The world is deep and full of rich pockets of culture, some of which you can only experience by following your curiosity.
What are Curiosity Conversations?
“Curiosity Conversations,” a concept I discovered after reading famed producer Brian Grazer’s book, A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life, is an idea machine focused on developing connections between strangers through the art of conversation with curiosity being the fuel.
How has social media been an integral part of your life?
As a marketing professional and avant-garde artist, social media has always been a big character in my life. I remember Friendster, Myspace, joined Facebook in 2004, and even made a viral video for YouTube in 2005 called “The April O’Neal Experience.”
Lately, as I have fallen deep into Instagram, I have been wondering if I have lost my touch to connect with people outside of the internet. After all, I market to real people so I wanted to find ways to reconnect with the “face-to-face” conversation.
It wasn’t until I started actually sending DMs to local CLT artists - via Instagram inviting them to a curiosity conversation - did I start to understand what MY art was.
People. Conversations. Understanding:
People are fascinating. After several curiosity conversations, I realized that everyone looks at the world differently and how much I could gain by just listening to everyone’s individual perspective. After spending only a few hours with these local artists who I met through Instagram, I could see their stories and styles in their posted timeline. It was like looking at a scrapbook of style, of art, of perspective… and a mirror on myself.
Why is it important to be engaged with others?
I believe I am a better person, marketing professional, and artist because I sent a DM instead of double-tapped. You may struggle with social media and it’s place in our real lives, but it is a learning tool if used with care and respect.
Below is a short list of the local CLT artists I have invited to a curiosity conversation from Instagram:
Lo’Vonia @lovonianparks is a local Caricature artist. I messaged her to draw me but requested we have a conversation before she did. Several months later, we see and greet each other as old friends as our art friendship has grown deeper than a business transaction.
Shabaka James @shabakajames is a local portrait photographer who I met at a Burning Man event in Asheville, NC. We got to know each other before I asked if he would take my picture. We had schedule a photoshoot at his studio and a few days before the shoot I asked if our upcoming shoot could capture the truthful despair I was currently going through. I was severely depressed and wanted to turn that energy into a visual representation of my struggle as I was tired of lying to social media about how happy I was. The photo series that came out of that session were deep, raw, and real and was the catalyst for my expressive modeling.
Jeff Howlett @howlermano is a local photographer who I saw at an event running his Tin-Type photography that blew my mind. I reached out through Instagram for a conversation and I discovered that this man has been into film photography and developing his whole life and is fascinated by all kinds of cameras (as we hit up Goodwills for camera scores). Jeff even directed a full-length documentary “A Band Called Death”. A true visionary and a pleasure to work with, let alone a Vietnamese Pho buddy.
Then there is Troy Tomlinson @flamingchickenstudio, whom after we shook hands for the first time, unveiled his magnificent warehouse studio with a room full of costumes that I explored for an art shoot, as he was celebrating his birthday by shooting anyone who wanted to model.
And George Duncan @pixelarmyphotographer who is fascinated with the concept of lighting. George’s skills with lighting a portrait are stunningly dramatic or simply elegant and truly a pleasure to work with and learn from.
After a while, photographers started contacting me through Instagram.
I scheduled a brisk spring morning shoot with Michael O’Neill @mfophoto to pose for his infrared series as we broke the ice with topics of body image, working as an artist, and his vision for infrared photography. It was an amazing collaboration and I am truly honored to be apart of this man’s artists vision.
How have you lived boldly?
Some people have asked if I was cautious about meeting these photographers for the first time out in the wild. Curiosity has taken me on some amazing adventures while intuition has trained me to listen to my feelings. When I have a feeling - bad or good - I listen to it. In hitchhiking across America and Canada, vagabonding through Asia, opening my home to over 100 Couch Surfers, I have not once been taken advantage of, robbed, or mistreated. I took risks that taught me boundaries and broke assumptions that strangers are bad people. My intuition not only saved my life, it taught me how to live.
Where can we see more of your art?
If you would be interested in having a Curiosity Conversation, DM me at @JackTuxedoKat on Instagram.