100 Creatives 2014: Winston Williams, What Happens to Confiscated Comics?

Categories: 100 Creatives

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What He Does: So there you are in school, just trying to dull the pain of public education by quietly reading an issue of The Maxx (For the sake of narrative in this case you're me, it's the '90s, and you better believe you're wearing JNCOs). Suddenly, the teacher swarms down upon the and relieves you of your reading material because you're not paying attention. She says you'll get it back at the end of class but do you? Do you ever really?

Winston Williams is proof positive that you don't. He's been drawing since he could remember, but it was a friend of his mother's that led him down his true path as a comic artist. She was an elementary school teacher, and she handed him a box full of confiscated comics from an entire year. Initially he began just copying the art, but eventually got good enough to begin branching out into his own characters.

His latest work is a comic book called The Soul, written by Jose Alonso. It follows a Houston Police Department struggling to maintain law and order in a not-to-distant dystopia future. Currently the first issue is available at Third Planet.

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100 Creatives 2014: Octavio Moreno, Opera Singer

Categories: 100 Creatives

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Photo courtesy of Octavio Moreno
Octavio Moreno in "Don Pasquale" at Opera in the Heights 2013
Octavio Moreno, one of our nominees for Best Supporting Actor in August's Houston Theater Awards, grew up thinking of opera as people just screaming on stage. Not very compelling, not worth his time. He initially wanted to be a professional soccer player in Mexico, where he was born, but after a knee injury he had to rethink his plan. He then wanted to become a poet and study Hispanic literature--still no thoughts of pursuing music, let alone opera. It wasn't until he decided, completely on a whim and after overhearing a conversation outside of the building where he had to declare his course of study, that he wanted to study music that he considered it as a profession.

"I really, really loved words. I liked to write poetry, or at least what I think is poetry. It wasn't even until after four or five months of studying music and attending concerts that I started remaking my view of operatic songs," says Moreno.

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100 Creatives 2014: Dylan Godwin, Theater Renaissance Man, Storyteller and Teacher

Categories: 100 Creatives

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Photo courtesy of Dylan Godwin
Most 8-year-olds don't see many theater productions, let alone more-than-G-rated ones like Tennessee William's A Streetcar Named Desire, but it was this experience that solidified Dylan Godwin's desire to become a performer. He remembers sitting in the front row, being absolutely absorbed into the world created by actors on the stage of his community theater in Athens, Texas.

"It was this hot, humid New Orleans world, and I was completely sucked into it. I mean, you see people acting and going up on stage to do a show all the time, but it was the first time I'd ever seen someone onstage just living a life," says Godwin. "It was so interesting to watch them because it was like they weren't aware that we were watching them. It was just absolutely captivating to me."

Godwin's big, excited personality was pretty conducive to the culture of storytelling in the small town where he grew up. Every day after school, he and his friends would stay at the community theater until 10 p.m. and spend their weekends there. Athens, he says, "has a real sort of oral tradition. I always grew up with stories. And that's how my brain works."

For him, it's the universality of storytelling--the getting lost in a world that comes with reading a really great book or watching a poignant movie--that draws him to performance as an art. "Something about using your body, your voice, through dance and through singing and through whatever else feels like a real culmination of everything that storytelling is about. It just feels like a very natural thing."

And he's definitely a natural at it: he won our award for Best Breakthrough performance for his role in Good People at the Alley Theatre.

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100 Creatives 2014: McKenna Jordan, Owner of Murder By The Book

Categories: 100 Creatives

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Photo courtesty of McKenna Jordan
There's a unique sense of warmth and familiarity that washes over you when entering a local, independent bookstore, and that's exactly what McKenna Jordan tries to cultivate as owner of Murder By The Book on Bissonnet. Though it wasn't initially part of her post-college life-plan--she wanted to go to Law School--Jordan's group of employees has turned into a family of bookworms that spends more time together than any normal family should.

"We work several hours a week together, we work in close quarters, we have birthday parties together--we spend a lot of time together. So, you know, if I know that someone is going through a tough time and they need time off, then they get extra days. It's flexible in that it is a family type of environment."

The store's status as independent allows Jordan's employees a lot of creative input when it comes to the store's inventory. Any books that staff members are passionate about will be ordered and placed on shelves, even if they're about needlepoint, according to her.

In a time when Amazon delivery drones are on the horizon and print literature is being slowly replaced by e-readers and Kindles, stores like Murder By The Book hold a special place in the hearts of book lovers. For Jordan, who graduated from the University of Houston with degrees in English Literature and Violin Performance, that special place gives the store a unique purpose.

"Amazon doesn't host author events. So we host those events, where people get a signed print book. We continue to discover new authors and to sell those titles, and we're hand-selling books to our customers. I'm directly interacting with them, and we're constantly giving them recommendations. Amazon and Barnes and Noble don't do that."

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100 Creatives 2014: Steven Trimble, Dirty Dirty Mixed Media

Categories: 100 Creatives

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What He Does: Mixed media is kind of a loaded term when describing art. It can indicate a multi-dimensional work of genius, or one thing someone simply splattered with paint and glued more things onto. Steven Trimble, though, is definitely the real deal. His pieces are largely paintings but call to mind street art more than typical portraits and landscapes. He works with spray paint, newspaper, grease markers, acrylic paints and grit to make evocative images that punch like revolutionary propaganda.

