For the design of our 2014 Holiday Mug, we tried something a bit different. We turned it over to our team members and held a design contest. After some excellent entries, we chose a design by Cullen Miller. Cullen is a barista at our Kayak's location. I stopped by the cafe to ask him about his design, and his aspirations to be an artist.
Chris: Cullen, what does art mean to you?
Cullen: I'm working on being a professional artist. That's what I do in my free time. Right now, I'm mostly drawing, but I have a few projects underway with some other artists. We're going to be working on some paintings. I want to bridge drawing and painting - fine art - with found objects, and combine them.
Chris: Like mixed media?
Cullen: Yes, exactly.
Chris: How long have you been creating art?
Cullen: I've enjoyed art since childhood, but I've been taking my art seriously since high school. I went into freshman art class, and my art teacher said, 'You're sh**ty.' And I was like, 'Huh. Well, when you put it that way …'"
Chris: Was that an "Advice you needed to hear" sort of thing?
Cullen: Kinda. That's when I went from doodling to actually trying. I've always been creative and tried to express it the best I can. When I got to his class, he could see I had potential, but I wasn't trying my hardest. So in a way, when he shot me down, I had to try harder for his approval, and it worked.
Chris: A slight insult propelled you to greater things.
Cullen: I think so.
Chris: So when we put this mug design contest out, what was your approach?
Cullen: I sketched out a few traditional ideas, but none of them jumped out at me. They were what you'd expect a holiday mug to look like, and I wanted something different. My inspiration was ski coats. I could see the design printed all over a coat on the slopes. I aimed for a design with longevity, that wouldn't just get packed away when the holidays were over.
Chris: It turned out so well. Thank you!
Cullen: My pleasure.