Welcome to the Colourful, Surreal World of Theo Morrow

Welcome to the Colourful, Surreal World of Theo Morrow

Written by Claire Nyles Suer

Topics: Genrebend

Hey Puttylike reader,

As you know, there’s a lot going on in the world right now. We’ve decided to bring you some #BrightThings to help. This series will include things like art, poetry, interesting wormholes, and all number of fabulous distractions to think about and explore. We want to help jumpstart your multipotentialite curiosity—and hopefully bring you a little joy during these difficult times.

This week I’ve got a real treat for you. Come with me to the colourful, surreal world of Theo Morrow, artist and multipotentialite!

Theo Morrow in front of his 2020 Morrowland Spring Collection

Theo is a painter and graphic designer who runs run Morrowland, a creative studio and ever-changing art brand. As a multipotentialite, of course he’s got many other aspirations, including writing a book, producing short films, creating installation art, and collaborating with architects to create architectural interventions.

Theo describes his art as psychedelic, dreamy, and almost always colorful. His work blurs the lines between the physical and digital, and builds on “techniques and modalities in dialogue with one another.”

Psychedelic Topographies – 2019 acrylic on canvas 24″x48″

The Chapel of Grieving – an in-progress design for a secular chapel that uses color, light, and space to create areas for people to experience the 5 stages of grief

Illustration from Theo’s future book “The Void on West Kai”

Theo’s Journey: Creating Whole Worlds

Theo grew up in a suburb in Ohio, creating whole worlds for himself throughout his childhood: “Whether it was through drawing, painting, playing piano, building legos, or making videos, I thrived in any framework that offered creative autonomy.”

From there, Theo chose architecture as his major in college, hoping to find a balance between creativity and logic. The multifaceted program he enrolled in at the Knowlton School at Ohio State University taught him a lot, including the ability to ideate in three-dimensional space, something that he says completely changed his approach to every art form.

After graduation, Theo knew a traditional career in architecture wasn’t the right fit, and he started to freelance while creating art on the side. But this led to challenges I know are familiar to many of us:

What I thought would be a great period of creative freedom, instead led me into a deep state of analysis paralysis. I had ideas for comics, tv shows, paintings, animations, apparel, books, brochures, music, installations, buildings, even an intentionally awful stand up comedy routine. I felt like I was being crushed under the weight of my ideas, that I wouldn’t be able to realize any of it, and rather than create, I just froze.”

But Theo didn’t stay blocked for long. He began to experiment on his informal Instagram page: “After making more and more, I slowly broke out of my creative stagnation, worrying less about realizing all of my ideas and focusing instead on creating as much as possible.”

The 2020 Morrowland Spring Collection

Theo started to structure this generative practice into seasonal collections of work (he not only creates the work itself but also the marketing for each collection’s release). His first full collection was released on March 19th: 35 small paintings in 9 separate mini series.

Space Bouquet Pink – 6″x8″ acrylic on canvas, part of the 2020 Morrowland Spring Collection

“Starry Night” mini series catalog from the 2020 Morrowland Spring Collection 

Future Collections

Theo’s vision for future collections is as broad as you might imagine from this world-building, multi-talented multipod. He wants to use a more diverse range of mediums, and perhaps add a print shop or even apparel store to the Morrowland brand.

He describes the flexibility of his continually-creating, collection-based strategy:

“With time, I hope the collections can grow in size, include collaborators, and snowball into my greatest creative visions. Morrowland is an experiment in constant change, and while not everything is perfectly polished, each new day brings with it greater clarity and execution. There is so much I hope to accomplish, and even with the wild uncertainty of the future, I can’t help but feel overwhelmed with a sense of excitement and potential.”

Right now, Theo’s working on his summer collection. When I ask about inspiration, he cites “Art Nouveau illustration, brutalist architecture, Georgia O’Keeffe’s landscape paintings, and every single thing James Turrell has ever done.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m inspired by Theo’s creative discipline and his approach to big visions. I want to think about how to build “collection-like” projects, and how to focus less on analysis and more on just making stuff.

#BrightThings

When I asked Theo what else he’d like to share for this #BrightThings feature, he dropped some more wisdom:

“For me, staying in a “bright” state of mind isn’t about making happy things (although that is quite nice), but rather giving myself permission to create anything I like, and accepting it however it turns out—knowing that with enough time and hard work, it will inevitably get better.”

Illustration from the book “A Walk Through Grandview” a celebration/ guidebook of the Grandview community in Columbus, OH. Commissioned by the TriVillage Mentor League

Album Cover design for the song “Ashes” by Soft Shelter

A recent, unnamed work from my ongoing series “Impossible Landscapes” – 2019 acrylic on canvas 18″x24″

You can follow and connect with Theo through his Instagram @morrowland_, and through his shiny new website: Theo-Morrow.com.

Your Turn

What are you creating these days? Has Theo’s work inspired you? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Claire NylesClaire Nyles Suer (she/they) is an editor, writer, designer, and community builder. They work with systems management at a university library, and are working on their first novel (which includes a queering of the Rapunzel fairytale, and lots of character angst over choosing a career). Claire Nyles also likes hiking, facilitating workshops, working with youth, designing logos, and playing the ukulele. They’re all about empowering people by helping them communicate and connect – to ideas and to other folks.

2 Comments

  1. Marcie Groesbeck says:

    Theo – Your art is beautiful and inspirational, just what us socially isolated citizens need right now!

  2. Joni Libertin says:

    WOW! Love all of his colors and his Instagram is awesome!!! So cool! I can hardly wait to see what Theo does in the future! Thanks for featuring him. Love hearing about this talent.

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