Day in, day out. Clock in, clock out. When every portrait felt like factory work, every idea an addition to the assembly line of a painting, Travis Pickett realized he needed a break.
“Don’t overthink,” the artist says. “I realized it’s better to not be afraid to step away for a while. Just do something else.”
That something else for Pickett was often poetry, an outlet he shared with his wife, a jewelry maker.
But after a fallow year, the Southern University graduate turned to something that had always been there for him from birth in his native New Orleans with comfort and inspiration: music.
“I don’t play an instrument, or produce beats, and I don’t sing,” Pickett says. “But I’ve always loved music, so I started thinking about how I can express an audio medium in a visual way that fits with who I am.”
Mostly using red grandis and birch woods, he began designing, cutting and assembling decorative, spinning turntables at a time when vinyl record sales are resurging.
These are the record players Andy Warhol never made. And Pickett plans to make his first fully functioning turntable soon.
Somewhat restless sitting in front of a screen for long stretches, Pickett prefers art that is hands-on and tactile. He’ll spend days thinking through the details of a record player assembly. “Analog art creation,” he calls it. Spoken like a true vinyl-cherishing audiophile.
He does dabble in design, though, with his rainbow-colored Soul Scroll prints declaring tuneful, mini-manifestos like “Music is my love language,” and “If you can talk, you can sing. If you can walk, you can dance.”
Another influence from his lifelong passion for music, Pickett creates and markets all of his pop art and turntables as ArtSoulLife—a stage name of sorts that both grabs the attention of scrollers and motivates him when he needs to realign with his purpose.
Now back in Baton Rouge with his family after a stint in Colorado, Pickett’s work showed at The Healthcare Gallery last spring, and his purpose has a more refined definition than ever before.
He only makes what he wants to make, and he crafts each piece with incredible care.
“I wanted my name to be a mission statement,” Pickett says. “My art is from the soul, and I want it to give life.”