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How To Be An Artist

How To Be An Artist

By Brandon Dayton
A podcast that explores the question of art that expands beyond the canvas. How do we live our lives, commune with each other and build a world of generosity, collaboration and creativity? Discussions with artists that paint, make music and tells stories, and others whose mastery is in the mind, community, urban form or any other container that shapes who we are and what we have the possibility to become.

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Step 7: Lincoln Cannon -- Provoking a Communal Strenuosity

How To Be An Artist

Step 38: Maybe You're An Artist
The final episode of How To Be An Artist. A recap of the journey and some conclusive thoughts. I also finally answer the question posed in the title. Read the Essay, Maybe You're An Artist on my Medium page:
January 20, 2022
Step 37: Arran Rogerson -- The Golden Shadow
Arran Rogerson is an artist, musician and co-host of the Golden Shadow podcast along with Alyssa Polizzi. In this episode we discuss Arran's artistic background and the urge to create, what the shadow is and the various methods and practices Arran explores for coming in contact the shadow, the dangers of shadow work, the limits of the internet and why Sensemaking needs art.
December 01, 2021
Step 36: Phillip Sevy -- Who Am I?
Phillip Sevy is a prolific artist and writer in the comic book world having worked on various titles and with various publishers such as Top Cow, IDW and most notably, Dark Horse as the artist on Tomb Raider and on the creator-owned title Triage. In this episode we discuss Phillip's experience working with Dark Horse, pitching Triage and producing the book as a one-man wrecking crew. We also discuss the themes of Triage and how they map on to Phillip's own journey of self discovery. Phillip's website:
November 05, 2021
Step 35: Doug Wagner -- Writing For Yourself
Doug Wagner is a comic book writer with a career stretching back to Malibu Comics and passing through almost every publisher since then. Most recently he is known as the writer and co-creator of Plastic and Vinyl from Image Comics. In this episode we discuss Doug's career, finding his voice with Plastic, the benefits of collaboration, when and how to veer away from formulas, the line between a hero and a monster and why you should be very afraid of Daniel B. Hillyard.
October 25, 2021
Step 34: Jason Young -- Show Them What They Can't See
Jason Young is the co-creator and co-writer of Pretty Violent with Derek Hunter and one my Draw Night chums. Today he returns to discuss psychedelics, meditation, if life is worth living and what Jason thinks the purpose of art is.
October 08, 2021
Step 33: Chuck Marohn -- Why Cities Need Artists
Chuck Marohn is the president and founder of Strong Towns, and the author of the book by the same name. Chuck gives a brief introduction to the work of Strong Towns and then we discuss the myriad ways we shape our human habitat and how our human habitat shapes us. We discuss how humans are like bees and chimpanzees, why everyone should read Daniel Kahneman and Nassim Taleb, the rhetorical style of Strong Towns and how they can address the most controversial issues without becoming partisan, the importance of transcending our corrosive contemporary politics and why fighting isolation may be the most important work any of us can do. We also have a rousing chat about the potential of art, artists and creativity to change the world and why cities need artists and artists need cities. More Strong Towns: The Book: Chuck on twitter:
July 19, 2021
Step 32: Ben Simonsen -- Discovering Your Voice
Ben Simonsen is a master illustrator and concept artist that I've had the privilege to collaborate with from the earliest phases of my career. Ben and I discuss our early days working together at the legendary 8fish as well and his discovery of illustration as a career. We also the benefits of playing with new tools, respecting the idiosyncrasies of the individual artist, the discipline of early study, when to copy and when to go to the source and finding your artistic flow. We also discuss the benefit of being in a collaborative environment, strategies for responding to burnout and Ben's current interest in cinematic realism.  More of Ben's stuff: website: youtube: instagram:
July 12, 2021
Step 31: Peter Limberg -- The Call of the Daemon
Peter Limberg is founder and steward of the Stoa, a Covid-born "hill on the noosphere" where all the most interesting conversations on the internet seem to be happening. In this episode, Peter shares some delightful and energizing concepts for artists including the idea of the Daemon as an artistic guide, the concept of deathwork and lifework, treating your life as an artistic project and coming into right relationship with fear and other unpleasant things. He also shares a brief history of the Deamon-in-action with the inception of the Stoa, thoughts about journaling as an artistic and spiritual practice and how to be (and not be) a Stoic. The Stoa: Peter's journals:
June 22, 2021
Step 30: Michael Eliason -- The Home of the Future
