Updated: Jan 14
The Six Degrees Creative brand is all about connection. With the Connecting Creatives segment the goal is to highlight creatives and entrepreneurs in our communities and share their journey. No matter the outlet or industry, it is important we support each other’s growth both professionally and personally. Together we can make being a creative or running a small business sustainable and successful.
This week we highlight the art created by Blake Shoemaker at It's Stuff. From trippy wall art to larger scale installations at clubs and festivals Blake's creations are meant to be ogled. Simply by being, his pieces elevate the vibe of any space and are soothingly geometric. You can't go wrong having a little bit of Stuff around.
Read more about Blake's journey below. You can support his small business by following him on Instagram, messaging him about a piece, or by simply telling a friend!
Hi! Thank you for taking the time to be part of Connecting Creatives. Can you tell us more about your background and how you got started on your creative journey?
I grew up in Los Angeles, South Bay, where I spent lots of time on my skateboard and listening to music. I always appreciated the visual art on my skate decks, album covers, books, and around the city. I never picked up a paintbrush or sketchbook outside of my basic art classes. Music was my main creative outlet. As I learned to play guitar, I started getting interested in electronic music and eventually began attending music festivals.
As a Construction Engineering student, I was captivated by the large scale art-installations at events such as Coachella, Symbiosis Gathering, and Lightning in a Bottle. Many of these exhibits were dynamic, interactive, and thought-provoking. I immediately wanted to become a part of this world.
Being an “artist” seemed out of reach, but I knew that I had a lot to offer and figured I would just start working my way into the industry. For me, this meant attending as many shows and festivals as I could. I noticed that artists at different levels can find opportunities to showcase their work. Whether it’s an art installation, vendor booth, display, hands-on workshop, live painting, even a roaming vendor or flow artist. There are endless opportunities when it comes to finding a way to share your art.
There was a point at Symbiosis 2016 when I wandered into the Lower Park vendor booth and met the owner Andrew and started chatting with him. He had a simple business model with a great unique product, and it gave him the opportunity to travel to new places and meet new people. I went home with a couple of his hats (one made with fabric from Turkey and the other from San Francisco) and a mission to start my own craft vendor business. Unsure of what my products were ultimately going to be, I began developing my skills in woodworking and drawing.
I started making some small items like pendants and coasters as gifts, and got lots of positive feedback from people in the community; but was always imagining building something big. The first opportunity I got to really showcase my art was in July 2019 when I designed and built some original pieces for the DJ stage and dance floor at the San Diego Collective’s Big Bear Campout. I then got connected with Front Left Productions and built a couple installations for events they held at Spin Nightclub.
At this point I had made the connections I needed in the community and gotten my creative output to a point where I was finally comfortable building up a business around it. Always unsure of the ideas that will come to me next, I wanted a name that would allow me to create anything. Because 'It’s not just art, It’s Stuff'.
What keeps you engaged and passionate about your creative endeavors?
Aside from the continuous appreciation and motivation I get from friends and family, the ideas just keep coming! I’m constantly daydreaming about art-installation concepts and new layering or assembly techniques for my pieces. If I don’t keep working, the ideas pile up like a to-do list and I start to feel overwhelming.
The important thing is that I love doing the work. I get excited about stepping into the garage with hours and hours of work to be done. I break each project down into steps and give myself reasonable deadlines. The work goes by quickly, and I'm generally very satisfied with the outcome of the work. This satisfaction alone is enough to get me ready for the next step of the project, or the next project altogether.
Another thing I find important is taking the time to step away from an intense project and exercise my creative brain with another activity. Most often I pick up my guitar and work on songs I’m writing or play a few of my favorite covers. I also like to get out on my skateboard and cruise the neighborhood. Whatever it is I decide to do in order to clear my head, it usually ends with me stopping to think about the progress of whatever I have going on in the garage.
If you could give advice to your younger creative self what would it be?
Keep Going. Take Chances.
What is a challenge you have faced as a creative and how have you overcome it?
Everything takes time and sometimes it’s difficult to estimate how much time a given project will take. Or to say no to opportunities with friends in order to work on something else. Early on, I would take on a lot of little concept ideas that I come up with while just chatting with friends. They’re always really cool ideas with a lot of potential, so I start making plans in my head of easy ways to get started.
I might even acquire some tools or materials. Most often, I realize that I already have a list of unfinished projects and a messy workshop. If I spread myself too thin. The progress slows down greatly because it’s divided up between a multitude of different projects. The most effective use of time is always focused on one specific task or goal.
In order to minimize the distractions and little thought tangents I clean my workspace and move all of the supplies I don’t need. Ultimately, I need to spend as much of my energy as I can on the projects that I’ve decided are going to be part of my business. All of my time and effort is an investment, and I’m constantly learning how to better invest. I always try to keep the appropriate tools handy and if I don’t have what I need I move on to something I can make progress on.
Saying no to distractions is important. Especially when there is a deadline, but keep in mind it is also important to recognize an opportunity to learn from somebody. Sometimes, I’ll change my plans entirely in the face of an artist who is willing to show me something.
What do you want people to take away from your art?
Anyone can do it.
Something I tend to focus on in my art is simplicity. If you look at any of my pieces, you’ll notice there’s never any incredibly precise detail or really clean brush strokes. This is because I don’t really “know” how to paint, nor did I ever practice until recently. I try to focus on aesthetics. Creating shapes and patterns that are pleasing to look at.
I usually use a few colors and a lot of contrast. Pair that with some clean line work (I use a lot of tape) and you’d be surprised how nice a couple of triangles will look. None of my pieces come out how I planned, none of them. Give up on the idea of making the exact drawing/painting/sculpture/song you’re dreaming up. Just let the process be as pure of an expression as possible. When it doesn’t hit exactly right, you’ll learn something.
What is the next milestone for you?
I would say I just hit my first big milestone. I created a series of (10) completely original pieces on repurposed wood panels with a custom wood frame, with the goal of giving some as Christmas gifts and hopefully selling a few. I made (5) sizes ranging from 6” x 6” to 24” x 42”, using the same pattern but laid out each one separately by hand.
I also started a membership at a local art shop/creative space in North Park called Connect San Diego. As part of my membership, I have the Holiday 2020 Series on display and for sale in the shop. This was a big milestone for me as it is the first time I am really putting myself into the world as an “artist”. Up next, I have a couple of new art installations planned. But that’s a surprise ;)
Any other fun facts you want people to know about your art?
I always use repurposed wood/found items for my installations when I can.
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