We had the good fortune of connecting with Shannon Thomas and Gavin Jones and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Shannon & Gavin, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Our creative studio never would have started if we didn’t wholeheartedly believe in the benefit of taking risks. Creating art, in whatever capacity, means taking a risk every day. Putting a little piece of your inner world out there for the outer world to see is uncomfortable. It’s so easy to live in the cozy zone, doing what you know you are good at, staying in the same relationships, firmly planting your feet somewhere without willingness to move. But we believe without risks, there is no growth. Without stepping outside of your comfort zone, you won’t be able to access unknown parts of yourself.
The mind wants to be comfortable and free from danger. From our perspective – in order to unlock new perspectives into who you are, you’ll have to go inside and release who you were previously. This process can feel uncertain but so is discovering that you can be the creator. It’s helpful to have each other’s constant support so when one of us falters or doubts themselves, the other is always there to say “You got this! Jump! I’m right behind you!” We encourage each other to see risks as a healthy response to innovation.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Gavin: I’m most proud of continuing my arts practice and grateful to its mental health benefits. Be patient with yourself during challenging times and rest when needed. Stay curious in learning more about artists, designers, and cultivate healthy business practices. Our brand is a community of creative designers whom make the world a bit brighter by doing what they love to do.
Shannon: Even though I have been creating for years and years, I feel like I am just starting out as an artist. Sometimes “artist” feels too narrow. I am trying not to put too much pressure on end results and instead focusing on process and what is inspiring or motivating me in the moment. I am going back to school for Art Therapy soon which I think can only grow my personal practice and own work. For me, art is all about healing.
Blue Sleeve Studios came to be after years of talking it into existence. We both are artists who geek out about the art and design of life. There are so many moving parts in owning your own business and so much growth required, it has been a beautiful and transformative process. One of the biggest lessons we have learned is to flow and adapt with the way things change. Nothing goes according to plan. The world is a living thing, pay attention and listen to it!
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.
Well we are just getting to LA so only have a few favorite spots here but if we were in New Orleans there are so many wonderful establishments we frequent. Check out Piccola Gelateria for amazing sorbet. We are obsessed with their Pear flavor. Marjie’s for seafood, Boswell’s Jamaican cuisine,1000 Figs for mediterranean, Budsi Thai. The food list could go on forever. Go to Gryder Gallery / NOMA for art. Have coffee @ Mammoth Espresso / Pond coffee. Leo’s Bread for tasty treats! Re:Fresh clothing store. Chat with anyone on the street and they will tell you the spots they love in New Orleans, there is too much to discover.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I think a constant go-to for decompression and encouragement outside our friends and family unit would be Design Matters with Debbie Millman! The vast library of interviews with designers, visual artists, poets, authors is so helpfully refreshing throughout our creative journey. It gets us so psyched!
We are both big readers (Shannon partakes in the “read a book a week” challenge every year). One guiding light is Emergent Strategy by adrienne marie brown. Her unique encouragement to radically love and accept has inspired our way of life tremendously.
Also: BIG Shout Out to our creative Community in New Orleans. You can check out some of our interviews with our fav makers on our website here.
Jessie Cramer and Randy Schmidt