Teen Interview #23

Michaella Amamilo, 18.


So where do you go to High School?

Steilacoom High School.

So how have you become an active member of the art community?

I’ve always been an artist my whole life. My dad used to be an architect too, so it’s always been a part of our family. I don’t know– I think I’ve always been creative when I was younger, but I do like a lot of arts and crafts things. I’ve never gotten into a strict discipline of art. It was only recently that I got into high school that I started focusing and really understanding what I do like about art. [And] which art history aspects I do like and I try to incorporate that into how I do art today.

What attracts you the most in terms of things, like art history?

I like a lot of antiquity and ancient Greek and Rome; all that stuff. I think I like the human form too and that’s also why I’d like to go into medicine. I just like to put everything together; [I like] little detail stuff and really realistic things. I like that it pays a lot of attention to really natural things and it doesn’t have to be something super crazy and abstract but can be really simple.

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So with your piece that you put in our art show, would you say that it is an adequate representation of your art style?

I’d say it is a really good representation of where I’ve come because my art style is pretty realistic and very fine detail. But that is something so out of my element; like I used ink. And I normally just set things out and have a plan to what I want to do. But with that, I just went for it, and so I think it is a good representation of my growth as an artist.

Do you have a major theme in all your art pieces?

Well, that was part of a concentration. I’m in AP studio art and my concentration was, what it means to be masculine, and what it means to be a man. So I just focused on how people view men as having to be masculine or having to have a big family and take care of a family. I had also just watched this documentary about South Africa with my parents so I did that after. It honestly made me cry so I just wanted to make a couple pieces about that.

I’ve always been an artist my whole life.

What specifically moved you about the documentary?

I think it was just like, even in a really hard time, that people still come together and try to have a good time. They were in the middle of a hard time, especially with Nelson Mandela going to jail and their liberties and freedoms as human beings were just being suppressed. It was really unfair. I’m pretty moved by a lot of things like that but I don’t really voice it so that’s why I use art to portray how I feel about certain things.

Would you say that diversity in art is important?

I think it is really important. Personally, I don’t feel like anybody’s art is bad or anybody’s is a failure. You don’t really know who the person is or what they like or what inspires [them] to make art. If we didn’t have diversity in art then we wouldn’t be able to find people that we like or find inspiration. There are so many famous artists that I feel like people look up to but it’s not always going to be the same. That’s why we all don’t have the same art style. One artist isn’t the same as the other person; that’s because we have so much diversity. And I think it’s important to be yourself and to have your own style even if it is someone or someone else’s. There will always be something that you do differently or something someone else doesn’t do.

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What media have you found yourself enjoying the most?

I generally use a lot of graphite and charcoal, which I got into recently. They’re both pretty easy for me because I’m pretty good at blending and it helps me use shadowing easier. I just got into colored pencils which are a lot harder; because I realized that it’s not just yellow with black over it for a shadow. It’s different shades of that same color. I have been challenging myself a lot with that, painting as well.

Are you involved in your school art community?

Well, there is an art club but I didn’t really know about it. I’ve been in my school district my whole life. but in my freshman year I went to a different school so when I came back I only took Art 1 because I didn’t really know any of the art curricula at the school and I took that my junior year. This year has been the first year that I have actually been able to take a real art class at the school, like I’m in AP Studio Art. I think that’s the art community I’m in and I’ve also been in the school’s art show twice.

Is your school good about making sure that art is available?

Yeah, they’re trying a lot to introduce a lot more media and different classes. It is kind of hard because my school does have a lot of athletics. But now that there are younger generations coming in actually wanting to do ceramics and AP Studio art and design, it is a lot easier to get the art department more recognition and more resources for what we want to do.

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Have you experimented with any other kinds of art besides drawing and painting?

I’ve tried ceramics before and that was nice, I was pretty good at it. I’d love to work with sculpture I think that’d be pretty cool, especially making human bodies.

It seems like that would work with what you’re interested in.

I’m a very visual learner so it would work in a lot of ways.

You said that you wanted to go into medicine, right?

Yes, I want to be a surgeon.

Do you plan on incorporating art into your future?

Yeah, I was considering minoring in art because I don’t want it to just be a hobby or a passion and it has benefited me a lot after doing so many sports. It has been a different part of me and I have appreciated that and I want to keep doing that as I go to college to help me grow. I have seen so much growth in myself just in the last year from this class and I don’t feel like I want to stop now at all.

You said you don’t want it to be a hobby. Are you planning on being a doctor?

Yes, I am. But retirement-wise I will probably be an artist.

What are your favorite pieces that you have made so far?

I did this big piece called “The Pattern Within” but it took me a long time to go back to doing what I normally do, with like graphite. When I did this one it made me stop and actually make time to make something, make something that I normally do. With the blending and having to make time to focus on proportions it made me fall back in love with everything.

Do you think art is a major release for you, almost therapeutic?

Yes, and I think there are a lot of different ways to have therapy, at least for me. I am pretty busy and play a lot of sports and in the sports aspect it is more like, “I’ve had a hard day at school or month or week,” so I am just going to play sports and give it everything I’ve got. But with art, I can just relax and focus on what I’m doing with my hand. It is a lot easier to relax that way.

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Since you have so many activities going on what else influences your life?

My house actually. My dad is from Nigeria and has painted the entire inside and has completely landscaped our entire backyard. So I think I take a lot of inspiration from my house and it inspires me a lot to go out and create. Of course, I spend a lot of time procrastinating and not wanting to do homework ever, so I love to just go and start drawing something. My friends also inspire me to go draw as well.

Your dad is an architect and a big portion of that is art, do you think he has imparted anything to you?

Yes, I think so. He used to live in Italy at a time and we have a library in our house full of law books because my mom is a lawyer. That has definitely helped me find a lot of different things that I’m interested in art-wise and what I want to create and what inspires me to create more. He is always there to tell me that there are so many things you’re capable of creating and so many things to create, so it is easy for me to be motivated by that.

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Where else do you find your inspiration?

This seems so cliche because I normally don’t try to draw for meaning but I do the opposite just for the fact that I feel like so many people say, “I drew this because I was happy,” or, “I drew this because I was sad,” but I drew this because I wanted to. I try to draw and be like, you know what, I am just in that mood and sometimes I just draw after a long time of feeling a certain way like I just need to get it across. I have one of those pieces in the “Breadth” section of my portfolio for this year. It is a heart and something I did differently but I incorporated a lot of mind work on it and I wanted to experiment with that.

Do you have a message for any artists just starting out?

I think anybody can be an artist; that’s probably my biggest message. A lot of my friends feel really intimidated against me. That’s the first thing, to not compare yourself to other people because you don’t know how long they have been practicing and you don’t know what they struggle with. I’ve learned that this year because I don’t have a lot of time to make art but when I do, I sit down and get to it, while other people in my class, that’s all they do. So you can see the contrast and improvement and the skill that they have and the skill that you have. I think that you have to remember where you are and the time that you have and how much dedication you are willing to put for it. I don’t think people should overthink it that much. It is art and it is your art and whatever you produce is as good enough as it is going to be for you and that doesn’t mean it is bad for someone else. I think art is art and you can’t really have a bad opinion about it because you don’t know how they wanted to address the message in it.

