Category Archives: Spiritual Nourishment

Documenting Life Through Illustration a 1 on 1 with Diane Roka

Hey everyone sorry I am late, the Save the Charms team had a outing tonight! Nevertheless, I got a chance to talk to someone that calls them self a drawtographer. I know you are probably thinking that is not a work, but we need to add it to the dictionary because it is someone who creates a documentary through illustration. With this interview we hope that it tells a story, so here it goes. 

Q: Can you please give use your name, background, business name, and business background?


  •  Name: Diane Roka. 
  •  Background: Artist/Writer/Illustrator. Documentary-style Drawtographer.  
  • Business Name: Diane Roka 
  • Business Background: Visual Artist — exhibit at B Square Gallery. Journalist — long-form music interviews with artists such as John Doe, The Long Ryders, Jon Spencer, The Dream Syndicate, Jon Langford, Marah. Illustrator for clients such as Boyds, Nicole Miller, GoRed, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Project Sloopy, PAWS, and the band Kopecky.

Q: What is the difference between an artist and an illustrator to you?

A: I think you can be both, it really just depends where the finished product will end up. Maira Kalman and Jean-Philippe Delhomme are good examples — their illustrations are found in The New Yorker or a campaign for Barneys, but they also exhibit their work in galleries. I think that artists like Yoshitomo Nara and Thomas Campbell helped to blur the artist/illustrator lines by creating darkly funny, unpretentious art. I’ve always loved the art of illustrators, though — Peter Max, Ezra Jack Keats, Saul Steinberg, Ludwig Bemelmans, Laurent de Brunhoff, Annie Morris, Serge Bloch — you get the idea.
Q: Documentaries tell a story, what story do you want people to take from your illustrations? 
A: With my doc-style drawtography work, I try to be a fly on the wall, unnoticed, capturing the scene. I try to work really quickly, and only draw the most essential lines. I try to capture the mood of the room, the vibe of the people. I want the viewer to feel like they were there.
Q: What is your definition of a draw-tographer?
A: That’s a name that one of my friends made up to describe what I do, but I liked it, so it stuck! For me, it’s trying to work like a doc-style photographer: fast, live and in the moment. And fading into the background, so people are being themselves. Sometimes I feel like a cultural anthropologist, documenting a tribe. Mary Ellen Mark was a big inspiration for me, and Annie Liebowitz back when she used to travel with bands on tour for Rolling Stone in the 70’s.
Q: Does traveling give you inspiration to create? What place sparks your greatest creativity?

A: I love to travel. For example, I spent a month in Greece last year, and documented artists in their studios, the offices of an indie online magazine, a band in a recording studio — I was even on-set drawing at the filming of a cooking show! The key was my Greek friend George, an artist and musician with a great creative network of friends, who acted like my agent, connecting me with people.  
But, I don’t think you have to get on a plane, necessarily. I’ve been working on a book project for the last two years with photographer Janell Wysock called “Sesh”, where I draw and she shoots inspiring people in their homes or workspaces. We’ve taken road trips to places like Montauk or upstate NY, but we’ve also done plenty of sessions right here in Philly. I think what sparks my creativity the most is feeling inspired by my subject, and being trusted enough to really enter their world. I joke that my sketchbook is like my passport, but it really is.
Q: You mentioned you are a writer, what genre or style do you most commonly write in?
A: I was a contributor to an online music magazine called Perfect Sound Forever for years, and I would do long-form interviews with musicians or people who work behind the scenes in the music industry. Then I started drawing musicians live in concert to illustrate my interviews. And In the last few years I stopped doing the interviews altogether and only did the drawings. But I’m starting to get back into interviewing again, and writing about my experiences documenting people, memoir-style. The “Sesh” book will have a lot of that.
Q: When did you discover you were artistically gifted?
A: My mom is an artist, so I think that I inherited a certain amount of hand-to-eye coordination. The kids in grade school would ask me to draw them pictures, so that became a part of my identity pretty early on. Then I was introduced to the book “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain” by my art teacher in high school, and I’ve been using those tools for a long time, over 30 years. And I draw A LOT. So, I think it’s less about being artistically gifted, and more about the Malcolm Gladwell “Outliers” theory. I’ve definitely put in my 10,000 hours!

Q: What message do you want your art to reflect?

A: Truth. I had great art professors at Rutgers like artists Lloyd McNeil and Emma Amos, and they showed me that there was great beauty in a strong, bold, unapologetic line. They taught me that it was okay to make mistakes, and that sometimes leaving them in would make the work more interesting. And that it’s not just about drawing what you see — it’s about drawing what you feel. It’s nice to get a good likeness, and I like to challenge myself by getting the likeness in as few lines as possible, but if the viewer can really feel how I felt about my subject through the quality of my line — then I’ve been successful.
Q: Where can you purchase your artwork? Do you have sales or promotions?

A: It’s best to either reach me through the email link on my website, or to DM me on Instagram. Sometimes people will see one of my drawings on IG, and they will contact me to purchase it, but I typically get contacted to do a specific commission for an individual, an editorial piece for a publication, or a project for an organization’s marketing campaign. I’ve been working on putting together an online store, and it hope to have something up by the end of the year. I also let people know on IG when I have an upcoming exhibit.
I hope you enjoyed our interview with Diane. I also hoped you realize through illustration you can tell a story, and through stories people can save lives. Keep up with Diane on Instagram @dianeroka because it’s the perfect place for a visual person. Please tune in tomorrow for our movie review on Straight Out of Compton! I’m going to end with words and illustrations from the artist.

