The Art of Production ~ A conversation with Justin Nygren, Co-Founder and Producer for ArtLoveMagic

I recently sat down with Justin Nygren, Co-Founder of Dallas’ own ArtLoveMagic. Justin’s passion is producing live events for artists and art lovers. Here he talks about his thoughts on production and the magic behind the “magic.”

CH: What do ArtLoveMagic’s live events do for the community?

JN: Simply, when we produce a show, we believe we’re changing the cultural landscape of Dallas [more on that later in the conversation].

CH: What led you to this point in your life, your work with ArtLoveMagic and your passion for promoting artists?

JN: A few years ago, I had an experience where my whole perspective on life completely and totally changed. We were coming back from an artists’ gathering in Colorado, and a friend of mine was driving the car.We hit a patch of ice, at 75 mph, and found ourselves between two semi-trailers, spinning between them. We were thrown into a ditch where the car tumbled end over end and finally stopped on the other side of the road. We all walked away – me, my wife, my 11 month old son and our friend who was driving the car.

I had been pastoring a church at that point for seven years, and it caused me to ask myself this question. If I had died, if that day had marked the end of my life, would I actually have been satisfied with the story that my life told? It wasn’t a bad story, but it wasn’t my story. My life to that point was a story someone else had given me. When I’d experienced a desire to lead, to make changes, I became a pastor. However, the whole time I was in that role, I was fighting, punching the confines of the box. I just wasn’t satisfied with pastoring a church.

CH: So, you experienced a transformation, trying to find your life’s purpose?

JN: Yes, I’ve gone through different seasons. The latest season has been since the wreck in Colorado, when I basically had to take inventory of my life and discover what I’m supposed to be doing as an individual.

Coming to know my life’s purpose informs all that I do as a producer. For me, production stems from identity, who you are as an individual, because what you create is an extension of your heartbeat. When I work with people who want to produce, I begin by asking them: “Why are you doing this? Why are you creating this event? What do you want to see as the result?”

Our tag line from the beginning of ArtLoveMagic was simply that our live events would tear down the wall between the creator [artist] and the spectator, thus changing the cultural landscape. In a standard gallery, you walk in and find art on the walls, but where’s the artist? If you’re at the gallery reception, you may get a few words from the artist, but you’ll never watch them in their element, you’ll never watch their creative process. You’ll never see them bear their soul, if you will, to the world. It’s not our normal perception of reality to be able to see into the artist’s world.

What I’m passionate about is artists. My art is creating space to understand artists, to create space for artists to live out who they are in public.

CH: I’ve experienced, in the live shows, a real community spirit being formed. Working in one’s studio day after day can sometimes be an isolating experience. Would you agree?

JN: Yes. We are drawn to community as human beings. By nature, we feed off of another’s experience. We feed off of their negative and positive critique. We need that feedback to move forward. So this is also a part of my passion. This is my desire, to create space for healthy artist relationships.

CH: What are your thoughts about The Girl Show?

JN: The Girl Show came from the realization that, in the first two years of ArtLoveMagic, 75% to 90% of the people who stepped up to make the organization solid and help it move forward were women. We try to keep a good balance of men and women in all the shows. Yet, we’re also aware that women experience exclusion in our society. Look at the workplace, churches, everywhere else – typically the men go to the forefront of the organization. This is not the way it’s supposed to be. We’re all human. We’re all beautiful. Let’s make it that way. We realized that our sisters were making this organization happen. We decided that we needed a night just for them. We needed a night that would make them shine. It was a great success. Why? Because the heartbeat of the show was to celebrate our sisters. This is the message. These women rock. I see it as a celebration.

CH: Tell me about production in general.

JN: When we create shows at ArtLoveMagic, there’s always a theme. When people come to a show, whether it’s Underground, Girl Show or the monthly Art & Coffee gatherings, people walk away with a good understanding of what we’re trying to do. They understand the spirit and the theme.

I encourage producers to (1) figure out what you love to do, what’s your personal passion and (2) who do you love as a people group, that is, who are you drawn to and who do you want to encourage? Finally (3) what tools do you bring that can drive you to create something magical?

Good organizational tools are key to good production. For the producer, that typically means pulling together diverse people and connections to make an event happen. You also have to have a vision, decide what your big picture is and work to make it a reality.

To summarize, those who are interested in producing have to ask themselves “What am I passionate about? Who do I love? What skills do I bring to the task?” For production, all these elements go into creating an event.

CH: Thank you Justin. Enjoy the magic!

– Original article posted on Art & Life Deep in The Heart of Texas, by Charlise Hill-Larson

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