmanship that had gone into it. The neck of the bike was filled with handfulls of Bondo which reveled large areas that were welded poorly to say the least.

At this point I lost trust in others, but I knew I could trust myself to do a better job. I enrolled in welding school, learned how to weld, and began to rebuild the bike for myself. During this process, I knew I wanted a custom seat as well and sought out the best guy in the business. Well, knowing nothing about leather I didn't realize what quality craftsmanship costs. It was a little shocking to say the least. 

With that being said, my next step was to Tandy's Leather Supply for a starter kit and a couple of books to teach myself. One thing leads to another right?

Word spread and I was asked if I could make a seat for someone, then if I could build a bike for someone else, then it was another seat... Custom orders started to come in consistently and I decided to open Working Man's Customs. As an artist, it was a great way to get paid for my art. Building motorcycles and making leather products are just extensions of my creativity and I can honestly say that a piece of me goes into every product whether it's metal or leather. 



If you could travel anywhere today, where would you travel and why:

Taos, New Mexico. The High Desert brings my soul peace. It's where I can focus, ground myself, and reconnect with the Great Spirit.



3 Favorite songs at the moment:

* "Church" by Gary Clark Jr.

* "The A-Team" theme song

* "Disintegration" The Cure


What advice would you offer your fellow female makers? What business advice?

*Be yourself and not afraid to speak your mind/artistic vision. You're perspective has just as much validity as anyone else's.


What advice would your 65 year old self give to you today?

*Travel more.



What change would you most like to see in the world?

*For people to have more tolerance and compassion towards one another.


Any additional thoughts on the importance of artisan/handmade goods in a fast pace Western World?

*Artisan/handmade goods make us (both the maker and consumer) slow down and appreciate the roots that we all came from. Too often in this world we speed through everything without taking the moment to think about, to savor, to enjoy the quality of something. Life is more than just finding instant gratification. 


Please take a look at Matt's jewelry work at:

IG: @Thespanishcaravan and @Workingmancustoms

Man Makers Mondays with Nick Potash

Artist, sculptor, jewelry designer, surfer, motorcycle enthusiast and over-all badass is one of the modern day makers that blows my mind. Some artists blow one's mind on a larger scale and this maker leaves a lasting impression with his precision and minute detail.  Meet Nicholas Potash, today's Man Maker.  When it comes to skill, Nick nails it. I've obsessively awed at his lighters, diamond encrusted pendants and scrimshaw necklaces in length. It's easy for one to covet his work and collect it. "Bespoke" and "Heirloom" are the most accurate word for his creations. From the first introduction, I knew there would be a lineage associated with his art, from generation to generation adoring the adornments. His work has been a staple of some of the most respected off the beaten path jewelry stores out there including Fiat Lux in San Francisco , Esqueleto in Oakland and Love Adorned in New York. I also spied his name linked to an article in Forbes Magazine, well done Nick. I'm thrilled that this old world style of craftsmanship and artistry is still present today, meeting the needs of rough riders on motorcycles and jewelry connoisseurs alike. Below is his interview. 



What is your brand/name:

Nick Potash, I've been using the moniker Bad Weather to make art  since 2009.


What is your heritage:

 My dad's family is from Queens, NY via Austria/Poland, my mom's side is from La Jolla, CA via Japan.  Both sides immigrated to the US in the 1800's


What are 3 reference points of inspiration for your work:

Every previous generation of craftsmen, I look to them for guidance and try my hardest to carry on old traditions and keep the torch of knowledge lit in my little corner or the world.  Firearms engravers of Europe, sword fitting masters of Japan, my mother and father's commitment to handmade craft and simple living.

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What are 3 skills you've learned in representing yourself as an artist:  

  • Don't compare yourself to others,
  • Always try to feel that "If I die tomorrow I'll be happy with my work", this guiding philosophy makes sure that everything leaving my hands has passed my scrutiny....
  • The last cliche "Be your harshest critic and your greatest advocate"





What are 3 skills you believe are a necessity to be an independent artist/designer?  

Work ethic, peace in solitude, one is never done learning


What moved you to make with your hands:  

They are me, the only thing I can count on, they pack up easy and I can take them with me wherever I go :)  I try to do all I can to limit my interactions with my computer.


If you could travel anywhere today, where would you travel and why:  

New Zealand, for the pristine nature, the green, the abundance of natural resources, to live how my grandparents lived, off the land and sea, I think is still possible there. I don't like crowds and I love eating lamb haha...  and there are good waves, I've lived near the ocean all my life but it's hard to find someplace coastal with beauty and surf and have it be unspoiled by new money and consumerism.


3 Favorite songs at the moment:

  • The swimming song - Loudon Wainwright          
  • 4am at Toumani's - Mali Music     
  • Blue elvis - Peals      
  • Apollo's Mood - The Olympians....   there are a bunch, but those are some I've come across recently, mellow stuff these days


What advice would you offer your fellow female makers? What business advice?  

 Hmmmmm..... Believe in yourself and get to work, I think a woman who knows how to use her hands and has skills to boot is a truly beautiful thing, always has been and seems to be a trait that is losing traction in lots of demographics.  please keep it alive.  Set yourself apart with your work, its a long, hard, self motivated road to proficiency but once you're there its queen of the castle rule and you will be admired and sought after.  Let the work speak first.


What advice would your 65 year old self to you today?  

Go outside!


What change would you most like to see in the world?  

A self reflective halt to "progress"  ...before we take another step we should evaluate if we are heading in the right direction.


Any additional thoughts on the importance of artisanal/handmade goods in a fast pace Western World? 

For me it just comes down to doing what I love and using my hands and learning, learning always, learning about the old ways and the exciting nail biting stressful beautiful things that come from that pursuit, failures and all.  Beyond that is the fact that the modern world thinks little about how and where the things they consume come from, if you can contribute at all to combating that blind consumerism that is tremendous and if we all tried to do that this would be a much different world.  Less disposable more bespoke. :)


Post Script, these are his watch bands. What artistry is sculpted into a tool that tells time by a man that takes his time bringing forth his craft! 

Find Nick on IG: @Thebadweather


Man Makers Mondays with Neil Goss

I’m writing this special blog post from a tiny coffee shop in Nevada City today. The air is crisp with autumn here and rain is on the horizon. I finally have a moment to pause and reflect on today’s Maker, my weaving ally and friend, Neil Goss.


Neil and I have been friends on social media for quite sometime and last summer in Los Angeles, I had the pleasure of spending an evening with him. We wrapped over fancy cocktails and spoke of fiber arts, business and our perspective on the woven future ahead. He has such an amiable presence and kindness that makes it easy to get lost in conversation. There is a softness to his presence as well as this wildness that I relate to his work. His giant installations vary in nature from 15 foot hemp giants to panels woven to resemble birch wood. His emphasis is on all natural and naturally dyed, educating like minds to the conscious resurgence of hemp and being a maker of the handmade revolution. He has been teaching backstrap weaving and natural dying alike for sometime and now that he is relocating to the West Coast, there a will plenty more opportunities for many to learn his ways. As a male weaver, I really respect his role within the modern weaving movement and his respect towards all his weaving sisters who are leading the way. Below is his interview. 




What is your brand/name:

Live and Dye Naturally/Neil Goss


What is your heritage?

Irish, German, French    



What are 3 reference points of inspiration for your work: (philosophy/culture):

Biocentrism has been a core influence in my work since 2010.  That is the belief that everything (humans, animals, insects, plant Earth, etc.) possesses inherent value despite what a human being believes or sees as valuable.  I employ that as a life way and train of thought.  

Ephemerality plays a huge part in my work as well.  I strive to make work with materials and processes that don't hurt the Earth.  A lot of my work is made with the intention of decomposing being made from Earth materials and offered back to Earth in a different form.  In a sense, giving the materials a second life and form before returning to where it came from.  I also make work that is intended to be preserved in homes, galleries, businesses, etc.  However, I know that if the work is discarded or the world ends or something similar that it will smoothly return to the Earth.  I am a maker and I try to be conscious to make work that isn't going to weigh down negatively on our home planet.  

Indigenous tribes of all continents also inspire my work greatly.  I highly respect the ways in which all of these peoples live with the Earth and hold it in high regard.  Every aspect of the many different indigenous cultures of the Earth has great significance and meaning.  For example, their clothing, traditions, food, rituals, ceremonies, community, tools, housing, etc.  Their use of Earth materials and abilities to repurpose them into elaborate, textured, functional, technological masterpieces inspires me deeply.



What are 3 skills you've learned in representing yourself as an artist:

Proposals!  Probably 75% of the work and opportunities that I have attained has been from proposals.  I'll reach out to certain organizations, institutions, individuals, etc. and propose a project of sorts.  In this way, I am offering my abilities and services to those who I think would be interested in the work that I am doing.

Community building is very important.  Even if you are representing yourself as a solo artist, you can't do it alone.  We all need help and we all have strengths and weaknesses.  I believe it is important to be involved in your community, support one another and give back as much as possible.  

Developing a "specialty" that can be offered to the world.  There are so many artists out there now a day and you have to have something special to offer.  This can be a skill, craft, trade, knowledge, talent, process, concept, etc.  Somehow, make yourself standout.  Don't just be an "artist" a "weaver" a "painter" etc.  Have something unique to offer.  



What are 3 skills you believe are a necessity to be an independent artist/designer?

Self motivation is a huge one, especially if you are on the journey solo.  No one else is going to be pushing you to get your tasks done.  You have to light and sustain your fire.  At times support will come along to help fire the kiln but outside of those times I've got to keep myself moving forward. 

Persistance/drive is vital to being an independent artist.  There is such a small percentage of successful artisans in the world who get "discovered" or become "successful" at a young age.  Many aren't respected or accepted until later on in a career.  We can't give up or we will never get anywhere.  Feeling inadequate, like you aren't going anywhere or that the art life is too challenging/not reliable enough are thoughts I have all the time.  Then I say screw it, this is the only thing I meant to do.  Hard times come and hard times go. Good times come and good times go.  We just have to keep having the times.  

