We had the good fortune of connecting with David & Jon Swartz and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi David & Jon, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
I want to start off saying Black Ink Art is a partnership between my brother, Jon, and myself. I will be answering the questions for this interview though. This is a very good question, and something I feel can be especially tricky as an artist. Having to sell and market my artwork as well as create it can feel like working two, very different, full time jobs. I will often get caught up in the business end of things are berate myself for neglecting the creative side, and vice versa. So I try and find a balance between three aspects; the creative, the business, and recreational. Earlier in my career I didn’t have a very healthy balance of those three. I would often be neglecting one on the three parts and overindulging in others. Which still happens today but less frequently and to a smaller degree. Staying up super late painting and feeling too drained the next day to go for a run, or spend time with friends for example. Today, I try and find a balance by setting a good sleep schedule and allowing myself to rest rather than push through a project. As well, I found it really important to not force myself to work on both creative and business stuff everyday. Some days it’s all business and some all creative. I think no matter what there will be some imbalance, but being aware of it and actively seeking it is what’s important to me.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Oh boy, this is always a difficult thing to talk about. When painting I try and create from a place of honestly and vulnerability. I don’t always know what’s behind my work, or the message I’m aiming to communicate. There is just an urge to release and process my emotions through painting. One of the most rewarding aspects is getting feedback from other people. Hearing what my paintings say to them, or what they see in them, often provides me with insight about myself. I have found that when I try and create for commercial success or get super stubborn about the outcome, the final product suffers. Letting the process take its natural course is what makes painting so much fun for for me. Which I feel is the biggest lesson I’m still learning. Stay true my myself and don’t worry about what people think. Social media can cripple my self worth, comparing myself to other artists or counting likes can really lead me astray. One other thing my brother and I try to continually push is exploration and growth. We both try not to fall into a routine of painting the same thing over and over. I feel our work has a cohesive style and unique flare, but I don’t think we are overly repetitive in our imagery and work to explore new techniques and mediums. I often wonder if that sometimes hurts our commercial appeal, but as I mentioned that’s not the priority. Oddly enough when it is the priority it fails miserably, because authentic expression is what people relate to.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
There’s a lot here to explore. My favorite aspect of living here is the abundant nature that is a nice balance to what the city offers. A lot of friends come a visit and we normally build most of the time around hiking. Some favorites for when people visit are, St Mary’s glacier, the Flatirons, Mt. Falcon, anything in Nederland, and Mt Morrison. In the summer going tubing in Golden or kayaking at a reservoir is also dope. Then there’s also longer trips to Gunnison and the Blue Mesa Reservoir, or Crested Butte. I’ve only been here a little over a year and half so still exploring myself. Of course there’s also all the museums, Sante Fe, RiNo, and South Broadway to hit up as well. Personally rather disappointed in the food out there compared to Philly, which is where I come from. But there’s some tasty spots, Dushanbe Tea House in Boulder, The Deli in Nederland, Lazo’s Empanadas, Postino, and City O’ City to name a few.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Man, there are too many to list honestly. It’s hilarious how independent a lot of us feel we are when we rely on others for so much on a daly basis. Our drinking water, roads we drive on, food we consume, whoever made the paint I use, technological advances we depend on. All these things allow us to focus on our passions and flourish. None of us can do this on our own, so I have to give a big shoutout to humankind! And of course my brother Jonathan, who motivates, inspires and challenges me daily!