The Art of Being An Artist

Artist Noel Fielding
The image you see here is of Noel Fielding, who is, like many of us involved in the arts, what I call a “comma creative”. Like Fielding, I have a lot of commas involved when trying to describe what I do.

Fielding is an artist, a comedian, an actor, and a musician. It’s tough to nail down exactly what you are all about in a statement like that because the obvious thing most want to know is what you specialize in; a leftover from mid-century modern American where people did–or seemed to do–only ONE THING professionally, with all other activities being relegated to the dusty old basement of hobbyland.

(Someone I know once referred to their air as a hobby, but I chafe at that description because it implies a casualness about it that doesn’t exist, at least not in her case).

It’s very difficult to get people to take you seriously across disciplines sometimes. So how do you do it?

Noel Fielding is, in my mind, an excellent example of how to do it it right. Fielding does a lot of different things, but his great accomplishment is that he has grown a cult of personality about him; his work has interest, but the real draw–at least in my mind–is the artist. The person behind the work. That’s not an easy feat to pull off, but Fielding has managed to make everything he does a reflection of himself in some way.

That’s not, as I mention above, easy to do. For a start, for this to work you have to have a likable personality and you have to deal with people on an individual basis. There’s no room for snobbery with this approach, there’s no room to be the reclusive shut-in art muso who just knows nobody understands the work. Bad behavior is out, being friendly and inclusive is in.

I know what happens when you’re at odds with fellow creatives or art patrons in the space where you live and work. I’ve not experienced it personally but a few times, but watching others fall into the same traps, I’ve found over the years that it pays to be nice–and not that phony sort of nice that barely conceals your real inner disgust with the whole of humanity, either, but genuinely nice, legitimately friendly.

Everyone you know in and out of the arts is a potential ally. A lot of people you know might not buy your work. They will come to your openings and eat your cheese and drink all your wine, but they have their own reasons for not buying. And that’s not the point, anyway, if you’re smart about your work–there is an audience for every kind of statement, a new set of eyes for every creative work.

The people your work is right for will buy when then can afford it. The wrong people for your work shouldn’t take it away from the right people anyway. Is that naked idealism?

Naturally, I’m talking about originals here. All bets are off when it comes to tees and prints. All your free wine guzzling friends should own your t-shirts even if its just at break-even prices.

You don’t make prints and tees to promote your work? Well, keep it in mind for later, that is basically a walking billboard for your work that you could get a lot of mileage out of.

Back to Noel Fielding.

He’s brilliant exactly because he has found a way to attract a great deal of interest in just about any project he’s working on. And that might just be the key to success in a very crowded marketplace–growing interest in you personally can result in an increased awareness of what you do. It’s NOT for everyone–Fielding himself noted in an interview on YouTube that the very second when his signature program The Mighty Boosh got popular, there was a backlash. Ubiquity breeds contempt, and it’s a fine line to tread when you’re gaining visibility and recognition. But for those who can find the balance, the rewards are great.

It Begins…

Joe Wallace Bridgeport Art Center abstract Art If you read the blog post that ran right before THIS post, you’ll see that my website has had a bit of an identity crisis. So be it.

I’ve used this space for a variety of things, but as my creative direction has changed and mutated in the last couple of years, it became obvious to me that I needed a place to post my work in the visual arts, installation art, sound sculptures, multi-media art, and multidisciplinary work.

This site started off showcasing my work in audio–sound design, original music, audio art and more. I haven’t ditched my audio work, but my focus has been more on visual, installation, and multi-media work in the last two years.

The only way to be a working artist is to create work on a regular basis, try to find the people who it speaks to, and build a relationship with a potential audience or group of patrons. I’m fortunate that my subsistence income is freelance, writing/editing-based, and completely divorced from typical 9-5 routines. I have found a great balance between my paying work and my creative work. Many times the two start to blur together, but I find that money is a typical struggle for most of the artists I know, so I’m likely never to give up my writing. That said, I have found a way to devote a large amount of time to my work (who needs sleep?) without shortchanging my writing.

All this written here is either a good introduction to my world and work or it’s fairly self-indulgent. Maybe both. Probably both. But as someone who devotes a large amount of time daily to the arts, the artist statement is something I like to embrace rather than shy away from. So yeah, manifestos, statements of intent, rants, screeds, written commentary/critique is a way of life for me–it’s my writer damage.

Some of my fellow artists have a tough time with the artist statement–they rightfully feel it’s a minefield fraught with danger–you come off looking like a self-important jackass, a clueless navel gazer, or an overly conceptual pie-in-the-sky thinker if you’re not careful with your writing. But these things are very important if for no other reason that to help your potential audience, patrons, fan base or whatever form of public awareness you are after understand what it is you’re about.

Hell, maybe I should hire myself out to people to craft their artist statements. I think I’m pretty good at cutting out the pretentious bullshit and getting to the heart of the matter. I believe in the Gospel According to Strunk And White: “Omit needless words”.

