Dustin Yellin on Making Art, Weaving Madness, and Forging Your Own Path (#467)

Illustration via 99designs

“I don’t worry about inspiration as much as system overload.”

— Dustin Yellin

Dustin Yellin (@dustinyellin) is an artist who lives in Brooklyn, New York, and is the founder and director of Pioneer Works, a multidisciplinary cultural center in Red Hook, Brooklyn, that builds community through the arts and sciences to create an open and inspired world. He and his incredible work have been featured by media and organizations including the New York Times, Artforum, Vanity Fair, and TED.

Drawing on both modernism and the sacred tradition of Hinterglas painting, Yellin primarily works through a unique form of three-dimensional photomontage, in which paint and images clipped from various print media are embedded within laminated glass sheets to form grand pictographic allegories, which Dustin calls “frozen cinema.” These totemic and kaleidoscopic works often plumb the history and fate of human consciousness within the Anthropocene.

Dustin’s art has been exhibited at or with the Amorepacific Museum, Brooklyn Museum, City Museum, Colección Solo, Corning Museum of Glass, The Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Museo Del Palacio de Bellas Artes, SCAD Museum of Art, Tacoma Museum, and Creative Time, among many others. He holds an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from the Savannah College of Art and Design.

Please enjoy!

P.S. See the slideshow below for some of his incredible work. All images are courtesy of the artist and are shared with permission.

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, Stitcher, Castbox, Google Podcasts, or on your favorite podcast platform.

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The transcript for this episode can be found here. Transcripts of all episodes can be found here.

#467: Dustin Yellin on Making Art, Weaving Madness, and Forging Your Own Path

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What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.


Want to hear an episode with another artist/explorer who also believes in collaboration over competition? Be sure to listen to my conversation with David Yarrow in which we discuss breaching great white sharks, being spat on by John McEnroe, FIGJAM, ghost towns, capturing Diego Maradona in his element, and much more.

#443: David Yarrow on Art, Markets, Business, and Combining It All


  • Connect with Dustin Yellin:

Website | Pioneer Works | Instagram


  • Why did self-described late-bloomer Dustin go hitchhiking around New Zealand, Australia, and Thailand after dropping out of high school, and what did it expose him to for the first time in his life? [07:52]
  • Where did Dustin get his entrepreneurial hustle? [10:59]
  • Who was the mad physicist Dustin met upon returning to Colorado from his travels abroad, and what did he learn from him? [13:13]
  • How did Dustin start creating his own art, and what has he gotten from the process? In what ways do science and art connect for him? [16:40]
  • How did Dustin’s Altered States-adjacent experiences in Colorado lead him to New York City, and how did he make ends meet once there? [18:50]
  • How Dustin’s natural hustle inspired marketing his art like “a plague” to turn it into a viable source of income over time. [21:48]
  • On The Crack-Up and Dustin’s need to rescue Zelda Fitzgerald. [24:10]
  • Was Dustin’s Crack-Up-documented psychotic break precipitated by something specific, and has he ever gone so far to the shore of chaos and psychosis that he’s scared himself? [30:58]
  • In Dustin’s estimation, what makes a good storyteller, and who does he consider to be outstanding in this field? [35:50]
  • Has Dustin found anything outside of hallucinogens to widen his mind’s aperture to perceiving more of the hidden world? [38:16]
  • How has Dustin been lucky enough to not only survive, but thrive while tapping into the sometimes life-threatening currents of chaos? [40:25]
  • What are the creative benefits of working from an anti-competitive angle, and what does this look like in the real world? [42:00]
  • Why doesn’t Dustin worry about finding inspiration — and what does he feel is a more valid concern? [46:15]
  • How does Dustin alleviate the effects of system overload? [49:22]
  • Dustin is a film buff. Here are some of his top recommendations. [50:40]
  • What is Pioneer Works, and how has it evolved over time to become what it is today? [52:54]
  • How did Dustin secure the massive funding needed to grow Pioneer Works beyond its “original shithole” beginnings? [57:27]
  • Dustin is a manic artist, but is he also a manic business manager? Maybe the secret is in thinking of Pioneer Works as a piece of art. [1:01:05]
  • What keeps Dustin tethered to the aim of progress — especially when he’s feeling a bit overwhelmed? [1:03:46]
  • How did Dustin make the transition from being an artist who would give away his art for “exposure” to an artist who can sell his art for enough to take everyone he knows to Sizzler thousands of times over? [1:05:56]
  • The three questions Dustin asks himself about any new piece of art he creates. [1:08:01]
  • What are psychogeographies, and what styles and trials led to their creation? [1:09:06]
  • What are some of the common mistakes Dustin sees aspiring artists making? [1:17:52]
  • What would Dustin do if he found himself and his studio suddenly bankrupt? [1:20:04]
  • Dustin describes his newest, almost-bankrupting creation: The Politics Of Eternity. [1:20:52]
  • Exploring how the death of one of Dustin’s mentors affected the course of his life, and what we might gain by examining our own thoughts on death. [1:23:18]
  • A question on the lighter side: how did Dustin end up dancing in a Jay-Z video? [1:27:28]
  • What would Dustin’s billboard say? [1:28:31]
  • What’s Dustin’s current project — involving a supertanker — about? [1:30:11]
  • What does Dustin see as the value in making a daily effort to wake up with a mental blank slate? Does he find it intimidating, overwhelming, invigorating, or something else? [1:32:54]
  • Parting thoughts. [1:35:29]


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3 Replies to “Dustin Yellin on Making Art, Weaving Madness, and Forging Your Own Path (#467)”

  1. Thank you, Tim. You’ve spent time making knives, literally with your irons in the fire. So you know that handcrafting art is great therapy. I’m curious what your fans took away from this episode. It’s so incredibly difficult for people to understand the value of art through the internet, unless they see money attached to it, like Jeff Koons’ record breaking $91M sculpture sale that ripped through headlines last year. But for your fans to truly understand the value of handcrafting themselves, making art and experiencing masterfully designed objects that give you a “WOW!” that you can feel in your gut…FROM one of your podcast interviews or blog posts–I’m wondering what that might look like.