Turning walls that divide us into art that unites us with Cameron Moberg

In this episode, Tiffany and Cameron talk about the mural he recently painted in the E3 office and its meaning, as well as his personal journey through fear that led him to become a community-focused artist.

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Cameron Moberg is a rebel. And he’s a community-builder. And he’s a muralist.

When he was a teenager, he would graffiti the town by night. Now, he gets paid to paint beautiful, powerful murals in spaces–like the Element Three office.

In this episode, Tiffany and Cameron talk about the mural he recently painted in the E3 office and its meaning, as well as his personal journey through fear that led him to become a community-focused artist.

Cameron: Fear can either stunt you, or it can motivate you. And I don't have an option to allow it to stunt me.

Tiffany: I am Tiffany Sauder and this is Scared Confident. Element Three. Just hired Cameron to come in from San Francisco and paint a mural that really expresses for us our purpose as a company, which is to foster growth and people in business so that they can change the world. So it has been really cool to work with different artists to like help us express.

Even our own souls about like, what do we mean by this? And to create some like, really visual reminders of our commitment to not just playing the financial game of business, but making sure we really hold ourselves accountable to that.

I'm an artist through and through like, I, I, if I were to describe myself, I would say I'm a, I'm a father husband.

Cameron: Um, you know, try to be a man of faith as much as I can. And I'm a muralist like that sums me up, you know? And I grew up just super interested in art. It's honestly, my oldest memories in my life were doing art with my aunt Nancy. Like that's my very first memory I have, you know, and then. I just like never stopped, you know, like once I started, I remember just drawing everything around me.

Like I would have a Teddy bear and I would sit in front of it and try to draw it, or I'd sit in front of my grandma and draw every wrinkle that she had and just, just was super hooked. Now at the same time, I was very into like hip hop culture. My cousin and my brother really got me into that at a young age.

Like we grew up watching movies. Beat street and break in. So we were all trying to break dance in our basement and rap and all this stuff. And I knew of like graffiti art, but I wasn't going down that lane yet. So fast forward a little bit. My mom was super supportive with my art second grade. She would frame my art and have art shows and coffee shops, stuff like that.

And then I think it was 90, 92 was when I switched over to really falling in love with graffiti art. My brother showed me a magazine based out of. And it was the first time I saw, instead of just like, I don't know, looking at one object and drawing it. It was like this. Throw up of color all over a wall.

And there was so much movement and vibrancy and I was like, I want to do that. So I think it was fifth grade, started drawing everybody's names like in class and practicing letters. And then I just started, I think, middle school tagging on things. High school got even worse. Tagging on billboards and painting in the middle of the night, you know, stuff like that.

Super fun, by the way, I feel like Batman or, you know, it's. Yeah. Anyway, and then there was some time around 2002 that I started blending the two worlds of my childhood and. My graffiti. So essentially taking the tool I was using for a graffiti and trying to paint like animals and insects and different things that I was drawing as a kid.

when you say like, I am an artist, have you always been able to say it with the level of confidence you can today?

Cameron: That's a great question. I, I've definitely grown in, in confidence in who I am as an artist, but I really feel an artist was always part of my identity.

It was just like something that was always there. Was I good? No, like trash, like I, I, I look at my old stuff and it's terrible. And even like at a young age, I remember having a dream of like painting faces and I didn't start painting faces till, I don't know, five years ago, six years ago. And so that took me.

25 30 years plus to even get to that point. So it was really there's this lifetime like commitment. I think that's like in my soul and it's almost like this addiction to accomplishing, like, if I can't paint something, I'm gonna do it until I could paint it. Like, so yeah, it's just, it's just in me.

Tiffany: So I think there's also for me, this interesting juxtaposition with.

The stereotype, like irreverence around graffiti art, like, like you were saying, like, you kind of started as Batman in the middle of the night in my head, it's like illegally done and you're going to get in trouble. And yet I feel like you've brought that into the light of day now as a like professional, you know, how to providing for your family doing this.

And also you paint like life. Yeah, where it's birds and butterflies and like there's this movement and these faces that are so filled with just like life and conviction. How did you get to a place where that is all true, where you went from this kind of punk kid who was using graffiti as a way to break the rules and a form of self-expression to now the camera.

And then I guess.

Cameron: For me, I will always love Griff graffiti. Like I, I, I think there's a big misconception about graffiti art and things like that. And while yes, there's a side of it. That's really, really bad. There's such a rich culture and rich history. So we live in a day and age now where like people are benefiting from all the illegal work that people did for years.