Do drop me a line if you want to hire me to help you with your artist statement, bio, show catalog, etc. I can give you an artist-friendly quote–I am at My only caveat is that I will be both fair AND honest. I will tell you if your approach sounds too high-minded, or not high-minded enough. I will tell you that the ten dollar words in your artist statement alienate the reader, but I will also point out everything you’re doing right and should be doing more of–honesty is the best policy.

End of shameless plug for more writing work.

So consider this long winding blog post as a statement of intent. My work takes many forms–I do video installation and collage that appears on YouTube and in my gallery shows, I have strayed into illustration that some might accuse of being political cartooning, I create dreamlike and nightmarish landscapes with charcoal and pastel, Steadman-inspired splattery ink landscapes, and strange semi-architectural fever dreams on watercolor paper. All of these things will find a permanent home on this site. Most of the completed work is for sale, unless otherwise indicated, as originals and/or prints.

This site will grow exponentially in the coming days. If you need to contact me about anything at all, do drop an email to me at

Thanks for reading.

My Name Is Joe Wallace And I Tell Stories For A Living


This site had a bit of an identity crisis since it first started. I do a lot of things–I write, I’m an artist, I make films and perform as an electronic musician. But lately I’ve been feeling the need to consolidate most or all of those things into more story-centric work.

I started doing that by creating some graphic novel-esque digital publications and zines that are now starting to see the light of day in the Amazon Kindle store one by one. But it wasn’t quite enough to write and illustrate…I felt like doing this work is important, but it’s not anywhere near being able to call a source of income. The work is really important to me, but the economic realities of being an artist forced me to think in a new direction.

So I decided to expand my writing work to include freelance radio stories…and I’m off to the races to get some story material to put together for submission to some of my favorite public radio outlets and see what happens.

I worked as a reporter for many years while in the military. My stories were broadcast on Air Force Radio and Television News, The Pentagon Channel, The American Forces Network and more. I’m going back to the world of reporting once again as a freelancer and it should be a very interesting journey.

This is pretty much where it starts all over again for me, so I figured this would be a good way to kick off a new journey using my old skills…it only gets more interesting from here.

Joe Wallace Vinyl Records


New Beginnings in Indie Publishing, Art, and More

I am a fulltime artist, writer, audio professional, and social media user. I recently began working more full time on projects related to gallery work, indie publishing, and sound design. Now it seems all of these things are starting to merge together. This space will reflect all that…stay tuned. Especially on the indie publishing front.

Specifically with regard to graphic novels, sequential storytelling, zines, self publishing and all related things. I started a very long journey in these areas back in 1987 with a crude, hand-printed xeroxed zine (more of an elaborate flyer, really) called Putrid Doom. It was terrible, and was read by maybe five people. But it got me started on a journey in indie publishing that took me places I never dreamed.

I stopped publishing in the late 90s, briefly returned in the 2000s, and thought I had “grown out of all that”. But as it happens, I didn’t grow out of self publishing, just out of my formerly more ranty, self-indulgent, and if I’m totally honest really egotistical writing style. I also found my own voice rather than aping the non-fiction style of Stephen King, Hunter S. Thompson with shades of Kurt Vonnegut thrown in for good measure.

Today I write, create art, and compose music that deal with dark themes of urban lonliness, alienation, industrial decay, sexual situations and more.

I can be reached at:

If you’re in need of my writing expertise (my past clients include Lionel, Motorola,, and contact me via e-mail:

My audio resume and experience are found at:

You can get a basic idea of what I’m about with regard to audio at

You can also hear samples of my music and sound effects work at

In brief:

I record, edit, produce and write. My production experience includes both video and audio–I am very experienced with Avid Media Composer, Final Cut X, Pro Tools, Cubase, Audacity, and many other audio/video platforms.

My personal equipment locker includes the Sound Devices 633 mixer/recorder, Sennheiser 416 shotgun mics and a variety of other pro gear. I prefer Lectrosonics 400 series wireless mics.

My work includes half-hour reality TV documentary projects for Air Force Television News, 30 second spot production for radio and televison, and indie film projects. My location audio work includes a variety of sound effects capture projects and Chicago-based independent films.

My production clients include the Texas Society of Sculptors,,, Shedd Aquarium, and WildClaw Theatre Company.

Experience and Awards

My half-hour television documentary, “The Making Of An Air Force Recruiter” won the International Association of Audio Visual Communicators Gold CINDY award in the Film/Video category. Earlier in my career, my coverage of the aftermath of the Oklahoma City Bombing was a first-place finisher in the Radio Feature category of the 1996 International Gold Screen Competition. I’ve earned numerous other awards individually and as part of the Air Force Television News Team of producers and editors.

Contact me:

Artist, curator, and owner of StudioLab