AI: What do you do?

It occurs to me that our audience is probably full of artists, at the very least casual ones. I’m curious what all of you do. Are you painters, dancers, writers, interpretive skateboarding mimes?

Are you an artist? Do you create? If so what? If not, make something and then tell us about it.


Ryan is a professional nerd, teaching engineering in the frozen north. Somewhat less professionally, he is a costumer, author, blacksmith, juggler, gamer, serial enthusiast, and supporter of the Oxford comma. He can be found on twitter and instagram @studentofwhim. If you like what I do here, feel free to leave a tip in my tipjar.

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  1. It feels a bit weird answering this AI. Anyone who regularly reads the comments here will know far more about me than is strictly necessary. That’s because I’ve been selfishly using this site as a lever to prise open my life and let the creative aspects I walked away from years ago to seep back in. But in the interest of getting the ball rolling (assuming of course no one sneaked in ahead of me):

    “Are you an artist?” I never call myself such, but to outright deny that I am would be to venture into No True Scotsman territory. I’m not comfortable with the term because to me it implies that art is one’s primary activity in life and that’s never been the case with me even when I was playing in three bands concurrently.

    “Do you create?” Oh yes, but I rarely finish those creations. I have a hard drive full of bits and pieces. I keep running headlong into the fact that I’m a really, really terrible singer.

    “If so, what?” Songs for the most part, with the occasional instrumental piece thrown in for flavour. Right now I’m working on a song called “Skeptic”. It’s intended to summarise why I’m a Skeptic without using the first person personal pronoun. And I must say it’s going pretty well so far. In fact, while I was thinking about how I would answer this question a much better chorus lyric came to me. So thanks for that! 🙂

    I’m looking forward to seeing what other people lurking hereabouts are up to. So come on folks, speak up!*

    I’d also love to see an extension of this AI. I’d love to see a MadArtLab curated on-line show where all the pieces were titled “Skeptic” or some such similarly themed event.

    * “Now FossilFishy, how do we ask for things?” “Oh Mum!” “Don’t Oh Mum me young man, where are your manners?” “All right, all right….Pleeeese, speak up. There are you happy?” “Better, but lose the attitude mister. or it’s no ice cream for you tonight.” “Yes, Mum……can I have sprinkle on the top too?” “We’ll see.”

  2. “Are you an artist?” I never call myself such

    Me neither… that’s because I’m actually a Statistician.

    I find a lot of inspiration and energy here, and I think that’s because there’s a great deal of similarity between what it is that I do, and what it is an ‘artist’ does.

    In the same way that paint is meaningless until it touches canvas, or sound is meaningless until it’s arranged/composed, I produce strings of numbers that have little use in isolation. What I strive to always do is take those abstract results and turn them into a story – a story that not only explains why X is different from Y, but also why it’s important to (and how it affects) YOU to know they’re different.

    (long time listener, first time caller)

  3. Thanks for getting the ball rolling, coelecanth! I’m afraid everyone out there is also making the “But I’m not really an artist…” excuse to themselves, to which I say, or, whatever! Tell us what you make!

  4. We are always looking to feature all kinds of science or geek-culture creations so if you are a maker of any kind do let us know.

    And if you make something in the future please don’t hesitate to tell us about it via our contact link!

  5. Hey Phil! Thanks for speaking up! I love your framing of practical statistics as creating a narrative.

    PS Nice Manny Calavera avatar.

  6. I am a writer of sorts. That is to say, I’m trying to be a writer. I have self published a couple stories that I think aren’t a total waste of time to read.

    One of them is called Sheldon the Chicken Chicken and is about a chicken who is afraid of everything. One day he decides that he’s more afraid of being afraid than of everything else and decides to take more control over his life by facing his fears including, BTW, crossing the road.

    The other–Sarah Fym and the Cupcake Catastrophe–is about an angel with a foul mouth who got fired and opened up a business kicking people’s asses on a freelance basis. In this, her first adventure, she gets hired to rescue some unicorns who have been unicorn-napped from a farm that collects unicorn flatus (yes, it’s rainbow colored) and sells it to folks who make pasties and candies and stuff.

    You can find my Smashwords page here:

    And my Amazon author page here:

    I’m a suburban white guy who happens to be a skeptic and an atheist. Several years ago I listened to a Skepticality episode that featured an essay about where we go from here.

    My answer to that was to get skepticism in general in popular culture. I wasn’t in a position to do much of it at the time but that has changed and now I am trying to write books and stories with humanist principles. The Sarah Fym stuff is lighthearted diversion but in general the point of my stories is that people matter and the truth matters.

    I hope I didn’t get too commercial. I’m just a guy trying to make the world a little better while making a living.

  7. I write a blog called, The Bolingbrook Babbler, It is a fictional tabloid set in Bolingbrook, IL, a Chicago suburb. It like a cross between The Weekly World News, and The Onion.

