Posts in Art
Using art to help child survivors of war find joy again — with Bethany Williams
 

“Sometimes these children just don’t have the words to express the trauma they’ve been through. That’s a reason why I believe the arts — art, dance, drama, music and drawing — are so powerful in bringing us to the next level of healing.” 

BETHANY WILLIAMS, Ph.D., Founder, Exile International  

Orphans. War. Child soldiers. Displacement. Abuse of nearly every form. Topics like these often feel so astronomically huge that we don’t know what to do or where to begin — let alone feel as if our tiny effort could actually make a difference.

Thankfully there are people like Bethany Williams in the world who not only refuse to buy into that narrative, but decide to do something about changing it.

Bethany is world leader at helping restore children — emotionally, psychologically and spiritually — who have been affected by war and who can’t yet imagine a life worth celebrating again. Bethany pulls from her own hurt and brokenness (documented in her book The Color of Grace) as well as her training as a psychologist and counselor to help these children. And it all starts with art therapy that includes a white handkerchief and some markers. It is on a simple yet symbolic handkerchief that children can express in pictures what they don’t even have words for. It is where the pain within can safely be expressed to initiate the process of healing.

Led by Bethany and her husband Matthew, Exile International is going into the darkest places to do this difficult and often emotionally devastating work. But thanks to that willingness, there is a generation of former child soldiers, abused daughters and sons, and war-torn kids who now get to dream again. They get to experience renewed joy. And they can imagine a life of great expectations — just like any other child.

Exile International

Bethany’s story

Learning as you go — with John Zappin

"I remember I got on the mic and I was terrified, just terrified. I did it, and I didn’t get booed. People seemed to think that I was okay. I survived. So I went back and started getting more involved in the scene."

JOHN ZAPPIN, writer, rapper, recording artist and content creator 

What does a teenage farm kid growing up in Pataskala, Ohio know about launching a career in hip-hop music and becoming a rapper — in the no-internet era of the mid-1990s? Arguably very little, but that didn’t stop a young “John Reuben” Zappin from pursuing his joy anyway.

Always using humor as his safety shield, John embraced the uncomfortable moments of dropping his rhymes in front of audiences at summer camp, the church hall, and open mic nights to build his confidence and find his voice. That voice would eventually ink a deal with Gotee Records where he would go on to record six albums.

In a pre-file sharing, pre-American Idol world, John put in the work to carve out his niche in an unlikely genre of rap. John shares his story and drops some wisdom for anyone pursuing their dream. But now on the cusp of 40 and having already achieved a level of success that any recording artists would envy, John is like that teenage kid all over again: back in Ohio and asking “what if” and wondering “what’s next.”  

John Reuben

Why the world needs your weirdness — with CJ Casciotta

“I was waiting for it (the big idea) to go away. A year went by and it didn’t go away. I sat on it for two years, which is not my nature… and when I found the name, I knew things were lining up and it was time to act.”

CJ Casciotta, Author of GET WEIRD and Lead Misfit of RINGBELLER

Have you ever felt like you were the weird one who just didn’t fit in with the crowd? If so CJ has an important message for you: weird wins.

CJ is a writer and author, creator, filmmaker, mover and shaker, and all around disrupter — and he’s doing all this with one goal in mind — and that’s to help misfits like you and me embrace our weirdness. Because in a sea of same, those of us who think a bit differently are needed more than ever before.

CJ recounts the long journey he’s been on, why he’s written a book to help others get weird, and where all this weirdness is leading. For CJ, it’s back to the classroom where the idea of fitting in has misguided generations of people. By building a media-based curriculum for schools that is rooted creativity, empathy and kindness — the soft skills that leading companies say will be needed in the automated workforce of the future — he wants to redefine what it means to be sweetly, uniquely and powerfully weird.

CJ Casciotta

Ringbeller

Being patient & the gift of the unexpected — with Beth Stafford & Jeremy Slagle
 

“We (Ben and I) had this dream that we could be this couple team and do this, but we just kept hitting a wall. I would try to draw something and it wasn't quite right and Ben would draw something and it just wasn't clicking. We kept trying and stopping, and it was really discouraging because I knew there was potential.”

BETH STAFFORD, Author of Chin Up, Chinchilla    

“I've always wanted to write a children's book...”

Beth had a tiny, heartwarming story written on a single sheet of paper — and she had a vision of what it could become. It also would seem natural that her husband Ben, with all of his artistic capabilities, could bring her story to life visually. But here's the thing: sometimes you’re just too close to something. And sometimes you feel that there’s a different path that needs to be taken instead of the obvious one.

“I’ve always wanted to illustrate a children’s book...”