Go follow this teen artist on Instagram @michaellaamamilo!

Teen Interview #22

Bryce Ann Hartzell, 16.


So, are you a singer?

Yeah, mostly. I also produce and manage shows.

What bands or groups do you produce and manage shows for?

Mostly my own band; and currently I’m only managing one other group called Gemi. I have managed quite a few bands in the past, though.

What inspired you to get into music?

My uncle actually passed away, and he left me his most prized possession. It was his elevation guitar, and I felt like it was something I needed to learn, because you can’t put something that special into a closet somewhere.

Do you write your own songs?

I do: I’ve taken a few songwriting classes at SOTA and it’s helped me write my own songs but I started writing them when I was about 12 or 13.

What instruments do you play?

I play the guitar, piano, bass… I’m trying to learn the drums, and I play the ukulele, but, not often because it’s an instrument that not many people want to hear anymore.

What type of music are you in to, and what type do you play?

I’m actually into a lot of different genres of music; I like to listen to everything because I feel like you can pull inspiration from everything. I do prefer to listen to rap, indie, and slow stuff like that; and I mostly play indie or alternative rock.

Do you think it’s important to have role models?

I think people wouldn’t be able to shape themselves as authentically if they didn’t have role models. Role models play a big part in kids and teenagers finding who they want to be, and the qualities that they want to possess, along with their views about the world and their treatment of it. Role models also affect kids’ and teenagers’ self-worth and self-treatment.

Who have some of your role models been?

My mom is one of my biggest role models; I feel like a lot of people say that, but she’s just inspired me to be really strong because she’s had to be strong her whole life. But in terms of celebrities or famous people, I have some really strong feminist role models like Halsey, and even weirder people like Mac DeMarco just because a lot of them are carefree and they don’t really care what other people think. And they just do their own things.

Role models play a big part in kids and teenagers finding who they want to be, and the qualities that they want to possess, along with their views about the world and their treatment of it.

Where do you want to take your music?

The dream is to be famous one day; the dream is to be a pop star. Realistically though, I’m applying to music colleges in Europe and I think the route I’m wanting to go is making money off of touring and playing shows. I just want to be able to do what I love and live off of it and be happy with it; to just be happy with my life and my career.

What’s your favorite song that you wrote?

It’s a song that I put on SoundCloud; it’s called Trees. It’s basically like… okay, so I go to summer camp each summer and there’s this counselor there who has just shaped my life so incredibly over the last 4 years. And she has this little tattoo of a tree on her leg, just because she loves the outdoors, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. So, I wrote her that song and it had trees in it and it was really fun and I liked it a lot.

What was the most challenging instrument to learn?

The guitar, because my hands don’t like to do 2 different things at once. I mean, piano does kind of do that but it’s more melodic in a sense because you can look down at it the whole time, while you can’t do that when you play the guitar usually, unless it’s classical. So, just learning how to do 2 different things at once is just really complicated for my brain.

Do you wish you were talented in any other way?

All the time, I mean, I go to an art school so I see all these fabulous people all the time. And even at school dances, I see all these dancers just going at it. And I just think, “I wish I could do that but I’m just not graceful,” or, “I wish I was better at drawing so I could have my art up somewhere.” I definitely wish that there was more than just music for me, but I’m also just really grateful that I even have music.

How has music affected your life?

I think it’s made me more independent. People who do music kind of have to do a lot of things for themselves. Like you have to book your own shows, so it’s made me not only independent, but it’s made me more able to talk to people and reach out and not be afraid of getting turned down because at least I tried. There’s always the possibility that you’ll get turned down, but there are all these opportunities if you don’t get turned down. And so, it’s made me kind of fearless in a way that’s just like, “this is me, and here I am.” If people don’t like it then that’s okay, but if they do, then I want to work with them and do something awesome.

What are you doing now in the art community?

Well, I recently booked a show with Realart, with a few different bands. One of them was actually from Arizona; they were touring and they came up here looking for a venue and I was like, “hey come to Realart, we have a show date already and you can hop in with some of us.” So I’m trying to book even more shows through Realart and other venues.

I actually volunteer at the YMCA, where I help out with things like Healthy Kids Day, where I basically just watch little kids play and do games with them.

Has working with the kids affected your music?

Yeah; kids are really inspiring just because they’re not afraid of failure. I actually have a little cousin and she falls down so much, but every time she falls, she gets right back up and she’s like “I’m fine,” and I just feel like that’s a metaphor for life. There are all these little kids that are so fearless and it makes me think that if they can do it then I can do it too.

Have any of your personal relationships affected your music? If so, how?

Yeah; I actually have an ex who I was in a band with, and when we broke up, the band basically broke up. And I think I’ve been a bit stupid in choosing to be in a band with my current partner, and it’s fine right now, but I’m always worried that, “if we break up then the band might break up?” Or, “will we be able to stick it out for the band?” But eventually that might go sideways, so my romantic relationships have definitely affected my music in really large ways just because of the decisions I’ve made. But also, breakups are really good for song inspiration [laughs].

What is your musical process?

A lot of crying, honestly, and a lot of self doubt. I’ll even write one line and think it’s not good enough, and then it’ll just spiral into me thinking that I’m not good enough and I’m not going to get anywhere. A lot of the times, it takes a few days to get yourself out of it and be like, “okay, you’re fine, keep writing.” The musical process for me is just really hard; it’s filled with a lot of anxiety around it about whether it will be good enough or what people will think. In the end, though, I just end up coming to terms with the fact that some people won’t like it. That’s how it’s always going to go. There are famous people who have people who don’t like their music. You just have to accept that and if you like it, that’s all that matters.

Do you make music for yourself or for others?

A little bit of both. Usually when I’m writing my music, it has a lot of meaning to me. There are lines that are seemingly not much to anybody else, but to me they mean a thousand words to the person I’m writing it to or the situation I’m writing about. So my music is a really good outlet for myself, but I definitely do consider what other people like and enjoy when I’m writing it. If I make a song too complicated or too simple, I feel like there will definitely be people who fall off the ends because they aren’t entertained or because there’s too much going on and they get too much in their head. I think you have to have that balance, to be a successful artist.

Do you have an ending statement for anyone who is afraid to spread their art?

The worst that can happen, is people won’t like it; but in all reality, that’s not even that bad. As long as your art makes you happy, that’s all that matters.

Go Check out Bryce’s social media on Instagram @bryceann.music and @bry.hartzell!

Teen Interview #18

Dominick McCluree, 18


Where are you from and what do you do?

I live in Olympia, I just dance and go to school a lot.

Is there a big dance or art community in Olympia?
No, Olympia is like a dead town. I know there’s this one vampire bar, where all the lights are out and the windows are tinted; there’s a lot of interesting people there.

How did you get into Tacoma’s art scene?
A long time ago I was a skunk in a Winnie the Pooh play, and one of the people in the play went to Tacoma School of the Arts (TSOTA). After she introduced me to it I began going there and slowly my whole life switched to be up here.

How long have you been dancing?
I started dancing when I was three, but then two years ago my dance teacher took me to Pittsburg with a bunch of other people and it switched my perspective. So I’ve been really focused on dance for the past two years.

