Teen Interview #24

Charles Coffen, 16.

How did you start doing art?

I actually had zero experience before high school. Besides IDEA I had no shop making experience. So, really it started with IDEA and being encouraged to do things; to learn and to fail.

Describe your art-making process in three words.

Pinterest. Failing. Trying.

We were surprised that you do laser engraving because no ones ever done that, it’s mostly drawing and painting. Do you feel that that’s [engraving] is really unique and special to you?

Yeah, I started doing laser engraving…I do CNC work, which instead of a human cutting pieces of wood, it’s a robot doing it. And, I started learning how to do that because I was too afraid to use the table saw, and I didn’t want to lose a finger. Now, of course, I know how to use it. I started doing it because…no one else wanted to, no one else was doing it, so I do feel like it is unique to me. At least at my school, no one else is the laser engraving person. When someone needs something laser cut or engraved, or any of the CNC work it comes to me.

Would you like to have other areas of art? Like music or painting?

My sister did music, she went to Stadium and did Bassoon; got a full ride scholarship for it. So it was like.. that was already done. So I thought I’d do something else. It doesn’t really interest me. I’d like to get better at drawing.

What would you say is something that represents your art? What emotions affect your art?

Ingenuity, I guess would be it. My quote for myself is, “I like making things that make other people happy. ” I like making people happy. I like making people smile. So a lot of the stuff I make I give to other people, that’s why I don’t have a lot of it physically. Like, I made a laser engraving of Tacoma, a map of it, put it in the laser engraver, burned it onto two pieces of wood and gave it to my sister. I give a lot of stuff to my girlfriend. I give a lot of stuff to my family and our school and other people. I do the same with my friend. So I tend to give away things, I don’t tend to keep them


When you make art do you think, “Oh this is really great I want to keep it for myself” or are you specifically hoping to give pieces away?

I usually start by making things for myself, because I want to make it. Unless it’s a present specifically, I start by deciding, “Oh I wanna try this, I wanna try this new method of doing this. I wanna try this and see if it’s easier.” I don’t really think of the whole plan, like where it’s going to end up. It usually just ends up something else thinking it’s cool and me saying, “Oh do you want to have it? Keep it, go for it.” Or this is really cool, this means a lot to me, I’m going to keep it. Or, sometimes no one wants it.  And, then I’ll keep it.

Would you say your school inspires your art or passes you by?

The school really inspires me. With IDEA, we only started three years ago, we’re brand new. I was actually our schools first ASB president. And, so being in our school and being in an area with people who also like doing this, people are really creatively charged and also want to try new things. And, they know what you’re talking about. If I say to someone at IDEA, “This COT laser blah blah blah,” just general jargon, they’ll know what I’m talking about. They’ll say, “Oh that’s super cool!” Or, “That’s kinda lame.” They’re very honest and they’re very supportive. I really like the culture and community thats at the school.

Go Follow Charles on Instagram @Charles_Coffen !

Teen Interview #21

Ariyah Bunch, 17.

What are your main inspirations?
My mental illnesses are my main inspiration.

How is that translated in your work?
Things that I can’t express because I’m really bad at expressing emotions. I just try to paint it away. And it usually doesn’t come out the way I intend. It usually is really random and I just do it to do it.

Why did you sign up for our art show?
I never put myself out there. And I just moved here from L.A. So I was just curious to see what it would be like. And I honestly didn’t think I would get in. So when I got that email back I was like, ’wow, ok.’ I can do something.

img_0025Tell us about one of your works.

Discomfort. The ’Dis’ is in parentheses. It was inspired by my favorite movie, ”Carol.” It represents so many different things. Not only is it a fan-art thing. It’s also just-the colors. I picked greens, reds; yellows. Because her emotion was so confusing. I wanted to show that not everything is going to be easy. The reason it’s called discomfort, is because it was such a bittersweet moment in the film. The movement and the eyes, and the lines- crossed off like a barrier.

What was your inspiration with Lovers?img_2175

Like almost all my art I just start and it just goes from there. I don’t have a thing in mind ever, and I just start it. So that outcome was surprising because i didn’t expect it. Whatever, it made a lot of sense to do it that way. In the space I was in at the time. Romance is a really scary thing for everyone.

What is the benefit of sharing your art?
Their reactions obviously; their emotions toward it. I love seeing how other people feel about art. I feel so many things when I see a piece. I see my piece and it’s totally different from what someone else’s could be.

Where do you want your art to go?

I want to be a filmmaker. I really want to incorporate all of my paintings and stuff in film. My biggest thing is to spread more awareness about mental illness. My bipolar disorder takes over a lot of me, so I would like to show that people with intense problems can do it.img_0023

Tell me about a film you are making.

It’s a romance. A lesbian romance. There’s a lot of twists and turns in it. The main thing I want you to get out of it is self-love. The movie is about self-love and how that flips. The other huge thing is that I want to show a real lesbian romance. The ups and downs and intensities. Not the usual bland [stuff]. That along with self-love and realization. Especially because all lesbian movies end so terribly. It’s not all bad.

My biggest thing is to spread more awareness about mental illness.

Do you have an ending statement?
My main thing is mental illness. My panic disorder and my bipolar disorder completely take over my life most of the time. And my social phobias. Which is why things like this are so hard to do. So when I share my poetry or share my art it’s a weird experience. I want people with bipolar disorders to show themselves. It’s hard because of the fear of being judged. Especially with teens we are scared of people judging us. I want to put myself out there more. You aren’t what your brain tells you, you are. You are an artist and you are something beautiful. And I want people to know that.