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Get to Know Your Local Artists: Chatting with 3 Indiana Creators

12/07/20235 minutes

The season for celebration is upon us, Hoosiers! For so many of us in Indiana, the holidays are a time of togetherness, tradition, nostalgia, fun and giving. This year, the Hoosier Lottery is excited to partner with 3 talented local artists for a special holiday-themed giveaway—exclusively for myLOTTERY members!

Indiana locals Koda Witsken, Shaunt’e Lewis and Josh Brinson were invited to create unique designs that represent the many ways Hoosiers ring in the season. And if you’re a myLOTTERY member, you can enter for a chance to win their designs on the following custom merchandise: a hoodie, blanket or set of three mugs. Check out the designs and enter now before the giveaway ends on December 18, 2023.

Not a myLOTTERY member yet? Sign up now for FREE to get in on exclusive promotions, 2nd Chance access, giveaways and games year-round.

 

Meet Local Artists Koda, Shaunt’e and Josh

Want to see what Koda, Shaunt’e and Josh have to say about all things art and celebrating the holidays as a Hoosier?

How and when did you start creating?

  • Koda: I’ve always been interested in being creative. As a kiddo, my twin brother Croix and I were constantly picking up art hobbies. In high school, I had the world’s most inspirational art teacher, shout out to Angela Fritz at Hamilton Southeastern, who is still teaching AP Art to my knowledge. She pushed me to create at a larger scale. My dad let me put murals in my bedroom through high school as well. While I pursued an art minor in college, it wasn’t until a decade after graduation that I returned to art professionally. Now, I've been a full-time artist for five years.
  • Shaunt’e: I've been into creating for as long as I can remember, but it was during the pandemic that I really kicked things up a notch. I was a hairstylist at the time and as we know, all salons had to shut down operations. With all that extra time on my hands and work taking a backseat, I just dove headfirst into creating more.
  • Josh: I was exposed to art at a young age by my mother’s fashion designs and my father’s sci-fi creature drawings. However, it was in middle school that my interest in art truly piqued. I discovered graffiti and street art and began teaching myself to use paint markers in a makeshift black book and spray paint on walls.

How would you describe your artistic style?

  • Koda: My goal is to create art that’s vibrant, accessible and compelling. To do that well, I look for a good story — a mission statement, a personal ethos, a cultural message — whatever the context, the content must have something to say. Without it, the art will have nothing to say. I think the best art comes from collaborating with partners who share that vision and who are excited to bring their story to life. That’s my hope for my artistic process: that we uncover stories worth telling, use art to tell them as richly as possible and make the world better for having done so.
  • Shaunt’e: My style can be described as bold and distinctive. I use strong, confident lines in my work, which adds a sense of purpose and clarity to my creations. My choice of colors is vibrant and rich, bringing life and energy to my art. My art is unmistakably mine, and viewers can instantly recognize my work due to its unique and memorable quality.
  • Josh: My style combines the bold, vibrant appearance of the spot color techniques used in screen printing with the rhythm, motion and structure of graffiti lettering.

What motivates you to create?

  • Koda: Art provably impacts mental and physical health in the communities in which it lives— communities that invest in art experience meaningful improvements in academic and social outcomes. Art drives tourism, sets and reflects culture and often serves as a primary platform for discourse around critical civic issues. My goal is to use my art in service of those outcomes. I want to raise the profile of people and organizations doing work to better the communities in which they live. I want to inspire discussions around equity and what good citizenship means in the 21st century. I want people to look at my art and see a celebration of a foundational human oneness.
  • Shaunt’e: I create because it's what I love to do. It's as simple as that. When I'm in the zone, whether I'm painting, drawing or doing whatever I'm passionate about, I just feel this rush of excitement and fulfillment. It's my way of expressing myself and making a mark on the world, and that's what motivates me. Plus, it's pretty fun, and who doesn't love doing what they enjoy?
  • Josh: As a kid, I loved riding my bike around the city and soaking in all the vibrant imagery that lined the walls of previously stark, grey walls. It fueled my imagination, energized my creativity and encouraged me to explore. I am motivated by the thought that I could impact others in a similar way when they see my work, whether on walls, in a gallery, on clothing or otherwise.

What is your favorite medium and why?

  • Koda: I’m a studio, digital, and public artist. I work with national brands like Target, the NFL, the NBA, Starbucks and more on spray painted mural installations, community engagement projects and digital initiatives that further brand story and social impact. Spray paint and digital art are my current favorite media because they are vibrant, gestural, flexible in application and forgiving. 
  • Shaunt’e: My preferred medium is illustration because of its adaptability. Whether I'm sketching a brief concept or dedicating hours to a piece, it enables me to work on a wide range of projects and suit different creative vibes.
  • Josh: Spray paint is my primary tool when painting murals. It allows me to work quickly and efficiently while implementing techniques such as flares, gradients and splatters. My studio works incorporates acrylic paints as well, which allows me to achieve finer details.

