5 With: Taylor Baldry

November 13, 2014

I met Taylor this summer while working on Open Field, where my colleagues referred to him as an Open Field Alumni in High Standing. That basically means that he makes really cool participatory projects that we were anxious to bring to the field. This summer Taylor brought old school-style recess games, like Capture The Flag, and I've never seen a group of adults take a seemingly tame game so seriously. I mean, look at these photos. Taylor is a really talented illustrator, and his event promotion was almost as fun as the event (see below). I'm excited to share what he's making! Now let's all join Grown-up Club together. 

Describe your creative work and how you came to make it:
I value meaningful relationships and strive to create experiences that are accessible, entertaining, participatory, and promote human interaction and community involvement. My current work revolves a handful of passion projects that focus on public engagement. I produce the Pangaea Station, a quasi-educational art history web series. On Sundays I curate an experience-based oatmeal bar. I also co-founded Grown-up Club, which empowers and connects wayward adults through a monthly event series. 

I didn't always create work that was participatory; I am actually pretty introverted. This changed a few years ago after I moved back to Minneapolis after living in Japan. It found it really challenging to meet and connect with people in the digital age. 

What's your biggest creative challenge?
One of my biggest creative challenges has been accepting that I'm an artist. If someone asks what I do, I tend to mumble "I'm an artist" under my breath. I don't always own it, but if I don't, who will? So that's a pickle. 

I have always expressed myself artistically but I never thought that I could be an artist. The idea of it made me anxious. I thought that to be an artist, you have to be a superstar or else you're going to be living on the street. It took a career change and living in a foreign country for me to warm to the idea.

I still struggle with my artistic identity and I am constantly questioning myself: Am I creating work that is accessible? Am I giving myself enough credit? What are you doing with your life Taylor????

How do you balance paying your bills and making your art?
I am a part-time barista at FiveWatt Coffee. I also do freelance illustration and some commissioned art projects. A part-time job gives me some structure and piece of mind to work freely on creative work. It also gets me out of my studio (bedroom) and forces to meet new people and be social. I'm thankful for that.

I also take a lot of sabbaticals. I'll work intensely, save up some money, and then take a few months off to travel or learn something new. Sabbaticals are refreshing, and it's also fun to say that you're on sabbatical when really you're unemployed.

Give some advice:
Take an improv class. I am just wrapping up my first improv class and it's been brilliant. It's made me a better collaborator and communicator, more open to ideas, and more willing to embrace failure. If you're on tight budget, HUGE Theater allows students to trade classes by volunteering at the theater. 

Also: if you're at a party or event where you don't know anyone, stand near the snack table. Everyone will come by to snack. Snacks are a great conversation starter and you can eat them. 

What's exciting?
I'm looking forward to this winter. I'm excited to design some postcards for the oatmeal bar-- we are going to sell oatmail. I'm pumped to reboot the Pangaea Station, and have been doing some writing and pre-production for that. Grown-up Club also has some ridiculous events that we're planning for December and January. Neat! 

Find Taylor and his work here (and via the links above), and more 5 With here!


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