Entrepreneurship is an obvious necessity being an independent professional artist/designer.  If one wants to solely be an artist/designer, you unfortunately have to think about your work as a business.  This doesn't have to be negative and one doesn't have to "sell out."  But bills, rent, debts, medical expenses, food and all other expenses are not going away and we have to make income doing what we do or it simply won't work this day in age.  Having multiple revenue streams is a great idea too to make this more tangible.  


What moved you to make with your hands:

I've always been a maker.  My mom kept a ton of my art work from when I was young which I now have.  Without the support, love and care of my parents I wouldn't be an artist.  They believe in everything I do and it has helped immensely. I knew I wanted to be an artist "professionally" from middle school on, probably 6th grade.  I knew that I was going to do textiles from early in high school.  My brother had recommended me to take the home ec sewing class (he had taken it) to meet cute girls.  I didn't meet any cute girls or fall in love with any girls but I fell in love with textiles and sewing in the form of quilts and clothing.  I have since shifted what it is I do with textiles after being exposed to weaving and dyeing in college.   




If you could travel anywhere today, where would you travel and why:

Peru.  I've wanted to go to Peru ever since I found out about backstrap weaving.  In my subjective opinion, they are the best backstrap weavers out there.  I would love to go and study with them and watch their mastery first hand.  I was supposed to go on a study abroad trip there during college but the program was cancelled due to questionable reasons.  I did have the opportunity to later take a workshop with Nilda Callanaupa Alvarez, the founder of the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco.  We connected during the workshop and I plan to go there as soon as I can.  


3 Favorite songs at the moment:

Anything from Cat Stevens has been feeling right recently.  One song that I've been really vibing to is "Pop Star."  I'm not concerned with being a pop star or being on TV or famous or any of that but I can really relate to how he is speaking to his to mother and essentially trying to make her proud of him.  My father passed when I was 15 and my mom has been so strong and amazing through out the 13 years that he has been gone.  I am currently living and working to get to a point where I can support not only myself, my wife and future children but also my mother.  She deserves only the best in the world.  I know that she hurts and struggles but she rarely shows it.  She is such a source of inspiration for me.  She has supported me and given me so much.  It hurts when I think about all that she has gone through yet it is uplifting to see how she has handles so many different challenges.  She has worked so hard her whole life I want to give her a huge break so she can relax and focus on herself for once.  I love you mom, thank you for everything you have done.  You are amazing.  

Can I Kick It? and/or We the People from A Tribe Called Quest. I've been blasting "Can I Kick It?" because I've been in solitude a lot lately and have been craving social interaction when around people so its kind of my pitty party song of, "hey, can I hang out?"  We the People is one of my favorite tracks released in the past few years.  It is so heavy and on point and a musical masterpiece.  Also, when I first heard it I was writing a show proposal called "We the People" so it just felt right.

Losing You from Solange.  My wife has been playing a lot of Solange in the past few months and when I first heard "Losing You," my mind was blown.  I honestly couldn't comprehend my love for it.  It is such an attractive song, soft and yet powerful.  It is probably my current favorite song that I could solely listen to for the next month or two.  





What advice would you offer your fellow female makers? What business advice?

Establish a tax ID either as a sole-proprietor or an LLC (I have an LLC so that the business can live after I die).  Keep all receipts, write of all expenses like materials, mileage, utilities, research purchases, business travel, show apps/proposal fees, etc.  Don't be ashamed to do crowdfunding, it is a good opportunity to fund an unusual or large project.  Be ambitious, don't take any shit, follow your dreams.  Its not easy going down the path of a professional artist, but easy is boring and easy is giving in.  Life is all about fighting.  Despite our current political climate, the future is female.  My favorite artists and humans are females and I believe that if you pursue your dreams with everything you've got, you can't fail.  I understand the patriarchy is against females but we are going to smash that shit. So many people all over the world are in process of smashing the patriarchy and you can't stop the numbers.  


What advice would your 65 year old self to you today?

I hope that I live to be 65.  I honestly don't see that happening.  But if it does, I assume that my 65 year old self would tell me take better care of myself so that I can be a better citizen to my fellow human beings.  And you know what, I'm going to listen starting today.  


What change would you most like to see in the world?

Human beings uniting through respect for the Earth.  I want all humans to treat and be treated with respect and love no matter their skin color, sexual orientation, gender identification, religion, language, ethnic origin or class with the hopeful result of equity.  I would also like to see hemp legalized and grown on an industrial scale once again to aid in saving humans, animals, soils, the environment, and the planet.  


Any additional thoughts on the importance of artisanal/handmade goods in a fast pace Western World?

Artisanal/handmade goods are so important in the face of the modern Western World where technology is taking over.  I mean, we are soon no longer going to have to drive our cars!  Humans are becoming useless.  We have to continue making and doing but I also believe it is important to put your money into businesses and materials that support humans and the Earth.  I think that all makers should questions their material and process choices.  Handmade goods are obviously more expensive but I think that we should attempt to live with less and put money into the hands of individuals and not corporations.  Support living artists.  


You can find Neil here.

IG: @backstrapweaver






Man Maker Mondays with Seth Damm of Neon Zinn

Today's Man Maker, Seth Damm of Neon Zinn, is a long time favorite artist of mine. I have been spying into the hypercolor world of knotted wonder by Seth for a few years now. Ropes are his medium and the ombré landscapes he paints with dyes takes one on a colorful kaleidoscope ride. He's taking the nautical technicality of knotting to a new level and sculpted his way into runway shows and galleries alike. His work suits performers and everyday fashionistas quite well, garnering attention from all eyes around.  I've found much resonance within his interview and his approach to slow, thoughtful fashion and art. His jewelry makes quite a statement and I hope many of my followers, both male and female, find the right piece to adorn themselves with. Below is his interview. 



What is your brand/name:

Neon Zinn


What is your heritage:

Danish, British, Irish, French


What are 3 reference points of inspiration for your work: (philosophy/culture):

Howard Zinn:

I named Neon Zinn after Howard Zinn. I think his book “A People’s History of the United States” should be taught critically in every high school, in fact the Texas and Arkansas legislatures recently were trying to keep that very thing from happening. “We don’t have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in the process of change. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.” This quote from Howard Zinn has helped me move forward past fear as I continue to explore my talents and think about how I can make a difference. The hardest thing many times is being overwhelmed with the enormity of changes you hope to see in the world. But no one person is going to do it alone. Everyone has a part to play from dishwasher to CEO. The worst thing is to become despondent and shut down your talents because you fear it doesn’t matter anyway. The message of millions of small acts, helped me make an important step towards being a full-time artist.


Growing up in Seattle, this was my first taste of a community of people sharing their sound/their art outside the notice of mainstream culture (that would happen later). Basement shows. Back room mosh pits. Word of mouth. Handmade posters and zines and album covers. Kids weren’t just carrying around cameras in their pockets so there was more participation in the musical moment, and then you had those photographers, who were also just kids, capturing the moment. (See Alice Wheeler’s photos for reference). I never joined a band, but I got a first hand glimpse of rebellion and angst and art made for it’s own sake. You didn’t have to be a trained musician to participate and that attitude has informed the way I approach my own art. It’s by putting yourself out there that you find what you are made of.

New Orleans:

New Orleans is a place of mythological proportions. It’s full of so many contradictions, so much joy and pain mixed up together. I am eternally grateful to the people of this city who have lived for generations and kept the culture alive and churning even through some of the darkest periods in our collective history. There is a lineage here. There are songs passed on that everyone knows. Recipes that are passed down. And it’s a place that reminds me of my privilege. I was sitting around a table at a backyard party and started talking to a generational New Orleanian. And I was commenting on how much I enjoyed exploring City Park and how he must have had so many good memories playing there as a kid. He told me that actually he, as a black child, was not allowed in the park. It wasn’t meant as a slap in my face, but it was, and it reminded me of the assumptions I make and how a place holds these stories.
So while I sit on my back porch in New Orleans and dye my rope and work on designs I meditate with a lot on my mind.




What are 3 skills you've learned in representing yourself as an artist:

1. Learning that taking a break is sometimes as productive as slamming forward and wearing yourself down. Even if that break lasts for weeks, you are still an artist, don’t worry

2. Figuring out what you think your time and efforts are worth and standing by that amount even when it would be easy to continually discount.

3. This is the weirdest most difficult skill for me still, but splitting myself into parts, the person who eats, sleeps, pays bills, and the artist. They are both housed in my body of course but it can be helpful for a sense of sanity to not always be the raw, emotional artist. This one is still up for grabs, in terms of efficacy, but I do think it can be helpful when trying to move past the stereotype of the constantly suffering artist into a more healthy, long-term


What are 3 skills you believe are a necessity to be an independent artist/designer?

Persistence, Faith, Stubbornness. There are so many options for what you can be in life. I came to a point where I knew I had certain talents that I wanted to develop and maybe other aspirations that should be shelved. You’ll hear many opinions coming from parents, friends, advertisements, articles, etc. about the best path to take and
how to get to your goal. In some ways I don’t believe in goals, ha. I live very much in a
take-things-as-they-come sort of way, which runs counter to a culture that tries to control and maximize every possible outcome. All those skills I listed come to the forefront, when I start to doubt my path, or call out my own shit, or lose sight of the day in front of me.


What moved you to make with your hands:

I was studying printmaking in college (The Evergreen State) at the time when there was a big shift to computer graphics and new technology. It’s not an either or situation, but back then it felt like I had to decide where my focus would be. I loved the physical quality of preparing a lithography stone, and soaking paper for the press, and prepping ink. I found my imagination was more engaged when my hands were handling materials. My mother is an incredible intuitive cook and gardener and people person, so I have her hand skills and my father is a carpenter so there were always raw materials and tools nearby in his workshed. I’m sure they played a part in my development, as parents do. Plus, I’m not one to look for efficiency and short cuts when developing an idea, so the pace of working with my hands fits the way my brain solves problems.


