BENEFITS OF BEING UNCOMFORTABLE WHILE STAYING TRUE TO YOURSELF WITH HEATHER CRANK
I had the amazing opportunity to be interviewed by my friend Gabe Ratliff on his podcast the Vitalic Project. We talk about myth, failure, and what it takes to be an artist and keep facing yourself (transcription below). Check out Gabe’s amazing line up of interviews from creatives thinkers across all mediums and disciplines.
Heather Crank: 00:00:00 Well, that’s, that’s why myth is so fantastic. It’s anchored in dreams. It’s anchored in the subconscious. It’s the. It’s completely open ended and anchored in our essence and our past and our future. It’s the most amazing thing.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:00:22 Welcome to the Vitalic Project podcast where you’ll learn how to find your own voice in a world filled with noise. I’m Gabe Ratliff. I’ll be your host as I sit down with fellow artists, creators, and entrepreneurs to learn more about their work and how they serve others so that you can tap into your creative purpose and live a life that’s drawn, not traced. All right, I’m stoked. Let’s get to it.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:00:49 Hey guys, this is episode three of the Vitalic Project podcast. Thank you so much for being here with me. On today’s episode. I’m talking with Heather Crank. Heather is a very good friend of mine and she is an award winning visual artist and designer based set of Bend, Oregon. Her films have been showcased at the Guggenheim, Supernova animation festival, and RESfest. She’s also the recipient of the Adobe Achievement Award, and during are absolutely delightful conversation. We discussed things like her business, called Crahmanti. It’s an art and design collective that she runs with her husband, Greg. We also chat about some really exciting events coming up that she’s participating in. One of them is Supernova, an outdoor digital animation festival in Denver from September 14th to the 23rd and the other is BND DSGN, an intimate forward-thinking design conference that is October 25th through the 27th and you guessed it, Bend, Oregon. Heather also shares where she finds inspiration when working on creative projects and her advice to upcoming artists as they navigate the obstacles. We all know so well as we hone our craft. There’s some juicy stuff in here. So let’s just jump right in.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:02:07 Heather Crank. Thanks so much for being here on the Vitalic Project. I’m so excited to have you here.
Heather Crank: 00:02:13 Thanks.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:02:15 So, um, I was just thinking maybe at the beginning here we could just have you tell the Vitalic audience a little bit about yourself and what you’re working on these days.
Heather Crank: 00:02:24 Um, so boy, it’s hard to categorize. Traditionally, I’m a motion designer, graphic designer, artist history in dance and theater. Um, but primarily what I’m doing right now, it’s kind of combining, um, how shall I say this all my previous incarnations into one thing and I’m working on, um, a piece for Supernova, which is an animation festival that’s sort of how shall we say, experimental coming out of Denver, Colorado and Supernova is, um, was created by Ivar for use during the plus gallery. I don’t know if you remember that. And simultaneously I’m very deep into BND DSGN, which is a design conference in Bend, Oregon and that conference, it’s focused on doing good in the world and the community and bringing speakers together who are kind of movers and shakers in their respective fields. So that’s kind of what I’m focused on at the moment. We’ll start with the supernova. Is that by Denver Digerati? I was reading. Who are they? So Denver Digerati is a group that was put together by Ivar, the press gallery. And so he started that group and there, um, it started with a group of experimental video artists and animators and then they, the Denver Digerati puts on Supernova supernovas the actual festival in Denver Digerati is the group kind of behind it?
Gabe Ratliff: 00:04:17 I just wanted to make sure that was clear to people because I’ve seen them both pushing stuff out or pages on social media now. I saw you’re going to be showcasing something or contributing. What is it you’re contributing this year?
Heather Crank: 00:04:34 Um, it was really amazing actually. I last year I saw them and they, the, they had a call for Supernova for submissions and I had just done this crazy insane music video for my friend David Obuchowski’s PublicistUK track, “Telegraphing” and so kind of in a way. And I’m like, I’m just going to submit it. It’s got cats and space is perfect. And so I did it, got in immediately and then this year Ivar contacted me personally, um, and asked if I would contribute to this invitation only animation festival coming up. So I’m working, uh, on a piece frantically this week. We’ll be sending it off on Thursday and it’s around the Egyptian myth here we go back to math again. Nice. And this is centering on when people died in Egypt, they would weigh their heart against a feather. And the whole idea was that you unburden yourself and your heart should be free and wait lists. So that’s what I’m working on. That’s enticing.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:05:59 Be ready for that kids. I’m well. Thank you for your time. Working Frantically. I know how that goes. I also saw on your, um, I believe it was in your facebook feed. I saw that wonderful graphic about. I’m working on projects where it’s like, you know, 80 percent fucking off and then counts down to the frantically cranking it out in the last like five percent of your time. I love it.
Heather Crank: 00:06:38 Well, crying and panicking.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:06:40 Yes, exactly. Yeah. While crying and panicking. That’s right. I was trying to remember what it said. I, yeah, I love it. I saw it and I just started cackling.
Heather Crank: 00:06:51 I used to put. So when I worked with you at Craftsy, um, on the back of my monitor. I put it they’re facing Brent McCown, the creative director so he can see it. And when he would ask how he’s doing in the project, I would just point to scale right here, Brett, right.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:07:14 You hear a little bit by the, by. We did check in. Just look at the chart. That’s awesome. It’s such a great reminder of. Yeah, how we all pretty much roll in this right brain world. Um, so, uh, let’s see, I, um, I was gonna I wanted to ask about, um, now is this the first year they’re doing Supernova or is this, is this recurring?