Michael Eliason is a Seattle based architect advocating for housing reform across multiple dimensions. In this episode we discuss the various technologies, standards and systems that are quickly being adopted in Europe but are still seen as a novelty in the US. We discuss the German model of cooperative housing (Baugruppen), the energy efficiency standards found in Passive House, the emerging possibilities of mass timber and other decarbonization technologies, zoning reform and the key role finance plays in determining the shape of our cities. Michael on twitter: For a deeper dive into all of the above you can check out Michael's writing at the Urbanist and on his medium blog: Other stuff mentioned in the show: Aeroseal: Eco cocoon: Cohousing in Berlin: Mass timber website in German:  Passive House: Books (if you can find them!) Self Made City Cohousing Inclusive The Vienna Model
June 16, 2021
Step 29: Jerzy Drozd -- The Forest Adventurous
Jerzy Drozd is a cartoonist, teaching artist and prolific podcaster. In this episode, Jerzy returns to talk about the art of podcasting among other things. We spend the first half talking about podcasting and Jerzy's podcast roll call including Lean Into Art and 4 million Years Later. We talk about Jerzy's approach to teaching and how that informs podcasting, engaging with a podcast community, and podcasting as performance. As we discuss the building of online communities we take a turn towards the archetypal as we discuss the archetype of the Good King, when it is time for things to die, and what type of wizard you might want to be.  Jerzy's current podcasts: Lean Into Art: 4 million Years Later: Some of Jerzy's legacy podcasts: Comics Are Great: I don't normally do much with show notes, but we reference so much stuff here I thought listeners would appreciate it: The Emerge Podcast: Jerzy's Nerd Nite talk on 80's storytelling: Great Courses -- King Arthur: Rob Stenzinger's "Listening Like a Coach": Legacy of the Heart: This Jungian Life: The Good King: Peace Pilgrim:
June 08, 2021
Step 28: Jason Snyder -- The Mind...and Everything Else
Jason Snyder is an interesting guy to follow but hard man to describe. He is a self described doomer optimist, homesteader, memetic mediator and co-host of the Both/And Podcast along with Jared Janes. He also holds a PhD from Michigan State in Economics. In this episode we journey from the interior of the mind outward to our planetary limits and make lots of little stops along the way. We discuss embodied cognition and Jason's bespoke meditation practice, manual labor, localism and bio-regionalism, problems that have to be addressed at a planetary scale and how cosmo-localism and metamodernism might tie it all together. It's a fire hose of fascinating topics with interesting clues about how they all might connect. Jason's discussion on Doomer Optimism at the Stoa: Jason on Twitter: The Both/And Podcast: Jason's meditation system:
June 03, 2021
Step 27: Gregg Schigiel -- How To Bake A Comic
Gregg Schigiel is a cartoonist, author and illustrator and creator of the graphic novel series PIX from Image Comics. In this episode we have a frank discussion about the realities and ups and downs of self-publishing and working with a publisher like Image. We also talk about how making comics is like baking, why you need an audience and why hanging out is the best part of conventions. We also take a moment to talk about Gregg's Jewish-Cuban heritage, swap recipes and Gregg shares his passion for Alice in Wonderland.  You can learn more about Gregg at:
May 25, 2021
Step 26: Geoff Shupe -- Being Paid in Cool
Geoff Shupe is one of the artists that has shared multiple art communities with me. He's part of Draw Night SLC, but we also are the only two concept artists (that we know of) that worked both at EA Games Salt Lake and Disney Interactive. He's also wide ranging in his artistic skills, constantly curious and very careful thinker about art and life.  In this episode we talk about working jobs you hate, classic fairy tale illustrators, using digital and traditional media together, and specializing vs. generalizing. We also discuss Geoff's passion for Ninja Warrior, "functional dad strength" and why it's a good idea for artists to get out of their heads and into their bodies. Check out Geoff's work here:
May 19, 2021
Step 25: Jeff Speck -- Walkable Cities
Jeff Speck is a city planner and walkability advocate who also happens to be the author and co-author of two of my favorite urban planning books of all time. In this episode we talk about Jeff's trajectory from Art History major to city planner, his convergence with the architecture firm DPZ and the subsequent creation of the legendary Suburban Nation. We also discuss the four elements of walkability, the relationship between aesthetics and function and the connection between urban design and civic engagement.  Assigned reading for this episode. There will be a quiz! Walkable City  Walkable City Rules Suburban Nation You can find additional resources on walkability and Jeff's other work at 
April 26, 2021
Step 24: Dustin Hansen -- Growing Your Own Food
Dustin Hansen is a writer, illustrator and creative director with decades of experience in video games and writing credits that span genres. He's the author of Game On!, a brief history of video games, the Microsaurs series and most recently The Video Game Ate My Homework for DC Comics. He also recently made the bold claim that he grew 70% of his food in the summer of 2020! In this episode we investigate this claim and talk about why chickens are magic, goats are great and how food independence makes for better art. We also talk about building art and food cultures that might some day replace the ones we currently have and why it's a good idea to think of art as a very long term project. Dustin on twitter: Jeffrey Howard's conversation with Ashley Colby on Damn the Absolute:
March 23, 2021
Step 23: Michael Bishop -- Reality Is Something That You Build
Michael Bishop is the human thrall of GWAR's Berserker Blöthar who also happens to hold a Ph.D. in Music Ethnography from the University of Virginia. As a teen, Michael was one of the early members of the Slave Pit, an art collective based out of Richmond, Virginia that gave birth to GWAR. In this episode he recounts his first-hand experience of participating in the formation of the Slave Pit and describes the values of self-sacrifice, DIY culture, and chaos that generated its magic. We also discuss how "pure" art can become elitist and the value of popular, mainstream art. We also talk about how to think about money in relationship to art.  Michael's Tedx talk: GWAR: The Slave Pit:
March 15, 2021
Step 22: Ken Keys -- Animation Nomad
Ken Keys is a master animator and art director with a legendary career than took him from Saturday Morning cartoons with Hanna-Barbera, 2D feature with Amblin Animation, and 3D credits on Shrek, Iron Giant and Lord of the Rings. In this episode we discuss Ken's journey across mediums and around the world and how he ended up making video games with me at EA Salt Lake. Ken shares the mindset of discovery and adventure that led him through his diverse journey.  Ken's website: Can You Catch One -- a crowdfunded short:  Wildlife Demo trailer:
March 12, 2021
Step 21: David Habben -- Discovering Your Artistic Path
David Habben is an illustrator and professor of Illustration at Brigham Young University. In this episode we discuss using values and intuition as a guide for your artistic path, as well as what it means to have faith in the path, escaping all the "shoulds" that can mislead you, and how finding your path is like playing an old out-of-tune guitar. We also talk about the importance of playfulness, breakthroughs, finding your voice and making the art you want to do. More about David:
March 01, 2021
Step 20: Dave Durocher -- A Community of Healing
Dave Durocher is the executive director of The Other Side Academy (TOSA), a therapeutic community based in Salt Lake City, Utah. In this discussion Dave shares his history of drug addiction and crime that led him to serve over 15 years in prison before being accepted into Delancey Street (the therapeutic community that TOSA is modeled after). We also got into details about the innovative approach TOSA takes to teaching morality, sustaining itself financially, and providing a realistic path out of drug abuse and crime. In particular we delve into the practice of "The Games" at TOSA as a tool of learning accountability, trust, vulnerability and a way to let off steam.  The Other Side Academy: David Brooks on the Nuclear Family: Delancey Street:
February 25, 2021
Step 19: Daniel Ingram -- Chasing the Shadow
Daniel Ingram is the author of Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha (MCTB), a team member of The Emergent Phenomenology Research Consortium, and proprietor of the Dharma Overground. In this episode we discuss the impact of MCTB on my own life and meditation practice, the evolving landscape of high level practice in culture and research, how A Wizard of Earthsea describes the development of meditation practice, the varying ways that meditation can effect creativity, and why Jack Vance is rad. More on Daniel can be found at:
February 18, 2021
Step 18: Christian Heidicker -- Scary Stories
Christian Heidicker is the Newbery Award winning author of Scary Stories for Young Foxes along with other titles such as Attack of the 50 Foot Wallflower and Cure for the Common Universe. He also happens to be one my art chums from Avrec Art House (Check out Step 16 for the story of Avrec Art House). In this episode we discuss our shared love of Jim Henson's Storyteller, the effects of the Newbery Award and Covid on a book launch, using formulas in writing without feeling formulaic, why we tell scary stories, theory and intuition, meditation and creativity, and the struggles and successes that come with making art. More information on Christian can be found at You can support How To Be An Artist at
February 02, 2021
Step 17: Tim Farrington -- The Wilderness of the Mind
Tim Farrington is the author of various works of poetry, fiction and non-fiction including the Monk Downstairs, Hell of Mercy, Lizzie's War and the Book of the Dead. Besides being a writing virtuoso, Tim is also a long time contemplative practitioner with a wealth of experience to share with meditation newbies like myself. In this episode we discuss Tim's non-fiction work Hell of Mercy, and its lessons for navigating the domains of depression, mania and the Dark Night of the Soul. We also talk about how making art is like carving stone, why morality is all that matters, the perils of promoting meditation, the place for art and spirituality in contemporary America and the spiritual roots of art. You can read more about Tim at Note: We discuss the Coen Brother's film A Serious Man, but we mislabel it as A Simple Man.
