Archive for the ‘Interviews’ Category

Justin Owings, Ron Paul supporter, fitness enthusiast, and graphic designer

Friday, August 14th, 2009

Justin Owings

Justin Owings, Volunteer with Myelin Repair Foundation

>What causes do you care most deeply about?

Generally, I want people (myself included!) to have fulfilling, healthy, and free lives. That may sound a bit peace-on-earth-y, but it’s hard for me to imagine a better world than one inhabited by happy, fit, and autonomous human beings. What I like about my “cause” is that it is one that is inherently decentralized, has no single solution, and can be furthered over a cup of coffee. At it’s core, the idea is about getting in touch with what it means to be human. But that’s another discussion.
>What ignited your interest in multiple sclerosis research? Do you have
any family or friend connections that have MS?
My interest in multiple sclerosis first emerged after having a mentor in college who was dealing with MS. That interest has increased as I’ve learned more about health and nutrition. I’ve also become more interested the more I’ve learned about myelin as I’ve been trying to come up with clever designs for the Myelin Repair Foundation! One thing I particularly like about the MRF’s mission is that it is incorproating a collaborative effort to break down information silos to speed up research. I see this as a very 21st century, decentralized, nerdy solution to the problem over over-specialization and “information hording” that tends to produce a great deal of unnecessary stagnation.
>What is your day job when you aren’t volunteering to create cool
graphics for nonprofits or for the causes you believe in? Do you
consider that your passion/life’s mission?
By day I manage a few financial media websites all involved with the ongoing economic calamity that began in late 2006. These sites are collectively branded with the “Implode-o-meter” logo. I wouldn’t consider dispersing information on the latest imploded banks, hedge funds, home builders, and lenders a life mission, but it’s been the most interesting and fun job I’ve ever had. It’s also enabled me to learn more about both entrepreneurship and the Internet.
>What is most rewarding about what you are doing in your life?
As bizarre as it may seem, the most rewarding work in my life right now (completely ignoring the fact that I’m about to be a dad) is spreading the word about the coolest footwear invented since … ever: Vibram fivefingers. I do this via a fan site called birthdayshoes.com. The great part about this pet project (A pro bono labor of love at this point!) is that it, in a roundabout way, gets people in touch with their humanity through their feet. The realization that you can run and play outside barefoot as an adult — it’s a freeing experience. And it opens the door to other revelations about health and movement, which gets back to my original overarching goal of healthier and happier individuals.
>As a younger version of yourself (child - teenage years) were you
interested in “creating” or “doing”? Anecdotes?
I was always into art as a kid. I think the first t-shirt I designed was in fourth grade, but I was doing various forms of “art” before that. I’ve lost track, but I’ve designed a number of tshirts for organizations ranging from schools to churches to emerging institutes working to create new frontiers (i.e. the Seasteading Institute!). And of course, I’m into creating websites. My first website was on AOL back around 1995. It was not-so-creatively titled “The Owings Brothers Page,” and was adorned with probably ten links and a handful of animated GIFs. Thankfully, that page wasn’t archived publicly. It was atrocious.
>What are some of your most influential books or thinkers? And why?
Recently, I’ve been stuck on the ideas put forth by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of The Black Swan (and Fooled by Randomness). I’m fascinated by how humans have a tendency to want to oversimplify, centralize, and control things that are incredibly complex and dynamic. Taleb is the poster child of this idea.
I also have been influenced heavily by David Friedman through both his blog, Ideas, and his books Law’s Order and The Machinery of Freedom.
Though I do not consider myself an Objectivist, I confess to being first snapped awake by Ayn Rand’s works (The Fountainhead being the pivotal read for me). Rand was the first author to frame human beings as autonomous individuals.
Other books I’ve read lately that were particularly enlightening: Good Calories Bad Calories by Gary Taube, Stumbling on Happiness by Dan Gilbert, and Christopher McDougall’s Born to Run.
I could go on and on here so I better just stop.
>What advice can you give to artists that are looking for an outlet for
their creativity?
Keep trying different things until you find stuff that works. But once you’ve mastered what works, try something else (you don’t want to get into a rut!). Also, if you’re struggling with being creative, I always find it helps to have a few parameters that constrain my creativity. It’s strange, but placing limits on what I can create tends to focus my attention.
Finally, it helps to have a goal or purpose behind your art. Are you trying to push an idea? Present an emotion? Capture a perspective? Or maybe you’re just trying to make people laugh. Art for art’s sake can be interesting and even fun but don’t expect people to care about it.

Justin Owings found me on Twitter due to our shared interest and passion in Vibram Five Finger Shoes and paleo/evolutionary fitness. We ended up chatting more and found more mutual interests — he was involved in the Ron Paul campaign in Georgia and helped design very cool t-shirts to help spread the word and interested in seasteading. He also manages financial media websites that are helping to spread the message on the real reasons for the economic crisis and housing bubble.

