Creative Life in the Gateway Arts District
Meet Mount Rainier Artist Lofts resident artist Joel Traylor. Joel works in oil stick, acrylic and digital art forms. Read below about how this DC native discovered his artistic process and how he came to the beautiful life he lives in Mount Rainier today. You can check out his work online at joeltraylor.com.
How did you discover the medium you currently work in?
When I started making art in 1996 I used what I had: Oil pastels. Over time I wanted a medium that I could blend more easily, as the oil pastels were rubbing my fingers raw. I fell in love with oil stick.
The wet oily viscosity was perfect. I blended with my fingers and did not touch a brush until early 2000. I was forced to use acrylic paint for the Party Animals DC project in 2002. I did not like it. Acrylics dry too fast! I’ve grown to love acrylics, especially when mixed with textures like sand, pumice, and string.
How do you define “artist”?
An “artist” is a person with a curious and playful sensibility. Whether they create a “thing” or not is secondary.
How did you discover the Gateway Arts District?
My girlfriend at the time found the Mount Rainier Artists Lofts on Craigslist before the building opened, late 2004.
I found the big windows, high ceiling, and burgeoning arts community so exciting that I applied and moved in ten years ago. Now I am here with three adorable cats and a wonderful wife.
If you could give your younger self a piece of advice about being an artist, what would it be?
I would tell myself to use my certificate in multimedia studies to get a paying job in animation and/or web design, avoid the instant gratification of street markets, and continue making gallery-worthy art.
What drives you?
Being open to playfulness, nonsense, and curiosity. Being so in the moment that I shift frequencies. Washing dishes with equal attention. It’s hard to say.
What is your greatest challenge as an artist?
The dichotomy between surviving and thriving.
What are you working on right now?
I am excited about combining painting with digital design techniques.
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