If you could travel anywhere today, where would you travel and why:

Turkey and Greece. I love densely populated cities, so wandering in a place as old as Istanbul, a place that has been a cultural crossroads for so long, would be an unforgettable experience. I’d need to get some advice on where to visit outside of Istanbul. And since Greece is right next door, it would be a dream to see that Mediterranean Blue, island hop, and explore.


3 Favorite songs at the moment:

PJ Harvey “Dollar Dollar” from Hope Six Demolition Project

T Rex “Mambo Sun” from Electric Warrior

Perfume Genius “Fool” from Too Bright



What advice would you offer your fellow female makers? What business advice?


Trust your instincts. Don’t feel like you have to start with the perfect most complete business plan. It’s more than ok to figure some things out while in the process. Sometimes that’s the best way to deal with unexpected twists and turns. Don’t stifle your wildest ideas in the name of marketability. We need more wild ideas to inspire. Entertain those, give them room to breathe and find a way to show them to the world in your own way. When I started Neon Zinn I allowed myself the freedom to make outrageous, big, colorful pieces that weren’t the easiest to market but pushed me forward creatively and inspired people to keep watching what I was doing.


What advice would your 65 year old self give to you today?

Speak up.


What change would you most like to see in the world?

Shrink the wealth gap. Living wages. Change the perception/illusion that you can just pick yourself up by your bootstraps and succeed, as if it’s just a matter of hard work and will power. Plenty of hard working people are making below living wages. Give people a fighting chance to live healthy, fulfilling lives without needing to work 2-3 jobs at a time.




Any additional thoughts on the importance of artisanal/handmade goods in a fast pace Western World?

A handmade object, by it’s nature, is born from a slower more methodical practice. The only intermediary between the hand and the mind is the heart. So in the process of making a cup from clay, or painting on canvas, weaving on a loom, dyeing a rope necklace, that artist is settled in a place and a period of time long enough to bring an idea into form. That object then becomes an artifact of a very specific moment. It’s a beautiful thing, the way that moment of focus and intention can then be shared and exchanged. If nothing else, handmade goods and the people behind them are important to this fast paced time for the fact that they provide an alternative personal approach to frantic consumption. The difference is between looking someone in the eye, exchanging a smile, a word (even a paragraph, god forbid), or just keeping your head down, taking care of your own, no time for empathy, no time to be at rest, no time for introspection.

Man Makers Mondays with Collin Elder

Man Makers Mondays is back with the artist behind the transcendent artwork, Collin Elder. I can still recall the flutter of feelings that arose after spying his work a few years back. Be it tattoo or street art, Collin's work is a visceral experience into the mystical realms. I've engaged with his paintings in a manner that allows me to spiritual encounter my own guides and guardians of the ethers. When I look at the precision of shading and shadow, bird of prey eyes and beaks, it's unbridles my own set of wings caged within this realm. His work speaks of an earlier time, when the ancestors were shapefiting and communing with our animal relatives, learning secrets and taking alternative forms. Whether by painting or mural, his work has a means of reminding everyday folk of the guardians that hover above us and guide us on this Earthly plain. I am still dreaming of sitting for a portrait with Collin to see which spirit guide comes through his vision. Below is his interview.


What is your brand/name:

Collin Elder


What is your heritage:

English, Scottish and Russian. Mostly Scottish though, hence my last name.


What are 3 reference points of inspiration for your work: (philosophy/culture):

Most of my work is a reflection of living in the wilderness of Canada, having studied wildlife biology in university and having worked in conservation biology in western Canada, trying to encourage people to care about the creatures that surround us and the ecosystems that they inhabit. It has been mostly about trying to bring this message to the visual realm, hopefully inspiring a more visceral response. Also trying to square the dual mindsets of modernity and its heady, concrete, scientific worldview with the subtler, visceral reality of the unseen, enigmatic forces in nature that science has yet to describe. I guess inspiration reference points could include such things as phenomenology, deep ecology, conservation biology, and spirituality…



What are 3 skills you've learned in representing yourself as an artist:

I have always heard that it’s a good thing to diversify and I try to aim for that. I try and build relationships with galleries, festivals, markets, individuals, online galleries, shops, organizations etc. In the midst of all that, its good to maintain a solid online presence. It might be enticing, especially as an introverted artist, to go straight for the dopamine and dump all efforts into social media but, unfortunately, shareholders can encourage algorithms to run your reach into the ground to make you pay for ads.

I think being flexible is important. There is no one way to ‘success’. Do what you can with what you have and if you care about it enough, good things will come.

A tough thing for me, but an important one, is to be confident in how you talk about your art. I feel its important to show people that you believe in what you create and try and place yourself within the greater historical context of art culture.



What are 3 skills you believe are a necessity to be an independent artist/designer?

There is a large part of any work, it seems, that is not as much made, as it is received. So constantly wearing your business hat in the creative process turns into more of a hinderance when it comes to creating good art. So I often try and create away from the idea of it being a commodity, as much as I can, which is hard because of the pervasive influence of money, power and fame on our culture. It’s important to create what I believe in, telling stories that are important to me and that don’t sacrifice my fairly strong moral conscience. I feel that the more I dig deeper into the details of the story that inspires me, the more rewarding the outcome is.

I also feel it’s important to allow yourself to change as an artist. Recreating what worked in the past is remaining in the past and telling the same old stories. I really like the Ezra Pound idea of artists being the antennae of society. I believe that, as society changes at its current rapid pace, we need to develop the conceptual creativity as artist to quickly change with it, and be able to pick out the importance of what is happening today and will likely become important tomorrow.

And again, I would just toss in the importance of self-confidence and self-honesty. It can be difficult, sometimes, to place your deepest thoughts out in the world to be looked at and judged, so I find it good to remind myself to not let little setbacks be career-questioning ultimatums and to try and never take anything personally. And to also not let praise get to my head too much.


What moved you to make with your hands/how has working with your hands helped you understand a deeper sense of being?

I  was initially drawn to painting in an effort to tell the stories that I felt i couldn’t get across with words in my work in ecological restoration and conservation biology. I think it was the embracing of this form of discourse that converted me fully to art, the desire to create a memory never experienced before. It felt like this process has lead to a greater understanding of my inner growth than just trying to discuss the importance of nature with people in words. It has given me a slight glimpse into the power an individual has, even with simple tools, to mine the chaos and create beauty, and, at the same time, how that power is shaped by the cultures, dogmas, traditions, power, and politics that surround us.


If you could travel anywhere today, where would you travel and why:

I just got back from New Zealand and didn’t get to see much of it so I would go back there. I would love to go back to India too. I always love to spend time in Europe but haven’t yet been to Scotland, England or Ireland, which are all high on my list. I guess they hold so much history that I am curious about, including the stories of my ancestors. Also, I have visited most countries in Central America on a bicycle trip but still haven’t gone further south, so South America still holds some intrigue for me, with its vast variety of cultures and landscapes. But, in the age of carbon, these seems like daydreams. I am just as happy to stay on this continent and connect with and support the first nations and indigenous cultures of Canada and explore the vast wilderness of turtle island.


3 Favorite songs at the moment:

Pretty much anything by Flying Lotus, Other Lives, and Ora Cogan …


What advice would you offer your fellow female makers? What business advice?

Don’t take advice from men because they are men, including this advice, ha ha. As a straight, white, cis man, i don’t know if i am qualified to give advice to women artists. I don’t really experience the same prejudices that women face in the art world. I definitely see how sexism is alive and well in the art world still, founded on centuries of women only making it into galleries as, largely, sexualized subjects of male artists. It is definitely better, lots of my favourite painters are women, but there is still some imbalance that I am eager to help balance, if I can, more by helping to raise the voices of women in the art world, than by giving advice.


What advice would your 65 year old self to you today?

I think it would pretty much just boil down to time. He would likely go on about spending it wisely and not dwelling on the past.


What change would you most like to see in the world?

I feel like just the simple act of re-inspiring a deep connection with nature would help with a lot of the worlds problems. Our senses used to be deeply nourished by our connection with the earth’s voice. It seems today that our relationships are becoming exclusively with humans and human technology. I feel like the more we distance ourselves from the natural world, the harder it will be to not lose ourselves within our technology. I hope we don’t lose sight of what keeps us human; the deep connection we have with the earth and our cousin species. I feel like we need to protect and connect with the non-human and all of its mystery. Not simply to preserve it as museum pieces and for practical things like clean air and water, but as something to come back to, something that is outside of us and all that we have created.


What a mystical inspiration Collin is for me! Thanks for sharing more about your work and thoughts.

IG: @collin.elder

Man Makers Series with Jym Davis

Landscape photographer, mask maker, University teacher and myth maker Jym Davis came onto my radar about a year ago. His mask spoke directly to my primitive soul, the sliver of the soul that is the creature between the masculine and the feminine. They felt like the representations of all the tall tales and myths, totems and spirits that abound. In union with his eye for a harmonious backdrop, his work hums a deep, gutteral knowing of visages from ancients past. Whether the masks reflect the animals of the land he is in residency at or elevated beings of another dimension, they speak to all my senses and inspire shoots. He has been actively participating in a National Parks artist residency which came as no surprise and is amongst the most enticing residency I've heard of to date! I am a big fan of his ability to shapeshifter myth into matter.  Below is his interview. 


What is your brand/name:

Jym Davis. I make and sell hand-made masks and document them with studio and landscape photography.


What is your heritage:

French on my Mother's side.  Welsh on my Father’s side.


What are 3 reference points of inspiration for your work: (philosophy/culture)

The most original mask designs in my sketchjournal come from simply studying nature.  I am always looking through books of animal skulls or strange insects and I like to visit science museums. I just sculpted a series of antelope horns that I’m very excited about.  I am working backwards and designing the masks around them.  I found inspiration in the subtleties of the twisting horns and I’m going to see where it leads me.


