We had the good fortune of connecting with Ken “Phybr” Dushane and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ken “Phybr”, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
I think I chose an artistic career, because ever since I was in second grade I wanted to be an artist. I have been creating art since I can remember and I always had a feeling deep down that it was exactly what I wanted to do. I studied Computer Networking Systems and got my Associates in IT, then I studied my Graphic Design for 3 years working towards my Bachelors and that’s when I discovered graffiti artists painting murals and doing extremely large pieces that delivered a clear and present message most of the time. I realized I didn’t need the digital realm to be seen or heard, it was physically on the walls. To that point I worked in the creative field for a few years airbrushing and doing custom paint along with graphic design in my early 20’s.
What really helped me realize I wanted to pursue Art full time was when I was working as an Entomologist at a commercial greenhouse and was painting murals, live painting, and doing art shows on the side while I was working a full time career and I just got tired of clocking in and conforming to this life that I didn’t really have to conform to. My wife at the time was a huge influence in helping me making that decision and along with her support and other friends I don’t think I would’ve made the leap of faith. Having a solid support system behind you is important I feel especially to get any venture off the ground. And secondly, I just believed in myself. Every job I’ve ever had I had this voice in the back of my head telling me that I was an artist and asking me what I was doing with my life. I became more and more conscience of this and realized I had to trust myself and just take that leap and never look back.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I feel my background from working so many weird and different jobs has really helped shaped me into who I am today to be able what I do today. From installing cable, to managing a multi-million dollar commercial greenhouse, I picked up a lot of skill sets along the way that I utilize daily. From budgeting projects, organizing colors, teaching, and mentoring other artists as well. When I began painting in Detroit it was a dog eat dog environment and most people were out to see you fail than succeed so I had to learn quickly to keep my circle tight and just focus on my craft and let my work speak for itself. My work ethic is really what got me to where I am with my career. Failing, dusting myself off, and figuring out how to not to fail again has taught me a lot about myself and my craft. I have learned that you are capable of anything if put your mind to it. For example, I use to be an artist instructor at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit and I am still adjunct faculty with them. Also I was an artist instructor with the Young Artist At Work program in Toledo, OH for 4 years. What’s funny is that I feel teaching taught me a lot about art as well. Just from what I picked up from all the young creatives was just as inspiring to me. What’s interesting when I talk to other artists and they ask me similar questions is that I always tell them, you have to be able to give back. You get what you give and you have to work on building community not only within your city or neighborhood, but within your circle and within the artist community.
It’s never an easy road to travel the country and paint murals for a living either. Many think it was paved with gold and well lit, but it was a lot of lonely dark nights driving and driving to unknown destinations alone to the next job. Sacrificing time with family and loved ones to pursue the dream and to ultimately put food on the table and provide for my family. Being able to step out of my comfort zone and put myself out there in certain situations helped me learn and grow as well.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I would take them to Toledo Spirits to show them my Black Lives Matter mural that adorns the side of their distillery then proceed to get some delicious drinks there. Then we would go down to The Chop House for amazing food and afterwards check out my tunnel mural that goes under the Renessaince Hotel into Imagination Stations entrance. The next few nights we would hit other spots around town such as The Attic and Wesley’s on Adams St. The Toledo Zoo has a 230ft mural going into it that I was a part of and the zoo itself is a good time as well. Adams st has plenty to eat and things to do to keep you busy all week.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I want to shout out my wife, Daphne. She’s been an amazing support system within herself. She really helps hold me down and our family. Without her, it would be extremely difficult. Also shout outs to my crew – Dan, Rehab, Mitch, Rich Ayers, Rec, and Nate. Also huge shout outs to my assistant Zac Schaffer, he’s a huge help and his support really helps me get through jobs sometimes and he may not even know that. But, his help is tremendous. Also big shout outs to all the OG’s that helped me along the way and I still am touch with too many of them to list. Also I want to shout the Arts Commission in Toledo with all their support in Toledo from jobs to helping with shows – they have been pivotal in my success here in Toledo, OH.
Youtube: Phybr Art
@thedougiefresh for the photo of me working