#ALAL | HELLA READY: Inspiration


Writing about being HELLA READY and publishing it for the world to see has given me the extra motivation to actually get started on making art. I wanted to share with y’all the progress I’ve made so far.

Since the Co-op work space experience in Tacoma, Washington (, I travelled around the PNW for a few more days. While there, I bought a fresh sketchbook from a book shop in Seattle and started to write/draw out my next body of work. Next, I headed down to Portland, Oregan to hang out at the Humble Beast studios and record some music/explore Portland/sit quietly and watch how groundbreaking art gets made while sipping on a Starbucks Caramel Macchiato in all my bad-coffee drinking glory (you should have seen the look on their fine coffee drinking faces when I walked in holding that cup of shame).

Between getting to see their video making process, Anthony Benedetto’s killer professional work space, Propaganda’s new book, the genius of Daniel Steele’s production, epic free-style sessions during every single car ride (I contributed 1 line to the free-style, I’m pretty proud of myself) I was feeling some serious (but healthy) pressure to ABSOLUTELY KILL IT with this next season.

So, in getting back to Chicago, I got to work. I moved around my bedroom, started researching studio spaces, and bought a fresh set of acrylics to make small-versions of larger oil paintings I plan on making once I get a proper studio space (do not EVER oil paint in your own home unless you have proper ventilation and don’t sleep in the same space you paint).



I will keep you posted on my progress. In the meantime, read about HELLA READY wheel #1:


Inspiration: a person, place, experience, etc., that makes someone want to do or create something. Or, the action or power of moving the intellect or emotions.

Inspiration is an imperfect thing, abstract in nature, and difficult to understand. It comes in many forms, but is very specific to each person according to their background and personality. I feel for those who lack it, but I will admit that finding inspiration is not something I’ve ever struggled with for too long. My guess is because I’ve allowed inspiration to cultivate deeply and richly throughout the long-term. This long-term “inspiration journey” has developed through a series of situations outside of my control (random, a-ha moments that came unexpectedly) mixed with quests I intentionally went on to find inspiration (i.e. travel and research). The dynamic between the unexpected and the pursuit of inspiration has created a dialogue of themes in my creative thought life that have led to artwork that somehow relates to all of the other art I’ve made. I.e. a common theme has been the elusive idea of “home” and how it can never be fully experienced here on earth (I’ve been stuck on that idea for almost 10 years).

Because of the sequential dynamic of inspiration, I want you think of inspiration as narrative that builds throughout life. One of my professors during my final year of art school had my class make timelines of “chrysalis moments” throughout our creative lives. Chrysalis moments are key moments of inspiration that significantly propel us forward into new seasons. I will list several of mine (it’s about to get hella personal up in here), and as I do so, start to think about what yours would be and how they would build on one another.

1. Age 15, drawing scary pictures of clowns and zombies in the basement of my mom’s house when I first decided to pursue art in order to creatively express all of the teen angst I had so much trouble verbalizing. (I know… so tragic.)

2. Age 17, when I saw the Mars Volta perform at the Latin Grammy’s. They wore their curly, latino hair so proudly and were unafraid to bridge their alternative creativity with their cultural roots. That was the day I stopped straightening my hair and wore my curls proudly… with bell bottoms, so I could look just like the Mars Volta.

3. Age 18, freshman year of art school when I learned how art was used in South America to protest the oppressive governments that led to my parents leaving their respective countries and raising their family (i.e. me) in suburban white America, therefore leading to my displaced-feeling teen angst and resulting rebellion into drawing scary clowns and zombies. I was sitting in the middle of downtown Baltimore, gazing at the horizon as gears internally shifted and I realized I wasn’t truly connected with my own cultural identity. In this moment my social convictions fell into place.

4. Age 20, standing in front of an Eva Hesse piece, realizing that art was a language that could express the tension of wanting to be known and hidden at the same time. This was the first moment that I could put into words what my personal stake in art making was. It led to the creation of work that was interactive and dealt with intimacy.

5. Age 19, during the making of a visual collection of people’s earliest memories, I asked an older spanish-speaking man for his. He misunderstood the question and wrote down “Wonderful is the love forever.” It led to the creation of a book of that same phrase translated into a several different languages. This is my favorite piece.

6. Age 21, in a small gallery in the old medina of Tangier, Morocco on the first day of Ramadan. I was conversing with the gallery owner about Jesus and the ability to stop time when I realized that artists were always going to be the open doors to all other cultures, no matter how hostile. This led me to see the role of the artist as a missionary in its purest form. It also led me to the inner-city where I saw how art could open doors to disenfranchised youth under the hostility of violence.

My current chrysalis moment (though there’s been MANY since the gallery in Tangier) is the time spent at the co-op space in Tacoma. It brought me back to all of the beautiful studios I’ve had the pleasure of working in and reminded of the simple JOY of creating.
Speaking of beautiful spaces, next week’s piece will be on ENVIRONMENT! Because once you have inspiration, you’re going to need a space to make your stuff.

I highly encourage all of you artist readers to write down and SHARE (comment below) your chrysalis moments. Writing it all out will help you see patterns emerging and will help you discern what your next steps could be. Plus, I don’t want to be the only one sharing embarrassing teenage angst moments.

  • P Dahl

    By the end of my junior year in college, plenty of people had told me I was a skilled writer. But I think the chrysalis moment may have come that summer as I was sitting out on my patio at night. I was suddenly reminded, as I considered my place in the world, that God had chosen me for a purpose. It was no accident that I was able to write. He had a purpose for calling me, and he has given my life a specific purpose. I knew then, as much as any other moment, that I could use my wordsmithing to create art and glorify God.

    But it’s a process :)

  • Johnny Young

    First of all I want to say thank you. Thank you for opening up. It’s inspiring to hear other artist open up, we tend to want to express ourselves in other mediums. I’ll be writing down my Chrysalis moments this week. You said some really cool stuff and I’m encouraged. Plus sipping Starbucks in the midst of Left Roasters is classicly classic. #artimpactingculture