For artist influences, I would say the main photographer that inspired me to work with masks was Ralph Eugene Meatyard.  He was an optician who lived in Kentucky.  During the 1950’s and 60’s he made these very unusual photographs using dime store rubber masks and working with his family as models.  I love that he was living this very normal suburban life but creating these experimental photographs on the side. As for broader cultural influence, I really love the Wilder Mann project by photographer Charles Fréger.  That led me to investigate some of the more eccentric European mask and costumefestivals that he documented in his book.  Although my masks don’t reference any single culture, I find inspiration from festivals and rituals around the globe.


What are 3 skills you've learned in representing yourself as an artist:

The first thing I learned: it is o.k. to allow commerce to play a role in what you create (as long as you do not compromise your ideals).  My hand-made masks were first created to use in my photography and video projects.  I got tired of using mass produced store-bought masks and decided to make something unique.Second thing I learned: be flexible with your business.  It did not even occur to me to sell the masks.  Then I started to get offers on the masks and that motivated me to work on my craft.  The first masks I created were like delicate wasp’s nests and I needed to make them more durable.  That leads me to a third point: accept challenges.  When I received commissions from performers I was asked to create masks that could withstand the wear and tear of a stage show.  None of these things would have been open to me if I had stubbornly refused to deviate from my original concepts.


What are 3 skills you believe are a necessity to be an independent artist/designer? 

Do not be afraid to say no to an offer.  Don’t accept a commission for less than it is worth, and make sure you are happy with the compensation.  I would also say make yourself available to buyers and respond to their requests quickly.  If it is a big project I check in regularly so that it is understood that progress is being made.  It is also especially important for artists to fight against the ‘head in the sky’ stereotype.  Let people know you are very serious about your work and it isn’t just a hobby.  And always get paid before you hand off any artwork or craft. 


What moved you to make with your hands:

Great question. I spent years making Video Art, and I still teach Digital Art classes at my University.  I enjoy those things but, in the end, I find spending a lot of time staring at a screen very unrewarding.  Once I began making masks and working with physical objects it became almost like meditation.  The first masks were really poorly made and, as I said, were basically just visual material for my photography.  But I enjoyed the process so much that it became a fine art pursuit very quickly.  I’ve been making masks for about three years, and the process is more satisfying than any art I’ve ever made. 


If you could travel anywhere today, where would you travel and why:

I have a fascination with otherworldly landscapes.  Alien looking places really compliment the masks in my photography ideas.  I am also completely in love with our National Parks in the United States.  Last summer I spent a month at Petrified Forest National Park and every morning I woke up looking at the glowing red painted desert of Arizona.  It was like being on Mars.  This year I will again be a National Park Artist-In-Residence at two similarly unusual places: Lassen Volcanic National Park in California and Craters of the Moon National Park in Idaho.  Both landscapes were sculpted by volcanic eruptions.  The astronauts trained at Craters of the Moon because it looks like a lunar surface.  I would also love to travel around Iceland and photograph my masks there.  It looks like a dream location for me.


3 Favorite songs at the moment:

We have lost so many great musicians that I will name three that I really miss and I play constantly when I make art.  Also I will list my favorite song by them.

David Bowie – Ashes to Ashes

Warren Zevon – Desperadoes Under The Eaves

Chris Cornell (Soundgarden) – Dusty


What advice would you offer your fellow female makers? What business advice?

Not sure I have much advice for a fellow female maker that I wouldn’t also give a male.  Don’t be afraid to defy people’s expectations.  If someone expects you to create a certain type of product based on your gender then go in the opposite direction. 


What advice would your 65 year old self to you today?

Probably the same advice I would give my 25 year old self.  Go out and enjoy the beautiful natural world.  Explore the wilderness and also fight to protect it.  Keep making the art that feels right to you and makes you happy.  Don’t bother with commercial jobs where you are working towards someone else’s vision.  It will zap your creative energy and leave you disillusioned.




What change would you most like to see in the world?

That is such a huge question that I’m going to focus on a small change that would benefit everyone:  learn to make things with your hands.  It is the greatest therapy that I know.  It forces you to be patient, calm, and thoughtful.  Making art comes naturally to kids, yet it is something many adults dismiss as silly child’s play.  I lead mask-making workshops with the elementary school kids on my street because I want them to learn the joy of craftsmanship.  I want all children to carry that natural curiosity into their adult lives and not feel like it is something they should “grow out of”.


Any additional thoughts on the importance of artisanal/handmade goods in a fast pace Western World?

It recently occurred to me that a lot of people have almost no contact with unique objects.  By that I mean almost everything they see or own is mass produced or in some way created from a blueprint.  Therefore, it is more important than ever to create unique art objects that people can cherish.  When someone buys a mask from me I always emphasize that I do not make the same piece twice.  The mask or painting they own will never be replicated.


I've really enjoyed the portal into Jym's world and the representations of his masks. Stay tuned for the collaboration between Jym and Ghost Dancer.

IG: @ jymdavis 


Goddesses share their secrets

A longtime ally and fellow creator, Jessika Le Corre, interviewed for me her project titled " Godesses share their secrets." Jessika is a beauty product creator, poetess, mother and beautiful human being sharing her light with the world. Below is the interview which was both vulnerable and empowering to write out. has the story.



What is success to you? 
Understanding ones talents and learning how to harness them in a way that enables one to live a full life from those talents is a successful life in my opinion. 

Success has many woven threads within its web and my definition of success will continue to change as it is tied into the present of each chapter in life. If I may live my life in a sustainable way that supports my growth, my health, my relations, the Earth and enables me to create what I hold in my heart, I am a successful woman. 

On a linear level, I want a ranch in New Mexico with horses, mini horses, goats and sheep. I'd love to have a weaving and arts center to support the future generations of artists to rise. If I could spend my later years riding horses, weaving and watching sunsets everyday in the Land of Enchantment, I'd say success is mine. 

What is magic for you? 
Magic is the space between, its the way life is intended to be when our minds aren't stuck in the doorway of logic. It's the enchantment of synchronicity and the horizon of possibility if we can allow ourselves to listen and follow it. Magic has many a countenance and many a name but for me, magic sings loudest through intuition. It's the YES in life. 

What is love for you? 
Love is the truth of life. Love is a phenomenon that perpetually mystifies me and fills me with awe. Love is my greatest teacher to whom I am devoted to all my days. 

What is your beauty /health practice? 
My beauty routine has always been very simple, keep it natural. Minimal make-up and organic beauty products. I lavish my skin with a variety of rose oils. I also limit my exposure to long hours of direct sun.

Water is my medicine and I de-stress with hot springs, baths and lots of bodywork. Biweekly massage and cranial sacral is a necessity for me with my intense weaving work schedule. I eat 85% plants to meat for meals and listen always to what my body is requesting of me.. My diet mirrors the seasons as do my social engagements. As an introvert who is prolific with art, it's an absolute that I am in balance with my socializing. In spring and summer, I follow the trail of adventure. When autumn and winter are present, I'm found indoors cooking food, enjoying some wine with a small group of friends and practicing stillness. Quality over quantity is a mantra for me. 

I exercise 3 times a week, vascillating between hot yoga, Pilates or running. As a health practice, I implement one day a week without any work. I'm practicing the art of disconnecting more from social media to go hiking and tune further into the real knowledge of life. My meditation practice fluctuates with the demands of my schedule however I try to mediate at least 15 minutes each morning. I also have a daily gratitude practice in the morning with an evening gratitude practice right before sleep. 

One of the more important practices that serves my mental health these days is facing an obstacle or conflict fully. Movement is crucial for my mental health as well emotional/spiritual health. I'm very devoted to moving through conflict as quickly as possible so the stagnant emotions may be removed and replaced with space for more love and more creative energy. This practice feels quite relevant in this age of technology and I've also adopted as a rule, absolutely no processing of emotional matter via text message. When something feels out of alignment, I hop on a call, clear it and get back to the loving. It is a health practice to hold my relations in a clear and integral way. 

What makes your spirit glow?
Creating art, self expression in myriad of form and laughter are the staples. I've always treated myself like a lady, donned my treasured garb and taken myself out to some lovely dinners. I've learned to treat myself that way I'd want a partner to treat me. Making my niece laugh hysterically uplifts me in a new way I couldn't have conjured before her birth. 

For the wild woman within me, sitting in solitude atop a giant boulder with the winds whipping my hair around makes me glow. Camping alone in the desert and building myself a fire is enmpowering, dancing wildly by moonlight with loud music playing emblazens my spirit and praying with my spiritual allies in ceremony makes my entire being as bright as it was born with. 

How do you stay centered in the middle of chaos? 
Coffee, visualization and time outs. A good latte with have me charge through it all and I love coffee, ha. I visualize myself anchoring myself into the earth as a redwood and breathing in as much space as I need to be present with what I am facing. Communication and the manner/tone of communication is one of my greatest tools. When triggers arises, I kindly ask for a few minutes of alone time to process, breath and return. Knowing my own boundaries and communicating a need for assistance with them also allows me to move forwardly through anything. I also encourage myself internally and create positive feedback loops that allow my bandwidth to expand even greater. 

What causes /organizations are you passionate about? 
Right now, it's women's work. I'm researching organizations outside of the country that would enable me to study with and employ global networks of indigenous women  with steady income. Preserving tradition and empowering women to retain their traditional wisdom is very important to me so I'm working on a project that will allow younger generations to feel empowered to do what their grandmothers have done. When I became a woman of the loom, I also took on the responsibility on what it means to be a weaver in society. Weaver's really hold a mystical power that has fallen by the wayside in Western culture so I'd really like to see the honoring of both male and female in indigenous cultures that still uphold the traditions. I plan to return to Mexico and travel to South America soon to acquaint myself more with these communities in need of support. 