                        A Day in the Life

Here are some good ones that photographer Janell Wysock took for our upcoming book “Sesh”. The red- haired glass artist is Kevin Smolark of TriSymbolize in his studio in Philly. The woman with the bun is Emma Rochester, an Australian artist at her residency at the Crane Studios in Phila. (These first two sessions were on the same day in the summer if 2014.) 

The photo of me in the zebra print chair is at the Phila. department store Boyds, as part of a collaboration called “Proper & Correct”(Feb. 2014). Artist Mark Wilson posed for me in the boutique called Lazy Point that he co-owns with his wife Clauja Bicalho in Amagansett, NY, that features clothing and textiles from their travels around the world (Summer 2013). The last photos are of artist Don Nice’s studio in Garrison, NY. (Fall, 2013)






Words of Healing with Kaotik the Poet

Hey everybody I’m back again, and this time I got to speak with another inspirational artist that goes by, Kaotik the Poet. Our talk was very spiritually nourishing. We got a chance to speak about passions, desires, and inspirations. As well as, the power of expressing your thoughts through words. I believe people’s artistry can heal; therefore, I hope you are healed by our conversation with Kaotik the Poet. 

Q: Can you please give use your name, background, business name, and business background?

A: My name is Louis Caldwell. I own Caldwell Services, and Sweet Lou’s Bar B Que. Caldwell Services is an automotive core purchasing service. I buy warranty parts from dealerships and sell them to rebuilders. I started these businesses because I wanted to leave something to my kids.

Q: Who is the Kaotik poet? How does he differ from you I everyday life?
A: Lol, who is Kaotik Poet? He is the manifestation of my passions and desires. He is the compromise between flesh and spirit. My expression of self in its purest form. He is the moment that I leave this plane and mentally let it all hang out. I don’t have to dumb it down for others. I am him and he is me in many aspects, yet I am bridled somewhat in real life. I find myself having to hold back, lol, I don’t think the World is ready. Kaotik Poet does this on some levels as well. Some things they just can’t handle.

Q: Why do you leave your poetry without a title?
A: Most of my poems are left without titles because, titles make them so impersonal. It’s like they have no beginning and no end. I don’t want to tell the reader what they’re about, I want their hearts to do that for me. Now mind you, In a lot of my earlier writing they have titles.

Q: Where does your inspiration to write come from? What is your creation process?

A: My inspiration to write comes from my past, present and hope for the future. It derives from an overwhelming need to teach, guide and love. Hmmmm, creation process, I don’t think I have one. It’s like my words just fall atop me all at once. I can be sleep and they come to me. I have dreamt of entire ideas for stories…lol. I know that sounds crazy but true. Someone may say something. I don’t know. The world feeds me its needs, and I am its speaker.

Q:When you state, “I just returned from war I did. With its smokey mouths and hidden lies. It’s hurried red lights and busy bodies with no business of their own. I just emerged from the battlefield where there were no soldiers, just drama Kings and Dairy Queens. From 9-5 I fought this war. From the country sides to the concrete jungles. I did indulge in civil gore,” what struggle did you overcome at that point?

A: This poem came to me while sitting at a red light. I am a people watcher. I sat and watched all of the soccer moms, the restless teens, the exhausted fathers. I saw how they all watched this red light. For that moment they all had one thing in common, that light. That light offered them a moment peace, which they rejected. I watched how they glared at one another. No love, no compassion. Like the light belonged to them. I then pushed on through my day and lent my attention to more observations. We fight our way through our days. Leaving behind casualties, whether it be emotionally, mentally or spiritually. We are on a course to slaughter one another. We are at war.

Q: What new projects are you working on? How can we expect your poetry to evolve?

A: Currently I am gathering up my writings. I have found someone to help me with editing and organization. The problem is there are over five hundred manuscripts that I know of. I have my work cut out for me. I believe my poetry will evolve into a more pure truth. I want to take some writing classes, but we will see. Whatever is in God’s will.

Q:What do you want people to take from your poetry?

I want people to take from my poetry, that they are not alone in any journey, any struggle. We have all gone through it. Don’t be afraid to speak your truths. I want them to know that I have lived every word I wrote. Know That I am my brother’s keeper, and he will be kept.

Hopefully you were touched and took something from the Kaotik Poet. Moving forward I hope you let your spirit free and can inspire through your words. If you were moved by this interview please follow Louis @kaotikpoet on Instagram. Tune in on Friday to hear from a visual artist Diane Roka. I will leave you with a poem by Kaotik the Poet!

                        Killing Me Slowly

Someone help me I’m bleeding words, my pen has become a scythe and it’s killing thoughts by the second. It’s a lyrical psychopath going straight for the jugular, it’s become a verbal juggernaut. I’m running but I’m in slow motion, my pen is in flow motion, with each poem it’s picking up momentum…. Someone help me, I’m bleeding words.

I am hemorrhaging words, my passion is falling away from me, help me, I struggle to catch my misery, I lay in a pool of ink, pumped from my flesh. From the center of my bones did this ink spill. Help me. With surgical precision this pen will expel my deepest pains. I’m dying indeed, my soul has been taken, I’m
lying in need, I can’t feel my heart where my words did feed. Someone help me I’m bleeding words.

I have found my peace, do not mourn me, weep for my words for they are lost to my mind, they have known me for a time, but are now dead to me, I wade within the dark corridors, for I am sightless,, my words gave vision, but now I don’t feel clearly, I’m sightless, my purpose has departed. I’m fight less. I am beyond help I’m bleeding words.
When I have past the last wisp of my living breath, tell them of these words that did die. Lay me within a shallow keep where I may write from the grave, that I may
speak from behind the vail of the permanent sleep, from the unending dream my words did form. Upon my stoned head, may my truths be perched, I will lay not where you searched, I’m lurking about the bones of the slumbering poets where sorrows are heard……I have bled my words……..LTC3