Heather Crank: 00:07:52 This, this is where I feel like it’s their second year. It might be second year, might be. I think it is gaining momentum and I think you’re gonna see a lot more of them. It’s an outdoor festival, so I found A. I’m forgetting the streets downtown Denver. I’m so bad. And um, it’s on the giant screen on that’s on the side of a building. So the 14th, is it 14th?
Gabe Ratliff: 00:08:22 Think it’s right by the Denver Center where I used to work.
Heather Crank: 00:08:25 Yeah. So you can just walk by and see all this amazing art that’s happening. Um, and they’re starting to do little pop up shows. They’re bringing in bigger names like Peter Burke, if, I don’t know if you’re familiar with him. He’s an amazing artist and people from all over the world actually. So I think Ivar is ramping it up.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:08:49 That’s awesome. That’s so great. I was, I was actually, uh, I was going over their site and just kind of looking at some of the work and I’m just blown away about where things are going these days, where artists completely turning into, into this whole new ever changing realm, you know, and it’s so nice that people are, um, you know, they’re just really becoming more accepting of the unknown and letting people be even more, you know, we’re getting kind of. I feel like in this new era again where we sorta had this seemed like the field Kinda got leveled there for a second. You know, like in the flash days, you know, it was kind of like, there was this moment of we kinda hit this strike. I remember doing flash animations actually on those billboards. I’m in Denver Center and they were just so bad. I remember because I was in the early days of doing that. And um, they were just horrific. But there were so much fun. But I remember we kind of, in that era of several years there, it just seemed like we were kind of flatlining. It’s not flat lining, but just, you know, level field. And then, um, it, it seems like this last couple of years to me with the, you know, the Meow Wolf and so many fresh artists coming together in this kind of collective surge of consciousness is just like, hey, no, let’s, let’s go further. It’s kind of like this new renaissance I feel like.
Heather Crank: 00:10:24 Yeah, it really is. I, um, that’s definitely something Supernova champions. It wants work that’s pushing the envelope, that’s experimenting, that’s taking traditional tools, are really pushing it as far as it can be pushed. And I personally love that. That’s like my, you know, a reason that I do what I do. I love to push the envelope and I’d love to make myself as uncomfortable as possible because I feel like that’s where the real creativity lives. It’s like in that, in that little sweet spot. Um, and I agree, we did have, we did really flatline. We did. There was a period where everything was starting to look the same, everything was really smooth and it was all of the same type of illustration and design work and a lot of that more really creative pushing the envelope stuff went away. So I’m super excited, super, super excited to see people kind of coming back and reinventing what I’m kind of like with video and animation can do and how they can merge because part of it I think have been when you’ve had a lot of titling and TV titling that went away as TV was starting to go away and there was kind of a shift in the medium and how it was, how it was used. So it’s interesting. I’ll be curious to see what happens.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:12:03 Yeah. And I mean with um, similarly with, you know, AR and VR, right? And how we’re heading with that. And I, you know, the dea aging process now that they’re doing and you know, like Guardians of the Galaxy 2 with Kurt Russell, I could not believe it. I cannot believe that I was still a little leery when we had, um, Princess Leia in, what was it, the, the Rogue Nation or a Rogue One, Rogue Nation, Rogue One. Um, and she, you know, she says hope and I was Kinda like, Eh, you can still kind of tell, but it was like, it’s getting better. But then when I saw Kurt Russell in Guardians 2, I was blown away the feathered hair and all. I was like, okay, these guys have nailed something. They’ve just figured it out and now they’re throwing it out to the masses. So I’m just seeing where that stuff’s going. It’s really interesting to me to see, um, you know, this new frontier that we’re going into, um, whether it’s in, you know, this animated space that you’re talking about with Supernova or, you know, even to the mainstream stuff. Um, I just, I’m really curious to see how that goes because I feel like when we have this kind of growth, the underground gets really into it and they tweak it, right? They twist it and turn it into something on its head that nobody’s looking for because that’s the point, right?
Heather Crank: 00:13:35 Yeah. And that’s where breakthroughs come from. You know, it’s, it’s when, uh, you have someone who maybe is not in the public eye that gets inspired or see something or grabs onto some type of technology or technique and messes with it and then you come out with some amazing thing.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:13:58 Yeah. Um, you mentioned. Well actually I haven’t, I have a couple questions off of what you said. Um, I’m curious about how, because we, we’ve kind of, I feel like one thing about our generation that I, I feel like we’re kind of blessed with is that we’ve had this merger and, and the transition of analog and digital and I feel like we’re kind of blessed that we’ve got, we’ve had the opportunity to see that, you know, and you know, we’ve even seen vinyl come back and compete with, I don’t want to say compete with digital, but it’s, it’s competed back with cds and it’s on the level now with, with digital. And I think that’s amazing as a, you know, former vinyl buyer record stores. Um, I was excited to see that, but I’m curious, how do you feel about that kind of the, you know, the old versus the new and how do you, how do you approach that with your work since you love the cutting edge and you like being uncomfortable, which would, which I want to come back to, um, and then how do you kind of pull from. Because I know you’re also very grounded in traditional art and you were coming from dance and everything that comes from the body and not digital. So I’m curious about how you approach that.
Heather Crank: 00:15:25 Um, I just think it, you know, they’re all just tools. The way things work is that what looks dated now maybe in 20 years won’t be so dated and that’ll be, you know, kitschy and people will take it and reuse it. And so I think, um, I think it’s about the intention and the concept that you’re working with and does it work and does it fit, does it communicate what you want? And it’s trying to find a vehicle that has the clearest, most visceral mode of communication. And so sometimes it’s taking an older technology and mixing it with newer technology. Sometimes it’s just sticking to one device through the whole thing because it’s going to communicate one way or the other. So, um, I don’t say no to anything really.