Man Makers is a small online project I have also started in effort to really highlight the craftsman of the men in our community. When the Trump regime began, I felt more of the need of the support from good and empathetic men in our society. Western society has been patriarchal for so many ions and through this chaos of the political climate, I believe many outstanding men are recognizing the need to evermore support women. My intention was to highlight the divine masculine that comes through the handmade proces of these artists and feel like there is a unification within the art world. We need the beauty and powerful messages of art and with all strength of our female nation stepping up, it's time to balance with beauty. So, in a small way, Man Makers is means of creating harmony within our greater community. The interviews from some of the men and their respect for their female peers really has made me glow in gratitude. 

If you could say one thing to the world what would you say? 
This will speak to the heart of the novice and perfectionist. Your work is to train yourself not to compare yourself to anyone as you truly are your own world. You have come in with your gifts and spirit alone, turn inward to explore the vastness of you and the only you who could only be you. Press pause on your self judgment and your critique. Set your goals and take note from those you admire but remember, you are exactly where you need to be at this time. Comparison is a waste of your finite resource of time and you alone are here to do your work. I believe everyone is born with creativity and if this is the path for you to embody, this one slice of advice will enable you to keep your eyes on your own goal. Let's allow all of our sisters to be queens of their worlds and we can be the queens of ours. We are here to support one another and this world is so much more lovely when we all get to be queens of our own castles. This will enable you to experience much more compassion for yourself along the road. 

How do you Mother the world?  
With my vulnerability. When I chose to walk within this strength, I've been witness to many more humans softening to their own strengths. Vulnerability allows us to enter the heartspace and gracefully push the ego aside, providing a meeting ground where magic and love reside. I'm constantly learning to forgive myself and take responsibility for my faults in a way that allows me to learn and not repeat mistakes. I also chose to mother with my ability to listen. Many times, people want to talk without receiving advice. Whole hearted listening teaches you to be present and hop in another's shoes. When I've witnessed a mother listening to her toddler, the whole experience seems to work out smoother. 


Man Makers Series with Obi Kaufmann

Wilderness preservationist, illustrator, poet and artist Obi Kaufmann is this week's maker. Obi and I have been circulating one another's work for 4 years. When I first began exploring the realm of connection through the web of instagram, I happened across his profile. His illustrations and poetic kissings really struck a chord and the further I dove into his world, the more my appreciation grew for Obi. He's the real deal and I value individuals who walk what they preach in the world. Immersing himself in the backcountry by sunrises and campfire, he thoughtfully draws the mirrors of the natural world around him. He's been a driving force behind the harvest and cultivation of the brand, Juniper Ridge and his voice is being echoed through his call for our generations to wake up to the toxic damage upon Mother Earth. A few days ago, his recent book titled " California Field Atlas " was released for pre-order and the first wave of orders has been thundering in. I'm convinced every school should have this gentlemen educating young minds on the awareness of the living world around and his book should be required reading to facilitate a visual experience of the Californian landscape. Do yourselves a favor, pre-order and follow the trail of Obi below.


What is your brand/name:

I started the website as a hub for all my art, and my land-conservation efforts in 2010. It feels like a million years ago. A few years later I joined instagram as @coyotethunder, which has become a bit of a moniker for me, as if my first name is Coyote and my last, Thunder. I've found a really enjoyable groove with instagram, where I can connect with my clients and my collectors and speak my poetic voice and those who get it, get it strongly - I think social media works best on that level. I suppose the brand and the man have merged on some level: for the most part I don't post about my personal life at all.


What is your heritage:

I am Californian. My parents were both scientists: my father, an astrophysicist and my mother, a psychologist. I was doomed to be an artist. I spent my childhood mapping Mount Diablo, a 3,500 peak, twenty five miles east of San Francisco. Covered in Oaks and patrolled by a healthy population of mountain lions, I found my invisible family there - between the spider webs and the sage flowers - a frequency that dispelled all my youthful loneliness and opened me up to the great mysteries of the natural world.


What are 3 reference points of inspiration for your work: (philosophy/culture):

For the past year and a half I've been pouring all my heart into the creation of the CALIFORNIA FIELD ATLAS - a book that is being published by HEYDAY out of Berkeley. I've been so inspired lately by that team that runs and creates for the publishing house and the support they've offered me. John Muir Laws creates the most beautiful field guides to exploring the California back country and his work and way of truly seeing nature for both its scientific and its artistic quality is super inspiring. Tom Killion (@thomaskillion) is another HEYDAY artist who has been making woodblock landscape prints for decades and whose recent work with the poet-of-poets Gary Snyder forever sings to my heart. HEYDAY was started by Malcolm Margolin - look him up, he wrote THE OHLONE WAY - who has become a good friend and whose generosity of spirit is constantly humbling is a man I've learned to look to as an ambassador of all that is good and worthy in this world.

I would like to also point out the work of tattoo artist Matt Decker (@deckro) of Premium tattoo in Oakland. As a disclaimer, it should be noted that Matt Decker is also my best friend. Recently, Matt has invited me into his shop as a working ink slinger, and our art and friendship has only profited by the collaboration. The man is an art-making machine, and everyday we bounce a galaxy of creative possibilities off one another, and I just can't imagine my career right now without him as part of it.

When thinking about other great, creative forces in my life, I need to shout out Mats Andersson, the genius behind INDIGOFERA (@indigoferajeans). For the past year, Mats and I have been collaborating on a capsule line of men's apparel called THE CALIFORNIA HIKING SERIES; this line brings calls to mind an extinct era of the gentlemen hiker, the naturalist who would rather be identifying wildflowers than being into extreme outdoor sports, for example. Mats' eye for detail, his knowledge of what makes a thing of quality at all, and the kindness of his spirit are all qualities that I feel so lucky to have gotten a chance to glean from at all.


What are 3 skills you've learned in representing yourself as an artist:

I learn something everyday, and when you've been doing this as long as I have, that works out to a lot of lessons. The old adage of art being only partially inspiration and mostly perspiration works for me. I like to get up before dawn and I like to work all day and into the night. I am not exactly sure where the energy comes from, but I like to joke that I am a father and I am a farmer, but I have no children and I have no land, so I'm working on a surplus of budgeted energy. Art has never been a hobby to me, but a serious endeavour that has always demanded all of my guts, every last one of them. That is step one: an unquestioning desire and determination to hold that living fire every damn day. If you don't have that, you are sunk from the beginning. If you do have that, you can move onto step two: riding the surf. Waves of success come and are inevitably followed by troughs of doubt, questioning and wasteland visions. Riding that bronco takes decades to acclimate to. The third step, I would say is to trust the surrender: your voice will change over your career and I've learned to welcome the evolution. I revel now in the incremental progress through the seasons of my skill, my style and my voice. What happens on this trail next as we travel through this forest only time will tell. 




What are 3 skills you believe are a necessity to be an independent artist/designer?

On the rote-businessy end of things, I've found that all my success has come from being available. That means that 1. You've got to go to things and meet people face to face. You need a community, a support group, a network of resources that extends more deeply than a  social media platform and that also means fostering relationships - relationships are your greatest resource. Keep those emails going out and coming in. Engage. 2. Deliver. Procrastination is the doom of the hired artist - get to work immediately and approach it with as honest a heart as you can muster. Let the sun be your battery & take care of your health. Your body is the best tool you've got. 3. Protect yourself. Establish boundaries and expectations along all points on your delivery chain - from commission, to dealer, to supplier, to collector. Trust your gut in all relations: if you are working too hard to making something happen with someone - I mean working hard on making a creative deal happen at all - it probably isn't right. Learn to cut your losses and let your rolling stone gather no moss.

What moved you to make with your hands:

I think all artists are called to chase the study of aesthetics, whether consciously or not. The idea of atonement with larger concepts of beauty through  the process of arrest: the chase of the arresting moment, when we are held in stasis - no desire, no loss, no suffering - the eye of the universe perceives the thing of the universe and are one. Beautiful art affords our better minds this ability. It is actually quite common, and as satisfying as any sensation I know. To make great art takes a lifetime. A lifetime based on surrender to a fleeting thing that breaks us for just a moment to make us more whole for the rest of the journey.


If you could travel anywhere today, where would you travel and why?

I live in Oakland, California. I consider it my hometown although I was born in Los Angeles. Oakland is the most beautiful city in the world. The sky is an uncracked Sapphire and the gardens are in bloom all year. Tonight I walked around the lake in the heart of the city where dozens of double-crested cormorants are making their yearly nests in the tall elm trees, just off Grand Avenue. Tomorrow I am headed to Lake Tahoe to wonder at how beautifully the water can mirror the heavens, and then next week I am headed to Mount Shasta, to the father mountain - there I will crawl around the creeks that feed Lake Siskiyou, searching for the low-hanging lilies that shyly show their bright colors from under shaded, seeping stones this time of year. The whole place that is this Golden State is a garden and I couldn't imagine a more perfect home. That is where I would most like to travel - where I am always trying to travel: home.


3 Favorite songs at the moment?

Funny you should ask; Matt and I spend most days at the tattoo shop listening to a lot of loud music. In fact, we've been debating rock's top 50 albums of all time for a couple of months now.  We have the results posted on the wall of the shop. It is an ongoing process. I live by loud music: real, heavy, raw, beautiful, ugly, I don't care. I am going to sidestep your question and answer with the three albums from this year that are in heavy rotation: 1. Iggy Pop's Post Pop Depression - makes me laugh, keeps me calm and levels me out. 2. King Woman's Created in the Image of Suffering - an Oakland band making the most innovative heavy music anywhere: transcendent, haunting and resonant. 3. Graves at Sea's The Curse that is - hurts me in all the right ways - super heavy and moody, classical and ferocious. 


What advice would your 65 year old self give to you today?

Relish these moments. The days pulse by like a raven's wing - be sure to move slowly. My book is about to be published and it seems to me that from here on my life will be defined by all that was before the CALIFORNIA FIELD ATLAS and all that came after; like a birth, or a death. I suppose life would be as sweet as it ever could be were to be more aware of this as a daily occurrence, really.



What change would you most like to see in the world?

