IG Artist Profile: Trent Rhodes

Interview by Ashraf Osman

I am happy to resume the artist profile series for the InterGifted Art & Creativity Group with Trent Rhodes. Trent has somewhat of a hybrid “do:” he is an author, works full-time as a Career Advisor, and is the new business owner of MasterLearn LLC, focused on professional development and self-education.



1. Essentials

Why do you do what you do? Why art?

I’m driven to dive deep into my potential and unfold my abilities. With writing, I began toying with the art since elementary school, creating plot lines with action figures, examining their character development, the emotions involved, the conflicts generated. I would start off with a few characters and scenes and eventually the characters felt as if they took on lives of their own; I was no longer creating the stories, I was just the puppet holding the toys moving them around, giving them voices. I would simultaneously create these stories in a notebook or piece of paper and find resources (toys or sheets to make costumes for myself and friends) to bring the stories to life.

While unknowingly refining the writing skill in this way, I was also focusing on philosophy. I produced mini-essays and wrote budding ideas in journals. Since undergrad, I’ve always kept a pen and a small notebook with me to capture ideas.

Art is the creator’s realm. To me, art is the channel that invites me to go deep within, and, from the void of consciousness, bring form to ideas. Meaning for my work is charged with energy. I receive the inspiration, which could come from within or from reading one sentence in a book or from overhearing a word in someone’s conversation, and take what manifested in me to the paper.



2. Background

What has been a seminal experience for you?

In a statistics class during undergrad, I was in the middle of running an “observations” experiment. I would choose a week and focus solely on observing something, silence for example. For a week, I would be as silent as I could, observe my internal responses to it and record them. This one class during the silence observation, I simply had a paradigm collapse, in the sense that my rock-solid beliefs came crashing down. They dissolved into nothingness. Emotionally, I felt as if a large weight disappeared, which did not return. What made this seminal was the collapse challenged me to “rebuild” my paradigm from scratch, utilizing the new knowledge I gained and also my intuition. I was more open-minded than ever, prepared to absorb more knowledge and truth wherever I could find it. This transformation also strengthened my writing ability and the sheer amount of content I wanted to write about.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

My creative writing professor wrote me a note after giving me a high grade for what seemed like a risky paper. According to him, I received a high mark due to my writing talent enabling me to pull off the work. The note he wrote explained I would be able to easily coast due to having a gifted mind, but never feel tempted to settle. I’ve kept that note in a personal binder ever since, as a reminder not just for writing, but coasting in any arena. I believe talent requires just as much effort if not more because of this temptation to just get by.


3. Your Art

What themes do you pursue?

Writing, speech, perception and manifestation have an ancient relationship that goes back to the glories of Egypt and its use of heka or magic. They believed, as I do, that we can write and speak things into existence and, what we say and write becomes real. Themes in my self-education work highlight personal power, refining character, well-being, becoming capable of gaining wisdom from personal experience and the power words have in our daily lives. I am a huge proponent of internal reverse engineering: once a process, system or knowledge is learned, how do we capture it, modernize it and make it useful for today’s living?

With creative writing, I lean towards showing how emotions manifest in influence our daily lives. Since they can be highly volatile and at the same time ennobling, tapping into the emotional pulses within stories can help give us parallels to understand and reverse engineer.

Professionally, what’s your goal?

As a writer, I intend to produce books that cover self-education, professional development and creative fiction that deliver practical morals to the story. I am currently author of The Survive & Thrive Handbook for College Students and SAGE Mind: Using Personal Experience to Cultivate Resilience, Wisdom & The Art of Learning. Expanding on the power of words, I will use my new business to provide affirmations that empower readers on apparel and vision posters. I also aim to create courses and curriculum that teaches learners to develop autodidact models of learning to augment their formal school experience.


4. Your Views

What role do you think the artist has in society?

I see the artist as the creator and the destroyer. In every field, in every industry we have people who envision a new way of doing or being, and those people are willing to take risks to create. I find this to be very different from the entrepreneur who may want to create an organization or movement or product and add value to the world. The artist is the pure creator and translator of those higher elements of the human-spiritual condition, who uses their art to materialize those concepts. I believe it’s for this reason that artists’ work can be interpreted in so many ways. The artist creates to express this inner dimension and shows society the beauty of that relationship.

What do you dislike about the art world?

In connection with this pure creative drive, I find there to be a lopsided focus on creation without monetization. I don’t see this as the fault of the artist but do recognize a need for artists to become comfortable with earning from their talents. There seems to be a shame or aversion. I’ve worked with many creative students and graduates who love their respective crafts in fashion, web, graphic design, interior design and digital filmmaking, and they often are incredibly passionate about their fields; consequently, all they tend to want to do is create and find themselves lacking in business acumen or interest to offer their work in exchange for money. When executed, however, this value exchange enables an artist to continue doing the work they love dearly while adding value to the buyer’s lives. So I believe there is a deep need for a convergence of the artist and the businessperson.