Community Q&A with Wesley Johnson

Meet the artist: Wesley Johnson

Check out his website:

Tell us what you do: I’m a self branded beatsmith that goes by the name “WesdaRuler”. I mix 90s era boom bap/sampling with 90s ear video sounds. I also do traditional mpc style boom bap beats. No one really raps or seeks out this kind of production anymore so I recently started doing live shows where I recreate/remix my own beats live in a non-stop 20-45 min set.

Tell us about your history: Ex military brat. I was born in Warner Robins, GA. My mom grew up there. My dad grew up here in Athens and met her when he joined the Airforce. We have lived mainly in the south (SC/GA/FLA), but spent some years on in northern Cali. I came up in SC as the neighborhood “beat box” and was just called “big wes”. When I moved to Cali and got exposed to a different kind of music scene I became the street dj and was given the name “Wesdnile da Virus” (lol). From there I started making beats. I’ve always been a fan of 90s hip hop usually referred to as the “golden era”. I’ve also always been a huge chipmusic fan (8bit video game sounds) which ironically is considered the golden era of gaming. Listening to great producers like Pete Rock, Large Professor, and DJ Premier led me to Jay Dilla of Detroit. I became a huge fan of his productions and have adapted that style as my own. I’m also a big fan of Mr. Dibia$e/ Professa (darkerthanwax)/Phillipe Edision/Mndsgn. I’m also into photography and sometimes attempt to express the picture in a beat.

Tell us about the importance of your work: It’s important to me simply because I really love doing it. I could never clearly explain in words how I might feel one day, but I am able to take those feelings and vibes and turn them to a beat. It’s a way to express myself. I would love to help build the beat scene here in Athens. I’ve already done a few shows, and people seem to be into it. Any way to contribute to the overall scene and feel of Athens.

Tell us why you live in Athens: It’s a great town. A lot of my family is here and after growing up in the military it’s nice to finally be around. I also have a wife and one-year-old son, and would like to give him a stable environment. I have a good career at UGA. I love football! I love the food here, the music here and MOST of the people here (lol). Sometimes this lil’ town takes my breath away when I take a minute to just stop and look.

Describe your favorite things about this city: I like to old town feel of it. It’s historical, but not TOO historical if that makes sense.


Community Q&A with Artist Brianna Rawley Isbell of Moonsail Design

Meet the artist: Brianna Rawley Isbell of Moonsail Design

Check out her website:

Tell us what you do: Moonsail is an independently owned business that specializes in all things art. We do everything from handmade clothing and accessories to paintings, illustrations, woodburnings, and embroideries.


Tell us about your history: We started in 2006 as a one woman operation when I was 14. Originally, I was just making custom clothing items for people at my high school, but soon it grew into an online business with customers all over the country. In the past 9 years, we have expanded our focus to include art of all sorts.


Tell us about the importance of your work: I feel like my work is a creative outlet for all the little inspirations I stumble across in my daily life. Some of it is meant to be silly and cute, while other things are coming from a deeper, more sensitive part of my life. I really enjoy being able to express the highs and lows of my life through a positive outlet.


Tell us why you live in Athens. I was originally drawn to Athens by some of my best friends who spoke highly of the art scene in the area. I’ve been here for two years at this point and I still find new inspirations on a daily basis. So many people here are artistic in one way or another. I’ve been working with Indie South and The Broad Collective lately. Those two brands in particular are a major driving force for why I love this town so much. It’s just an amazing feeling to be apart of a constantly growing and changing artistic environment.


Describe your favorite things about this city: I love that there’s always something going on! It has all the quirks of a small town, with the entertainment of a larger city. I’m constantly flipping through Flagpole for things to do and have never been disappointed! I also love that I feel comfortable going to events by myself because it’s practically guaranteed that I’ll run into someone I know. Athens is really just a perfect mix of everything I could ask for in a town.


Community Q&A with Artist Barbara Odil


Meet the artist: Barbara Odil

Check out her website:
More information about the Prince Avenue Art Crawl can be found here!

Tell us what you do: My creations are sculptural figurative work from wood; primarily driftwood or fallen wood gathered in my travels. My work celebrates the beauty and simplicity I find in nature. As I walk in the woods, along the beach or on sandy creek shores, I delight in the myriad of natural objects that have fallen, washed ashore or been carried by the wind. Just being in nature nurtures my soul.

Tell us about your history: I grew up in Macon, Georgia and was fortunate to be there as the whole music scene began in the late 1960s. The friendships I formed at that time were based on shared creativity, respect for and living in nature and reconnecting to the Earth through living simply. The processes of creation and play are integral parts of my life. As a young child I spent many hours drawing and playing in the woods and creek. Often I saw animals, faces and other magical beings in the clouds, trees and flowing water. I gathered rocks and driftwood from the creek, fallen wood, leaves, moss, flowers and mushrooms to assemble altars under a large old oak.

