FriYAY Friends

FriYAY Friends: An Interview with Andy Miller

Happy FriYAY, my friends!

I don't know about you, but my week has flown by! The whole family has been healthy for 6 days straight, which is basically a miracle after what feels like months of viruses, ear infections, colds, and even pink eye. ugh. Anyway, we've enjoyed our good health with lots of time out of doors in the sunshine which is really where little boys are happiest anyway. 

I had a minor crisis in my sewing room last night when I sat down and, after a few days of clunking and grumping, it became apparent that Archimedes's timing was totally off. Fortunately, Andi had Festus all tuned up and ready over at Red Hen, so I drove across town to drop off one machine and fetch the other. I spent nap time furiously sewing on a tshirt quilt to move things along again, and it felt marvelous. 

Today, I am bringing you an interview with one of my favorite non-quilts podcasters. Andy Miller, also known as Dr. Pizza, is the host of the Creative Pep Talk Podcast. I don't remember which other podcast I listened to originally recommended the CPT, but somehow I found Andy. At first, i thought he was pretty goofy and weird (Andy, I hope you LOL at that-- just keeping it real here), but when I hit a creative block one day, I thought, "Hey, I should try listening to that guy again." I've been hooked ever since, and CPT has become my favorite podcast for helping me think critically about how I approach my work and my favorite motivating "sound track" when I'm just feeling stuck. Once again, this is a marvelous example of how I seek inspiration outside of quilting, and I hope y'all find Andy and the CPT as energizing and informative and fun as I do! 

1) Tell us a little about yourself, your family, your creative background, your other interests, etc I’m kind of a nomad. No real ‘home’. Born in Indiana but I’ve lived in Western New York, the United Kingdom and Ohio too. I grew up in a world of math, sports and corporate culture… and I was completely out of place! In high school, I found design and illustration and everything changed! Since then I’ve been on the road to build my illustration practice. Today I’m a full time illustrator and podcaster living in Columbus, OH with my wife Sophie and three kids.

2) How did Creative Pep Talk get started, and how do you stay inspired and pep-ready each week? I started Creative Pep Talk because I wanted to start doing more public speaking about creativity and no one was asking me to come talk! I also have a deep passion for helping creative people thrive. I believe the world needs creative people but it doesn’t know how to recognize their talent, develop it or use it properly. So we creatives have to figure this out on our own! That’s a tall order for anyone.

I stay inspired in many ways. I listen to lots of podcasts, some business, some creative, some spiritual. My go to’s are probably EntreLeadership, Tim Ferriss, The Liturgists, Ask Science Mike, Fresh Air and You Made It Weird.

I also spend a lot of time in my own head, alone on walks and jogs or in the bath tub taking notes on my phone! Another thing that really helps: connecting weekly with my mentors and peers with phone calls. I couldn’t make it without them!

3) What do your routines and creative process look like? I usually get up at 5 or 6am and do my most important creative work until 7:30, then help the kids get to school. Sometimes I will then go to the coffee shop and get admin stuff done, home for lunch and then finish up any urgent work in the afternoon before dinner.

In terms of creative process, I usually attack any creative problem from several angles until something clicks. I will think about the problem, I will talk through the problem with friends, I’ll sketch book the problem, I’ll write out the problem, I’ll take notes and then cycle back through these things intuitively until I unlock the idea. I find coming at creativity from different angles is extremely beneficial for unlocking all the different things in your subconscious.

4) You mentioned in a podcast last fall the importance of being inspired by creatives who are different than you. Which artists or mediums do you find inspiring? I find surreal photography incredibly inspiring. I’m also way into music. I often try to mimic musicians in my illustration work. I try to learn from how they strike a balance between being accessible and challenging. I also try to illustrate the visions that play in my head when I’m listening to something that’s really moving me.

Probably more than anything I am inspired by stand up comedians. Funnily enough, not really from their material, but how they think about their work. I honestly think stand up comedians are the most creatively brilliant masters out there. They are the least subjective artists, if they get laughs, it’s good. It’s the most merit driven art form there is. I love how they approach their craft and balance the logic and magic of creativity. 

5) How is creative community important to your work? Like I said earlier, I couldn’t get by without it. I think as an introvert it may not even appear to be creative community to others. My community consists of emails, social media, phone calls and occasional coffee dates. But combined together, this is the life blood of my work. I desperately need others to help me soundboard my ideas and work through my problems, otherwise I would be ten times the mess that I already am!

6) What advice do you have for other creatives along their journey? Run towards delivering real value. Learn your craft and understand the value of your product. Can you imagine a stand up comedian that didn’t know she was supposed to get laughs? Yet so many of us don’t really know what we are shooting for. Understand what your art is supposed to do, then dedicate your life to getting super good at delivering this value! When you really spend the years developing this craft, nothing is more satisfying in life!

Andy, thank you so much for taking the time to share with us today! Your work is amazing, and I love all your crazy analogies, stories, and tips. Thanks for being such great "company" while I sew and for challenging me to think differently about my creativity. 

Y'all, all the gorgeous images in this post are by Andy, and many of them are illustrations he did for CPT episodes. You can find lots more like these on his Instagram @andyjpizza. Follow him for a big dose of inspiration to be added to your feed. 

You can follow me, too, @stringandstory, and I'm still enjoying #IGQuiltFest. I love making the little videos, and I hope y'all are enjoying them, too! 

Go make something!


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