Justin is also a very forward-thinking and creative guy and, I think, will be a future player in the movement. Below is my interview with him.

Q: Justin, what causes do you care most deeply about?

Generally, I want people (myself included!) to have fulfilling, healthy, and free lives. That may sound a bit peace-on-earth-y, but it’s hard for me to imagine a better world than one inhabited by happy, fit, and autonomous human beings. What I like about my “cause” is that it is one that is inherently decentralized, has no single solution, and can be furthered over a cup of coffee. At it’s core, the idea is about getting in touch with what it means to be human. But that’s another discussion.

Q: What is your day job when you aren’t volunteering to create cool graphics for nonprofits or for the causes you believe in? Do you consider that your passion/life’s mission?

By day I manage a few financial media websites all involved with the ongoing economic calamity that began in late 2006. These sites are collectively branded with the “Implode-o-meter” logo. I wouldn’t consider dispersing information on the latest imploded banks, hedge funds, home builders, and lenders a life mission, but it’s been the most interesting and fun job I’ve ever had. It’s also enabled me to learn more about both entrepreneurship and the Internet.

Q: What is most rewarding about what you are doing in your life?

As bizarre as it may seem, the most rewarding work in my life right now (completely ignoring the fact that I’m about to be a dad) is spreading the word about the coolest footwear invented since … ever: Vibram fivefingers. I do this via a fan site called birthdayshoes.com. The great part about this pet project (A pro bono labor of love at this point!) is that it, in a roundabout way, gets people in touch with their humanity through their feet. The realization that you can run and play outside barefoot as an adult — it’s a freeing experience. And it opens the door to other revelations about health and movement, which gets back to my original overarching goal of healthier and happier individuals.

Q: As a younger version of yourself (child - teenage years) were you interested in “creating” or “doing”? Anecdotes?

I was always into art as a kid. I think the first t-shirt I designed was in fourth grade, but I was doing various forms of “art” before that. I’ve lost track, but I’ve designed a number of tshirts for organizations ranging from schools to churches to emerging institutes working to create new frontiers (i.e. the Seasteading Institute!). And of course, I’m into creating websites. My first website was on AOL back around 1995. It was not-so-creatively titled “The Owings Brothers Page,” and was adorned with probably ten links and a handful of animated GIFs. Thankfully, that page wasn’t archived publicly. It was atrocious.

Q: What are some of your most influential books or thinkers? And why?

Recently, I’ve been stuck on the ideas put forth by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of The Black Swan (and Fooled by Randomness). I’m fascinated by how humans have a tendency to want to oversimplify, centralize, and control things that are incredibly complex and dynamic. Taleb is the poster child of this idea.

I also have been influenced heavily by David Friedman through both his blog, Ideas, and his books Law’s Order and The Machinery of Freedom.

Though I do not consider myself an Objectivist, I confess to being first snapped awake by Ayn Rand’s works (The Fountainhead being the pivotal read for me). Rand was the first author to frame human beings as autonomous individuals.

Other books I’ve read lately that were particularly enlightening: Good Calories Bad Calories by Gary Taube, Stumbling on Happiness by Dan Gilbert, and Christopher McDougall’s Born to Run.

Q: What advice can you give to artists that are looking for an outlet for their creativity?

Keep trying different things until you find stuff that works. But once you’ve mastered what works, try something else (you don’t want to get into a rut!). Also, if you’re struggling with being creative, I always find it helps to have a few parameters that constrain my creativity. It’s strange, but placing limits on what I can create tends to focus my attention.

Finally, it helps to have a goal or purpose behind your art. Are you trying to push an idea? Present an emotion? Capture a perspective? Or maybe you’re just trying to make people laugh. Art for art’s sake can be interesting and even fun but don’t expect people to care about it.

Check out his website at www.justinowings.com and follow him on Twitter @justinNO

Note: He and his wife just completed their “Project Aminowings” and just had their first baby — a girl!  Justin pictured with li’l Aviana, a future liberty-lover.

And out of curiosity, are there any other movement people out there with Vibram Five Fingers? If so, give a shout-out in the comment section.

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Freedom Watch on Tax Day

Thursday, April 16th, 2009

Recarving Rushmore

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009

Ron Paul interviews Ivan Eland:

Interview Podcast

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2008

For those interested, you can listen to the podcast of my interview this morning with Kurt Wallace.

Use this link to listen to it in your browser, or click here to download the entire mp3.

Interview, 9am Wednesday

Tuesday, July 1st, 2008

Tomorrow morning, I’ll be interviewed on Kurt Wallace’s Wake Up America morning show on BreakTheMatrix.com.  I’ll be talking a little bit about Kent’s recent passing, the role that he played within the campaign, as well as my vision for how I believe Campaign for Liberty should unfold.

You won’t want to miss it :)  Tune in here at 9am tomorrow.