An Interview With Brian Kasstle

Over the past couple of years,

I’ve come to know Brian Kasstle

during art journaling workshops we’ve both attended.  

I was always too shy to rip his journal from his hands

and take a closer look, but oh I sure wanted to!  

So when he and I met up a few weeks ago

and he brought a stack with him, I didn’t hold back!  

His journals are rich and thick with color, texture,

collage and meaning!  

Damn if they don’t even smell good!

I’m so so happy to feature

a few of his art journal pages

and a brief interview here today.  

Brian is one of two amazing teachers

I’ve scheduled for the upcoming 

The Creative Nomad, An Art Journaling Adventure.

The retreat will take place at the Ace Hotel & Swim Club

in Palm Springs CA, January 21-24, 2016.

Registration for The Creative Nomad opens July 21!

Spread 165 - Restless

*When did you first know you were an “artist” – tell me about the journey to claiming that.

Growing up in Montana, I recall drawing a picture as a child and my mother looking at my drawing and mentioning “you are not as artistic as your brother and your sister”. It was a very simple harmless statement. Yet I internalized it and from that moment on I believed it and did not think I was an artist for many years.

I took the very minimum of art classes as a kid and young adult.  I just never tried – I felt that was not for me. In college I had an interest in pottery and I focused on that as a creative outlet as a young adult.

I moved to California and took a few basic art classes out of what I finally realized as a need to be creative. One day one of my instructors in an intro to art class took me aside after one of my assignments and asked “you are an art major correct?” I told her “No, my focus was psychology and counseling.”

She commented that I, more than any one in her class, showed the most promise as an artist and that she hoped I would continue to be an artist. It scared me. It went against anything I believed about myself. I did not take further art classes for several years. I eventually took a life drawing class and it peaked my interest again in art.

I was looking for an art outlet and scrapbooking looked interesting, but I quickly found it was not for me. I did realize my interest was in paper. I was still searching. I found some online classes for art journaling with Mary Ann Moss. I took several from her and loved it.

I was looking for local Los Angeles art journaling classes and found Orly Avineri and her workshops. I devoured every class she took. One day, after a class, the owner of the shop where Orly was teaching asked me if I was an artist. I said “no”.

Orly bolted out of the back of the shop and took me aside. She looked me in the eye and said, “Brian you ARE an Artist, believe it!” I took personal classes with Orly and she pushed and prodded me to teach and share the techniques I was learning on my own.

Spread 188 - Sheep Herder

*What inspires you as an artist – what are your influences – the things that spark your desire to make art…?

What inspires me as an artist is varied. I enjoy living a creative life. I garden, I love to cook, and keep a vintage home. I try to do it all in an expressive, creative way. That tends to inspire me.

I get creative ideas doing the most mundane of things. I might see a metal door and it might spark an idea for a journal cover. I enjoy seeing graffiti in my travels in Los Angeles.

Some of my artist inspirations are Jean-Michel Basquiat, Robert Rauschenberg, Dan Eldon, Lyle Carbajal, Massimo Nota. The journals of Bob Fisher and Tracy V. Moore, Orly Avineri, Juliana Coles and Seth Apter. Also, the countless graffiti artists I find out and about in my travels.

What inspires me to do make art? Life! Once I start art journaling, it is something I just HAVE to do! It is a part of my life.

*What methods do you use to keep yourself fresh and inspired?  (ie.  “Artist dates” (what’s your ideal “artist date”, play dates with other artists, etc.)

I have do have frequent artist dates with friends. I recently went on a weekend long retreat with a dear friend up at another friend’s cabin in the mountains of Lake Arrowhead, California.

We made wonderful food, had some deep sharing, lots of laughter – we journaled and took a couple side trips. That is my perfect idea of an artist date. I also have several collaborations with friends which keep my on my toes. Those collaborations are winding down, so I want to focus on some other areas, which I will get into later.

191 - Lion Sleeps Tonight

*How do you balance your work life/family life/creative life?

I work 40 hours a week in the airline industry. Creating keeps me sane. I am very lucky in that I am off work usually at 1:30pm.  I have lots of free time for creating and down time before my partner returns home.

I really try to live a creative life. We have a vintage home we love and a beautiful garden that also inspires me. I love to cook and have friends over. We enjoy traveling, which I also find very inspiring.

*What drew you to teaching?

I started teaching at the urging of Orly Avineri. She saw my drive to help others and to share the techniques I was learning. What keeps me teaching is spreading the fun and the many introspective aspects of working in your journal.

*Why do you love it?

I love seeing folks that have never done art journaling, or think they are not “artists” blossom and create beautiful, meaningful spreads. This creates an excitement in them and a drive to go on and do it on their own. I love seeing that spark, and you can actually see the joy in their faces when they are so happy with their spreads and learn something about themselves.

Another aspect I love about teaching is you can teach a room full of 20-30 people and each and every one of their spreads will be completely different and will be meaningful to them.

 186 - No Demads

*What are your desires for your students?

I hope to impart in my students that they can do art journaling on their own, and to continue and grow and learn. My spreads mostly occur over time – fifteen, 30 minutes here and there – in a few days time you have a beautiful spread.

 *What’s next for you creatively?

I love art journaling and it will always be my first love, but I really have an urge to work on large canvas and translate what I do to larger canvases.

*Anything else you want readers to know about you?

I really would like folks to know that I started from a belief that I was in no way artistic. I worked hard, I did lots and lots of ugly spreads. I found my artistic self. I actually never have creative blocks. I constantly come up with ideas. Just having my journals around me and touching my paints, pens, paper inspires me.

Spread 134 - Grrrrr

* * *

See more of Brian’s fascinating art work on his blog:


You can also find him here:



twitter: @BKasstle

* * * 

Join Brian Kasstle, Roxanne Coble and me

live at the upcoming four day art journaling adventure,

The Creative Nomad.

Registration opens July 21!

Space is very limited.


(Stay informed by signing up for Dream Digger Studio

updates at the bottom right of any page on this website.)

Also, I’ve posted an interview with The Creative Nomad’s

second teacher, Roxanne Coble, here.



  1. Roxanne says:

    I loved reading your story Brian, and learning about your relationship with art overtime. I cannot wait to embark on this retreat with you! It’s going to be FABULOUS!

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