I think that stagnation is an illusion. I see nothing but change in the world. This dynamic ball. This frenetic creature. This furious angel. I work for land conservation - I consider myself an activist, because I don't have a world view that gives the world and all its resources to us unconditionally. I see all natural systems as living systems and am anxious for the coming paradigm-shift when this perspective may have its time in the sun. I spend a lot of time lamenting the passing of the Holocene into the Anthropocene age of the Earth, simply because I find great beauty and wonder in optimized bio-diversity across all ecosystems and right now we are seeing levels of species diversity fall across the board.


Any additional thoughts on the importance of artisanal/handmade goods in a fast pace Western World?

The CALIFORNIA FIELD ATLAS is a book of over 250 hand-painted maps that describe California by the shaping forces of earth, air, fire and water. Map making, as all art making can be, is an exercise in power. This is the core idea behind the agenda of my art these days: you have the power to shape the world with your art, influence it to be a more holistic place. Take that power and use that power for good.

Ecological Map of California-1.jpg

Obi's book is out for pre-order via his website:

IG@ coyotethunder

Thanks Obi for the interview. You really are an inspiration and someone I'd like to have on my camping trip into the wild blue yonder. 

Man Makers Series with Timo Granzotti

Today's spectacular human is Timo Granzotti. I had the pleasure of meeting Timo years ago in Nevada City and he is a delight to be around.  He has a kind, steady and warm demeanor. No matter the time that passes, conversation arises easily. He's a sweetheart and a talent all the way around. When I met him, he had been a teacher at the Buckeye Gathering, instructing folks in fire making, tracking and fiber arts. Over the years, I've seen his woodworking skills take shape in these beautifully zen objects. There is a strength and grace present in his pieces  and anyone who can harness the strength of fire and transform nothing into something has a great ability to make memorable art. Below is his interview. 

What is your brand/name?

Timo Granzotti

DSC07905 2.jpg

What is your heritage?

I am of Italian-Ethiopian descent. For some time, Italy ‘occupied’ Abyssinia, the horn of Africa, which is largely composed of Somalia, Eritrea and Ethiopia. It was my mother who immigrated to the U.S. during the Thirty Years’ War between Ethiopia and Eritrea. I was born in Alaska. My growth and development were split into chapters, between Alaska and then Italy. I’d say my heritage is very much a combination of these diverse aspects.

What are 3 reference points of inspiration for your work?

Indigenous & Ancient (crafts, skills, art and symbolism), Mediterranean (lifestyle, culture, art), and Modern (minimalist, abstract, simple, design).

What are 3 skills you've learned in representing yourself as an artist?


One skill that I've been learning to use in a way that works for me involves social media presence and branding. There is so much that can be shared to an audience. As someone who was always more focused on the process of creation and making, I’ve learned to incorporate more of the actual showing of my work, and the process itself. To fold all of this into the life of a maker, and promote it as well, is yet the other layer. This is inspiring when done well. To do it in an artistic way is something that I really appreciate, and almost another job in itself. 

Another skill that I’ve developed is hard to describe, but I suppose the word for it would be streamlining. It seems much of my journey has been in finding a way to combine all of my interests and skills into a concentrated form of expression. Much of it has also involved letting go of certain aspects to help with the focus. At times it's hard to let go of something, but it doesn’t have to be permanent. I’ve found much relief in streamlining myself as an artist. For example, a couple years ago I put myself through the production process steps I thought were necessary to developing a maker’s business. I carved batches of items to prepare for a website store release. I carved a number of these items and a number of those items, on and on, and went through the monotony of repetition for months. The inspiration was diminished and it was instead a draining chore. I set a deadline for the release, priced everything, took the photos, wrote all the descriptions. The experience was necessary in that I realized that I don't want to be that kind of maker. I don’t want to be a production style maker in that way. I had to be true to myself, and let go of that. Instead, I now make what I want, and mostly when I want. Most of what I make is a one-off. I have more room to evolve, grow. For me, streamlining has been a way to refine my representation, make it more genuine.

The third skill I’ve enjoyed developing is documentation. Investing in a good camera and lens is a great upgrade but learning how to capture the essence or beauty of something is the art of it all. Documentation is a major element for me, and not just of my work, but also of inspiration. I have two or three sketch books that I fill with designs. Whenever I go to a museum, or art show, I’m sure to either photograph or draw aspects of what inspires me. I have hundreds of gigs of images, multiple Pinterest boards that I keep private, and many, many books. This all comes together in helping me to refine what I’m trying to evoke, whether it be overall style, or a specific piece I’m working on. 


What are 3 skills you believe are a necessity to be an independent artist/designer?

I think the first skill to have is the eye for seeing art. For recognizing art, patterns, colors, and how they work together or apart. To see it in everything, much like a second lens that shifts how something is understood or related to.  To develop the ability to see and observe is the first. Not everybody has this skill, and many artists never fully develop it. 

Next, I believe is determination. In the beginning it is very hard to perfectly create what is in the mind, yet over time it becomes easier. To know this and persist takes true dedication. There is no shortcut to developing the ability to carve. It takes countless hours, with failure and injury. Many artists are in a rush, a hurried race to success, before their art or skill is fully developed. Others abandon the pursuit when they discover how much more it requires. I find that a wonderful result from determination is, the more you push yourself, the more you realize you are capable of. 

Lastly, I think is imagination. To make something unique, takes a fresh mind with unlimited possibilities. The imagination crosses boundaries, borders, definitions, and classifications. To be original and creative, is also a skillset. It finds inspiration at each moment, in almost anything. To express is human. In art, how an individual relates to a thing is expressed.

If you have these three skills: the eye for seeing art, the determination to create, and the imagination to make it unique, all the other skills can come.

What moved you to make with your hands:

I’ve always used my hands both physically and creatively. It’s something of a philosophy for me. I believe a well-used pair of hands tells great stories. When I’m old, I’d like my hands to have plenty of stories to tell. So far, I think my life has been a series of formative moments that developed my passion for making things. I have a background in botany and ecology, and have been both an ecological landscape designer, consultant, and a teacher. I am also a wilderness skills expert, with a focus on skills, craft and ancient technology. These two fields are closely related in many ways and both involve the tactile element, the touch, the feel, and the strength of the hands. They also involve a certain dexterity that develops in the dialogue between the brain and fingers.

From as early as I can remember, art has been an element in my life. I always wanted to create. One of my earliest memories was when I was very young, 7 or 8 years old, when my older brother took me to a totem pole down the road in town, this was in Alaska, and had me draw it. It took me several hours and was 5 or 6 pages long. Another was when I was 13 years old for a school project I decided to make a large scale model of ancient Rome. I used basswood to carve each little home, including the Aurelian Wall, the Coliseum, the Circus Maximus, and painted the roofs red to simulate terracotta. I made the River Tiberius out of crumpled plastic over blue and white acrylic paint, and clay hills for the surrounding country. It was very ambitious and took me months but I remember how fixated I was on the project. Throughout all of this I was always involved in the outdoors, whether rock climbing, hiking, fishing, or camping. 

I have also always been passionate about exploring the cultural past. I believe making with the hands ties one with the past, it’s an unbroken dialogue, an inheritance. At first it was my own cultural past. Over time, this grew into studying other cultures as well. I read classical literature, ancient myths, sagas, and stories. I collected books and explored all kinds of art and art movements. I studied crafts and artifacts from all over. Museums are the best for this. I spend hours looking at the works from various places in the world. I was also inspired by architecture, pattern, and design. I guess this hasn’t really changed much. I think my education played a part as well. My education was very classical, we studied ancient Latin, Greek, and studied the works of Euclid, Themistocles, Aristotle, Sophocles, Virgil, Herodotus, Thucydides and so on. During this time art combined with my learning, and influenced it’s direction very much.


In my teens, I was interested in drawing, painting, clay, and literature. This was around the time when I moved to Italy. Much of my development happened during this time. I lived in Sicily, in a town called Taormina. Here I went further into my cultural exploration. Italy is a very artisan based culture, you can walk down the street and witness artists and makers with generations of learning working away. Even at home, the hands are used in the kitchen, and in conversation. It was very idyllic in many ways. I remember hiking 2,000 year old Saracen steps through the countryside with  specks of sheep and coastal views, or fishing for octopus with the elders, making wine, foraging wild herbs, helping to repair fishing boats, or working at the oil distillery pressing lavender and other aromatics. I traveled throughout Sicily, went to Tunisia and the Sahara, and traveled throughout the rest of Italy and parts of Europe. I visited so many ruins. I love visiting ruins, they inspire me so much. They are a reminder of what we are capable of making with our hands. I later moved to Florence, where I lived for a couple of years. More inspiration, as sculptures filled the city. I would sketch them just as I did when I was younger. During that time, I got into construction, remodeling an old villa, and developed my eye for design.

I moved to California, I was 22 years old. This was a new chapter for me. It was also a major culture shock. I went back to school and studied black & white photography thinking to be a photojournalist. However, I discovered my interest in botany, shifted my focus, and soon got my degree in horticulture. I was into landscape design and had my own little business for a time. During this time I was also discovering the diverse landscape of California, and began my studies in native plants, ecology, and the skills of the native peoples. My foundations in the wild of Alaska were reawakened. As my learning deepened, so did my craft. I made everything I could from natural materials. Soon enough I became a teacher, organizer and consultant in both fields. This slowly developed into a focus in woodwork. I studied traditional woodcarving from Scandinavia, the Pacific Northwest, and Japan. I focused on working with the axe and knife for many years. I searched for old woodworking tools to restore, and also made my own. My interests grew and so did my workshop. I now use a variety of means to make an object, and I appreciate the fact that I spent so many years cultivating my skills in hand-based crafts because it has made me more adept, more versatile. I can pick from a variety of ways to achieve making something. I am also grateful that I have collected much inspiration and influence in my life to use as a foundation.

I’m now making work that is more expressive, more symbolic. I found myself wanting to share something else from within me, not just objects that are strictly utilitarian or have a practical function, but with more artistic representation, a sensation, a mood, a feeling. More and more I've followed this, although, I still go back and forth, keeping the balance. My hands always need something to inspire them into action, to do those long days in the workshop. 