Heather Crank: 00:16:23 I can tell I’m really open. I’d love to experiment and I love to put things that don’t normally belong together together and create that tension and see what it does. Space. Cats. yes. Amazing. Or let’s say, let’s say I have to um, create something and I have no money and so I have to go to walgreens or some kind of department store and buy a bunch of bright green, a poster board to make a green screen to shoot something and it doesn’t come out exactly how I want. So then there’s an issue, um, but instead of letting it be an issue, I find a workaround and let it inform me of doing something that I wouldn’t have normally done. So sometimes failures, experiments, a lack of money can work for you. Or for me, it can be an, uh, an advantage. So I really, I try and stay open and fluid.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:17:29 Yeah. Well, and we’ve usually, excuse me one sec. We usually find that we may have a lack of money as artists, right? And that we often have things not go way we expect. Right? So I think that’s one of the things I remember from one of the best things I learned when I was in school for a past high school is that the. I remember I used to be so frightened of the critique and I think one of the best things that I learned from those was that failure is a constant and that if you don’t go ahead and accept it and if he. And then also people’s opinions, you know, and I think going into this social media world that we live in now, being prepared for. I mean when you think about the more well known you become the bigger target you are to anyone because of anything, anything, anything that you say or do could rub somebody wrong. And I think that’s one of the things that has been really great about those kinds of failures and opinions in critiques is that they, you know, they help you to kind of get that tough skin and to also be able to be nimble with your work and let it take you where it wants to go.
Heather Crank: 00:19:07 Yeah, that’s really important. Um, I spent a long time. I’m really being afraid and not being comfortable being front and center. I’m a little bit introverted in nature. And then I just got to this point where, you know, what do I want and if I really want it, I can’t do this in a bubble and be isolated and I’m going to have to take the risk of exposure. And, you know, what’s the worst that’s gonna Happen? Somebody know crappy or hurts my feelings. I can get over that.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:19:47 Do you have a story maybe that you could share about a time when that happened?
Heather Crank: 00:19:53 You got so many, so many, so many I can’t even think of when that happens on a regular basis. Um, I think that because I’m so interested in experimenting and um, I’m not really wedded to or tied to, let’s just say being the most perfect, amazing artist. I just want to keep experimenting and growing and pushing. So some of the stuff I made maybe not so great. Some is kind of mediocre, but it doesn’t mean I’m gonna discount it as something valid or important and often, um, when I’m doing something like that become very quick to judge and I tried to explain it’s, this is part of the process. I’m not really interested people’s opinions when I’m working through a process as far as being judgmental. I’d rather just explore the topic with them. So I’ve learned to kind of have a lot of discernment about what I except for myself and what I don’t accept for myself.
Heather Crank: 00:21:07 And if someone says something to me that really hits a button or a point in me that’s in me, that’s my issue. And it’s not even about them. There’s something in me that is insecure, feels uncomfortable. And um, and so it’s, I think really important to keep having that sort of self reflection and self awareness of this is upsetting to me and it’s upsetting to me because of why and if I know why I’m doing something and I’m putting it out there, I have to be comfortable and okay with people are going to react and have an opinion and that’s just par for the course. What do you do once you, which you analyze where that is for you? Yeah. What do you do with that? Like do you take that and put that into a new project or, or kind of how do you, how do you resolve that or move forward from the. Um, it depends on how upset I am. (laughs)
Gabe Ratliff: 00:22:13 Whiskey bottle or ?
Heather Crank: 00:22:17 It really hurt. Um, I usually will need to go spend some time in nature, take a walk, get my head straight. I’m just kind of be still a little bit. I’m usually, if I give it some time it will come back around and I’ll be able to become more clear in myself about what’s really happening with me and maybe it’s that I need to set a better boundary. Maybe my boundaries are just too loose. Maybe I’ve allowed someone else’s opinion to define me too much. Maybe it’s around society and uh, it’s um, a societal structural thing that I don’t feel comfortable. And so once I have that moment of clarity and I kind of have taken some time to reflect, usually it goes right back in the work. Nice. Yeah. So deal a lot with topics that have to deal with a, we’ll just say, um, feminism, maybe some of the repression women feel out in the world and are dealing with all the time. Um, sometimes I deal with sexuality all deal with um, a kind of discontent or pain or a lot of different sort of cathartic themes that maybe people would be uncomfortable. I’m looking at or dealing with. Death is another big one. Pain, grief, suffering, all that kind of stuff. But I think if you can take a moment, you can really look at that honestly, in yourself and in your work. Then you have this kind of moment where you can become very vulnerable and honest in yourself and that is the sweet spot, at least for me, for being able to push forward creatively when I can get to that authentic space. Wow, that’s fantastic. So I’m curious about, you talked about getting to a place where you’re uncomfortable. Yes. Can you speak to that? I want to hear more about that. And how do you, how do you, how you work through that? So, uh, I make myself uncomfortable pretty easily. (laughs)
Gabe Ratliff: 00:24:40 I make others uncomfortable really easily. (laughs)
Heather Crank: 00:24:47 If you have an artistic temperament, it is so painful to be in the public eye. It’s so painful. Um, at least for me, I understand there’s more theatrical, extroverted temperaments, but we’ll just say your stereotypical introverted artists. And when I do that and I put it out there, I feel incredibly exposed. I’m overwhelmed and nervous and self conscious. And so I will intentionally put myself in that space. You’ll see me out there on social media over and over and over and over and over. The reason I do that is because, um, that part of me that’s uncomfortable is fighting against being seen and that is, I’m a part of all of us, whether it’s being vulnerable, whether it’s being afraid of being in the public eye and that part that’s afraid of being seen and it is uncomfortable. That’s what’s the authentic self. That’s where the work needs to come from. So, um, whether it’s, I have to go, like last year I spoke in front of 400 people. Um, that was easy. I cannot tell you how hard that was and I’m terrified of public speaking, but I also knew there was an opportunity that had been presented and it’s another way for me to be more authentic. And if you hide yourself too much in this world, you rob the world of your presence, of your gift, of your own self. Some reason for being here, I think it’s so important to constantly push against that thing and make yourself uncomfortable.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:26:46 Yeah. Well, and it’s so funny because, uh, you know, he talked about that 20 seconds of bravery, you know, will last a lifetime and I find that so interesting because it’s so true. We build up so much in our heads up to the moment and then you get in this space and you start to do it and then you’re like, this is amazing and then you’re done and people are coming up to you going, that was so moving or, or, you know, that really hit me or I really connected with something you said or, you know, thank you so much for doing that. And then you’re like, oh yeah, okay, cool. Yeah, I’m good. And then it starts all over again. You’re like, I’m going to go back to my cave and do some drawings on the wall and Oh, I gotta come back out again. I love, I love that you’re pushing yourself that way.
