Champion Artists of Free State Peyton Townsend and Preston Nye

This month, two students were selected as Champion Artists of Free State. Given to two Lawrence High (LHS) and two Free State artists, the Champion Artist Award recognizes outstanding artists at a gathering of Art Department Sponsors.

Trenna Soderling: So what is that (Champion Artist Award)? Can you describe it?

They choose two Free State Artists and two LHS artists to be recognized… and I was chosen to be one of them. I was lucky enough.

— Peyton Townsend

Peyton Townsend: Man, I don’t know. I just heard about it yesterday, actually. Well, they say there’s this big huge gathering for people who raise money for art departments in out Lawrence Public Schools, and they choose two Free State artists and two LHS artists to be recognized (and they’re usually seniors) that are excelling in the art program at Free State and at LHS and I was chosen to be one of them. I was lucky enough.

Trenna Soderling: So, when did you really start  getting into art?

Peyton Townsend: When I was really, really young I always looked up to my brother, and my brother was always an artist so when I was like, five-years-old, I was like “Hey, Ian! Teach me how to draw!” So we started working together, and we actually still draw together a lot.

Preston Nye: I started drawing in about fifth grade. And I started writing poetry and music in sixth grade. And then they kinda mixed together. And, when I came to high school, me and Ms. (Rachel) Downs met, and then she liked the way I mixed it- it’s like a mixture of music and art that I just put on paper.

Trenna Soderling: (Preston), how did you decide to put these (music and art) together?

Preston Nye: … I get influenced by musical artists, mostly – that’s where I get a lot of my motivation … Common, Blu and Exile, Currency. There’s a lot of artists. Kanye West, obviously. Jay-Z. I’m not necessarily influenced by the top people, but the people who just kinda have relaxing musical sense.

Trenna Soderling: How has art affected you throughout your life?

Peyton Townsend: I didn’t think it would do this much. I won this award, which was pretty amazing. I’ve had my art at the Lawrence Arts Center, and I’ve also gone to so many art shows and it’s helped me through a lot of stress and hard times. I actually want to grow up and be a tattoo artist and so I want to use it in my career.

Generally, my favorite thing about art is the people.

— Preston Nye

Preston Nye:  Generally, my favorite thing about art is the people. They’re just kinda open, and they’re not judgmental. There’s a lot of weird people in art, but it’s cool.

Trenna Soderling: What’s your inspiration?

Peyton Townsend: Oh, man. That’s probably the hardest question. I draw a lot of women actually. Their bodies are very interesting to me, and I also draw a lot of cats… I love drawing animals and I love also doing it to draw awareness for animals… I also do it for rescuing because they’re so sweet. I draw women and stuff because of like the nature and motherhood really interest me and the way their bodies are shaped are really circular, and men are really square.

Trenna Soderling: You talked a little but about how you want to grow up and be a tattoo artist. How else is art going to continue to affect your life after high school?

Peyton Townsend: I’m going to continue to draw everyday. I’m hopefully going to take some art classes at JuCo. I would go to art college, but it’s really expensive. But, yeah. I draw everyday, and my best friend’s an artist too, and we want to open our shop together… I don’t know but just draw everyday and I live with my brother now so there will be a lot more drawing and I paint on my walls all the time. Just silly stuff like that.

Trenna Soderling: What do you want to do when you grow up?

Preston Nye: I mean, I’ve always had a dream of being a rapper. I’ve performed and I write music and I’ve produced music. That’s like, the dream. But, for a normal job, I want to go to art school-that’s one thing I really want to do-but if I don’t go to art school, I’d like to go to business school.