January 25, 2021
Step 16: Jacquelyn and Dallin Cerva -- A Place For Art
Jacquelyn and Dallin Cerva are film makers and the co-founders of Avrec Art House, a creative space for film makers and one of the art communities I had the privilege to be a part of. In this episode we get to hear the story of the founding of Avrec Art House, the challenges it faced, its acquisition by the Utah Film Center and its eventual closure. A fantastic post mortem for any artists looking to initiate a similar project. We also discuss Jackie and Dallin's musical projects, the challenges of independent film makers, breaking in vs. staying in, making art for the right reasons, and the importance of finding the right allies in your artistic endeavors.  You can check out Jackie and Dallin's musical project, No Shooting Friends, Joseph here: You can support How To Be An Artist at
January 22, 2021
Step 15: Dani Jones -- I Will Look You In the Eye
Dani Jones is a bestselling cartoonist, illustrator, writer and an internet omnipresence. Her web comic, Everything is Going to Be Okay is one of my favorite things, and I am continually envious of Dani's inventiveness, productivity and courage as an artist and a human being. In this episode we talk about narrowing your focus, faceless hordes, whether or not you should move out of house with a leaky roof, and Avatar TLAB and Legend of Korra. More about Dani Twitter: @danidraws
January 15, 2021
Step 14: Ethan Dayton -- O' Brother Where Art Thou, Part 4
The fourth of four discussions with my brothers. This one is with Ethan Dayton, a machinima artist, youtuber and the creator of Dr. Smite's Improv.  In this episode we discuss the story of Ethan's discovery of being on the autism spectrum, how he made sense of the world before that, the challenges he has faced navigating a neurotypical world and the work he is currently engaged in. You can find Ethan's work at:
December 17, 2020
Step 13: Derek Hunter -- What is Success?
I continue my discussions with the SLC Draw Night Pantheon with Derek Hunter. Derek Hunter is the prolific artist behind Pretty Violent from Image Comics and an animation designer with credits on Adventure Time, Bravest Warriors, Ducktales and the Netflix Original, Kid Cosmic. In this episode we discuss our shared hatred of commuting, whether or not it's okay to have kids, what drives us to make art, fitting in a comic title with a full time job, navigating the market needs of art, definitions of success, playing with kids and recharging as an artist. Derek on twitter: @derekdraws Derek's work:
December 10, 2020
Step 12: Adrian Dayton -- O' Brother Where Art Thou, Part 3
The third of four interviews with my brothers. This one with Adrian Dayton, founder and CEO of Clearview Social -- a social media force-multiplier for professional firms. Adrian is an entrepreneur and social media specialist, with a particular expertise in social media for law firms. In this episode we discuss creativity as an entrepreneur, institutional vs. real-world success, things that impress vs. things you love, the misconceptions about sales and preparing for opportunity.