Heather Crank: 00:27:47 That’s part of it too. It’s like after you do something really scary like that, I don’t know about other people, but I have to, I have to go back in my bubble for about three or four days. It’s scary and you felt so exposed or I feel so exposed and I had to kind of deal with that for a little bit. Um, I think all great art that’s not just a technical, uh, exercise comes from people being willing to push against that thing inside of them that wants to keep them isolated and is afraid of being exposed. I think it’s an earthing it and constantly going deeper and deeper and deeper into the center of it.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:28:34 Mhmm.
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Gabe Ratliff: 00:29:08 I wanted to step back a little bit for you and I wanna I wanna I want you to take us back to the young heather, the young, young heather, the little little girl. Heather, what was your, what was the first piece you did where you knew where you were actually cognizant of, I am. This is it. I’m going to do this for the rest of my life because you are a devout. You are. That’s one of things I love about you, is that you are absolutely devout to the craft no matter what we’ve already discussed the you like at all. Do you like it all? I love that. Um, and I love that. I love that. It, it, it, it injects itself into your work in that way. There’s like so much multimedia and looking at it differently in the old and the new and we were talking about all that, but I’m curious, can you take us back and walked us through what, what was that piece like and, and where did that come from and what was that story behind it?
Heather Crank: 00:30:12 Um, so I, I’ve kinda always been doing this. Um, I going back way, way back, so, um, when I was little I was always an art classes and uh, when I was about, I’m going to say eight, seven or eight, um, one of my best friend’s mom was an art teacher and so I was in her classes all the time and she used to put your paper up on the wall and we would draw and we would have big sheets of watercolor paper and salts and we always, um, I used to put on plays with the neighborhood kids this during this period from about eight to 10 and that would write the script. We do all the costumes. Oh, and choreograph and direct and then we’d put on these shows for the parents. And I was obsessive about it. Like I just all I wanted to do and then, um, later, you know, that kind of. As I got older then it was moving more into theater and I studied a lot in theater and dance in the Meisner technique and um, costume design art. And I just kept doing it and I, you can think of, I can’t even go back farther. Probably about age six or seven. I was obsessed with the assassination of Lincoln for some reason and I was obsessed with my 200 pen marker set when John Wilkes booth was in the theater and it was the whole assessment thing. Do you know what I mean? It was always. And then when I was in, when I was doing my Undergrad, we had to do a final piece and it was, it was supposed to be writing because I was studying postmodern literature and um, of course I’m in a video, right, you know, artsy, fartsy stuff. So I think, I think I have no choice. I think that’s just who I am and I can’t be anybody else. And um, I don’t, I don’t know what else I would do with myself.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:32:50 I don’t either. That’s all I know about you. I’m curious about, you mentioned the Meisner technique. We were studying dance. What is that? Just for people that don’t know,
Heather Crank: 00:33:01 There are two types of acting training their to the stem slash technique, which is the more external type of acting. So it would be, um, it’s more like method acting, so it would be like, instead of developing the emotion inside, first it’s identifying outside and then working in the mines and our technique is building on your own emotional landscape and then learning to play that like an instrument. So, so you have a character who’s going through, um, oh, I didn’t, let me think of something, some kind of conflict or a relationship breakup. So I would use my own emotion in that area and then I would put the skin of that character on top of it. And so what it does, it creates this openness and vulnerability. Um, so when I moved from theater into dance, it allowed me, I had that training, I studied pretty deeply in it that it would allow me to be open and vulnerable with the audience and in some deep way. And um, the whole thing is about vulnerability. Um, when you’re training in the Meisner technique least when I was the teacher, you would, you would do these scenes and you would practice back and forth just saying some stupid line, but you hadn’t say authentically and if it wasn’t authentic, this teacher would just scream bullshit, break you down and break you down and break you down and tell you were authentic. So that’s how that works.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:34:46 Wow! That’s awesome.
Heather Crank: 00:34:48 It’s so that you have no, there’s no mask, there’s no barrier. And that’s where, for me anyway, that I think that’s where really good acting comes from.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:34:57 Yeah. Well, and I love that, that differentiation of, um, like you said, finding your own emotional landscape to then wrap the skin of that character around because it’s always connected to you and it’s not living from this place of I’m who is this character? I’m going to build that character and work back to me. Right? It’s coming from within you and you’re like, I am that character. I just am putting a skin of what they would look like or act like based off of that. That’s awesome. And it’s helped you in your life and your career, right? Like you said, being able to be authentic and open and vulnerable with people, you know, the speaking in front of 400 people or you know, being on social media even in that capacity. Um, wow. That’s awesome. So, um, I know you and your husband Greg. You guys formed Crahmanti and um, I was curious if you could tell us a bit about comante and then I was also interested in, um, do you guys work together on projects? I know I see a lot of stuff that you’re both putting out and I’m just curious like how do you, how does that work working with your husband? What does that process like and um, you know, go, you know, go from there.