I studied art at Mercer University during that time and began earning a living through my artistic endeavors.

Tell us about the importance of your work: Technological devlopments and urban sprawl in western culture often impede or sever one’s connection to the natural world. My artwork provides them an opportunity to pause and reconnect to the Earth.

In my current body of work I use roots and wood to express the expansions and contractions found in the cycle of life. The sculptures are composed of materials gathered primarily from Georgia, South Carolina and New Mexico. They tell stories I carry home from my travels.

Tell us why you live in Athens. I came to Athens in 1977 because of the strong arts community. My friendships, home, family and spiritual community keep me tethered here.

Describe your favorite things about this city: I really enjoy all the greenspace, trees, old neighborhoods, and music and art scenes. The public displays around town greatly enahce our environment.







Community Q&A with Artist Chris Taylor


Meet the artist: Chris Taylor

Stay in touch: @tattoed_dad

Check out his website:

Find him on Facebook:

Find him on Twitter: @tattoed_dad

Tell us what you do: I’m a land artist, creating exertive, ephemeral and site-specific works using only the materials on hand. Pieces are not meant to last, photos are generally the only record. If I’m lucky, they’ll last long enough for someone to stumble on later.

Tell us about your history: I’ve been an artist most of my life. I liked painting and making things. I’ve played drums since I was 13, sometimes getting paid to do it. But, you know those times in your life when you think “after this, nothing will ever be the same…”? That’s how I felt after seeing Andy Goldsworthy’s “Rivers and Tides” one morning on PBS. This was an art form and way of looking at the world that had always been in the back of my mind and was now legitimized. After studying him and other, modern artists like Will Beckers, Julia Brooklyn, Richard Schilling, Nils-Udo, and Richard Long I dove in and started creating. I’m not aware of any other land artists working in the South, but if there are, we should really hang out.

Tell us about the importance of your work: I do a lot of work for children. When teaching, my hope is to pass along discovery in the details. A stick, flower, bark, leaves, anything that makes a child stop and see what’s really around them. The state of modern childhood and it’s lack of nature education has been groused about ad nauseam, and only a portion of it is correct. The fact is, a child will figure out this point of view if left alone. The issue is kids aren’t left alone to discover very often.

Tell us why you live in Athens. My wife and I have lived here for 16 years, buying our first home in Athens for the sole purpose of wanting to live in Athens. We now have an 11-year-old-daughter in school here and couldn’t be happier.

Describe your favorite things about this city: Athens allows you to be who you want to be with no judgment. I’ve played music on stage at the 40-Watt and the Classic Center. I’ve taught children art at Sandy Creek. I’ve volunteered to feed students in the Clarke County School system. All you have to do is ask, and our community presents as many options as you could hope for.

Interested in checking out Chris’ work? He currently has two photos on display at the Tannery Row Artist Colony Gallery until November or you can find him at the Mountain Arts and Crafts Celebration at Cloudland Canyon State Park on November 1 and 2.









Community Q&A with Artist Karla Pruitt


Meet the artist: Karla Pruitt

Stay in touch: @karla_pruitt

Check out her website:

Tell us what you do: I paint and create patterns that I sell in my online shop and license to companies for product development on items like wallpaper and greeting cards.

Tell us about your history: I grew up in South Florida in a design loving family, went to SCAD in Savannah and majored in Fibers (textile design). I moved to Atlanta for a job as a home textile designer, and then worked as a gift product designer in Athens.

Tell us about the importance of your work: I think creating beautiful things to live around is a natural and humble part of being human. I hope my designs bring a little color into people’s lives.

Tell us why you live in Athens: My husband and I moved here just because we liked it! I am greatly influenced in my work by where I live, and walking around Athens helped inspire my wallpaper line for Hygge & West.

Describe your favorite things about this city: I love the perfect little city size of Athens, the people we’ve met here, the local restaurants and shops, and my favorite little neighborhood of Normaltown.






Community Spotlight: DTproductions


Meet the crew of DTproductions—Sam Birdsong, Andrew Levy, Cartter Fontaine, and Kelly Smith. They’ve created a video production and marketing company that has received rapid growth…and for good reason. Their videos tell stories that connect their clients to the public audience in a creative, human way that their mission statement describe as, drives emotions, captures content, and boosts brands though a raw, real, and responsible attitude”. Sam, a graduate of UGA, explained that, “as we’ve developed as a company, we’ve developed our DTproductions’ style”. Whether they’re filming Athfest, a dry cleaning company, or a video for My Athens, the films have a distinct feel that’s moving and artistic.