Right. It's almost like it got branded so heavily in culture. And, and none of those dudes before me and girls got to make a living off it. So I'm in a way I'm grateful for like the work that they did and the, and the way they paved it. Like they just pushed it into the culture. And then I get to benefit from that.

And I think for me, it didn't happen like overnight. It was always like a second. Thing. Like I was, I ran a rec center for kids and there were the paycheck wasn't big enough. So like, I was allowed to do side gigs and stuff like that. That rec center, long story short. Uh, I was, you know, I was there 20 years or so, and it just got the environment got really intense than, um, the neighborhood was always intense, but for me it was, uh, became a little PTSD, like, you know, so shifted gears and just went full on into mural work.

And I took a lot of the skills from running a rec center and what it took to organize. 200 youth at a summer camp and all these things I did with networking different rec centers and things like that. And I just simply applied that to what I do now. So all the crazy games I used to do for kids, I'm like taking the history of graffiti art and making games out of it.

Tech companies to do and spray paint and things like that. So I do try to be as creative in business as I am on a wall. So like, I, I want to do things different. I want to, I want people to see my culture differently and respect it and not just like, oh, I like the pretty things and all, but I hate that graffiti stuff for me.

It's very important that. And I understand all that pretty stuff would not happen without this other stuff. And to me, that other stuff is very pretty. Once you understand the culture, you know,

Tiffany: it actually kind of reminds me of some of the even narrative going on around the CBD industry, how, like there was this clandestine, you know, group of growers and people have.

Got to the place where now we can, you know, really grow it for retail and whether you agree or disagree, it's the same thing that was like the modern day CBD industry can only happen because there were

Cameron: people that, yeah. And there's a lot of things in that to think about like, um, It's it's interesting that like Banksy everywhere, everybody knows Banksy.

He's not a graffiti artist, by the way, he's a street artist, but, um, for, uh, graffiti artists has more rules than any type of art. Like it's like free hand, no tape, no stencils, no brushes. And predominantly rooted in letter form. I love Banksy, but when stencils were getting big, all the graffiti artists would just cross out anything that had to do with stencil artists and stuff.

It's a very different scene now. So it's kind of more accepted.

Tiffany: The street artist will use a stencil and a graffiti artist.

Cameron: Yeah, graffiti artists focuses on letters doesn't really use tape or anything like that, you know? Um, I'm, I'm kind of a blend of both worlds right now. I don't want to like diss my historical culture, like a graffiti by saying I'm not or saying I'm a graffiti artist.

I would say a more a street artists now. But like if Banksy comes into. He'll do an illegal piece and the S cities will frame it and put plexiglass over it and he's praised, but you have a kid who's trying to learn how to use a Canon, an alleyway. Family we'll get fine. 20, $30,000, you know, so it's interesting that we, we praise one thing in demon art and that a city gets to decide what is art and how to use public space.

So there's a lot of like narratives and conversations around public art and graffiti and, and all of that stuff.

Tiffany: Uh, you and I have talked about how you see art as being a really critical tool. Urban development and developers to think about how to create place. So share a little bit about how you see that.

Cameron: Yeah, absolutely. It's definitely like one of the biggest tools for urban planners and architects and development and things like that. Like, there's been statistics. I wish I could quote the actual website. Statistics, how it's contributed to the economy more than agriculture, which is really interesting, but it's totally revitalized downtown areas and communities.

And there's been tons of testimonies on like, oh, there wasn't people downtown. And then we put art in and now there's coffee shops and breweries, and people are going to those places because essentially you have a gallery now, right? Outdoor gallery, you go eat your. And then you're like, well, let's go look at the art and then you've walked around for an hour and a half, and now you want to have a dessert.

So it keeps people downtown longer. And it just, it just makes things more interesting. You know, whether you like the art piece or not, it's something to look at besides. A blank wall. A friend of mine said it best. She says, we put up walls to divide us. And then the second you put an art piece on it, it brings us back together.

And I think that's like exactly what it does. It's you can have, you know, the richest person in the community, standing, looking at a piece of art next to a homeless person, and they could have a conversation because that piece of art is there. And I just love that. I think it's brilliant now that there is a danger with.

Everything like with street art, getting, getting used for that. There's been lots of subjects of street artists, the beginning of gentrification for neighborhoods and stuff like that. So when I do a festival, I work really hard to meet with the community to say, Hey, this is coming behind me. You know, what are you going to do to prepare for that?

You have an opportunity to start a business here or take advantage. Don't just leave because someone wants to buy your house or whatever, like at least give them fair warning of what's about to go down. But I think that's a conversation that people should be having any way, you know, just out of respect for everybody's livelihood and families and things like that.