Heather Crank: 00:36:32 So, um, I started Crahmanti as a sort of a way to transition out of Craftsy actually. Um, and we, we have this mutual goal of trying to figure out how to create a life, this vision that we have of doing things that we really want to be doing somehow being able to support ourselves. Um, we’re both artists. We’re both very creative people, so we put our heads together and we thought we would combine art and design and see if we could get some kind of commissions and things that pushed just beyond the small job, you know, to bigger, a bigger scope. So that’s how we started that. And then I brought on a David Obuchowski as a copywriter and Gary Tussey as an animator and Jason Lovejoy helps with all the exhibits and art. So I have this amazing team I’m working with and we have been working a lot on giving a lot of exhibit design jobs, which is great because it kind of utilize everything. Um, when I work with my husband, we fight really bad and he tends to do a lot of his, as far as his own artwork and his photography and sculpture. That’s kind of his own thing. And he, he will need to do his own thing. I get started and then I’ll come in and given an opinion, but I can’t be there in the process.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:38:10 I’m familiar with that. I’ve been there myself. Why did you do that? Why did you do that? Yes. Yeah,
Heather Crank: 00:38:21 yeah. We’re, we’re very different. He’s, my husband is extremely precise and he’s how can express he’s got, he was a master mold maker and he welds and he works with his hands and be sort of an artisan and um, I am the extreme opposite. I’m very messy and intuitive and, and I kind of make him crazy. So, um, but that being said, when we have an exhibit, what ends up happening usually is I will design the project and kind of create the whole thing and then I’ll bring him in and we’ll kind of hash it out and then we go our separate ways. He does all this structural building and uh, brings me in for opinions and I’ll do all the design work. So then that way we work really well together. But as far as personal art projects sometimes, but usually not.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:39:20 Got It. That’s where you’re leaning on your strengths, right? If you’re, if you’re working on those larger projects. I know how that, how that is as well. A, I’m also a fan. I was really big into a charcoal when I was younger studying, you know, and uh, all the way up through art school, I was really into that. Um, and uh, I was, I call it art school, but it was really a university, but when I was in the art program, um, I just, I loved getting filthy and just big huge pieces and just, I love the negative space with charcoal and positive space and I loved it. It was like black and white photography. Right. And that was also a big passion. Um, and which it is of yours as well. I love your work. Um, and um, yeah, I, I, I’m the same way I get that I painting wasn’t really my thing. Um, I’ve, I’ve actually been, you mentioned the intuitive, um, recently. I’m pretty sure it was Laura Main that we used to work with. She actually turned me onto. Yeah, right. Love Laura. When she turned me onto, I think it’s in, it’s called intuitive abstract painting. I’m pretty sure it was her, but it’s where you, you just grab colors and go for it and there’s really nothing. You’re not trying to do anything of structure. It’s really just, you know, I just put on some music and I just went for it, grab colors. It was really more just playing around with pallets and playing with the brushes and the, and the knives and all this things and um, it really is super therapeutic and it totally took me back to that place where I used to love going with charcoal. Um, and um, it’s such a fantastic place to tap into because you know, you, you’re not. Sometimes we get into these design projects that are so clean and precise and symmetrical and all these things. Right? And then you go into this other, and I imagine you can really connect to this since you’re so diverse and you do design and, and, uh, these art projects. Um, and it just, it was very therapeutic for me to tap back into that. Um, so that’s something I’ve been playing around with.
Heather Crank: 00:41:48 Yeah. You’re actually reminding me when I was in, when I was in design school, art school, um, I, I had this fine art, very intuitive background and I had to make some money so I put myself through school and um, I had this instructor I wasn’t doing, I was really struggling with the clean mathematical component of design and I loved it, but I was really, there’s a, there’s a piece of it that my mind when describing a lot of trouble with and I had this great instructor named Kenny who said to me as I was working, he said, you know, you can be messy and a designer. And it brought it all together for me if he hadn’t kind of taken me under his wing and helped me understand how to bring those components together. I don’t think I’ve ever been able to go into design, which would have been so sad because I love it. But those things do work. I mean, you can do both. You can be very clean and very messy at the same time.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:42:56 Yeah. Yeah. Well, and it shows, you can see that merger that’s occurred. I didn’t have that guidance, so my mind was a very kind of abstract path to get to realizing that when I started to do design and I was like, oh, okay. It’s okay to like both, you know, and to be okay with both. That’s great that you had that guidance.
Heather Crank: 00:43:22 Grateful. Very grateful.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:43:24 Yeah. Well it’s definitely done. You done. You well.
Heather Crank: 00:43:28 Well, thanks!
Gabe Ratliff: 00:43:32 Uh, so I’m interested in now talking about, we kind of talked about where you’ve come from, how you work and things like that and I’m curious, what is it you, what would you say you ultimately are looking to do? Like where are you heading as the artist and his with Crahmanti and those that you serve with Crahmanti?