DTproductions initially began in June 2011 when the Ho Ho Ho Down and Create Athens Presents introduced them to Videography and Production. They then spent the next two years developing their process and gaining experience through trial and error, resulting in the modern day DTproductions–established August 2013. They are now a full-scale production company with both local and regional success stories, which can be attributed to their talent, passion, and the team’s communication. Sam explains that, “the group dynamic is at the heart of the momentum, as roles have been defined and chemistry continues to trend upwards.”

In August 2013, Athens became the home of DTproductions. Cartter describes Athens as a place that’s “small and breeds creativity”, which I imagine will provide ample inspiration and encouragement for them as they continue to grow.  Their videos allow their clients to engage with the consumer, increase communication, and build a relationship. Some of DTproductions’ capabilities include video conception, production, editing, music placement, and video distribution–just to name a few.

DTproductions is comprised of  two teams– Business Development and Creative Production–which operate efficiently and collaboratively with each other. Sam and Andrew work with business development while Kelly and Cartter are with creative production.  They work with their clients to create a video true to their art but that communicates with their client’s audience. When speaking about their process, Kelly says that it’s their “passion to create. That’s what got us here now”. Their mission is to visually express stories, create an emotional connection, and do so in a genuine way. Andrew spoke of a “tangible energy” that comes from the creative process. You can see the evidence of this in their portfolio at

After speaking with the guys of DTproductions, I would characterize them as risk takers with a vision who invested in their potential, and it seems to be paying off. They’ve seen rapid growth in the past year and will only continue to perfect their craft. They are on the official Athfest team and will be responsible for filming our favorite bands and events. They will also have an interactive booth for all the music-loving Athenians to participate with, so definitely make a point to stop by. Check out this preview of Athfest on DTproductions’ website and be sure to purchase an Athfest wristband





Written by Zelda Speight.

Photos by Hannah Pap Rocki.

Community Q&A with Lindsay Troutman of Copper and Torch


Full Name: Lindsay Troutman

Instagram/Twitter Handle: Copper_and_torch/ @copperandtorch


Email Address:

Describe what you do for your Audience: I make soldered glass terrariums, wall vases, jewelry using antique lace, and decor items.

Tell us about your history: I’ve been using traditional stained glass techniques for over a decade but launched “Copper & Torch” just 6 months ago! Since then, my business has grown so much and I’ve expanded to include a wholesale line that is quickly showing up in stores across the country! It’s very exciting!

Tell us about the importance of your work: It’s important to me to make something completely from scratch. I love taking a flat piece of glass and cutting and sculpting it to create a 3 dimensional, functional piece of art. Whether it’s a vase that holds water, a terrarium necklace that you can actually plant something in and wear, or a valet tray for your dresser using leather and glass to keep your surfaces tidy, the whole process is enjoyable for me. I love what I do and I hope that kind of quality and beauty and shows through my work.

Tell us why you live in Athens: We moved to Athens when my husband was accepted into the law school here. We chose Athens over several other schools because of the community, the art scene, the beauty and the FOOD!

Describe your favorite things about the city of Athens: I adore the people that make this city unique. I love that I can meet someone at a local gallery or event one day, and the next day you are planning an event together! It’s so much about connectedness and it’s something I’ve never experienced anywhere else. I really feel like Athens is a creativity incubator. You can’t help but flourish in these conditions.

































Jamie Calkin

Jamie was born in Michigan, raised in Harrisburg, PA, and lived in North Carolina for 5 years where Jamie taught high school and completed a masters degree. A few years back, Jamie and his wife, Katie, came to Athens, Georgia. He taught at Oglethorpe County High School and earned a doctorate at UGA in Science Education. His dissertation was focused on using the visual arts to learn science in elementary school. He is currently a part-time assistant professor at UGA. Painting began to creep into my ‘real job,’ as a research tool and as an alternative method of teaching/learning. Painting has also become an important part of his travels. His trips to Central Mexico and the Salmon River in Idaho illustrate that.

He started drawing and painting in 1996 while he was a graduate student in North Carolina. Since then, he has taken numerous drawing and watercolor classes, mainly from the Georgia Center and the Lyndon House Arts Center.

He started selling his paintings at Athfest in 2000. The artisan market at Athfest and the Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation’s Southworks and Holiday Markets are his favorite annual art shows. He does commissions for individuals and businesses and regularly support non-profits through art auction donations. He has over 20 different prints for sale around town. He can often be seen painting downtown or on campus and driving through Athens in my art van.

He and his wife, Katie, have two wonderful daughters named Violet and Ruby. Much of his days are spent playing with and taking care of my daughters as a work at home dad. They live on the eastside of Athens in Green Acres Neighborhood and have a studio in their home where they hold an annual Christmas open house along with neighbor artist, John Ahee.