What is the most interesting part of dancing to you?
There are the hours you put into training because it takes a lot of physical form, but I think my favorite part of dance is when you get on stage and you let everything go. You’re just trying to be as vulnerable as you can to whoever is out there and try to connect with them.

Like you said dance seems very personal and powerful. When you are dancing you said you try to connect with people, is that ever difficult to do because dance is so vulnerable?
Yeah, it took a really long time to figure out how to be vulnerable but not read to other people.

You have to switch being vulnerable to yourself and being vulnerable to people in the audience, which is completely different. It’s hard to learn the difference between the two, and how to respect them because they are so important, while still showcasing what you need to in the moment.

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How have you taken your dance out into the community?
I do a lot of performances with my school, and we compete. Recently I’ve been traveling a lot out of state, going to dance conventions and things like that. However, I’m working on my senior project at school right now, so I’ve been working a lot with other dancers in Tacoma that I don’t know. To put together pieces for our show, my friend is making all the music for it which is really cool.

Dance can sometimes feel secluded to people who aren’t involved in it, how do you think people can interact with dance?
There’s been a lot of studies that show how dance can improve your cognitive skills when you’re younger. So, I want people to go out and see dance in whatever form, whether is it’s a school show or they just see someone dancing on the street. I want people to interact by putting their kids into dance because it’s so good for them.

Would you say you make art for yourself or the community?
The one hard thing with dance is that when you’re younger, you have to dance in companies and make a name for yourself; I feel like it’s hard to say if I’m making work at this point for myself or the community. But I definitely want to engage with the community and I want as many people to get involved in dance as possible. Because it’s such an elitist thing, you have to go to a studio and train and all of that. I want as many people to be given the opportunities that I was afforded before I leave for college.

What is your current plan for the future?
It mostly involves moving to New York next year and hoping that I don’t end up homeless. But if I do it’s okay. Some people have these really big aspirations for dance, like, ‘oh I want to start a company,’ but I just want to dance and live off of it. I don’t really care what form that takes, and I’d love to teach at some point.

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Would you say that the art world needs to be more connected?
Yeah, I think there needs to be more cross-collaboration. There are so many different aspects to different art and I wish that everyone would work together a little bit more. And, put on shows with musicians working with dancers or photographers. There are so many cool ways to come together and I want to see them all become cohesive.

What are some steps to expand the art community in your opinion?
I think it’s all about outreach. The more you can get it out there and the more accessible you can make it for people who wouldn’t have the opportunities to experience art is a super important part. Just getting it out there so people can do it.

You mentioned collaborating, does SOTA include a lot of that?
Yeah, for the dance concert we’re doing in the spring, everything that we’re performing to is sung by the choirs at our sister school SAMI. There’s a lot of collaboration, especially in the dance department, our teacher likes to get us to collaborate. So that’s cool, and the students really like to work together.

Have you played around with any other art forms?
I was a skunk in Winnie the Pooh so I acted when I was eight, but I’ve been pretty dance-centric since the seventh grade.

How does the type of music influence your dancing?
I think there are the really obvious differences in genres, like if Kendrick’s playing you’re not going to be doing ballet and all that, but the lines are getting muddled on that in the dance world. It’s slowly becoming more and more able to play around. I think It’s mostly about listening to the music and trying to figure out what that artist is trying to put forth, and you try to visually tell that story as well.

What is art to you?
I feel like art is very hard to define because it means different things to so many people. But, for me, it’s just an expression of oneself that they are feeling confident enough to put out into the world. I wouldn’t say there’s a lot to it, walking across the street can be art if somebody is doing it with the intent to show other people.

What message do you try to convey through your dance?
I try to stick to more hopeful pieces, it’s such a crazy time in our world right now. There’s so much hate and I try to focus on uplifting and hopeful messages. I would say I just try to convey a message if anything.

Do you think the Tacoma art community right now is representative of who is creating art? Do you think it’s an inclusive space?
Yeah, I think it’s a really small space, and it’s hard to break into it and really get involved. Most of the artists I know outside of my school are really involved in the Seattle art scene. But, the people I know that are in the Tacoma art scene are super welcoming and super inviting. I think it’s a very small group and the outreach that’s being done is very new in Tacoma, so I think it’s getting bigger, and it’s been really cool watching that happen. I just think it’s really small right now, but it’s definitely inclusive.

Have you found it difficult to put yourself in the art scene and to discover your own talents?
Yeah, I think it’s really hard coming from Olympia to Tacoma. I left a lot of the Olympia connections from the art scene I was in at the time. So, I’ve been trying to find it and I think I found my niche this year and where I belong in it. I’ve danced my whole life, my mom is really into art so I grew up with it. So when you see people who didn’t grow up with art around them and they’re just starting to discover it, it’s important to support them and help them explore more.

How has dancing helped you?
It’s so cliche, but dance really gave me a purpose. I have a really hard time in school, paying attention and being interested, just because math and science aren’t really my thing. But, dance has always been something that I feel like I can focus on, and no matter what I’m doing it gives me something to work toward and get validation from it.

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Watch out for applications to be part of the Teens In Tacoma Collective soon!

 

 

Teen Interview #16

Brook Jones, 17.


What school do you go to?

I go to stadium.

What is your advice to students who don’t have the privilege of going to a school that supports them?

I’d say that asking-and just being in public, in general, and you’ll start to notice or hear conversations. And, just making sure that you’re out in public all the time and try to be a part of the community. [It] will help you do any of your art successful[ly].

What do you consider to be music?

Music is abstract, it’s whatever noise makes you feel something. But I don’t think that screaming is always music. I guess that’s my answer, just noise that makes sense to you. It doesn’t have to make sense to someone else.

How did you start music?

I just started playing piano by myself in third grade, just messing around. Then I took guitar lessons in fifth grade, and from then it’s just been figuring out whatever I feel and doing whatever since then.

What genre is your favorite?

I think it just depends on the time of day and the mood. Of course I listen to what I play, which is indie-rock type of stuff. I also listen to a lot of jazz, and… I enjoy all types of music. You have bluegrass, jazz, rock, indie-rock…I don’t really like classic rock, that’s the only thing I don’t really like [laughs].

“Music is abstract, it’s whatever noise makes you feel something.”

Are you a solo artist or are you in a group?

It’s kinda both. I have my own solo thing but even that is with a band. I’m in quite a few others with friends.

How many bands are you in and what are their names?

Bath Toys is the most obvious answer, and then I have my own group which is Fantastic Fogman. And, then my friend Christian’s group, which doesn’t play a lot, is Baja Boy. [Christian] He’s the drummer of Bath Toys and then I play bass in a band called Slog, with Zach. And, then I have a band with my friends Croix and Christian where I play bass and sing, and that’s Heathers Sweater. Then, my friend Peter and I, we rarely do things, but we have one [a band] called the Six String Guitar Fish.

What type of music do you cover?

In these specific bands…Bath Toys is indie-rock type deal, very modern. Fogman is more folky and jazzy, but also rock sometimes. And Heathers Sweater is kind of, like acid rock, like Black Sabbath kind of stuff, and Slog is just a hardcore punk band. Six String Guitar Fish is more folky. And then I play bass in general, so I play jazz gigs occasionally, and just playing bass for random people too.

Describe playing in a band in three words.

‘Arg,wow, cool.’

What’s the difference between being solo and being in a band?

