The feeling of coming home is the best way that I can possibly describe how I feel when I gaze upon work by Walter Knabe. As I walk into his studio, I inherently take a deep breath, for his art settles me. I’m grounded by the visual elements of interest he utilizes in his work. I find his use of color nurturing to a portion of my soul that seems insatiable for his aesthetic.
This is the reaction art should have.
Knabe’s esthetic is a hybrid of antiquity and the modern, with a tangible timelessness which makes every piece of art Knabe creates feel like it’s ahead of it’s time, yet classical simultaneously. Knabe believes art helps create your own world, creating your own mythology.
“You get to ‘create your own mythology’ with art,” Knabe said to me. “People should feel empowered to create their own world with their own intellectual bent on things – thus creating your own mythical world. I ask clients to envision their dreams and ask what inspires them.”
Walter’s approach to his art matches that of my writing process. When I interview someone, I always find out what it is that they love.
Knabe’s art is well-known across the country and around the globe, and yet proudly calls Indianapolis home. He used to live in NYC and studied with Warhol. His client list is a ‘Who’s Who’ across the globe. I used to spend time in his studio while it was located in the Stutz building, walking in one day to find him getting off a call with Drew Barrymore.
Knabe began his career creating large wall murals. Warhol said, “Jerry Hall has an empty wall, go paint something”. These large murals influenced Walter’s hand-painted and hand silk-screened wallpaper. He continues to evolve, expanding his offerings through a wide variety of mediums.
Today, there are new tools at Knabe’s disposal to utilize for his creations, such as digitizing techniques. This tool helps expand Knabe’s pattern collection, allowing for a selection of eight hundred colors. Eight. Hundred. Colors. Knabe is a kid in a candy store of his creation – a lab for his mythology.
What’s perpetually fascinated me about Walter since I met him 17 years ago, is his process. He doesn’t know what he is painting when he starts. It’s like his body knows a language he can’t yet translate except to allow it to flow through him, using his body as the vessel. At some point he steps back and says, “Hello! I know what this is.” It’s at this moment, the acknowledgment of the creative element and the creator become one.
In my storytelling presentation that I share with business owners, I strongly encourage fostering creativity. It’s a requirement for success. Brene Brown recently stated, “The only unique contribution we make in this world will be born of creativity.”
What amazes me is that Walter lives in that space of creating unique contributions almost daily. Some of us would be happy with one bolt of creative inspiration, spurring us to create our own masterpiece, regardless what our canvas is. Mine is writing, although I feel I do as much or more speaking than typing.
When Walter stated that he wanted to inspire others to “create their own mythology” I took that challenge to express what that is – what that looks like, how it feels. His expression of elements of his mythology is through art. While mine may be partially expressed through purchasing his art, I write and re-write my story on a daily, if not hourly basis. We all have that power – to change our story. If you don’t love where this chapter is taking you, write a new one – and make it of mythical proportions.