Does anyone remember taking aptitude tests in high school? I clearly remember the results that were given to me at the time. I remember it detailing in that I am a balanced user of the left and right side of my brain, almost equally, and that I would be best suited in something that involved technology. Innovation, technology and creativity were the keywords that made up the common denominator in my test results. I can also remember thinking at the time, that I loved thunder storms (random, I know), and that it would be fun to be a storm chaser. Being a storm chaser didn’t really seem like a career, so I thought maybe meteorology.
My plans of becoming a meteorologist quickly fell through when I shared them with my grandmother. She was disappointed to hear that I was not going to pursue the arts. There was no doubt that I enjoyed drawing, painting and mixing different art media, and I always loved taking pictures, but I didn’t see a career path as a studio artist. I didn’t grow up surrounded by the arts. My mom worked as a book keeper for a grain elevator and my dad was a full time farmer. The only influence I had within the arts came from my grandmother, who was active with a choir group at the Pipestone Performing Arts Center. In the 7th grade, I started to volunteer and quickly became consumed by the magic of theater. She persistently said that I should use the talents I was given, and that I should pursue something in the arts. She said so many struggle to find what they are good at. And in return never find a purpose in life.
“Your life’s purpose is to use your talents in a way that
impacts your surroundings.”
Again… at the time, I thought studio art was not my calling – I didn’t think I was any good at it, so I found an art form that meshed well with technology. This led me to the graphic arts. I did a google search for graphic design while in high school, and came across a description that mentioned movie posters. I thought it would be fun to create movie posters, so I pursued.
Fast forward, I graduate from Bemidji State University in 2011 with a degree in the graphic arts, and have been working as a graphic designer and photographer since then. My interest and admiration for the studio arts has never faded, though. As I look back at my college years, I do wish I would have taken a few more studio art courses. But that darn camera caught my attention, and I spent more time in front of Photoshop instead of in an art studio.
Late last year, a good friend of mine, Linsey Prunty of LC Design, shared an illustration artist with me that is based out of the Twin Cities area. Linsey has been an incredible collaborator on this project. She has a background in design, so she understands that design is about function and message, and less about looking good. She also understands the delicate art of constructive criticism. As a creative professional, putting out artwork like this can be so personal, and the amount of vulnerability can be paralyzing. But Linsey’s expertise and shared passion of the project made the collaboration that much more meaningful and creative. The illustration artist she shared with me is a master at taking landmarks and well know scenic establishments and creating illustrations of these scenes. The style and process of screen printing, which is the medium this illustration artist uses, has been in my peripheral vision since my college days. We did some screen printing of t-shirts and posters for an organization I was part of called the Design Guild. The process of screen printing is similar to that of a craftsman; it’s a tangible, fun, creative process. I wanted to tap into some of that with this new project.
Linsey and I both felt why couldn’t we create illustration pieces that are similar of Pipestone landmarks. I am by no means an illustration artist, but I was up for the challenge. I compiled a list of well known landmarks in Pipestone, and started creating illustrations of them from reference images taken by myself or borrowed from the Pipestone County Museum. I started by digitally tracing the images to create a digital drawing of the landmarks, and then assembled the different elements into a composite. The challenging part was finding or taking the right images so that the composite looked seamless or uniform. Some of the illustrated elements were purchased stock graphics, such as the grass, rock and tree elements. I then had to stylize and color each of them so the composite looked complete.
The creative process of this first piece took a few months, and the style of the piece evolved drastically over time. I originally intended to have three different illustrations that could be sold as a series, and each piece would have a different season as it’s backdrop. I soon decided that it would best that it be one piece, a composite of the different landmarks, instead of 3 different pieces.
Here is the first finished composite, called HOME. This composite depicts the Historic Calumet Inn, the Pipestone County Courthouse, the concrete water tower, wind towers in the prairie, Winnewissa Falls of the Pipestone National Monument, and Old Stone Face. All of these landmarks are placed into a sunset scene. Whenever I need time to reflect or to be inspired, I walk the trail at the Pipestone National Monument during a sunset. Everything comes alive during the golden hour of a sunset, so that’s the scene I used as a backdrop for all of the landmarks. I really wanted to capitalize on that strong thread of the emotions and connections that come with the nostalgic energy of a small town community. I was inspired by that sense of nostalgia, and created this non-traditional composite of HOME.
The second illustration I created was that of the Central School building. While in junior high, I was only in the Central School building for a couple of years. I don’t have an emotional or nostalgic connection to the building like so many past Pipestone graduates do. But I still wanted to commemorate this space with a non-traditional perspective. The creative process for this piece was very similar to that of the first piece, but not as lengthy. Creating an illustration of one landmark versus 6 was much quicker.
I decided to focus on the iconic towers of the building as the centerpiece of the illustration. I took theses towers and juxtaposed them with the colors and aura of a twilight scene to depict the end of an era. I choose to incorporate a moon into the piece as well, because moon light is not a direct source of light, but rather… reflective light. As you can see in the above photo, the evolution of the piece was drastic, similar to the first illustration. I was really drawn to creating a bit more of a dramatic style. I took inspiration from Netflix’s “Stranger Things”, haha. But if this piece was to be commemorative of the space as people remember it, and not of the state it is in today, I decided to stay more traditional with the style and colors, while keeping some of the dramatic elements to keep it interesting. I hope we can all reflect on the good times that were had within the walls of this building. Here is the final piece that commemorates the good times, and captures the twilight of an era.
There are 3 different sizes for the HOME and Central School illustration for sale exclusively at LC Design. The sizes are as follows: 16×24 for $80, 12×18 for $50, and a smaller 9×6 for $18. There are also post cards available for $3 a piece.
I have always said, that I take photographs because I want to call attention to what others might over-look; to better understand my reality… and my imagination; to walk less traveled paths and to tell new stories. I hope these pieces takes you to a place of nostalgia… and even breaks the barriers of your own imagination. Home has many different perspectives… this is mine. ❤
LC Design is located in the heart of historic downtown Pipestone, inside SoJos, providing regional made products from Minnesota and South Dakota makers. All unique, handmade home decor, gifts, and treasures to add to your collections. Please stop by LC Design at 115 W. Main Street, Pipestone, MN to check out these new illustrations. Also check out their Facebook page for other handmade treasures.