Heather Crank: 00:43:55 Well, so I’m thinking a lot about why I do things at all for so long survival and money and then there was a brief stint of wanting to be recognized, which was really more about my own insecurities. Um, and why, why do, why you ain’t had saw. I’m in the why. I think what I’m coming to is I had liked to dive more into the experimental stuff. I’d like to be able to give back and uplift, um, I’d like to be involved in a way that makes things better in the world and happier, um, and that supports other artists that are doing the same thing. Um, I just feel like there’s just so much pain and they, it and people can get so lost, stuck in lives and goals that don’t suit them because they were kind of fed this line of, you should do this and you’re expected to do this and you need to be this. And I feel like part of my goal is to help break that pattern and help people understand, be who you are, do what you want. There’s a way to achieve it. And if I have to do that by being an example of that, then that’s what I’m going to do. Fantastic. I think you are trying to keep up the good work. Thank you.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:45:48 So I kind of want to tack onto that. I mean, I think you’ve sort of said it, but I’m just curious if you can sort of provide a little bit clear message to maybe an upcoming artists, you know, you’re, you were talking about being an example, what is, what is some advice you could give to a younger artist or maybe an artist that is just blossoming, whatever their age and they’re just tapping into, oh, you know, what, I actually am creative. What would you say to them when they, you know, moving forward for them.
Heather Crank: 00:46:27 Don’t be afraid of who you are. When you meet who that person is, head on. Don’t turn away. Don’t accept less because someone else thinks that you should, uh, you’re going to need a lot of courage and strength in. You’re going to have to be willing to have a lot of failures. You know, people say fail, be willing to fail. But a lot of people don’t understand what that looks like and what that feels like and what that really means. And it’s harder than you could ever imagine to fail big. I’ve done it many times and um, it is not for the faint of heart and if you’ve, if you put yourself out there and you go for it and you find yourself in a kind of devastating place, understand that that’s normal and go find a support group with friends or other artists and talk to them because there’s nobody who hasn’t been through it to some.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:47:31 Nice. Where do you find inspiration when you’re working on projects? Where does that come from for you?
Heather Crank: 00:47:40 Music a lot. I listen to a lot of music. Hear! Hear! sister. Yeah. I don’t know what I would do without music. Uh, I use it to get me in the zone. I use different, different songs. I listened to you for certain qualities to help me kind of get in the right track. I’m really inspired by nature. Nature is a big thing for me. Um, and then I go for inspiration. I read a lot, um, and I’m on instagram constantly. Like, oh my God, there’s so much good work on Instagram. Those are right now. Those are my big things. Um, I, so I get a lot of inspiration from the amazing artists in my life that I see doing incredible work and, and, and then design is just like, this has just been this incredible opportunity for me to be around people who are working and thinking on a level that most people don’t. So that’s kind of my big inspiration.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:48:52 That’s a great segue because I was going to ask, you know, so we’ve got a supernova coming up in September now. I saw, I wanted to get clarity here because I saw that it says the festival is the 14th through the 23rd, but then I saw something is on the 22nd.
Heather Crank: 00:49:10 Yeah, the 22nd, I believe it’s the invitation only screening. So my work and a bunch of people’s work who are invited to create a little mini segment will show on that day.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:49:23 Got It. Okay. I wasn’t quite sure what the differentiation was for that day. Yes. I’m now ben design that you mentioned that’s coming up in October. That’s the 25th to the 27th. And now I’m wondering if you could speak a little bit about what that is and how you, you said that’s already been so helpful for you being tapped to that community. What is that?
Heather Crank: 00:49:49 So BND DSGN was started by Renee Mitchell. And Martha Murray and Renee Mitchell are the founders of BND DSGN and there are two movers and shakers here in Bend, Oregon. And they wanted to bring what they saw happening in Design Week Portland to Bend. And so when I first moved here and I saw what they were doing, a kind of stalked them for awhile.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:50:13 Aas we do.
Heather Crank: 00:50:17 So they brought me onto their team. So BND DSGN’s whole focus is um, design for good and it likes to bring speakers who are kind of the top of their field who are doing work in design related fields that goes beyond what you would consider traditional design work. So last year we had a speaker named Linda Decker who works with the AIGA women’s will be women lead initiative. So she works a lot with, uh, equality of women in the workplace and kind of women in tech or kind of up against that whole thing. And um, so what happens when the speakers come in is it’s a very small conference. It’s 450 people, so you have time to have dinner with these amazing trailblazers, you have time. The next day is a bunch of workshops to hang out and learn from them in small groups of 30 people there, their films in their meetups and then there are tournaments and there are parties. And so it’s just sort of like this condensed three days of huge inspiration and connectivity and creativity. Um, and these are people who I don’t think I would normally even have a chance to be in the same room with, uh, this year we have, you know, people like Chris Do, who I, as you’ve seen me on social media, um, I can’t believe I’m going to be able to meet him. That’s incredible. Last year we had Ryan Summers who is an amazing, amazing person. Um, and this year we’re also having April Greiman who granted, who’s a design legend, who’s one of my big inspirations. I mean there’s just so many. It’s just so it’s such a huge thing. Um, and so I am hugely inspired every year that we do it and at the same time, so humbled by the talent that comes. And so BND DSGN is what they’ve done. What they’re doing now is they want to expand it beyond the idea of traditional design, so design, pushing the envelope, design thinking outside the box. So it’s for everybody. And so that’s kind of their focus. Wow, that’s awesome. Yeah,
Gabe Ratliff: 00:52:47 I love that. It’s, I’m a big fan of the smaller, more intimate settings, those, you know, triple digit conferences. So many of them. I, I, I’ve been to many deter. I used to shoot one, um, it was like the largest natural organic expos in the US and it’s like 70,000 people and it’s just so massive and there’s so many vendors and there’s so many people and there’s just Schwag everywhere and you know, all this stuff going on, these parties and everything. And it’s awesome. It’s great because you see the community supporting itself and it’s growing. I mean, now this is a new movement. It’s no longer this little thing. Um, so it was great to see it for that particular venue, but it’s so big. Um, and for me, I feel like when you’re really trying to make a difference and you’re trying to support the little people who are trying to come up and get their things going, I just felt like those, not necessarily that one, but just those expos and conferences in general being so big, you can’t have that nice intimate setting where you can connect with Chris Do or whoever and be able to have that connection and maybe work on something together or be able to develop a relationship with these people that they normally wouldn’t have that connection with. That’s amazing.