Tiffany: Unskilled, confident. We talk a lot about fear and all of our jobs like require some level of alignment between our like head heart per personal purpose and like the job we need to do. But I have to imagine. I'm projecting, but like, as an artist, you're like giving a piece of your creativity and every single thing that you do.

And so how do you keep yourself in a space where you can give when the calendar requires it? You know what I mean? Cause you do get commissioned, you do have to fly and you do have to do it when the calendar says you have to do it. And so how, how have, like, what are your tools for kind of staying in.

Aligned so that you can give of yourself. on the subject of fear. I'm projecting too, but I, I think every artist deals with fear, fear of like, like you want people to see your work, but you don't want people to see your work.

Cameron: You're you have this sense of fear of like failure and like comparing yourself to other artists and all this kind of stuff. I can say now I don't deal with that as much. It's everything is muscle memory now. So like, I, I never look at a design or a drawing and think I can't paint that. Like, I'm so grateful.

I'm at a point where like, I can confidently say I could paint anything you put in front of me. And so it doesn't scare me, but I will say my entire life learning how to do. Was fear-based it was, it was a fear of not being able to do it and like, almost like an embarrassment if I couldn't. I almost felt like I had no option.

Like if I don't succeed in this and do this, like the other graffiti writers are going to laugh at my letters or, you know, make fun of me or whatever. Or like, if I don't do this job well, this company's like going to be not happy. Fear can either stunt you or it can motivate you. And I just, I don't have an option to allow it to stunt me. Like I have a wife and kids there's no stopping. Like I can't. So I, I think if people want to get to a point of whatever field they're in and the, if they want motivation, like box yourself in a little bit, like where you have no.

Other option, because if you don't box yourself in, like, you're never going to take the steps to just do it,

Tiffany: do you remember the moment where fear changed from a motivator to you saying like, I'm gonna. I'm going to claim that this is actually a talent I possess and move my mind to a place where I can look at anything and know I can paint it.

Cameron: I have a very specific moment and it's weird, but every, this weird to be. So after my rec center gig, I actually worked another, another gig that wasn't good for me. And. We were at a conference with that organization. And at this conference, I knew there was tryouts for a TV show and I snuck out and went to these tryouts for a TV show.

And I knew I wanted to quit this other gig and go into full-time. Cause it was, it just wasn't working. And so long story short, I get on this TV show and I'm just hoping and praying. I just want to get to episode three, to try to get some notoriety so that I could quit my job and jump into this full time.

Well, I make it to episode three, then four, then five, then six and seven and eight and nine. And then I win the show and they don't air it, but I was like, fucking. Falling on when I won, but because it was like, it was what I needed to say. I could do this, you know, and knowing what we had been through, it was almost like.

This answer to these questions of like, you know, just God, like I got you. You're good. It's going to be okay. You got some breathing room now you've got you even have a chunk of change from the show to start your new career. So that was like a very pivotal moment saying I could be a full-time artist.

I

Tiffany: have learned in my journey. And it's like such, it's so interesting. Cause you are a visual artist. So we get to see it, that fear once the, to quiet the best of us, it wants to quiet our talents. And so as, as fear was trying to tell you, you can't paint that, but you can't do that, but you can't do that.

And then now, because you've liberated that talent, like out from underneath the control of fear, like you're literally creating things. Allowing people like me, who don't have the creative talent to be able to express a vision so that it can motivate and empower other people to continue to grow.

Tiffany: To me, it's like a capsule because of what you do is visual. Mine is like make words and papers and it's less easy to see. And so it's really cool to have seen that liberal.

Cameron: I think that's part of my motivation too, is like in art schools. So I've heard, I didn't, I didn't do art school, but I've heard that they really get you to like focus on what you're trying to accomplish as an artist and what you're trying to project onto the world.

And I just personally don't agree with that as a muralist, maybe as a fine artist, but I think my job as a muralist is to paint for you. It's to paint for the communities I leave behind. So it's not my job to come in and just tell you. What I think you should see, it's like, I'm there for a week or shorter, you know?

And, um, it's really important to me that the community loves what they see on the wall. They're going to see it every day. And it's important to me that people pass that mural and they could have just had. Crappiest morning and got in an argument with their spouse or their kids or screaming or whatever.

And they come up and they see that massive bird on that wall or a massive butterfly or whatever. And it just changes their entire day or their. World, you know, like that's this, the goal I hope to accomplish through my work.

Tiffany: my mission for scare confident is to give women the permission to passionately pursue a life of ant. This project is really about having a conversation. So if you have questions, comments, feedback for me, or something that you want more of, let me know, text me at 3 1 7 3 5 0. 8921

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