Why do you do what you do? What’s your purpose + what drives you to continue when things gets hard?
I like taking pictures. It’s who I am, it’s what I do. It’s an extension of my arm.
The other key part was working with your friends. I mean, that life part, nobody could pay me what that was worth. And that’s where I’m a millionaire.
I think there are two types of people: creators and consumers. I’m definitely a creator.
If I’m not creating something, if I’m not working on some sort of project, I lose it. I have to be doing something. I want to leave a mark, I want to show people that things are possible. I want to be in that position where it’s like, Look, I had no leg up on any of you but yet this is possible. Not to put myself on some sort of pedestal, because in the grand scheme I’m nothing, but on a small scale I’ve done some things and I want to inspire others to do some things. To take an idea and actually put some action behind it and see what happens.
My drive is to create, move forward, push myself, challenge myself. Can I do this? Can I do that? To show my 13-year-old son too. It’s important for him to know that I have drive and motivation and I’m willing to take risks. Hopefully he will be the same way — find some passion and take action.
I’m just looking to be creative and express myself to my fullest potential in every avenue of my life, and to enjoy the company, being at home – everything. When you’re on the road and things are crazy, you enjoy that and know that you’ll have time to cool it down and relax too.
I try to enjoy every day for what it is and not be so next thing, next thing, next thing. Just be here, you know?
I feel art is just an extension of myself. It’s part of me.
There’ll be times when I don’t really make anything for a while and I’ll feel off. I need to connect with that creative part of myself and it will help fulfill that purpose or that need that I have to exist. The reason I do exist is to create and to make things.
Put simply, I think I need to. It’s just like skateboarding. I have a need to create just as much as I want to ride a skateboard. Those are the things that make me happy.
I’m starting to understand with art you can share that good vibe and that’s really all I’m after. I want someone to feel good things if they come across my stuff. You can get money but it comes and goes and it has nothing to do with why you did it.
I’m not aiming for much else other than the process of creating. I’m not after the money.
Going back to that Philippines experience I shared earlier, I wanted to pursue my own path regardless of what other people are doing. I wanted to be doing something that felt fulfilling on a day-to-day basis. Something I was proud of and felt right for me.
If you concisely say what it is that I do, I draw letters for a living. And if you told me that I was going to be able to do that five years ago, let alone buy a house in Denver, I’d be like, Okay, that’s bullshit, not a freaking chance. But it’s working out.
I think one of the main reasons it’s been working out is I really focus on building relationships. I love people and I love interacting with people.
I do this because I like the idea of building relationships, building something I’m happy with and doing so on my own terms.
One of the things I’ve always said to myself and others is that my main goal is to be able to build a business that is able to support my future family. I envision and hope my wife works, too, but I want this business to be successful enough where she’s not like, Adam, please go get a real job, we need you to contribute a little bit more.
What I’m doing is becoming what I envision and that is very fulfilling and satisfying to know that I’m passionate about something that is able to actually sustain the lifestyle that I want to live as well.
Having people tell me that a Level 1 movie influenced them, changed their life, inspired them to move out West to get a job in the industry. To hear that things we’ve done have inspired and influenced people.
I can’t not create. If I wasn’t able to draw for some reason, I would just be creating in some other way. It’s just part of who I am. When I’ve not been able to create for some reason, I get really depressed and in my own head too much. I think everyone needs to communicate and speak their truth.
I don’t know what else I would do. I feel like I would go crazy.
I definitely have more of a natural talent for design and layout stuff. I have gone to school and have an advantage of being taught skills. I think I’m more naturally gifted at that.
I paint because I can’t imagine myself staring at my computer to make art in my free time. It’s just something to do when I don’t know what to do. I just feel I need to do something. Like making my own frames, it’s just the whole process of making something.
Even if someone is paying me to make a painting, I’m painting because I want to. It would be nice to have flexibility with a little bit more success to put on more group shows to bring more up-and-coming artists on. I would also like more murals like the one I just did where people in public spaces can enjoy it.
In the end, I paint because I want to.
I have no idea. Sometimes I wish I worked at a coffee cart — just go to work and then leave.
It’s just how I tick. I laugh because in my house right now my couch is full of porcupine quills and jewelry-making stuff and hats that I’m trying to figure out how to use fabric paint on. It’s this ongoing thing. I love it and I’m always making something.
Jon: I don’t have a choice. This is what I want to do and I’ve been able to carve out a niche and exist doing it full time for well north of a decade. Now I have to pursue it twice as hard because I have a wife who loves me and is helping me do it. Also knowing she has a disability that needs to be managed.
So those are adult things that have to be looked at. As a professional artist I don’t have time to stop and smell the roses. As soon as this interview is done that printer is running and canvas is going on that wall to start a new painting tonight.
Continued growth and emotional and financial support from other respected creative entities is what continues to push me. To know that there are still doors available, and people I’ve looked up to and have wanted to work with are working with us and providing new, exciting opportunities that I’ve always dreamed of. But with that comes an expectation for professional deliverables. There’s no room for slowing down at that point. Deliverables have to be met to continue to play at an international, professional level. No crying.
I love the public art aspect of it. That’s a reason why I personally don’t care about marketing it. Because I really, truly hold it dear to my heart. I think it’s amazing that I’m doing this as a living, but at the end of the day we kind of do this for ourselves as well.
And I love working with Jaime and collaborating. It’s amazing because I don’t know what the piece is going to look like. So the whole time it’s a discovery every single day. He does something and I’m like, Oh man, that’s amazing, I want to mimic that over here. Or that makes me do something else.
Then the interactions we have with people passing by is incredible. That’s not something you get as a gallery artist if you work in your studio or your home.
Being able to continue to ski and be outside, definitely.
I love photography and skiing and that’s why I continue to do it. I want to be able to continue to ski and be in the mountains all winter long and photography is a great vehicle for that. It’s really cool on a lot of levels — from being able to produce something from my winter, a set of photos, a great thing to look back on and remember certain days in the mountains that I might have forgotten otherwise. And then being able to support myself with it is pretty incredible. It’s a great way to spend the winter and to keep skiing, which is what I want to do, first and foremost.
I sort of live and breathe skiing all year long, especially in the winter.[You] gotta love it because if not, you’ll be freezing your ass off skiing and not sell a photo for that day and be bummed. But if you love it, then it’s just part of the deal. And if you’re out skiing in the mountains every day, you’re pretty lucky and you should act accordingly.