Living a Life Devoted to Purpose Instead of the American Dream: The What and Why of Raw Spoon
Writer, artist and animator Ross Boone, also known as RawSpoon, has been busy. When not animating music videos or designing products for major retailers, Ross writes and illustrates stories like Pick (me) up lines for Sad People.
I talked for a spell with Ross about what he wants to accomplish with his work.
On your blog, you interview and sometimes illustrate the homeless. What have these experiences taught you about the indigent? What has it taught you about yourself?
I started doing this because I thought it would be mutually beneficial. I, and my readers loved hearing crazy stories, and I thought homeless people might like to be heard. I was right. I realized, however, I had a lot more to learn from them than they did from me. I get to ask them about how they kicked heroine, or what is wrong with the jail system. I hear stories of interactions that taught me what sort of things can veer lives drastically off course. I hope that I honor their stories and give them value by treating them as my teachers and marveling at their stories, sometimes as if it is a dramatic real life movie. I think just about everyone wants their story to be worthy of being heard, so I hope I honor them in that.
In your book “Pick-Up Lines for Nice People,” you depict a man trying to be nice to people, and failing to the point he needs kind words himself. Is this autobiographical?
Haha well, not exactly biographical, but inspired by the following realization. When we feel like we have little or no value in life, we can start lifting others up, calling out their strengths, and encouraging them. And our life suddenly has value because it is making other lives better. I hope I do this well, at least in small ways, but yes I have utterly failed at times. It’s still worth the trying in the end.
You have a new book coming out called “Millennial Monk: living a life devoted to purpose instead of the american dream.” How can millennial’s find purpose in this new century? What has gone wrong with the American Dream? What color is your parachute?
I think the “American Dream” of the post-war era sought money and safety: a dependable job with a safe house in suburbs to raise kids. But much of our generation that grew up with that safety has the luxury to not live for money or safety anymore, but instead to look for purpose. And I use the model of how I found my purpose to help others. I realized that where my talents overlap my passion is the most productive place to put my efforts. And I realized that the struggles that I have worked through in life give me the message I have to give to people who also struggle with that. This helps us know our mission! So if we can put our talents and passions toward spreading our mission, we will find greater fulfillment!
Once I describe how to find your mission, then I go through dozens of lifehacks that answer a lot of the questions about how to actually make your vision a reality. It’s all informed by my experience and that of others.
You separate your non-fiction, which contains overt spiritual content, from your fiction, which you limit to spiritual themes. Why the divide? Is there something about the creative process that makes you hesitate to insert your own beliefs?
I think we often turn off our brain if we know the position the artist is coming from. It’s easy to say, “Oh, they’re a Christian. I know what they’re trying to say already.” But I approach Christianity from a more creative direction than most. And I want people to discover my new realizations from a different direction, not through the well worn paths that are littered with the preconceptions of religion. My audience is questioning Christians, because I have been there. And I don’t want them to turn away right away when they think I’m mainstream.
When you animated the music videos for Joshua Garmon’s hit single “Run Away” and Wilder Adkins’ “When I’m married.” How do these collaborations work? Are you inspired by the music as you create, or are you guided by the original work?
For those who haven’t yet seen those, in both these works I record my screen while I’m drawing characters acting out a story. In one it’s rabbits, in another it’s mice. For example for “When I’m Married” by Wilder Adkins, it’s a story about the rich and full experience of a long life lived with someone you marry, not just the wedding day. So I talked to Wilder and together we liked the direction of following two mice from the wooing process to their sad parting at the end of life. But with these works a bigger picture is being created as the little turns of the story are being drawn, tucked up next to each other. As we zoom out at the end we see it all comes together to make a picture of married couple on their wedding day. So my process is I draft it out so the story matches the lyrics, then I record my screen as I draw over my sketches. Then I use that video file, take out the sketches and speed it up in After Effects to match the song.
You’ve done product design or art for some very big companies; Siemens; Home Depot; UPS; do you view these as opposites to express yourself, or are these “day jobs;” something that competes with your life as an artist.
These are the means which allow me not only the credibility but also the money to pursue my own message through my own chosen mediums. But the corporate gigs are also what allow me to hone my craft so that I can do it well on my own projects. But also sometimes my own inspired projects are what the bigger companies see and want me to do for them!
What’s with the name? Why Raw Spoon?
If you say my real name fast, Ross Boone, it sounds like Raw Spoon. I figure it makes for an instant story for people to tell as they spread the word about my brand. So tell your friends! “Raw Spoon is Ross Boone! Get it?!”
Below: Rawspoon animates a video for Wilder Adkins that features lions and hedgehogs.