Alumnus Ryan Meeks produces The Path of Art podcast to inspire

November 22 2022

KSL’s “The Path of Art” podcast aims to share the insight of creative people in hopes of inspiring those on a similar path.

As they write in their show description: “The journey to creative success can be different for each artist, but the lessons learned along the way are often similar and act as road signs for those who follow.”

The podcast is the brainchild of Ryan Meeks, alumnus of the University of Utah Department of Film & Media Arts, who also hosts the show. 

Meeks has plenty of hands-on experience with the twists and turns of a creative path. It is precisely his own journey, and his genuine desire to help others like him, that inspired him to pitch the concept for “The Path of Art” to the network. 

“I wanted to talk with those people that are seeing creative success and ask them how it happened,” he said. “I wanted to help show people that are starting out that it works.”

Headshot 1

During his undergraduate studies, Meeks was most drawn to animation. “I've always had this nagging feeling that I wouldn’t do well in corporate environments. Animation was something creative that could work with my personality inside a corporate environment,” he explained. When working through his senior year in the EAE program, he thought he might pursue full time work at a giant company like Pixar. 

As is quite common, plans changed. After also taking some Painting and Drawing courses in the Department of Art & Art History after graduation, Meeks ended up with a job as a graphic designer for Discover Financial Services, where his diverse skill set in video editing and design skills allowed him to contribute broadly to the company’s content. 

After a while, he left to pursue design full-time as a freelancer. 

“You start freelancing and you realize you don’t know how to run a business,” he explained. “The people I knew who were succeeding were not necessarily doing great because of their work, but because they knew how to be smart in business.” It was a tough stretch for Meeks and anything but a straightforward career path. 

His next move was a role as a digital content producer at KSL News Radio. At first he was part-time, until the idea for The Path of Art emerged, and sparked a new passion.

“I wanted to talk with those people that are seeing creative success and ask them how it happened,” he said. “I wanted to help show people that are starting out that it works.”

Sidelining the age-old story that no one makes any money in the arts, Meeks chooses instead to focus on what is possible. 

“I talk with creative people about how they are making it in an industry that most people are told not to go into. I have found that a lot of the time, unfortunately that’s the case. But there is a way to make a living – and it’s a good living.” 

From award winning composer Kurt Bestor, to UMFA curator Alisa McCusker, artist and founder Victoria Wynn, to songwriter Peter Breinholt –– Meeks speaks with guests who run the gamut of arts disciplines and experience levels in The Path of Art’s first season, containing 14 episodes. 

As host, he is learning along with his listeners. In fact, some of the advice he has recorded on the show has already drastically affected his own life. For example, an interview with voice actor Paul Cartwright really struck a chord with him.

“He said, ‘if you can take your fear and channel it into excitement, everything changes,’ Meeks recalled. “About a month later, I was working on a project and nothing was working. My mind started to spiral into depression. But I stopped it, because that advice came to me. I thought, ‘I need to be excited. How am I going to make this work?’ Within a few hours, I had a few ideas. I had somewhere to go.” 

Looking back, he feels like that moment taught him that visualizing victory actually can help reveal the path.

“I realized that in the face of failure, I had been running. Now I don’t run anymore. It’s very cool when the thing you are producing for other people actually helps you,” Meeks said. 

The Path of Art might be just the ticket for an emerging artist who needs a little boost.

“I just want to help other people see that they're not going toward a dead end. I want them to see the victory on the other end of their work –– by seeing other people's victories,” Meeks said.

You can find The Path of Art on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. Follow the show on instagram at @the_path_of_art_podcast.