Heather Crank: 00:54:12 It’s, I mean it’s, you know, like there’s, there’s even going to be some panels that will discuss, um, one of them is what keeps you up at night and you’ve got these, you got Miwa Matreyek who’s this incredible animator performer and you’ve got Heidi Hackemer coming out of New York who is this, I don’t even know how to describe her. We’ll just call her restructuring the face of business. You’ve got Mohan Nair who’s another trailblazer in business and they’re all going to be in this panel and you can ask them anything and they’re just going to talk with you. And it’s a small group. Like there might be 20, 25 people there. I mean it’s that level of intimacy I don’t think you can get in any other conference and it’s partly because the theater that this happens and it’s small because small. So you’re in this gorgeous setting and you have this intimate environment and these amazing people.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:55:12 Yeah. And it seems to me, um, my, my best friends actually, he and his girlfriend just went to check out the end. They, they’re, they’re looking at put, you know, places similar to what brought us here to the Denver area. We originally had moved to boulder and Bend does very similar, even though it’s a pog earthy, I was cracking up. I was like, oh my gosh, it’s like nested up to the mountain range and it, except it’s a little closer to the coast, which was exciting for me. But it seems like this really small, intimate setting a city, a town, whatever, what’s the difference in a town, a city. But, um, it seems like this really great kind of intimate a community is really what I want to say. But um, that’s just blossoming with so much creativity and it’s like you said, it’s this beautiful setting and it just seems like there’s a lot going on in bend, um, from what I’ve been researching.
Heather Crank: 00:56:17 Yeah, it’s, it’s very strange for me actually having grown up here when it was not that, um, yeah, it’s, it’s definitely bend is starting to form and actually reminds me of when I first moved to Denver. I lived in Denver for nine years and um, when I first got there it was a small kind of town vibe and it was sort of still forming its identity and figuring out who was and as the artists we would always talk about, you know, is Denver ever going to happen because it just seemed like it was never gonna happen and um, and it is, it’s very, it’s probably why I liked it so much. It is the, the environment is very similar except Ben has a lot of lakes and in spite of the coast, but otherwise, you know, high desert very, very similar. Um, and it, so ben, it’s definitely kind of, it’s got this energy that starting to happen. It’s starting to form its identity. My only hope is that it doesn’t do in Denver did, which forced me out, um, which is explode in a way that it’s no longer affordable. So I’m hoping there’ll be smarter about it. But yeah, there are some similarities.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:57:33 Yeah, it’s interesting. We were just, we were talking about that just this weekend about, you know, the infrastructure in these. That’s why I was kind of joking about the town city, cause we just went through this, denver was this, you know, they used to call this one cow town and, or the cow town or whatever, one horse town where the, whatever the phrase is, and then now it’s just this exploded metropolis, still not la, but it’s really exploding growing out to, you know, the other front rage cities and the infrastructure is just, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s uh, being um, a flexed. It’s really being flexed by all of this influx of people. And we were talking, I was asking him about that because he was sharing with me about how ben is really blowing up. And I was saying, wow, it’s got a similar infrastructure to the boulder Denver area. It’s butted up against the mountains. They can’t really grow out, you know, there’s, there’s the lakes around it as well. So it literally has the topography that says, no, this has got to stay kind of what it is. Yeah. So I find that interesting to see, like you said, I find that interesting and I look forward to seeing kind of how that is dealt with different than here. I hope it is what I said as they’re looking to move their uh, yeah, that was, that was his, his, uh, curiosity as well. So, um, I want to switch now to um, uh, we’re going to start wrapping it up here a little bit, but I’ve got some, like I’m kind of a quicker response questions I like to do. We’ll see how quick they go. Some of them I think maybe not. I always find it interesting how they respond. Um, what is the most important realization that you would say that you’ve had in your life? Come out swinging.
Heather Crank: 00:59:42 Okay. Most important realization. It’s okay to be who you are.
Gabe Ratliff: 00:59:54 Period. Um, if you could have only one medium. This one I thought was a great question. If you could have only one medium, which one would you choose? Art, film, Literature, music, animation, design, painting.
Heather Crank: 01:00:17 This is a cruel question Gabe. I know, I just thought surely this will be interesting for headache. Okay. Okay. I’m going to say art. We’re going to go with art.
Gabe Ratliff: 01:00:36 I knew that would be hard. Thank you for playing. I actually had the same dilemma. Just so you know, that was a part of why I wanted to do that for us on this call or in this interview because I’m, I have the same problem. I’m like, uh, what? F that, this is a hypothetical. I don’t have to have one. Screw you. I’m not going to conform. So, uh, okay. Now my question is, has there been a work of art or film, Literature, music. You and I are both. You know, you’re, you’re my kindred with music a period. I still tell people I’m like, oh my gosh, Heather’s like my kindred. We send each other music. Um, but is there have been a work of art or film, Literature, music, anything that’s directly influenced you and your life?