A graphic designer by trade, Trimble started down this path in 1999 when he founded a clothing brand by the name of solidskin independent klothing with a couple of friends. The designs that would eventually transition into his current art started out as T-shirts. Now they've achieved a life of their own.

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100 Creatives 2014: Sandria Hu, Visual Artist and Professor of Art, Inspired by Archaeological Digs

Categories: 100 Creatives

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Photo courtesy of Sandria Hu
Archeological Dress #4, a collograph print

When she visited Slovakia in 1986 as a Fulbright Scholar, Sandria Hu wasn't planning on visiting any archaeological dig sites. But when she was invited by local archaeologists, what she encountered was awe-inspiring.

Hu's eerie and breathtaking current exhibition, called "Archeological Dress," consists of 20 collograph printed children's' dresses lowered into a batch of gel medium and pressed flat to dry. Once they harden, she scours each dress with a toothbrush, similar to the process of unearthing an artifact from a dig site.

She knew she wanted to be an artist when she was attending elementary school in San Francisco, but as she's gotten more serious about it, the experience of creation has transformed into something beyond pleasure for Hu, something that sounds surreal in description.

"It's very agonizing. I don't have fun when I do my artwork, I really don't...I find it very stressful, I find it very agonizing, and I think it's only because I'm still searching. And sometimes when you're looking for something, you're not really at ease. You're not really happy. Because you don't know what it is you're looking for. I'm always searching for that next thing. I find it very intense, I find it really absorbed."

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100 Creatives 2014: Robert Gouner AKA Goon73

Categories: 100 Creatives

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What He Does: In 2008 Robert Gouner, the photographer who would become known as Goon73, was heavily into riding and building/customizing motorcycles. He wrote a monthly column for a motorcycle website and when the format changed to print he suddenly needed pictures to go with his articles. Since he didn't know any photographers, he started taking pictures himself. Once he's finished shooting all his bikes, he'd discovered a new passion in the process of picture taking. It allowed him a brand new creative outlet and with help of some patient mentors he began his career.

Gouner is heavily influenced by a love for abandoned buildings, horror movies, and pop culture. About a year after picking up the camera he was exploring an abandoned hospital as a possible photo shoot location when he discovered that the bottom floor of the hospital had approximately four feet of mold on the walls of the lower floor. Figuring that if he brought a model to shoot in the location he would need something to keep them all from getting sick, he scrounged up some surplus gas masks. The resulting masked shots became a major component of his future.

"There is something about the anonymity afforded by the masks," says Gouner. "When you combine the apocalyptic undertones and brutality of their original role, it is hard to explain, but it is fascinating to me."

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100 Creatives 2014: Shawna Forney and Erma Tijerina (a.k.a. SHER), Culture Gurus

Categories: 100 Creatives

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Photo by Trish Badger
Shawna Forney and Erma Tijerina, aka SHER
We weren't at all surprised when Shawna Forney asked if she could share this interview with fellow organizer and friend Erma Tijerina. It's in Forney's nature to invite people, to turn everything into a group project, to make everything a party. Tijerina is the same. The community organizers/event planners/media consultants behind CulturePilot, a branding/design company and CreativeMornings Houston, a series of monthly breakfast meetings with imaginative, inventive speakers, Forney and Tijerina are both natural hosts, natural leaders. They're smart, focused, gregarious women with infectious enthusiasm and it's extremely difficult to ever say no to either of them.

A couple of generations ago, they would have made a hell of a pair of Tupperware ladies. These days, they're more aptly described as culture gurus.

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100 Creatives 2014: Mark Bradley, Camera Muse

Categories: 100 Creatives

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Photos by Mark Bradley
What He Does: Some of Houston's best photographers combine to forma giant Voltronian force of artistic thunder under the umbrella of Muse Studios. Robert Gouner, Stanford Moore, Shelby Carter, Gracie Sosa, Rachel Tate are all part of the team, but today we're meeting Mark Bradley.

Bradley drew and sketched his whole life. He was good, but nothing spectacular. He traded a pencil for a camera in high school, shooting yearbook and school paper photos. Rather than go to college, he joined the navy hoping to see the world. Luck placed him in London during the '80s, where he managed to make the acquaintance of many photographers that would guide him on his way.

Bradley is a man that doesn't stick to any one style. It's hard to nail down a signature look to his work, and he's fine with that. He approaches each subject from a different angle, hoping never to be tied down to a label.

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100 Creatives 2014: James Ferry, Comic Art Sucker Punch

Categories: 100 Creatives

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What He Does: James Ferry is yet another of the extremely talented comic artists living here in Houston. His dream was to make films, and he actually has several credits as a writer, director, and storyboard artists for works like Blue,In Dreams, and American Goldfish. Overall, though, the world of film takes a huge number of people.

Ferry prefers his comic art as he is limited only by his imagination and his willingness to buckle down. You can see the cinematic range his mind possesses in his pieces. Expansive cityscapes make homes for science fiction heroes and heroines, while strange, Lovecraftian monsters defy the eye's ability to interpret them. His work calls to mind Fiona Staples illustrations in Saga, and there is no higher praise for a comic artist than that.

Why He Likes It: "Art allows you to share ideas with others. Great art allows the viewer to see something in a new way or question what was taken for granted. Great art touches some unseen part of you and causes an emotional response. I think it is this sort of mental engagement between viewer and creator that I like the most. I don't get that when counting up numbers. "

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