I think that when you’re doing things by yourself you may still feel like…The ‘arg’ is supposed to be like anger and ‘wow’ is amazement, and ‘cool’ obviously means that it’s cool. So, you feel all of those being solo and in a band but when you’re in a band its [emotions] are very noticeable and tend to be more outward because you’re with others. But, if you’re by yourself it’s more internal thoughts.

We interviewed another musician. He’s a solo artist and in a band. He mentioned that being solo means you feel your own emotions, and when you’re in a band you feel everyone else’s. Is that true?

Yeah, I think that’s true. When you are a solo artist, even if you are playing with a band, you’re usually directing everyone and the songs are much more personal. So, when I play in my solo band I definitely feel more of my own emotions. And, when I play in a band and I’m playing, like, Zach’s song, it’s definitely feeling more of his emotions.

 

Why do you continue to do music?

I kind of said this earlier with what being an artist means, I write songs and music to try to figure out my own emotions. Whether that’s writing a song to try and figure out how I feel… a lot of times I won’t really figure out the song that I’m writing until months later, and then I can better understand my emotions. Or, I’ll switch instruments. Playing drums gets out a different emotion than guitar. Or, I started playing clarinet a little bit ago because I thought guitar had gotten boring, so I just try to apply different types of music to try to figure out myself.

What do you define as art?

I think art is just…any sort of expression of the soul. That’s a simple way to put it.

How have you been able to share your art with others?

This also goes back to a question earlier, just being involved with the community. You need to do that to share your art. Any sort of community, like I said, just getting out of your house but, being in a community online, following artists on instagram, or making tags on your Bandcamp. You have to be involved. It’s very uplifting and helps a lot with art.

Do you have a place in Tacoma that significantly supports teen art?

I think as far as music goes, Real Art, is an obvious one. They really support teens, and everyone because it’s an all ages venue, but especially teens because it’s a really good beginning place to go if you’re in a band and just getting started. Also King’s Books, there’s a lot of shows there that I’ve gotten to be a part of too, where I can do visual art and music.

“I think art is just…any sort of expression of the soul. That’s a simple way to put it.”

How can teenagers or others help expand the art community in Tacoma?

I think reaching out. Also it’s a different kind of being part of a community, instead of just being in a community for yourself, being in it for others.

Why is it important that Tacoma supports teen artists?

Because, we are building the future and art is the most important thing.

Do you have plans for what you’ll do in the future?

I think I’ll just continue to figure myself out. Maybe I won’t be a musician, maybe I’ll end up making hella t-shirts. But, whatever happens I’ll always be doing art. By either staying in Tacoma and recording a lot and/or touring, or maybe I’ll just be a studio musician living in LA, and that’s the last of my hopes. But if that’s where it takes me, then that’s where it takes me. Wherever I find myself comfortable to keep doing my art, then that’s what I’ll do.

Make sure to come to Teen Night!

Follow Brooke @bonkuskat on Instagram! And make sure to come to our Art Show on the 19th at TAM!

Teen Interview #15

Jey Vargas, 17.


How did you get into art?

I’ve always been interested in art. It has always been a release for me, I guess, to explore myself. This kind of sounds like I’m bragging, but when people tell me, “Oh this is good, oh this is nice,” it kind of made me want to do it more. I realized as I got into advanced art programs, I was like, “Oh I want to do this for a living.” Like I want to pursue art for a career. [It] made me create more pieces and have a foundation for what I do.

Do you wish you had this opportunity when you first started doing art?

I think it would have been nice, but also I don’t think I was quite ready my sophomore year. I wasn’t that well-rounded as an artist. It was when I first started to get serious about art. At a young age I don’t think I would have been ready to put myself out there. I didn’t have enough pieces back then. I think where I am now is when I’m starting to look more into art interviews, putting myself into interviews. Now is when I’m ready, and now is when the opportunities are coming.

JEY
My heart belongs to you only

What are your plans for your career?

I do mostly paintings, but I actually want to do animation and character design as a career. So I want to pursue living in Los Angeles and trying to get in that little network. But I want to go to an art college, near Pasadena, in Los Angeles. It’s called Art Center, College for Design.

Do you have a particular artist that you look up to?

Not really. In my art classes we focus on researching a lot of artists and finding inspiration. I love Frida Kahlo, I’m Mexican. But I don’t ever look at work and try to reproduce it, even it’s for the sake of learning. I just do whatever I do. So I’ve never really thought about an artist that I want to compare myself to.

Why do you think Frida Kahlo was so influential?

I think it was because, at the time, she was very different from the other artists. She was a really strong, independent woman and was not about letting others tell her what to do. She would do whatever. She would dress masculine or feminine. I’m pretty sure she was bisexual, let’s just be clear. She really explored herself and used her art to represent her own self. Created images of her life and her dreams, and they were not always the most pretty looking things. And that’s why I always look up to her. A lot of my work focuses on me showcasing my experiences and what I get inside, and I just hope that other people will see it and relate to that, or see themselves represented as well. I think that’s what she strives [to do]. So I guess that was what was different about her at the time.

BODY
Male

Why do you make art?

It’s almost asking what life is to an artist. I make art to explore my own self, to release emotions, to release baggage. I think I do it for myself first and foremost. So like one of my pieces was really big; it was a self-portrait. It was about my suicide attempt from last year, and when I painted that, it was like I was releasing my baggage and releasing this struggle. Putting it on a canvas to show how I felt at that time, and like, that’s it. I don’t want to think about it again. I do it for myself, but I also want to showcase my other identities being a transgender, queer, Mexican boy. I want to showcase my own culture. The transgender struggle with being queer in my artwork. Have representation. We can all be accepted. We are all people here. Have our stories be told.

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Terrified

Was there a struggle doing art with the lack of representation in the art world for you?

I think initially when I was coming out, like at the end of middle school, beginning high school, there was not really an issue. I didn’t focus on others artwork, I just focused on Frida Kahlo. That was the only Mexican I knew. I didn’t even know that there were other transgender artists, queer artists. I didn’t even know that was a big thing, a big topic I could discover and create art about. I’m in I.B (International Baccalaureate) and in my I.B classes, they push me to look at other artists, and to look at queer, Mexican, or transgender artists, or other artists of color. So I think that’s when I started to realize there was art out there, and there are other issues I can learn and create art about. Every year [the class] visits an art museum. Last year I think we visited [Tacoma Art Museum] , maybe Seattle Art Museum. I don’t know, I’ve been to both, and usually here, or in Seattle Art Museum, there are exhibits for people of color or for specific artists of color. I remember at the Henry Art exhibit there was a show on trans history. That was really nice, looking at other trans artists. I think just putting myself out and searching for what I wanted to search for, that’s when I realized there was a place for me in the art world.

“I want to showcase my own culture. The transgender struggle with being queer in my artwork. Have representation. We can all be accepted. We are all people here.”

Why is transgender and queer representation in the arts important?

I think it’s important; it’s the same reason why shows, media, and movies and all that are important. We need to have our stories be told, listened, watched, understood, in order for the rest of the world to be accepting and loving of us. I think especially trans artists and queer artists in general, it’s really important to show our stories the way we want to show it. We have to make our own films, our own writing, and our own art, based our own experiences. I don’t think anyone else can really make stories for other people, so that’s why it’s important to have representation and showcase our beauty; because art just isn’t about a pretty picture, or white, skinny, naked girls. It can be about anything. And I think since it’s about anything, we should show that at in museums, in exhibitions, you know?