If you could travel anywhere today, where would you travel and why:

There are so many places to chose from! I think in the U.S. I really want to explore the Southwest more. New Mexico, Arizona, and the Sonoran expanse. There’s so much about the landscape, the adobe homes, the weather, the history, the rock formations and color tones, it all calls to me very deeply.

In Europe, it would be to explore the eastern Mediterranean, Crete, Cyprus, Croatia, Turkey. The colors, spices, the history, the food, the lifestyle, the ocean, the culture, all so rich. My heart is in the Mediterranean, I’m always wanting to be there.


3 Favorite songs at the moment:

Oh, just 3? 

1) Elega al Che by JAJA

2) Take Words in Return by Henrik Schwarz

3) Kylie by Kerala Dust

What advice would you offer your fellow female makers? What business advice?

Seek to be hard to define. Everyone wants to put things in a box of understanding. An artist or maker must be always evolving. Find new arrangements, combinations of skills. Keep what you do difficult to summarize in a single word. Keep discovering new areas, dig deeper than everyone else. 

What advice would your 65 year old self to you today?

Do more. The reasons you have now, will mean little in the future. You will always look back at your younger self and think, ‘why didn’t I?’. Take it all in. Travel more, eat more, love more. Dance more, laugh more. Live more. 

What change would you most like to see in the world?

To return to a generational relationship to the natural world. A socio-cultural refocus like this would change a lot. 

Any additional thoughts on the importance of artisanal/handmade goods in a fast pace Western World?

It’s a wonderful entry into the possibilities of another way of living. I like that it inspires people to create their own formula, their own way of formulating a lifestyle. I like this, it challenges the status quo. It also challenges the value system, and it makes us question how things are made. In the end, it’s helping to create relationships. Hopefully, it will stay on course, and become so much more. 

Thanks you Timo. You've always been an inspiration and reading this interview enhanced my appreciation for you as an artist. Please keep up with Timo through his website for his workshops and primitive skill teachings.

IG: @timogranzotti


Man Makers Series with Lucien Shapiro

Lucien Shapiro.  Lucien's name is what immediately caught my eye as this has been one of my favorite names from history books. There is something antiquated about it, something regal and completely striking. It mirrors the experience I had when I came across his artwork. When I began following the rabbit down the hole in his world, I felt as if I was beholding relics from a different era. The masks had this feeling to them as if they had been buried in volcanic ash from Pompeii, waiting for centuries to pass before they were excavated and waiting to unfurl the carnival inside each. There is a haunting persona within each of them and the meticulous nature of crafting them resonated with my own body of work. He feels like a like mind who can sit still in a space to channel something greater, something mysteriously placed between life and & death. His work is a ritual, evoking and invoking. He has exhibited extensively and I have the pleasure of working alongside him at Church Boutique in LA. Word on the street is that he is headed back to the West Coast and I am awaiting the opportunity to collaborate and get lost in the space between. Below is his interview. 

What is your brand/name: 

Lucien Shapiro , my new online store is to be called Fire and Ice. Coming soon. 


What is your heritage: 

Russian /Eastern European Jew


What are 3 reference points of inspiration for your work: ( philosophy/culture)

Subconscious, primitive, meditative .

What are 3 skills you've learned in representing yourself as an artist:

Honesty, humbleness, whether it is a performance or a gallery exhibition make the experience special for the viewer and open a connection between them and you.  

What are 3 skills you believe are a necessity to be an independent artist/designer?

Hard working, open, ready to face any obstacle.

What moved you to make with your hands:

It was the only thing that made sense, I actually was in school for computer 3-d modeling in 1999 after I took my first sculpture class I switched and never looked back ,  this was 17 years ago.  

If you could travel anywhere today, where would you travel and why:

My last 3 years have been filled with travel with not much of a home base for longer then a month or two. Most recently was the Fear Collection Ritual but was only Europe and USA.  But I've been itching to see Japan , love the style, and culture over there.. but I guarantee ask me tomorrow I'd choose somewhere else . Haha

3 Favorite songs at the moment:

Hardest question ever, this changes hourly but right now at this moment ... 

Artist) Shriek Operator

Song) Amen Death waltz 

Artist )Wu Tang Clan 

Song) Cash still rules 

Artist) Left over Crack 

Song) Life is pain


What advice would you offer your fellow female makers? What business advice? 

To be honest most my female friends and makers give me the advice. Haha. I  primarily show my work as s fine artists and so many women in my life are boss ass hustlers, Or beautiful powerful queens in whatever  form of words you prefer to hear .  If I had any advice to anyone it would  be just to keep doing what you love. And keep pushing, the path will open and whatever you want will eventually fall in line. You just have to believe in yourself and make decisions that don't lower your integrity, be honest and true to yourself. 

What advice would your 65 year old self to you today?

Keep going , don't ever stop for anything. It will hurt, and there will be fear, but you got this. 

What change would you most like to see in the world?


Any additional thoughts on the importance of artisanal/handmade goods in a fast pace Western World?

I feel that it's one of the most important part of our culture, and I truly believe people are beginning to appreciate and support the hand made again more and more. 


Thanks Lucien for being an inspiration. I admire the castles you build from all of the discarded trinkets of the urban world. 

ANALECT_RITUALS VIDEO: This video really drew me into the world of Lucien.









Man Maker Series interview with Spencer Hansen

Today's Man Maker is a treat to discuss as this human has been a favorite of mine for years. After relocating to San Francisco in 2007, I became enveloped by a new world of artists and performers. The burning man circuit was a circus of an experience and after I was happily dragged out to the dusty desert, I had the fortune of coming across this back flipping fellow. Yes, Spencer can back-flip like no one's business at the drop of a hat and has dance moves that can keep one engaged past sunrise. He has a kind presence, an intriguing one that entices most to take the journey and see where the adventure can take you. Over the years that I've been following the expansion of his artwork, I've repeatedly found myself inspired. His hands have crafted hands and masks, wooden figurines, snapped images that are mesmerize the mind and beckon for a deeper look into the magic behind. He is a maker and a designer who keeps his hands occupied in the process and also knows how to live a balanced life with lots of play. Based out of Bali with his phenomenal team, he shares his thoughts below on art and handmade. 


What is your heritage:

Weirdo from Rural Idaho

What are 3 reference points of inspiration for your work: ( philosophy/culture ):

Time, handmade and quality made. Making art/items that last and are not bound to fickle fads. I like to create outside of the popular ideas of how beauty is defined. I make because without this process, I feel lost. 

What are 3 skills you've learned in representing yourself as an artist:

To trust in myself, not my waste my trying to please other people or create pieces for other people. Artists are not bound to one medium and the more we learn to play and experiment, the more newness can be born. 

What are 3 skills you believe are a necessarity to be an independet designer/artist?

Focus and the importance of time. Time plays a large structure as a creative and time spent away from work also allows for more inspiration to accumulate. 

What moved you to make with your hands? As an artist who also runs a small production, I'd like to know more about what you directly create with your hands.

Its a constant quest to learn,  I love making with my hands.  Currently its ceramic clay to make heads for Blamo sculptures.  But on any given day I could be Drawing my designs, sculpting, painting, photographing, storyboarding, making clothing patterns, wood carving, photographing other peoples work.  Dyeing clothing, coming up with new processes for clothing such as painting garments, leather forming hats, masks, shoes etc.  

I also love working very closely with employees to learn new skills or come up with things we havent tried before.  Very lucky to work closly with Shayne Maratea, Naomi Samara, Jeremiah Hansen and the rest of the Heathen and Blamo teams.   

If you could travel anywhere today, where would it be and why?


3 favorite dj's at the moment?

Martha Van Straaten ,


Dj Fog Puma

What advice would you offer your fellow female makers? Business advice?

Love what you make- don't waste time making what you think others want. Find people to work with that have a skill set different and varied from yours

What advice would your 65 year old self tell you today? 

Be kinder  to yourself.


What change would you like to see in the world?

The end of religion, a quieter life. 


Any additional thoughts on the importance of handmade goods in a fast growing Western World?

I am often amazed how much people love and care about the uniqueness of handmade quality goods. It's refreshing to know that the machine made, mass produced reality has not fully taken over yet although I was reminded of how omnipresent it is while traveling around America. There is plenty of the ugliness,  evident in Walmart and the homogenized everything on a larger scale. I think there are more of us waking up and designing a uniqueness in design and thoughtfulness in our goods after seeing such blandness. There is a niche for this movement and market. 

Take a peak at his work.

IG: Spencerblamo










Black Balloons in Mojave

Photographed by Chelsea Brewer in collaboration with Ghost Dancer



I've had an obsession with balloons ever since the film the "Red Balloon" came into my sphere at a young age. Something about the movement of wind behind the balloon captured me. Perhaps it is the way the lifelike persona of this intangible cherry red dream tantalizes the little boy below, it's this caravaning dream that hovers above that caught my eye as a child. Whatever it is or whatever Jung might say about my psyche, balloons against an empty sky have mesmerized me for many a moons. They've been a focal point for dreaming up shoots and this one was a blast. Chelsea and I ventured off into a scorching day while wrangling all these black balloons, the store owner thinking we were off to a funeral. Here's what we shot while frolicking minimal shade and sandstone castles in the Mojave. X



Man Maker Series interview on Westward Leather Co.

      Introducing the first talent of Man Maker Mondays, Ben Fife of Westward Leather Co. I had the pleasure of coming across Ben's work after a conversation regarding Tinariwen several months back. In my experience, I've come to develop some of my inspiring kinships through the power of music so I decided to step into the portal of his company. Ben dwells in Spokane, Washington where he occupies his time in the art of leather working. His work is sharp and sleek with a reminiscent spirit of the wild western days. I can smell the scent of leather from here and the wind-driven tales of his life from his images. 

I created the questionairre for the Man Makers series and offered it to Ben to be the initiator and brave soul to start the series off. I've honored he did. There is such a warmth, a timelessness to his soul and a kindness that would make it easy to befriend the fellow in real life. Below, are his thoughtful answers and approach to the art he makes with his hands. 


