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

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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.

Teen Interview #17

Serafina Hallie, 16.


How did you get into art?

I feel like I was just kind of raised into it. My parents… especially my mom, she’s been the person to be like, “if you are able to do something and you want to do it, then go for it.“ And I’ve always been someone to create anything that I can get my hands on.  I’ve always enjoyed getting my hands dirty. And just finding little things. Having conversations with people somehow about something in my hand-an outlet. It’s just something I’ve always loved getting in to.

What mediums do you use?

A lot. So I’m double majoring at SOTA in dance and illustration. So I do a lot of paintings and drawings- but I also make jewelry.  And I really love modern dance. I work at hilltop artists so I do glass work. Torch work. Make beads. And yeah, that’s a lot of fun.

-What do you prefer?

I feel like with everything I do I’ve always had that same feeling I’ve always craved. Just being able to do the things I am always passionate about. And with each form of art that I do, I get a different feeling; so it’s hard to compare.

What type of art do you see as an actual career?

Definitely around visual arts. So…  painting, or, I’m considering film- art- direction. Just because I’d be able to pick out how to make a film beautiful. And I’m not even into film. But just making the whole thing an experience that you get to perceive; experienc[ing] beauty. And just to play someone in an experience that’s so transparent. I want to be the person to bring them that feeling.

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What has art done in your life?

Some people write down their thoughts. Some people illustrate or dance. So I think it helps me to say things I wouldn’t say normally. It’s just kind of brought me to a place that I want to be in my life. Which is very much a relief and a privilege that I get to be able to be passionate. It means I have the resources to do so.

We saw you curated your own art show. What other events do you want to do?

Well, I’m always thinking of different events I want to host. I volunteer at all the sales at my work so I get to do customer service I guess, and talk about hilltop artists. I try to participate in SOTA events, but SOTA can get unorganized I guess [laughs]. But I am trying to plan some stuff for this summer. I think I want to host a little show because I think it’s really hard to get yourself out there as a young artist. This is why I love these interviews. But it is very much a time-consuming process. So I have ideas that I can hopefully put into action. Committing to things [is a part of the process].

What are some challenges you found on your artistic journey?

Well, I’ve lived in Tacoma my whole life and I always try to be somewhere that inspires me. I love Tacoma with all my heart, but being in one place my whole life has definitely challenged me just a little bit. Because I’m very much obsessed with traveling too. And I always want to be somewhere that inspires me. So being in the same spot… I feel like I know every corner in this city. That’s been a little challenging. Every artist has art blocks that [they] stumble into. I’m very much a person who finds something and can’t get over it. [I] Research and get invested in this thing… discover so much, and I move onto a different thing. So I usually can get through those, but it’s definitely hard to stay inspired sometimes just because I’m in one place.

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Featured in our art show at Tacoma Art Museum; opening April 19th, 6-8 PM.

“Some people write down their thoughts. Some people illustrate or dance. So I think it helps me to say things I wouldn’t say normally.”

Are these challenges portrayed as themes in your art?

No not really [laughs]. I mean my changes are much easier than other people’s challenges so I’d rather make art that’s portraying those. I also love creating art that’s scenery. I love painting places that I want to go to. I feel like creating something that represents where I want to be kind of brings me there. Or brings me closer to that place. And also letting the viewer’s mind go to that place where I presented it for them.

What’s the difference between looking at someone and drawing them?

Looking at someone’s face I can admire their features. But observing them to the point where I’m drawing or painting them, lets me build a relationship with their features. So I might get to know this person just by staring into their eyes and creating them with some other medium that’s not a three-dimensional human in front of me.


How do you know if a piece of work is done?

I mean I guess that’s luck when I figure that out. I think I make the mistake of continuing a piece so many times because I’m so excited to get into it and it turns into something else. Whether it’s a simplistic piece or a complex piece, when it’s come to the point where I can look at it and where it’s accomplished what I want all my art pieces to accomplish then I know it’s done. But that says only a little bit because who knows? I could go in tomorrow, and say that, ‘ah I need to change that.’ It’s whenever I look at it and decide its message is complete and clear-but that could change.

Why is it relevant for teens to get involved in their community?

I think when anyone is able to bring awareness or bring someone nostalgia, that’s an amazing thing. And if anyone has the ability to do that, that’s a very special thing. Especially teenagers, I feel like our generation is seen as the narcissistic, smartphone generation. And bringing passion into other people’s lives, and being able to have that passion inside of you is a very important thing to bring into the community around us.

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“Whether it’s a simplistic piece or a complex piece, when it’s come to the point where I can look at it and where it’s accomplished what I want all my art pieces to accomplish then I know it’s done.”

What should teenagers do right now to build a network?

Don’t be afraid of taking action with your ideas. The reason I had an art show, was because I had no way of getting my art out there. So if you have an idea, take action with it. It can be difficult, but there are so many other kids with your same position. Do what you want. If you are organized enough, passionate enough, you will be able to do something so great. Do what you want to do, and so much more progress will be made.

Go Follow Serafina on Instagram @diglycerides

Don’t forget to come to Teen Night, April 21st, 7-10 PM.