I’ve been in Colorado for the past few weeks. Desipite the pandemic, December was filled with time with friends and family. There have been a lot of blankets and wool socks in my life recently, since we moved the social sphere outside. Sitting around in my best friend's driveway all bundled up and drinking hot beverages, and lots of walks and hikes. The best part by far has been spending quality time with my two daughters.
The day after Christmas was bright, sunny, and 60 degrees. Ana, Kate and I unanimously decided on a hike on one of the trails west of the city of Boulder in the mountains. We were well aware that, on days like these, everyone and their brother had the same idea. But people are extremely predictable, and we knew that it wouldn't be hard to find a trail that wasn't packed. We drove up Flagstaff Mountain, an extremely steep switchback road leading up the first mountain that overlooks Boulder and the Front Range. Absolutely stuffed with people. Bumper to bumper Subarus and foolhardy bicyclists. Parking lots and pull-outs full of cars. Everyone had their brand new outdoor outfits on. REI, VOOG (Vegan Organic Outdoor Gear.... Ok, I made that one up), all new and shiny and ever so fashionable. After a few miles up the mountain and trailheads with people lined up to get on the trail, the crowds suddenly thinned out. We pulled into a partially full parking lot, no human in sight. After packing up protein snacks, water bottles, and masks, off we went down the wide open trail. We only saw a handful of people. One of the things that always blows me away when I go hiking in Boulder County are the bad-ass trail runners. Its not just amazing that people are actually jogging or running up and down in the mountains. The thing that really gets me is that most of the trail runners we see are in their 50’s and 60’s. For reals. I wanna be like those people when I grow up.
After our 3.5 mile hike, we headed back to civilization, dodging the cars and bikes on the way back down the mountain. On a non-pandemic day, we might have stopped at the Rio restaurant in Boulder and enjoyed a rooftop hot toddy with an amazing view the Flatirons foothills, or a beer in one of the dozens of microbreweries. As it was, we went to Guiry's, the only remaining art supply store in town (CU, the local university, has managed to push most of them out). My girls and I are all artists with our own genres, and there’s a section for everyone in that store. You know that feeling when you walk into a store that has everything that your little creative heart could desire? Its better than being a five 5 year old in a candy store. The fresh colors, the pigments, the tools….. possibilities are boundless. I don’t know about you, but I can smell the infiniteness wafting down the isles and oozing from the pads of blank paper. Its just magic. So the endorphins from our hike and my giddiness from being in the art store catapulted me into a spectacular mood, and I felt like I was high for the rest of the afternoon (I honestly didn’t partake in any of the Colorado herb available in the nearby stores). To top the day off, they made me an amazing home-cooked dinner of salmon and carmelized brussel sprouts. What a great day!!
Me: I always like to start off by asking: What is your favorite color, and why?
Collin: I like purples and deep purples, because I'm a history nerd, and purple was a very difficult pigment to make. It was really hard to make purple fabrics and cloth. So it's more of a royal color. I also like deeper darker colors, personally, but that's probably just because I'm into history. Royal colors- the purples and the blues.
Me: So what is your art?
Collin: Fantasy and magical weaponry and armor, if I had to describe it. That’s a loose definition but that's good.
Me: And what inspired you, or drew you to this?
Collin: My dad has always fabricated everything. And my mom's very artistically inclined. I've always been very interested in the 14th through 16th century, like Renaissance medieval. That sort of style. I love the knights and armor and swords and shields. That was always something I’ve loved since I was knee-high to a grasshopper. I'm just manifesting a part of that.
Me: How do you manifest creativity in your life?
Collin: Creativity exists as an alternative to normality, so the reason it exists in my life is because I absolutely abhor a boring and regular existence. I really don't like that. Creativity seems like an alternative path to that, and every single person I know, their form of creativity manifests in some sort of beautiful way. I think every single human has inherited creativity and when they express it, it's really cool to see. But I think creativity manifests in my life because the alternative is to be mundane and boring and I can’t stomach that.
Me: What does community mean to you?
Collin: For me, because I'm still on the learning side, community is a wealth of knowledge. The ability for two brains to conquer a problem versus one, and everything I've learned I've learned through someone else. My dad helped me build my first forge, I had to have that stepping stone. You can go on YouTube and you kill yourself doing that sort of thing. You need need guidance, and they don't teach that in school. They teach professional business guidance or how to start a business, but they don't teach you how to do 14th century metal work.
Me: There are a lot of people out there that love to see others being creative, but they’re not quite sure how to make that a part of their own lives. What advice would you give to aspiring creatives?
Collin: I think the societal or the emotional constraint is something that we push against. A lot of people will see an independent artist and they'll tell that person, hey there's no way you're ever gonna make money. And that's wrong. It just takes an exorbitant amount of time, you just have to be passionate about it. My sister is a good example. She worked in food service and places, but she was like I’m fucking gonna be an artist, and she worked way harder than anyone because that's the one thing that she was focused on. Now she’s built an entire business, and bought land, just by creating her art.
You know, not many people I've met are really into 14th century metalwork. Very few people are. You just have to pursue that thing that you find naturally resonates with you. Most people aren’t going to look at a 14th century sword and be like, “That's really cool, I'm going to spend 1000’s of hours learning to make that.” No one else is gonna put all that in, invest all this money on tools. But you might, because you love it, not because it makes sense. People observe that love, and they appreciate what it is. They will pay money for what you do, and they appreciate it.
I think that what happens is that we tell artists that they're not going to make money doing what they do and so they don't think that it’s possible because it's a money game, right? You have to live indoors, you have to eat food. So, people want to go for something more secure and more consistent financially. I try not to spend too much money and have expensive dreams, I try to live within means to realize goals, because it's easy to get caught up in this money game and expect an expensive house and an expensive car. It takes a lot of humility to do that. Most of the time I just sell a lot of drugs as a bud tender at a dispensary. If I did that as a regular day thing and I didn't have something else, life would be really easy for me. But the people who are specialists, which are the people who really end up getting what they need out of the world, are the ones who just continue to pursue their thing. If you can avoid the rules of society, there's a place for everyone to carve it out and then do their own thing.
follow Collin on instagram, Green Wizard
Artist, homesteader, teacher and adventurer. Turning over every literal and figurative rock that I can find, living curiously and creatively outside of the conventions of the common world.
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