Coffee + Art + Friends : Sweet Pea Cole


Sweet Pea Cole

Artist • Maker • Gap Chaser • Awesome Idea Generator 


My favorite thing about Art? Oh, my gosh. Sometimes, it’s that feeling that you get when you look at something and you can’t believe the talent that it took to make and conceive. I get immediately drawn to that. I return to Art when there is something else there— a story or some sort of magic to it. I don’t know what it is and I don’t know how to get it, but when it is there, it is so obviously there.

There were things that I thought, “Wow, that’s so cool!” But the first piece I remember feeling that way about is a photograph by Sally Mann. It was her middle daughter with raspberries on her fingers. It’s a color photo. I don’t know what it was about that, but when you asked that is what first came to me. There have been other things. Like, “Oh, my god moments”, like when I first saw Chuck Close’s work. Anytime I see Chuck Close’s work! There is a magic there but there is also a skill level that is mind boggling. Color, shape, layers, execution. Most often it comes back to execution for me.

I tend to struggle with that as an artist, because I have ideas that I think are awesome! It’s that thing that Ira Glass talks about where you know what is good and you know where you are and you can see that gap. I see people who have transcended that gap and that is what draws me to it.

I don’t remember starting making art. I was always making something or writing something or putting together something. I was always doing something! I have a very creative family and a pretty traditional family. My father was a business professor, so he was not saying, “Run off and join the theatre” by any means. But the act of being creative in all avenues was always there.

There were times when I took my art making more seriously than other times. It’s cyclical as far as I need to make ends meet and then other times it’s like, “Fuck it! I don’t need to make ends meet.” I’m not making ends meet, so why try? I can either give up what I love to make ends meet and still not make ends meet. Or I can do what I love and not make ends meet.

I have recently started to enjoy the process. I have always been very product oriented, but instead I have taken a step back and really am enjoying what I am doing. For example, I had to reclaim a bunch of screens and re-prep them last night., And in the past I would have been like “I just have to get this done to get to the good part of printing.” But last night, I was like, “it’s so nice outside!” and I put on my gas mask on and my ear phones and protective goggles and was like, “isn’t it fun to be outside!?” Moving away from being on the computer– the deep, deep appreciation of every minute I am not staring at a computer screen. So, to have those moments where they are not “look at what I did today” and still I enjoy it. I am more aware of the process. Through my conversations with others, I am able to be a little broader visioned, a little stepped back. This is cool to have this dialogue. This is helping me in a way that is very special. It’s a process.

I really want more people to understand what goes into making art. Maybe you don’t have original paintings on your wall, but everything is based on that original idea. I know so many creative people that have talent and they work so hard. I wish our culture as a whole would appreciate it more. People are reaping the benefits of art and they are not aware of the sacrifices that were made for those pieces to exist.

It’s exciting to see people come into The Workhouse and be excited to buy something handmade. It means they are appreciating and valuing the work we are doing here.

It’s not easy to be a creative person. You are constantly pushing yourself to do something that is different, either for you or for what has been done before— so its a constant struggle and it’s hard work to do that.  I think people think oh, that would be nice to sit around. It’s not eating bonbons!

You don’t have to go buy expensive Art or fund Kickstarters. That’s not the only way to show you value creative people in the culture. I personally am very fueled by seeing delight in others. Sometimes, it’s just showing up and engaging. Saying “I like that.” That means a lot! Especially to someone who is struggling and for them to know their art still brought delight to somebody. That is a valuable thing.

July 7, 2016 • The Workhouse • Bend, Oregon