Heather Crank: 01:01:46 I mean, that’s a really hard question because it seems like there are bits and pieces of everything are influencing me. Okay. I. Okay. I can think of one thing. I will just generally say all of it, everything around me and everything I’m kind of seeing and interacting with is influencing me. I, I get some of my subconscious and it comes out and some kind of way. Um, one thing really influenced me, a was way back when I was doing my undergraduate degree and it’s still influencing me today. I was, um, I was failing math again again and uh, I had tutors and I like that side of my brain just doesn’t want to work. Right? And so, um, I took a class that was math, that was for people who are afraid of math at this point. I had just become terrified all the time and I would even walk into a math class and my whole body would tense up. Um, and so I had this amazing teacher and he was passionate about what he was teaching and he wore purple corteroids and it would bounce around the room. And I started to finally relax and being able to absorb what he was teaching. But what really did it was when I was in this class, all of a sudden I had this epiphany that math was very similar to music it and that you could take musical notes and convert them into mathematic equations because that’s a brain dealt with this problem and and all of a sudden I was thinking, my God, you could take things like the big bang and you could create an equation and convert it into music and you could hear what the whole universe sounded like. So I started searching. I was so intrigued by this idea. And then came upon Johannes Kepler, who is the person that created music of the spheres. But the reason he did that was because they didn’t have a. They hadn’t developed a system, a mathematical system yet to chart the stars. So he was using music to do that. And he was so accurate that at one point he had predicted or figured out there was this an area in the sky that was dissonant. But he didn’t know what it was because we hadn’t discovered it yet. Years later they found out there was an asteroid belt there, so it was a very precise, but it opened up this whole world of thinking about things that are difficult and problematic using other methods and so I actually use music as a way of understanding things has specifically mathematically speaking that are difficult for me and it influences everything.
Gabe Ratliff: 01:05:03 I’m going to be spinning on that for a little while. That’s fantastic. I totally connect with that because that’s one of the things that I. I didn’t have that same story, but I had a similar connection with music and that did the math of it and the way it’s developed because, you know, I’m also a Dj and as I got into electronic music, you start to really, you know, because I studied classically, so I started out with classical, worked my way up to jazz and, and rock and all those things. But when I got into electronic music, which I really got into when I was in art school and that was how I focus. I have issues focusing and so the electronic means either ambient or electronic was my way because there’s no vocals, so it was just an, as a drummer as well, I was able to tap into that kind of tribal heartbeat rhythm and he gave me this kind of connective tissue around the music to stay connected to and so it would allow me to kind of focus my thoughts and focus on my work and the math around how electronic music is built. You know, the um, you know, eight bars, 16 bars, 32 bars, all of these things for changes in the music just totally connected with me. And then I had this whole like, Oh man, I get it. Like it’s all, okay, cool.
Heather Crank: 01:06:31 Right?
Gabe Ratliff: 01:06:31 Math is what builds up, which you can understand, but it’s really clear when you’re in electronic music because it’s not as fluid as classical. So then it had this whole new again. I similarly had this like, oh, math is cool. (laughs)
Heather Crank: 01:06:49 Right? Math is cool.
Gabe Ratliff: 01:06:49 I was like, okay, I liked math. Yay. So yeah, different story. But yeah, I had a, I didn’t have the Purple Corduroy teacher, but that’s awesome too, by the way. I caught that. I missed her purple corduroys. My wife actually has a pair of Mauve corduroys and they’re awesome. Yeah, I love him. She just keeps them because they’re so cool. Um, alright. Well, is there, is there anything else that you’d like to say that we didn’t cover that you’d like to talk about or say to other artists out there?
Heather Crank: 01:07:29 I mean, I can say. Let’s see. I guess, you know, be true to yourself. Don’t be afraid to be authentic and don’t be afraid of pain. That would be the thing. Pain is pain is a growing mechanism and it’s really important to cultivate strengths, to be able to handle when certain types of pain arise. That would be my advice.
Speaker 3: 01:07:57 Okay. Hmm.
Gabe Ratliff: 01:07:58 I wanted to give a little moment there for that to settle in. All right. Well where can, where can people find you on the interwebs? If they want to learn more about you and um, you know, what you’re doing and all those things. So
Heather Crank: 01:08:16 Crahmanti.com, of course it’s my site. And then um, I’m on Instagram under @crahmanti and also under Heather Crank. You can find me on Twitter. My handle is @crankh, but you can also just search really if you just search Crahmanti I always come up. Easy
Gabe Ratliff: 01:08:35 Then we’ve got Supernova again, that’s coming up a September 14th through the 23rd. And your work is showing the 22nd you said yes. And that’s going to be in Denver. And then we’ve got BND DSGN October 25th through the 27th and that’s coming up in Bend, Oregon. And I actually did want to check in real quick about that. Are you contributing to that or are you speaking or what are you doing with BND DSGN?
Heather Crank: 01:09:07 So this year I’m doing all of the exhibit design and then I’m on the programming committee, so I’m one of the people who’s bringing speakers in me there. And then I’m on a panel called um, uh, gosh, it is “Art Asks, Design Answers”. So I’m on a panel with four people, um, and we’ll be talking about the intersection of art and design.
Gabe Ratliff: 01:09:37 Nice. Nice. Well, Heather, you’re amazing. I just love you. You’re the best. And thank you so much for what you do and thank you for being on the show.
Heather Crank: 01:09:47 Oh, thanks for the opportunity. Gabe, it’s so nice to see you.
Gabe Ratliff: 01:09:50 You too. It’s been way too long.
Heather Crank: 01:09:59 It’s been a long time.
Gabe Ratliff: 01:09:59 Its’ been a long time. (pause) Boop. (laughs)
Gabe Ratliff: 01:10:05 Hey Gang, thanks so much for listening. If this is your first time checking out the show, then thank you so much for being here. I hope you enjoyed it. The Vitalic Project podcast comes out bi-weekly and is available every other Thursday for your enjoyment. The show notes for this episode can be found at vitalicproject.com/003, and all the links from this episode will be in the show notes. If you haven’t yet, please subscribe to the show and feel free to leave a rating or review on itunes. If you’d like to be a guest or know someone that would be a great fit, please go to Vitalic Project.com/guest. Feel free to share this or any other episode with your friends and family and thank you so much for listening. Until next time, keep being vitalitic!