Why would you rather paint something than take a photo of it?

I think the media that I use is because of the opportunities I have. I was in a photo class once. No one ever taught me Photoshop. No one ever taught me to do these things, I learned Photoshop on my own. But when I was in my art class, they really gave me the tools. You can do whatever you want with this. So that’s why I’m really multimedia. Drawing, painting. I think that’s why. Getting the tools out here, getting the ability to do these types of things [is of value].

Discuss your favorite piece.

I think one of the first big, important pieces I’ve done, because in my years that I was in art classes I mostly created pieces that were really sad, and about my struggle being trans and queer. It is a good thing, and I do like being trans, but I think I wasn’t as accepting of myself when I created that, so I needed to kind of release emotions, you know what I was saying? But I think being Mexican, I’ve been proud of being Mexican my entire life. Despite what people say, despite the media, despite racism. I’ve never really seen what was really positive about being Mexican, or Mexican culture. It’s always shared among us, but never out in the open. So I wanted to create a piece celebrating my culture, instead of focusing on the negatives. It’s called Los Flores de Mexico. So it’s like flowers that remind me of Mexico, paintbrushes, and little paint pots. Alcatraz’s are really prominent in Mexican art, so I used that to represent my Mexican side. The roses are with the hand to show my religious side. Even though I’m not really religious, it’s still is a really big part of our culture, so I wanted that to be represented. The marigolds are with the skull, and it represents our celebrations and our traditions. The skull specifically is for Dia de los Muertos; it’s a big part of our culture. I wanted to showcase all of it in a subtle way, I guess.

FLOR
Los flores de México

Why do you think it’s important to have triumphant pieces in art?

There are a lot of stereotypes about being Latina, being Mexican, being any person of color, a lot of different races. But it’s mostly surrounded in negative stereotypes. It is super important to talk about it. But, I still think it’s important to showcase our beauty and our worth. Because, if we don’t showcase our positives and what we can bring, and that we are just people, like everyone else, people are just going to focus on the stereotypes. No matter if we are combatting it or upholding it, or not. It’s all just going to be in the negative. So I think it’s just as important to remember that we have culture. We have beautiful things about us and need to put it out there.

“I think especially trans artists and queer artists in general, it’s really important to show our stories the way we want to show it. We have to make our own films, our own writing, and our own art, based our own experiences.”

Do you have an ending statement that you want to say to any teenagers, in terms of Queer issues, art, or other things?

There is a lot of intersectionality between identities. While I am Mexican, it is important to remember I am queer; I am trans. When you think about being Mexican, you think about a man or a woman. Or a cisgender, Mexican dude. When you think about being trans, you think of a white, gay, trans dude, or something like that. You don’t really remember that there are intersecting identities. I am all of these things combined, and that’s what I want people to remember.

Go follow Jey on Instagram @prettyboypaints

Teen Interview #13

Madison Castro, 17.


What school do you go to?

Graham Kapowsin High School.

Has the school influenced your artwork?

I think its been supportive of a lot of students. Not necessarily me, because I haven’t put myself into the art program at my own school. [Because] it’s just kind of hobby that I do and I don’t have a lot of time or credit room to do that. But they do have elective room, elective credit, for people to use at my school for the art program. The art program at my high school is actually pretty developed and supported. They do art shows, contests or things like that. They do that pretty often compared to other school districts. Not necessarily supporting me… but that’s not their fault-it’s mine. [Because] I just choose to not include myself in that stuff. I just stick to my stuff and do my own thing.

GK has developed music programs as well. Between art and music, which one do they support more?

I think they do musical things more just because there are a lot more people who start doing musical instruments. And learning that stuff pretty early on, while art is just a thing that people don’t encourage as much because people think you can’t make a career off of it. At least not a prosperous one. So I would say that the musical program is more supportive there.

You said you don’t have credit room to do a lot of art classes. Do students at GK do Core 24?

Yes, we do. We have to get twenty-four credits to graduate high school. I don’t know how many elective credits they give you. I think they give you two a year, but a lot of those are filled by computer classes that you need to take. Or technical classes or things like that, that people need that has to do with their career. But it doesn’t give them much room to be creative in school. They [artists] do it on their own. A lot of people who really like art, do it on their own no matter what and just try their best to be a part of it in school. And show their school their talents and things. But there’s not a lot of financial support as well. With people to show off their art and learn from it and grow as people.

Had you not been in Core 24, would you be in more art classes?

I think definitely I would have. I’ve always wanted to take an art class because I’m self-taught. And I’ve always wanted to see how it’s technically supposed to be done. I don’t know. There’s a lot of ways that you can do more. I wanted to be educated on it so I can develop my skills and enhance them to a point where I’m prouder of them and I feel like I’m living up to my potential. On my own I just kind of do my best. I’m proud of it but not as much as I would be if I knew how to use the tools and things like that.

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From what the committee has seen, high schools tend to focus more on sports, rather than art. Why do you think that is?

I think that people like sports just because it’s American culture. I think I just surround myself with people who support art and musical things in school a lot. And they are very enthusiastic for that. But this school, and other school districts from what I’ve experienced, people are more enthused about sports. Because they think that it’s a team effort and a lot of people just want to be social. And they think that art is not a social thing. That you do it by yourself. But people can do art together and that’s something that people don’t realize.

Do you find the way America focuses on art, to be toxic, or beneficial?

I think that it’s less the art, more the people. The people who are doing the art. Because people are just really obsessed with the drama of it all. And it’s kind of sad how it’s turned into like… you can put up any video of yourself jumping into pool and setting it on fire or something [laughs]. And you can go viral for that and be famous years after that and it’s not really talent. It’s not really hard work. And I’m not saying that no one does that now because there are people who try to use their platforms for themselves and their own aspirations. But a lot of things with fame now, is supporting people being asinine. It’s not the art they are showing, its more the people that are doing it. And their own lives. because people can’t have their own lives. They don’t decide to. They just like watching other people’s.

Who is responsible for implementing change in Tacoma?

As we get older…the youth are the future of America. And if we support that and encourage it to its highest level, out of the years as we get older, and grow as people and we catch the mistakes being made now and learn to speak up about the things that  affected us in negative ways- we can change that. I just think it’s really important to know that even if we are young, there’s so many people who can do things. Like what you guys are doing here.

Who do you look up to that is implementing change?

I don’t think I look up to celebrities who are implementing change because I know that they do that. I’ve met a lot of educators. Musical educators and arts educators at my school and other districts and things from contests. And things that I’ve been on and meeting them. And seeing how they support their peers and people that they mentor to grow and never stop doing what they’re doing. And letting them know how important their voice in the art community and musical community and all of it. Just generally the educators I’ve met that let people know that their voice is heard.

Are there any talents you wish you had besides your current ones?