What is your brand/name?

Westward Leather Co.

What is your heritage?

I was born in Washington State.  My mother is from Spokane born and raised, and my Father is from a small town in Louisiana.  My last name is Scottish, but I’m pretty mixed up in the blood like so many others in this country.  A mutt, or maybe a chameleon…I prefer a chameleon.  I guess what matters is I come from humble upbringing of hardworking, creative people, with very good hearts.  I am fortunate in that way.

What are 3 reference points of inspiration for your work?

I draw inspiration from so much really, this is a tough answer to pin down.  But I can say for sure that history is a large reference point.  I am always looking back, in large part at cultures that were innovative with very little, like the American Indian.  I am lost in admiration of the American Indian culture throughout history.  Not just the creativity and ingenuity of  their craft, but also the perspective they held/hold toward the natural world, and their role within it.  Which brings me to my next reference point: Nature.  Nature is the ultimate creation, and I can’t help but always be refreshed and inspired by it.  It is always waiting patiently for us to come, it overtakes me in the most magnificent way, and reminds me of who I am, and who I want to be.  Finally, I am inspired by the hope that this fast paced world, that seems to be barreling forward like a locomotive always gaining speed, will take a moment to slow down, look at our lands, look at our hands, and decide to embrace things in a more tactile and intentional way.  That’s why the Buffalo is my logo, because in our folly, we almost hunted that powerful animal to extinction, but stopped just in time to re-evaluate our misdoings, and work to restore life to something that we almost lost forever.  That’s how I feel about the importance of craftsmanship in our world right now.  Of many things.

What are 3 skills you've learned in representing yourself as an artist?

I’m probably more in the state of learning, than “ earned", but I’d say I’m working on self representation and selling my product.  It’s very easy to be excited about what I make when I am in my shop, but for some reason quite difficult for me to express the enthusiasm and faith I have in my product, to strangers.  This is mostly specific to the monetary side of things I might add,  and I’m learning how to be more confident in that approach, because I work hard to make the best item I can, with the best materials…and I know they’re worth it!  I’m also learning that I need to be careful not to try and please everyone.  Some invitations are not worth the hassle, and it is good to know when to say, NO.  And finally, I’ve learned that I have to remember to have fun!  Making the same things all the time can become daunting, tedious, perhaps lose the luster of when we first started, so it’s good to take a break and create something totally new, or off the wall sometimes.  Different materials, no intention of selling, whatever it takes for me to just challenge myself, but also be lose and untethered.  

What are 3 skills you believe are a necessity to be an independent artist/designer?

Hmm, independent or successful?  Ha!  Artists and designers will know what I mean by that.  From my experience, faith in yourself first and foremost.  Take on a big job once in awhile, bigger than you think you might be able to handle, but think you could still pull off.  Succeed or fall short, that will teach you all the skills you’ll need to be an independent artist/designer.  And as hard as it is for some of us, don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.  Not only will it help you get things done, but in the end, sharing in all this is what it’s all about.  

What moved you to make with your hands?

Whatever has moved me to breath.  And watching my Father.  


If you could travel anywhere today, where would you travel and why?

I think right now, I’d go somewhere warm, like Oaxaca or Peru.  I don’t necessarily mean warm in climate, but warm in the people…warm within the culture.  I’d love to spend more time with people that still have a visible connection to their indigenous roots.  And the craftsmanship coming out of those kinds of territories is just insane, and deserves more recognition.  

Can you narrow down your 3 favorite songs at the moment? 

I live in music, so this is a tough one. I’d say for a groove, Inner City Blues by Marvin Gaye.  On a sunny day drive, spin Ku Mi Da Hankan by The Elcados, and wait for the breakdown. And finally, pop on your favorite headphones, and let this track take you into a realm of revelation; Maggot Brain by the Funkadelic.  That last one touched my soul in a crazy way the first time…maybe every time.  Bonus track for the fade out…Preview Side Too - Bootsy Collins. 

What advice would you offer your fellow female makers?

Fellow female makers out there, believe in what you do, love what you make, always work to improve your craft, and go after your dream.  I’d say the same to my fellow male makers too I guess.   Oh, and remember to take a vacation and respite!


What advice would your 65 year old self to you today?

Shit, I hope something really wise.  But he’ll probably just say something sarcastic, before going off on some existential rant.  Ha!

What change would you most like to see in the world? 

For the fear that is used to lead people to hate, to turn into a humble pursuit of knowledge that would lead to love.  

Any additional thoughts on the importance of artisanal/handmade goods in a fast pace Western World?

Sure, pass it on.  This world appears to be on the verge of losing perspective on many things.  I am excited to see what seems like a renaissance of artisanal handmade perspective.  That brings me hope, and I’m honored to play a part in it in any way I can.  But whatever we can do to get the youth excited about the creative process, arts and culture, pride in ones work, etc…that’s gonna make the difference.  I know I need to be better about this.  Each one teach one!

Well, I was dearly delighted after reading Ben's thoughts. I've been able to get a good sense of the individuals I'm interviewing through their answers. Ben's products are of high quality and would pair very well with a good beaver hat, a bottle of Woodford Reserve, a campfire and an adventure into the quiet yonder with coyotes in the background. And ladies, that Watanya Cicilla bag is an absolute must. Take a peak on his site below.

IG: @westwardleather

Thank you Westward Leather Co for sharing inspiration with us here via the Ghost Dancer platform. I'm grateful to be apart of this handmade revolution with you and bring more thought back into wearable art, commodity and our choices on how to support artisans. We are all in this together. 







Feminine Light of Carlota Guerrero

Summer has come and occupied this nimble fingers of mine for other means than typing. I still romanticize the idea that all writers and storytellers of written word use typewriters but I yet have to find one who steadily does. With the work load rains, writing takes a quiet seat in the back of the engine revving engine. I output more during these high volumes than I intake. In the spirit of intaking rather than emitting creative steam of the verbose kind, I'd like to input the feminine light of Carlota Guerrero. 

Carlota Guerrero is a photographer and art director based in Barcelona who works on personal and commissioned projects. She recently directed Solange's new video which enabled me to come across her work. When I look at her work, I feel like I'm coming across one of those round cornered photographs from a relatives album, grainy and soft with the filter of fog on a grey day. Vintage and timeless, a piece of art that will teleport you to a day in 1972. I have found a softness within her work and her art direction. Her interview on ID Vice proposed this questions and has resonated deeply with me albeit such a short, simple answer. 

ID VICE: What does girl power mean to you?
The power I find in my body and soul is infinite and that power is strengthened when I get to share it with other women. Together we are powerful beyond measure.

When I think about the unknown and winding journey with Ghost Dancer, I think about my success and how that directly translates into the ability to continue to collaborate and directly work with other talented women. To me, one ray of the sunshine of success is the ability to financially support other artists, without that funding for my own work or others, we are hobbying. From day one, I have set my sights on a list of photographers that I dream of working with, spending long hours in mystical settings creating art together. I hope this road will bring me to a place where I may work with Carlota. 

IG: @carlota_guerrero


What is Man Makers?

After relocating to this quaint little abode in Ojai, where the fledgling hawks are calling out mercilessly for food, I've been doing alot of thinking. As an artist, as a human, as a woman.   I believe it's my duty to reflect on the important questions, the questions that seemingly do not have answers yet. I've never been one to avoid the deeper thinking or the plague of real intense emotion that ebbs and flows. I want those questions that stir the soul to knock on my door and provide an impetice for real change. The questions that seem to be hovering above me at the moment are  " How is my art a means of making this world a better place?" and "How can I create more of a positive impact through my art within my community?"

As a weaver, I've come to develop my understanding of energy even more acutely. Weaving is comprised of two forces, the weft and the warp. It's an intersection that brings matter into form. The relationship between the threads is what will provide a limitless use  for the final product or material. Warp and weft, like feminine and masculine, are foundational. Thankfully my cup from day one as an artist, has been supported by the feminine. My patrons, fellow artists of varying mediums, have cloaked me in loving words and opportunities to refine my skills. My muses are vast and the collection of creative women in my life abounds. I began Woven Woman Wednesdays a while back on Instagram and immediately became overwhelmed by the lists long of women working with their hands: tiny, paint splattered, nimble fingered hands in every shade of the rainbow. The more overjoyed I became sifting through endless lists of  feminine forces in my life,  I began to notice the imbalance of the masculine. I felt there was a need to paint a harmonized image with both the lady makers and the man makers. So, this blog will be the field in which we unite the forces. And momentarily, this feels like a proactive quest for understanding my own artistic experience within a community. 

Man Makers for me is a way to connect the infinite spider web with men who tell their experiences and deepest understandings of life with their hands. I'm aspiring to create a hub where Ghost Dancer clients may come to peruse the collections of artists who make this world a more beautiful place. When I envision a cohesive community, I see a glowing fire in the middle of it's gathering space. Each individual comes to this space to be heard, to be supported and acknowledged. Around this allegorical fire, we tell our stories and our perspectives, our follies and rewards landscaped into wisdom....landscaped into beauty. Man Makers is space for each of these male storytellers to express their myths and ethos. It's a platform where there is breathing space to divulge just an ounce more of thought behind each image or each piece carved. I'm collecting makers whose quality is exceptional and crafted with pride. Here, as a tiny spider weaving a web, may I offer a wide range of artisanal goods and network the glimmering world together. Be it a visit for visual inspiration, a gift for a friend, an investment in a painting or a mellifluous song, all arises from the palms and fingers of a maker. It's always been such a pleasure collecting goods from some of my fellow makers and now, through this web, many more can come to understand who inspires me and how to trail the experience. Connect, collect, be inspired and go make.

These are the architects of thoughtfulness I would like to share with everyone. These are the vessels of masculine divinity expressing itself and making this world a more meaningful place through art and the nature of hand made. Enjoy.

 Image by Edward Streenan

Image by Edward Streenan