What holiday traditions inspired your work for this project in particular?

  • Koda: Each holiday season, I visit local plant nurseries with my family. We pick out fresh poinsettia flowers and mistletoe for our home. With these holiday symbols, we invite hugs, kisses and glowing holiday cheer into our home and hearts.
  • Shaunt’e: For this project, I drew inspiration from some classic holiday vibes. The stuff that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. From sipping on hot chocolate with a mountain of marshmallows on top, to munching on traditional holiday candies like candy canes and building gingerbread houses with my kids. These traditions and the sweet treats we all look forward to during the holidays played a big role in shaping my work. I wanted to capture that feeling of comfort, joy and nostalgia, so you'll see those elements sprinkled throughout my project.
  • Josh: I wanted to create a design that didn’t just represent the holidays in general, but specifically alludes to winter in Indiana. Wandering across the snowy covered bridges in a cozy scarf, gazing down at the river below, hearing the snowflakes hitting the bare tree limbs and watching the birds above migrate for the season makes for quite the serene scene to ease your mind in.

What type of research did you do for this project? What was the process like?

  • Koda: I interviewed my family to make a short list of our favorite holiday traditions and played with colors that infused warmth, love and cheer into the design. I wanted the text treatments to feel like you were either looking through greenhouse windowpanes from the outside seeing the holiday cheer encased within, or like you were peering out from within a nursery greenhouse when the misters were dusting the poinsettias.
  • Shaunt’e: Honestly, I didn't have to do much research for this project. Instead, I just kicked back and reminisced about the holidays from last year. It was all about recollecting those warm and fuzzy memories and the little details that made that time of year special with family!
  • Josh: The cardinal is the state bird of Indiana, and there are millions of them in the U.S. However, of those millions, there are said to only be 12-15 yellow cardinals. Learning that inspired this idea of a one-in-a-million winter in Indiana where you spot one migrating amongst the masses. Beyond that, my research mostly consisted of finding great reference photos because my knowledge of winters in Indiana is pretty stacked after 30 years of them.

What are your hopes for this project?

  • Koda: That it brings light and warmth, literally and figuratively (since it’s a blanket), to Hoosiers this holiday season.
  • Shaunt’e: I'm really hoping this project brings a smile to people's faces and maybe even stirs up some nostalgia for the good times during the holidays. Basically, I want this project to spread some joy and holiday cheer.
  • Josh: My hope for this project is to highlight some of the beauty of winters in Indiana. The colder months here can be harsh, so it’s important to warm up, stay chill and remember to cherish the little things.

What does being a Hoosier mean to you?

  • Koda: It means having a small-town heart dedicated to a community, with big city ambitions dedicated to personal growth. It means being kind and nurturing, open and joyful, being the first to offer a helping hand.
  • Shaunt’e: As someone who's made Indiana their home, being a Hoosier means a lot to me. It's all about that sense of community and the down-to-earth, friendly vibes you find here in Indiana. Hoosiers have a strong connection to their home, and there's a pride in being part of a place with a rich history and a welcoming spirit.
  • Josh: Indianapolis gets its nickname “Naptown” from being that boring city you would take a nap in when passing through. These days we wear that nickname with pride as a reminder of how much we’ve grown as a city in terms of culture and creativity. On a broader scale, Indiana has always been seen as not having much more to offer than corn. I feel like that underestimation is the catalyst of the fighting spirit that all Hoosiers possess. To be a Hoosier means that you strive to achieve more against the odds and aren’t afraid of the work that comes along with that…and you might have a special place in your heart for a good pork tenderloin sandwich!

What traditions (if any) do you celebrate around the holidays?

  • Koda: The Christmas pickle is a German-American Christmas tradition. An ornament in the shape of a pickle is hidden on a Christmas tree, with the finder receiving either a good fortune for the next year and the right to open the first present or bestow the first gift upon someone else.
  • Shaunt’e: During the holidays, I like to kick back, spend quality time with family and friends, and enjoy some delicious food. It's all about relaxing, sharing good company, and indulging in some tasty treats and fun games.
  • Josh: The holidays for me generally revolve around cooking great food and sharing it with good company, both friends and family. Add in some board games, sledding, snowball fights and a beverage next to a warm fire, and I’m a happy man.



To learn more about Koda, Shaunt’e, Josh and their work, check out their portfolio websites:

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