I’d like to get better at watercolor painting and oil painting. I just want to learn how to use a lot of different mediums. I just like painting in general and I’ve only ever really used watercolor and acrylic. I just use plain pencils. I don’t really use pencil pencils or anything. I just use like a school pencil. Like a number 2 pencil and go to town because I don’t even know how to use professional pens. I’ve never been taught professionally. I just do the best with what I have. And I just wish I knew how to use professional things and how that affects the art it’s supposed to look like. I just think I’m underdeveloped in some things. I know I am, and I just want to get better.

Is there a benefit to in-person teaching?

Well, considering I haven’t ever actually had in person teaching [laughs]. What I hypothesize would be… the benefit I’ve heard is that you can see it happening first hand and you can stop them and ask them what they’ve been doing in first hand. And you can stop them and ask them how they did it. And how to mimic that and how to include that in your own art style. Everyone has their own different expressions that they want to show the world. When you’re in an art class I believe they do teach how to do it one set way, but you need that knowledge. And use that knowledge to your advantage when you’re doing your own unique works. Compared to like doing it on YouTube. I’ve watched a lot of weird videos where it’s like, ‘You use this this this and this,’ and it’s usually like digital things. What if you don’t have that software? What if you can’t afford that software? So usually that’s why I like to stick with pen, pencil, and paper and it ends up looking okay, at least from what I’ve heard [laughs].

How can less privileged people build their art skills?

Personally, I didn’t have any special things to start out with. I think I had the same crayon box all throughout elementary school. [Madison’s mom] She didn’t want to buy new ones every year. She had four kids to buy school supplies for every year and that’s hundreds every year and we couldn’t afford that. So that’s how I taught myself. Using what I had was like a paper at school, like I did it on lined paper. I doodled on everything. Eventually, it was something that I asked for on special occasions, like materials. I have canvases stacked in my room currently because so many people have been kind enough to give me them, because they support me and my growth as an artist… And I think that’s what mainly drives people to keep going. The fact that they don’t have a lot and they want to see what they can do if they had… more resources. It just shows the drive that people have to express themselves, and that they are confident in their voice.

How do you look at something then decide that you want to draw it?

Mainly I like to draw people. Mainly because people are intricate and people are different. It’s fun to see how many different ways you can draw a person and how many different styles you can do it. Sometimes I get inspiration for a drawing from seeing a person and I’m like, ‘wow they look so unique!’ [Laughs] In a nice way! And I’m like, ‘wow, I wonder how I could draw that” and then I just kind of come up with it as I go and I’m like “wow, that turned out okay.” I just see people and kind of come up with it as I go. I just kind of see people. I do stuff besides people. I do some landscape things. I look at stuff for a long time because I feel [like] it helps in my mind; by just studying things a lot. My mom kind of realizes that when I do that. I just kind of space out and she’s like “are you okay?” and I’m like “yeah”. It’s just–I’m like “that’s just really beautiful” and then I go back and try to recreate it because I want people to experience the beauty I saw.

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What can Tacoma do to bring teens together?

I think that this group is definitely a good start because you guys are reaching out a lot and it’s really admirable. And I think that the way you guys are doing right now is pretty great. You guys got all the way to me and I’m in little old Graham. I’ll be sure to talk to other people about this. And I feel like we’re so close to being adults. We’re on the cusp of making huge changes, starting out by making this teen group and reaching out to teens and letting them know of their importance and that their roles in the art society matters.

Go follow Madison on Instagram ! @cas.maddie

Duck Duck Noose

Amidst the prominent issues engraved in America, racism thrives as one of them. It is considered an opinion on others, yet a curse on African-Americans alike. The very thought of acknowledging racism is an important part of the battle. The battle that captivates African-Americans, as if they were seized by the neck again.

When given the question of a national conversation, one can only look beyond the plight. A national conversation consisting of conditions, or stipulations about a new rule. In a society, where views are not smudged with systemic racism, a national debate would be lively. Two sides would engage in a historic diplomacy and would change the nation forever. Black boys would be tried as boys again, and black women could persist as polite ladies.

Alas, this is not the case in America, and without change, it never will be. A conversation like so would require a majority of people who are willing to face complications. A majority of people who are not skewed by privilege, or egocentrism. A majority of men, and women, who do not advocate for Christianity, and then defend the Confederate flag. People who demand change. A race that is not entitled to anything, but new perspectives.

In 1952, when West Germany faced the metaphorical costs of the war, “very few Germans believed that Jews were entitled to anything,”(Coates). In fact, “only 5 percent of West Germans surveyed reported feeling guilty about the Holocaust, and only 29 percent believed that Jews were owed restitution from the German people.” (Coates). I fear the percentage is deeply lower in white people, in America.

When evidence of police brutality surface or the eyes of racism become too clear, white citizens blame it on our nonsense. On our pants being too low, or our heads being too thick. When Philando Castle was shot, white people noted the video, then looked for signs of resistance. Mortified they were until they found a loophole to excuse the injustices he “deserved.” Thoughts and prayers were sent to the officer, rather than to Castle’s daughter. It was his fault because he resisted orders.

Yet, as African-Americans saw otherwise, the change was only internal. When the case was presented to the courts, the officer was left acquitted, found non-guilty on all charges. Earl Gray, a lawyer for Officer Yanez, even stated that he was “still very shook up” after the verdict, but “extremely happy it’s over” (Smith).  Even as a non-white person, the officer lost neither sleep nor morals over the case. The judge bid him adieu, and he continued to live his life. Though he took a life, he had only taken a black life, and that made the slightest difference in his conscience.

If we can’t expect non-white people in America to have remorse for black people, who do we run to? When murders are not enough to awaken a soul, or when we are seen as “brothas,” young thugs to be locked up, rather than “people with a purpose in life,” the thought of a national debate tickles us (Yankah). A conversation that would require a majority of reason, or a majority of thought. A conversation that would require white people to be sympathetic to something outside of college and job promotions. A diplomatic race that would verbally put black people, on the same podium as whites.

We, as black people, are more than willing to endorse a conversation that addresses injustice and murder. We have been ready, since 250 years ago. This is not our fight, for once, and this is not our stage. America will listen to a cause if it employs a white face. A pure embodiment of America. We are too busy being murdered, and spit on, to hope for this conversation. It is in their soft, and warm hands now.

Teen Interview #12

Emma Brennan, 16.


What school do you attend?

I attend Curtis High School.

In schools, are athletics or arts more appreciated?

Athletics; It’s just an American thing. Everyone’s so into sports, it draws the biggest crowd. People love going to football games because they’re fun, and they are fun, but I think they should branch out and try to participate in other things. Go to a choir concert or something. I think that the American culture is so into sports; although it is into arts. We have the super bowl, people can’t really help it.

How has, or hasn’t your school impacted your contribution to the arts?

It has, there are a lot of opportunities to participate. I love being in orchestra choir. For theatre, there are a lot of opportunities, although I don’t get into all of them [laughs].They’re really fun; it’s really fun to be a part of a family when you do get into them.

How has the education system sparked, or ignored, the arts?

I feel like our school has a really good arts program. It could be better; I don’t understand the favoring of other clubs and sports over some arts. I know our art program at Curtis is really strong but at other schools, it’s lacking. Theatre departments are really underdeveloped, which is sad.

What are your art mediums?