    I’ve written articles were skeptics appear in this tabloid. That includes Rebecca Watson.

    It’s has been fun to write, and I’ll admit a bit challenging at times. I have met some very interesting people through it, and I hope to keep it going for as long as I can.

  8. Hi everybody! I am an artist. I’m a graphic designer. Yes, graphic design is art.

    On more than one occasion, I’ve heard the superfluous claim that “design comes from the head; art is from the heart.” It’s unfortunate that many times people in this profession have to get roped into the argument of “art vs. design” when I see it as so beside-the-point. It’s all from the head!

    One of the greatest things about the human mind is that we can arrange and reconfigure the elements at our disposal and imbue them with meaning. Fine art and commercial design both depend on the thoughtful arrangement of symbolic imagery to communicate something to an audience. I do it as well and as passionately as any painter, sculptor, poet or performer.

    What particularly attracts me to design is the methodology of it. The careful division of space, the attention to maths and proportions, the consideration of usage over time and how it will affect the item’s function. Design forces you to think, and few things are more enjoyable to me than that.

  9. I don’t call myself an artist sometimes unless I get really reflective and realize that people don’t get that there is a great deal of creativity to what it is that I (and other knitter/spinners) do.

    While I admit that others might not see it as an art so much, I spin yarn and knit an assortment of things. I kind of question the artistry of it sometimes because it seems to be treated as less ‘legitimate’ among the circle of artists that I run with. At the same time, I think there is an art to it and a skill that is often overlooked.

    I also like to sew and create my own patterns for lolita dress. The entire design process of creating a piece of wearable cloth (be it knit or sewn or some combination thereof), and have it look good is pretty intriguing and fun. The types of rules you meet in both feel like a great way to explore what you can do.

    Art yarn can be incredibly cool (even if it isn’t my preferred spinning).

    I do have a blog, over at , which is mostly a resource for me to post different designs and keep track of what exactly I’ve been up to over the years.

  10. I am not an artist but I do create, daily. I am a custom t-shirt printer by day and a weaver in my limited spare time. I’ll weave anything I can get my hands on but, right now, I’m mostly focused on paracord bracelets. I send them to my nephews unit in Afghanistan and I sell them to raise money for Kilo Charlie Alpha (Kickin’ Cancer’s Ass) which is a non-profit that helps families of soldiers who have been diagnosed with cancer.

  11. I am a graphic design artist by day and illustrator by night! I keep some of my science/skepticism-related WIPs here: 😀

  12. I make the puppets. I also write the words. Sometimes I play the music. Sometimes I paint the painting… but as many others said, I don’t consider myself an artist.

  13. All of these posts make me so happy! Thanks for speaking up, everyone! Keep sharing!

    @michaelrosch, would you consider submitting either of your shorts to this year’s Atheist Film Festival? (This goes for anyone else who is cinematically-inclined). FYI, the film fest’s logo was designed by artist/graphic designer casatron upthread.

  14. You know, any definition of “art” sufficiently broad to include Melville’s Moby Dick and Cage’s 4’33” and sufficiently deep to include Well’s Citizen Kane and Fukahori’s Muses (to do a little site relevant call-back) is by necessity going to include things woven or knitty*, not to mention things statistical or puppity.

    I want to live in a world that understands as a matter of common knowledge that art is not a narrow thing constrained to certain genres. I want to live in a world where everyone feels free to beautify their environment and/or create emotional narratives of our common humanity with whatever means and objects they have to hand. So fuck it, to that end, and despite my misgivings, I will say: I am an artist.

    *And to hell with the implicit misogyny in seeing these things as less than art because they’re commonly thought to be woman’s work. And while we’re at it, to hell with the gendering of any human activity other than makin’ babies.

    [Climbs down]
    [Plops down on the ground]
    [Rubs his feet and wonders why he spends so much time on a soapbox when they’re so damned uncomfortable]
    [Looks at soapbox]
    [Rubs feet]
    [Looks again]
    [Spends the rest of the day attaching bicycle reflectors and chain rings to box]

  15. I make music intended to let your mind travel. My college education was in the sciences and now I make science fictiony music in my free time.

  16. I love reading these & checking out everyone’s links!

    This spring I’ll be receiving my BFA in Studio Art with a Drawing concentration and a minor in Art History. I do as much, if not more painting as I do drawing. Mostly I do figurative stuff. I like working in oil paint, ball point pen, & watercolor.

    I post some of the stuff I do on tumblr, along with other art related things, Be forewarned, can be NSFW if your work frowns upon paintings of naked people.

  17. My creative outlet is making science-y jewelry on the weekends. When I’m confident enough to show it to the world, I’ll send it to MadArtLab.
    Oh, and I blog at Escé, but I don’t consider that art (not my contributions, at least).

  18. Dear everyone,
    Please never stop posting links to your stuff. This thread should live forever and have many, many offspring.

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