We had the good fortune of connecting with Craig Thornton and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Craig, have you ever found yourself in a spot where you had to decide whether to give up or keep going? How did you make the choice?
As an artist, I have a need to create. I have always loved to draw images and to share my creations with those that appreciate my work. I still have a ways to go to reach the audience size that I’d like. There are certainly times when I get discouraged. I get rejection letters for applications to art shows or lack of engagement on certain social media postings. In these situations, I stay focused on my main goals to create new images and to reach more people with my work. Instead of giving up, I take a step back for analysis. I ask what is working and what isn’t working. What can I do differently? Is there something that I haven’t tried or should try again? Is there anyone that might be able to help? Taking these steps often leads me to new realizations about the work I am doing, and leads me to more paths on my creative projects. I feel this is a better action than to just outright quite. I cannot accept not being a successful artist, so giving up is not an option for me.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My audience would recognize my work based on my style of drawing which primarily uses lines and textures to showcase distinctive figures in surreal and fantasy settings. The figures in my work all have unique bodily features, markings, and/or outfits. My work explores concepts of personal freedom, self-reliance, and interconnectedness. I draw my inspiration from all types of mythology. One of the first things that sparked my interests was seeing the various Mardi Gras parades as a child in my hometown of New Orleans. Many of the floats were based on mythological creatures and themes. Those floats were larger than life and left a huge impact. As I grow professionally, I continue to do more world building in addition to figure development. At the same time, I look for new ways to expand my audience through collaborations with other artists, social media, gallery shows and publications. I am always looking for opportunities to bring my mythology to a wider audience.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I would start by taking them to check out some of my favorite spaces in the local art scene. We would stop by Shaneland Arts, Alwun House, and the Phoenix Art Museum. We would go to my favorite coffee shop, Jarrod’s Coffee, Tea, & Gallery in Mesa. In addition to the great coffee and teas, they have many fantastic works of art on the walls to appreciate. I would also take them to check out some of my favorite shops for pop culture collectibles. I would take them to the Collectors Marketplace in Phoenix to look at vintage toys and video games. Afterwards, we would go to Zia Records and Bookmans Entertainment Exchange to check out previously owned movies, collectibles and books. In addition, there is a lot of great Asian cuisine that I would take them to try. I would take them to explore Mekong Plaza in Mesa which contains an Asian grocery, bakery, several restaurants and a few interesting Asian goods shops. I would also take them to Asian Cafe Express, also in Mesa, which is a great Hong Kong style diner. Phoenix Palace in Chandler has great dim sum around lunchtime, and I would make sure to go there on the weekends for great people watching. Also in Chandler, I would take them to Cho Dang for some fantastic Korean food. Other unique places of interest are the Desert Botanical Garden and the neighboring Papago Park. I would definitely make it out to the Mystery Castle which is a place out of fairy tales. I would also try to squeeze in a visit to Organ Stop Pizza to enjoy live performances on their Wurlitzer pipe organ.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’d like to give a shoutout to my friend and fellow artist, Lydia Quinones. You can check out her work at https://www.instagram.com/quinones.textiles. Since I have known her, she has always encouraged for me to work on my art and also to try new things. She is the kind of friend that will sit with you for a few hours in a coffee shop and brainstorm on different marketing and social media approaches. She has also let me know about networking and exhibition opportunities that I would have otherwise not known about. Last but certainly not least, she is always up for checking out the local art walks, galleries, and museum shows in the valley. My wife also deserves more than a little credit and recognition. She is very supportive of all of my projects. She helps me creatively which includes giving me feedback on works in progress and editing all of my writing.

Website: https://www.craigofthorns.com/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/craigofthorns/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/craigofthorns