My top one is music, but I love theater. Theater is right underneath it. Theater and music have just been really important to me. I’ve been singing and playing the piano for a really long time. I got into theater in the eighth grade. I play the cello and the piano. I used to take lessons, but I stopped that- classical lessons aren’t my thing. I always wish I could play the guitar since I love rock music. I wish I could play the electric guitar because they’re so cool! Anyone who plays the electric guitar—you’re winning!

Do you wish you were multitalented? In what?

I’ve always wanted to be athletic. I always make fun of myself and athletes. I’m so sorry, [laughs] but I wish I was them sometimes! I used to really play volleyball, but I can’t play at all anymore. In the arts I’m fine, but I’ve always wanted to be athletic. I’m a real faker, I always pretend to be [athletic].

What music genre do you feel should be more popular?

I like listening to classic rock and alternative rock, I dig that. Also, I love a good show tune.

Who do you look up to when you feel especially uninspired?

Oh gosh, it changes a lot. I really love this artist, her name is Joni Mitchell, her time has passed. Her lyrics are some of the greatest things I’ve ever heard in my life. Her style is underappreciated now because her time was in the 70’s. Her lyrics are crazy; I don’t know how someone can write like that. More recently I really like Sara Bareilles’ lyrics. The part of songs that I really think is important is the lyrics. Melodies are really important too. But what it’s saying… you know?

What qualifies as “art”?

Art is getting creative and creating something that you put a lot of effort into. It can be music or painting, but I don’t want to sectionalize it. It’s hard to explain but just getting creative and putting yourself into something, whatever that may be. You could say your school work is art if you’re putting yourself into it and enjoying what you’re doing.

What is an underrated art, in your opinion?

This is going to sound pushy, but I think theatre is very underappreciated. A whole bunch of people just try out, thinking it’s weird or out of their comfort zone, and they end up loving it. I know someone who did “one acts” for one year, and they went to minor in theatre in college. I think if you try out for a show, even if you don’t get in, it’s so fun. It will be the least judgemental audience you have.

How has participation in the arts changed your perspective on life and the world?

Before I wanted to do a practical job, just like everyone else wanted, but I didn’t know what that was. I feel like if I hadn’t found theatre or music, I would go to college not really knowing. I have found myself in the arts, and that is the only choice I gave myself; that is the only thing I want to do.

Do you think there should be a balance in art promotions between adults and youth?

I think there should be a balance. I’m not really into [visually] artistic stuff, but those young people are going to be the future. They deserve to have their work shown off and they deserve attention.

How do you think theatre affects Tacoma?

There’s a lot of community theaters in Tacoma, and just from our school, there are a lot of people who want to go and watch. I can imagine that’s something for people in Washington especially, our state is really into the arts. There are a bunch of opportunities to see live theater, and that’s really good.

Why is theatre so expensive and how can we change that?

Kids don’t know that it’s an option to get good tickets. Youth should get access to cheaper tickets. I think that it should have an accessible price option. It shouldn’t be too cheap, because it’s going to art, and that should always have money going into it, but it should still be accessible.

How can theatre improve in inclusiveness?

[By looking] from a different point of view. Maybe if they took a chance on people that they haven’t worked with before, get out of the same thing. I know at TMP, they have the same people on every single show and it would be cool to see them including different people, even if they don’t know them. If they show what they can do, and they’re good, I think they should make it.

What are your short-term and long-term goals in relation to the arts?

I really want to do theatre and music any chance I get. I don’t have to do it professionally or release my own music. Maybe if there is a choir within a city, I’ve seen those. I want to keep myself sharp in singing and regular music, instead of just doing theatre. I want to continue doing music and maybe even continue with orchestra-that’s gonna be harder. I hope to not lose that because it’s really special!

Emma in Les Misérables

 

Go follow Emma on Instagram! @Emmab253

Teen Interview #11

Hal Warren, 16. Lemmon, 17.


What type of genre would you label your own music?

Lemmon: You know, I think it’s definitely hip-hop, we kind of have our own flavor of originality within that, though.
Hal: Yeah. We’re rap and hip-hop for sure, but I feel like a lot of people put themselves in that box and they’re like, “Oh we’re this genre” and then people are like, “But you’re a rapper” or “You’re a Soundcloud rapper,” and I feel like that term gets thrown around a lot, but it’s like… we make music. And I think the expression of an artist shouldn’t be within one genre. People are inspired to make lots of different types of music that sounds different and that’s okay.

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Hal

How long has KID GENIUS been around?

Lemmon: A year.
Hal: Yeah, a little over a year.
Lemmon: We started last December. [Last] January was when we started actually writing songs.

What is the origin of the name?

Lemmon: It’s on you Hal.
Hal: Liam was producing a beat and I was really vibin’ with it, and I was like, “Dude, this is genius! You’re like a kid genius!” and it just kind of got thrown out and that was going to be the name of the song. And then we were like maybe we could start something. Then later I was like, “What should our name be?” and he said, “Kid Genius” and we weren’t set on it but it stuck.
Lemmon: Seemed good.
Hal: Yeah.

What role do you both play in the group?

Hal: I’m the rapper and vocalist and Liam’s the producer, so all of the instrumentals.
Lemmon: All of the music is from me.
Hal: We’ll make songs together, but he’s the mastermind behind all of the beats and all of the songs.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

Lemmon: Mine comes from everywhere. It’s not just one person within the hip-hop genre, but it’s people from rock and roll or jazz or even classical music. Seeing how they can find their originality, find their sound within their genre is an inspiration to me. I guess that’s what we’re trying to do with our stuff.
Hal: He’s inspired by a lot of ambient stuff, like there’s this artist named John Hopkins that he really likes. I’ve been kind of obsessed with the whole underground scene. There are artists like Suicide Boys, Wifisfuneral, and Pouya and all these underground guys that aren’t mainstream. I have kind of been obsessed with that genre for a long time, and I have just recently begun to draw a lot of inspiration from local guys like Peasant Boys and I’ll fight you. And of course, the classics like Tupac and Biggie, Outkast and Public Enemy. Our next project really focuses on the root sounds, like when you think of hip-hop, like the old school beats and relatively simple flows. I also listen to a lot of heavy metal, and Counterparts.
Lemmon: I listen to whatever he listens to. He just tells me to listen to stuff and I go. We draw stuff from everywhere.

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Lemmon

What advice do you have for people just starting their own bands?

Lemmon: I would say take action and don’t be afraid. Know how much you want. If you’re doing it just for fun, that’s great. I find that with us, we’ve had a lot of talks about how far we want to go with it, and I feel like that’s important too. Your desire, and how much you love music.
Hal: If music doesn’t make you happy, you shouldn’t do it. People make music for every single reason you can possibly think of, and every single one of those reasons is valid. Like he said, if you’re gonna do it, really do it. It’s okay to be unsure. We don’t really know what we’re doing, we just like making music and we’re still figuring it out. Just start making stuff. Just do stuff; just make stuff. Start putting out music.

What motivates you to not give up?

Lemmon: I’m addicted to making music, so there’s no way I can quit.
Hal: Liam spends hours and hours and hours on end just on his computer making beats. He’s read entire books on Ableton. There are so many artists for everyone, that really means a lot to them and that has inspired them or helped them work through a section of their life that was really hard. So even the smallest possibility that our music, or something that I create, could help somebody else through something or inspire them or change their life even, just that small chance that I could touch one person, is the coolest thing for me. The fact that we can be a source of sanction for the people.
Lemmon: It’s giving back, you know?
Hal: Couldn’t say it any better.