Jeremy has designed a lot of things in his career, but one opportunity in particular, a children’s book, just hadn't presented itself. After two years and no meaningful traction on the book design for Beth and Ben, a chance encounter on this podcast led to surprising collaboration. After all, the last thing Jeremy expected to do was illustrate a story written by the spouse of an already great illustrator.  

Chin Up, Chinchilla is proof that the amazing and unexpected really do happen when you least expect it, and when you're willing to be patient and open to inviting others into your joy. 

The power in pursuing small things — with INCH x INCH
 
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“We didn't set out to create a business. It was more about how can we create something cool and possibly do a little good in the world.”

DREW HILL, co-founder, Inch x Inch

 

"It sounded just ridiculous enough for us to get really excited about it." 

BOB EWING, co-founder, Inch x Inch

When two longtime friends and artists decide to finally collaborate, naturally they land on... one-inch buttons?

As quirky as it sounds, Drew Hill and Bob Ewing gravitated to this tiny canvas with much a bigger purpose in mind. What if they could get other artists to submit designs? What if by buying a series of rad buttons from Inch x Inch, patrons would also be supporting arts education (which is continuously in danger) and fuel a future generation of artists? What if their own idea about collaboration turned into an organization that was fully reliant on collaboration and committed partners?

Drew and Bob talk about the importance of side projects, how theirs came about and ensuring it wasn't all about them, and how something as ridiculously inconsequential as one-inch buttons is actually making a tangible difference.  

inchxinch.org

Growing one word & sketch at a time — with Bob Ewing
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“There were lots of days that it sucked or I thought (the work) looked horrible. But it didn't matter really what the outcomes was, it was more about that I did it every day. If you're going to do something new, set attainable goals.”

BOB EWING, art director/designer at Element Three, handletting artist

Want to get better? Want to develop your talent or birth a new one that's been waiting to emerge? Then show up every day and do the work. That's exactly what Bob Ewing did for more than 500 days with his self-described "daily lettering project." Each day Bob would draw a new word and post it to social media — not for the likes and love, but mainly for the discipline.

That discipline has paid dividends for Bob as a designer. It's led to new opportunities, new collaborations, and deeper connection to community — something that's every bit as essential to his growth as a designer alongside his markers or stylus.

Bob shares his journey of perseverance and how, as a creative, he's had the opportunity to design a path for himself — as well as one that others can follow on and travel as well. 

Bob is the first in a series of Indiana-based artists we're featuring on our INDY OR BUST road trip.  

bob-ewing.com

It’s never too late to pen a new script — with Bill Lilly

I thought because of the skill that I had, I should make big bucks. When I turned it down (the White House job), the pay was equal to a truck driver's union-skilled job” 

BILL LILLY, International Senior Master Penman, nonagenarian and retiree

You might not know it from his gregarious laugh and unimposing stature that measures closer to five-foot tall rather than six, but Bill Lilly is a legendary character who pens legendary characters. He is regarded as the world’s foremost Master Penman — a title he’s held for the better part of three decades. Bill’s story is one of his incredible talent in scriptwriting and flourishing with a steady hand, and how his love of script has led to genuine surprises and unforeseen stardom. 

At a youthful 90 years old, Bill sits down with us in his humble in-home studio and weaves tales about serving in WWII, leaving college to improve his script, turning down a job at the White House, plowing through a career he never really enjoyed, and how he ended up becoming a world sensation long after his retirement from International Harvester. For the past 25 years, Bill has been showcasing his work while also giving private lessons to both young designers and hobbyists who desire to learn his technique and who actively seek him out from all over the world.  

Bill's story is a testament to finding one’s joy, honing a hobby into something more, and never abandoning that passion from within. His rise to unlikely fame reveals a remarkable journey that has spanned nearly 70 years in the making. 

The adventure & advantages of never growing up — with Greg Walter
 

“We’re trying to do something that appeals more to the child in everyone. We want to invite people to bond with a brand and have fun together rather than just being impressed by it.”

GREG WALTER, Bossman, 2Tall Animation Studio

Greg is a like a lovable kid in a tall man's body — a 2Tall one to be exact. To view his work today, it’s seems rather obvious this self-proclaimed expert daydreamer was destined to make animation videos for Sesame Street Studios and turn otherwise mundane content on its head. But finding his stride hasn’t been easy. After a 2,400-mile move from Seattle to Columbus, getting laid off and essentially starting from scratch, Greg plumbed his inner, optimistic child and found his voice...while being chased by wolves, no less. For a man who claims he’s “barely qualified to run a lemonade stand let alone an animation studio,” it’s clear he's taken his lemons and made lemonade.

Whether it’s laugh-out-loud ridiculous or surprisingly heartwarming, his trademark style of animation is always joyful and infectious. We talk with Greg about the “rock cycle” from our middle school days in science class; monsters and yetis; where his inspiration comes from; and the fine line between comfort and doubt in creating his line of work.        

www.2tall.tv