November 27, 2020
Step 11: Sam Lotfi -- The Invisible Arts
Sam Lotfi is one of my favorite artists in the comic field today working on titles at DC, Marvel, IDW and Darkhorse, most recently including Last Stop on the Red Line with Paul Maybury. In this episode we talk a bit about his unique career path from his early experiences with acting to his time in the animation industry learning the world's toughest art form. We also discuss Sam's approach to storytelling, process, time and energy management and the invisible skills that are essential to growing as an artist. You can see more of Sam's work at
November 17, 2020
Step 10: Miles Bukiet -- Modern Monasticism
Miles Bukiet is a meditation teacher with tens of thousands of hours of experience in ancient and contemporary practice and the founder of Dharma Gates, a non-profit focused on deep mediation training for young adults. Miles has made a particular study of monastic traditions and the forms they might take and the role they might play in modernity. In this discussion, we discuss the importance of having high standards for meditation, what modern monasteries look like, and speculate on what an art focused monastery might look like. Miles's Capstone on Monasteries of the future: More about Miles:
November 03, 2020
Step 9: Jess Smart Smiley -- Finding Joy In Your Work
Jess Smart Smiley is a prolific cartoonist and illustrator with an infectious enthusiasm for the art of cartooning and storytelling. In this episode we discuss Jess’s health challenges, the importance of his work as a coping method, process, planning for the joy of work, faith and prayer, being in the moment, creating the work you want to do, and the shortest distance between two points. Support this podcast at
September 27, 2020
Step 8: Cameron Dayton -- O Brother Where Art Thou? Part 2
In this episode I continue my series of discussions with my brothers by chatting with Cameron Dayton, a writer, creative director and a transmedia specialist on some of the biggest games of the last two decades. His credits include early development work on Overwatch, creative director on Call of Duty WW II, and narrative director at BioWare. He’s also the creator and writer of Etherwalker, the first installment of the Silicon Covenant series. In this episode we talk about family and ambition, finding the ideal time to work, the director’s cut of Etherwalker, Rick and Morty and Space Invader Zim, writing clever characters, creating childhood spectacles and the grounding nature of home and tradition. Cameron on twitter: @CameronDayton Support this podcast at
September 21, 2020
Step 7: Lincoln Cannon -- Provoking a Communal Strenuosity
Lincoln Cannon is the Co-founder, former CEO and President of the Mormon Transhumanist Association, as well as the founder of Thrivous. We chat about the day-to-day implications of Transhumanism, misrecognized religion, superstition and dogma, pragmatism and how to change the world.   Sadly, there was no discussion of Deadpool.   To support How to Be an Artist go to
September 11, 2020
Step 6: Damian Dayton -- O Brother Where Art Thou? Part 1
Today I start the first in a series of interviews with my four brothers, all of whom have taken an unconventional path in life.   This chat is with my brother Damian who is a writer with Creatably (, which is kinda an advertising and video production agency but also other things.  We talk about his path towards medical school that took a sharp turn in another direction, among all the other favorite topics on H2BNA like depression, spirituality ect. We talk about our diverging paths of faith and the long term impacts of our jr. high history fair project.   You can support this podcast at
September 06, 2020
Step 5: Spencer Holt and D. Bradford Gambles -- The Merc with a Mouth
The second in a series chatting with members of Draw Night SLC. Besides being the respective brains behind Food Hates You ( and Dungeon Crawler ( Brady and Spencer (or is it Spencer and Brady?) are a creative team making all sorts of awesome stuff you haven't seen yet. We talk about the current state of Draw Night, how we all got tangled together in it, the frustrations of trying to find an agent in the comics biz, Deadpool, collaboration, growing through failure, Deadpool, makings zines, fan art and Deadpool. Brady also tells a fantastic joke about AIDS. You can find Spencer on twitter as @spenturion and Brady as @heartlesscorpo. Maybe you'll also find something cool by following @tokencitycomic too.
August 24, 2020
Step 4: Jason Young -- Should We Clone Neanderthals?
Jason Young is the co-creator and co-writer of Pretty Violent available from Image comics as well as a long time Draw Night chum.  In this chat we talk about how Covid-19 is effecting the essential artistic and communal function of coffee shops, the freedom that comes from a simple lifestyle, utilitarianism, betrayal syndrome, black swans, free speech and nuanced opinions, cloning neanderthals, preference falsification and why Jonathan Haidt's Righteous Mind is one of our favorite books.
August 13, 2020
Step 3: Kohl Glass -- The Invincible Summer
Kohl Glass is a director and screenwriter with an eclectic body of work including Der Ostwind (an official Sundance selection), Dragonfyre, You May Now Kill the Bride and The Babysitter Must Die. You can see Kohl's reel here: We discuss Kohl's journey of discovering the Invincible Summer and why demons are overrated.
August 03, 2020
Step 2: Dustin Hansen -- It Takes 3 Generations to Make an Artist
Dustin Hansen is the author/illustrator of My Video Game Ate My Homework available from DC comics. In this episode we discuss how generous DC is with promotional support, the art of finance, comp culture, the various manifestations of depression, the multi-generational project of creating an artist and Mark Eaton.
July 22, 2020
Step 1: Jerzy Drozd -- Giving Yourself Permission
The inaugural episode of How To Be An Artist, where podcasting veteran Jerzy Drozd helps to send H2BNA gently aloft. We talk about the main idea for the show, maturing as an artist, embracing your shadow, sin, motivations for making art, sacred spaces and Jerzy's favorite moment of Miracle on 45th street. Jerzy is a cartoonist, educator and comic arts advocate. He's also the host of multiple podcasts including Art and Story, Comics Are Great, Lean Into Art and others (too many to keep track!)
July 10, 2020