What is the current project/goal you are working on right now?

Lemmon. Project and goals are two very different things.
Hal: Yeah.
Lemmon: Tell them about the project.
Hal: We very recently just started talking about our next project. We just dropped an EP called “Journey” that was kind of like our first step. Our first step is kind of like identifying it like, “okay we are really gonna do this.” But our next project is …we don’t really have a name for it yet.
Lemmon: Not yet.
Hal: We’re working on something, but there’s another EP in the works.

Is it luck, or hard work that shows results?

Lemmon: It’s luck- no.
Hal: Bro, you got to have hard work.
Lemmon: Some things are just natural, but at the end of the day, if you were to take someone who is naturally good at music versus someone who works every day at it, over a period of time I don’t think the person with luck is going to win.

What art besides music, do you find especially intriguing?

Lemmon: Photography is one thing I find very intriguing. It’s really cool that we can use it with our music with our album art. I’m very strict with album art.
Hal: Image is such an important thing.
Lemmon: You gotta find an image that blends with the music. You can’t have a heavy metal song with a picture of a butter-
Hal: Butterfly.
Lemmon: Or violin or something.
Hal: Well you can make anything out of anything.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Hal: Hopefully in Los Angeles or somewhere in California making music. I mean, that’s our dream that we want.
Lemmon: That’s the target.
Hal: Yeah it’s to go to California. I kind of fell in love with it after a couple of trips. Every time I’m there I’m like, “This is where I’m supposed to be.” So hopefully there, doing this.

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How are success and fame different?

Lemmon: I mean, you can be an electrician and be successful, but not have fame, you know? What do you think about that, Hal?
Hal: I think success is very subjective; like very subjective.
Lemmon: I agree. It’s happiness.
Hal: I think success is contentment. One person’s success may be finally making that first song or playing their first show, or releasing their first project. While another person’s success may be having six albums go double platinum and selling out every major stadium in the US. Both of those are equal and valid success, but fame isn’t necessarily success. There are people who have gotten famous over the stupidest things.
Lemmon: Yeah,
Hal: Just because you’re famous doesn’t mean you’re successful.

Why is it important to recognize teen art?

Lemmon: They’re the future; teens are the future.
Hal: Everyone’s voice is valid. A lot of people say like, “You’re just a kid. You don’t know what you’re doing. You don’t know where you want to go you. You don’t know what you want to do.” And a lot of kids are like, “Yes I do.” And they don’t know how to express that. A lot of these kids are so creative and so different and they challenge certain ideas and they bring out these ideas and they bring out certain things and it’s like, listen to these kids! They have very important things to say. Every voice is valid.
Lemmon: It’s valid.
Hal: Its completely valid, and it’s a different perspective. And most of it is without an ego. I say that tentatively because there are a lot of kids that have big egos. But I think adults have the biggest egos. They’re like, “We know everything. We’re gonna teach you.” And it’s like, that’s true-they can teach you a lot, but like-
Lemmon: No.
Hal: Yeah.

How can Tacoma improve in highlighting work from teens?

Lemmon: Probably open up more places to play than just Realart.
Hal: There’s Louie G’s in Fife and there’s Realart. I feel like more places for specifically youth art to showcase, or more events for kids to meet other teen artists to network. I am very, very fortunate to be at SOTA with other art kids who make music. In any room, there’s anyone who can do anything, and you could potentially have all the musicians to make an album and all the artists to make artwork and all the people who know how to push that album. More of the local community, I guess.

Who is responsible for giving Teens a platform?

Hal: I think teens are going to have more initiative because adults are going to be more hesitant to invest in that, even though it makes more sense to invest in the future than other things. I think teens, and just kids, will have the better mindset for that, but in reality, adults have the resources and the positions to make these things happen.

Go check out Lemmon @Lemmonproductions and Hal @Halwarren_
And follow the two at @Kidgenius_
Also take a minute to listen to their music!

Teen Interview #10

Felipe Varela, 17


Meet Felipe Varela, he has joined the Teens in Tacoma group as our photographer!

What inspires you?

Something that inspires me the most, is that when I create something, I have the chance to share it with people that are close to me. And that’s something that I really enjoy. Showing people something I’ve created in general, is a really cool feeling to experience and that’s what I work towards.

Would you still make art if you weren’t able to show it to anyone?

See that’s tough because it kind of contradicts what I just said. But yes, I would still make art because not only is there that feeling of one enjoying your art, there’s that self-satisfaction with what you’ve created, and knowing you can make something amazing.

How would you define ‘art?’

The definition of art is an expression of yourself and creation. Art can be anything you say it is and I know that’s the cliche answer. It’s what everyone says art is. It’s whatever you want it to be. But in reality, it’s sort of true. Art is the expression of yourself and whatever you create, that you feel inspires you or others.

What drew you to photography?

More than anything I work on film. And so I just sort of began making videos, and this outlet for me was creating a visual media for others. So I sort of drew off of that and meddled with photography as well because they’re so similar to me. Photography is a lot quicker of a process; quicker to get results with photography. A video is more of a tedious art form, for me. Others may not think so. I think videos are a more difficult medium of art, and they require more effort and time. And for photography, I think it’s that I can make something beautiful with a camera, a computer; You can make something surreal very easily.

Why this specific media instead of drawing or painting?

I can’t draw or paint. Photography and video were what I told myself I wanted to do with my life, so I just said, why not get started? I chose photography because I saw people that inspired me. Youtubers, like CaseyNeistat or Peter Mckinnon, that not only create videos and artwork but also explain what it means to them. And that inspires me to do more in this field.

As a high schooler, do you feel pressured to pursue a more practical field?

A lot of the time, people are like, you’re going to art school, you’re not going to make any money. It’s not about the money. I’ve never thought logically in my life or made a plan for myself. So the only way I function is by creating because it’s the only thing I’m focused on at this time. Wherever life ends up leaving me with is how I’ll end up. If it’s in a box in the slums of New York, but I’m still creating content that will be enough for me.

What are the next moves you want to make as an artist?

My plans have always been, to become a filmmaker I guess for the most part. A lot of people define that as going in the Hollywood set, and making big budget films. I agree that’s sort of the major leagues of film but at the same time, that’s not really the goal for me. I think the goal is to make films that people enjoy and experience.

Do you think high schoolers explore art enough?

That’s very broad. When you say high schoolers that embodies every single one. There are some students that are really passionate about art, that really enjoy the inspiration it brings to them. But at the same time, there are others focused on materialistic things and not experience. But it [art] could be enjoyed by more people. That would be more ideal in my opinion. If people had the motivation to go to an art museum.

Do you think teens are represented in Tacoma the same as adults?

So I work a lot with other adults. and I’ve seen that if u respect them and don’t act snobby with your craft they will respect you a lot more because they hire you for a reason. They know that you know more than them and if you’re not shoving that in their faces and being too overbearing with it, they will give you more freedom to create. And I guess that’s what respect means to me. It’s when people realize what you’re making is true art.

-So there needs to be a balance?

Of course, there needs to be a balance between two parties.

Check out more of Felipe on Instagram! @FelipeFuego