Jon Key is an artist, designer, educator, and co-founder of the design studio MorcosKey. On this episode we revisit Jon's childhood, growing in Alabama where he found his passion for being creative. Jon was always looking for ways to combine his creativity and passion for theatre as he went through school and college at RISD. We go into detail about finding opportunities to create work that you really care about as well as starting his own design studio with his partners Wael Morcos.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:00:42] On this episode I am excited to welcome the designer, writer, educator, painter, and cofounder of MarcosKey, Jon Key.
Jon, thank you so much for joining me today.
Jon Key: [00:01:38] Thank you so much for having me.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:01:40] You know, we've talked a little bit as you welcomed me into your apartment and I'm really excited to have you as guests on season two. Your, your full name is Jonathan. And what I realized is that we spell it very similarly and it's J, O, N, which is not normal because it's usually J O H N.
Jon Key: [00:01:57] Right.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:01:57] Now is that because, um, for me it was because my dad is John. My mom didn't want me to be a Jon jr. is that similar for you or no?
Jon Key: [00:02:05] No, actually I know that my dad wanted to name his son Jonathan. Right? I think that's the story, but it was never with the H, it was always J, O, N, A, T, H, A, N, and so it was weird to me, actually.
When I found out that other people spelled Jon differently. What was like with a H, we don't need, we don't need an H or like with the O N at the end,
Jon Sorrentino: [00:02:30] Everyone always also asked me, cause it's just Jon for me. And they're always like, are you a Jonathan? Like, no, that is not on the, the, you know, the roster list for this class.
It's not spelled like that. Like I'm not hiding it from me or anything like that.
Jon Key: [00:02:41] Totally.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:02:41] Jon, you also have a twin brother, Jared.
Jon Key: [00:02:44] Yes.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:02:45] Um, and who's also happens to be in the creative industry, also artistic. You grew up in Alabama. Were you two always just naturally creative from the start?
Jon Key: [00:02:55] I mean, honestly, yeah.
I think, you know, we, uh, I guess like. My earliest memories is doing, playing the recorder in the first grade, you know, like everybody across America. I feel like, um, my mom was set up a crafts table for Jared and I was, we would make crafts, we had a family camcorder. So we would make home videos of us like, I don't know, doing whatever.
And then we did music and we did piano. And Jared played flute and Piccolo. I played saxophone and trumpet, and then we did theater and the theater camps and all of it. Um, so yeah, at a very early age, we like very much gravitated to like the arts, and expression in general. Yeah.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:03:34] What was it like growing up in Alabama?
And I mean, we're here in Bushwick now in New York. Uh, I imagine it's a pretty far drive. What was it like?
Jon Key: [00:03:43] Definitely didn't drive, um, yeah, no, I mean. Where I grew up was instill Alabama, which is a very small rural town. A lot of my family members lived around us. Yeah. And it was a small place, you know, like as a small town.
And I think, I dunno, very early age. I knew I wanted to move to New York, like in the fourth grade. I don't know why. Like, I don't know. Maybe the movies I knew I wanted to get out of. No, my current place, but I think about Alabama a lot, it really does still resonate with my work that I make now, and like interpreting, being away from home, but also caring, you know, Southern hospitality and the kind of traits and characteristics and traditions with me.
So it's still very, I'm still very connected to the South and all of my family's there.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:04:28] There, so you still go back to visit. Yeah, of course. When you know, when you're going through, say middle school, high school, were you more inclined to take more art classes or, you know, you mentioned you, you're also like doing very theatrical things with your brother when you were younger.
Jon Key: [00:04:42] Yeah. Um, yeah. Good question. So when I was. So when I was 10 years old is when my mom brought home this HTML book, and someone at her job was like, Oh, your sons are smart. Like they will love this. Like I'll pick it up.
Yeah, exactly. And so I did, I was like, what is this like, these are websites. It was the 90s so like the internet was, you know, still.
Coming to life and...
Jon Sorrentino: [00:05:09] There were tickets at the bottom of the websites for page views and things like that were so...
Jon Key: [00:05:12] Exactly, exactly. And so like, you know, it was basic HTML CSS, but I was building websites. I love the idea of taking like this visual, like this text language and turning it into something visual and they creating spaces that people can visit and then interact with.
So that was like, you know, middle school. And then when I was in high school, I definitely thought I was going to be a psychiatrist. I was like, I'm going to go to Georgetown. Be a psychiatrist and like kill it. But when my friend brought to school this, um, this, what do you call it? Perspectives, like for college, and it was for a SCAD, Savannah college art and design.
I was like, Oh, I want to see it. This is, so I was flipping through it. Then I get to this section that says graphic design, and then it has like posters and logos and websites, all of these things that I was just naturally curious about already doing and whatever. And I was like, Oh, I didn't even realize like.
You could do that. You know, that
Jon Sorrentino: [00:06:05] Those websites I was making seems to fit right into this category.
Jon Key: [00:06:08] Right? So basically after that I like dropped everything else and then started focusing on art. So all the art classes, like all of it.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:06:17] It's really funny cause I mean, I think for me it was like coloring books.
And you know, I like went into. Art as a painter or introduced art as a painter. For you, it was like building and coding websites and this already digital element of what is now like super normal today.
Jon Key: [00:06:35] Yeah. And I guess I also still painted them, you know, I still had like a painting practice and I did like, my APR thing in high school was all paintings and um, yeah.
So it's interesting like, how now digital is completely normal. And then it was weird and new and interesting.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:06:54] It's almost like a switch now. It's more familiar, you know? It's like almost like a readymade thing. It's like, Oh yeah. Digital like right apps and websites. It's like everyone goes on those things,
Jon Key: [00:07:04] Right? Yeah
Jon Sorrentino: [00:07:06] Exactly. Um, you mentioned SCAD, but. You ended up going to , RISD? So Rhode Island school of design, which is like fabled as like one of the higher end schools, right? Like you go to SVA, you think are on the East coast, at least you think of SVA, you think of Pratt, you think of RISD, these big powerhouse art organizations, and. Did you also have to participate in the bicycle part of the application?
Jon Key: [00:07:30] Yes.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:07:31] What did you draw? I just learned about this thing. I didn't even know it was a, I don't even a big deal.
Jon Key: [00:07:35] I don't even think they do that.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:07:36] I've heard they since discontinued it?
Jon Key: [00:07:38] Yes. So that was the RISD home test, it was like with a folded paper drawing and then there was like a one that you had to actually fold the paper and then there was a bike drawing.
And then my bike drawing was like me on a bicycle. Something with like my house in the background. I don't know. It was just like some drawing. I dunno.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:07:57] I had Carly on as a guest and she had mentioned that someone had drawn a bike and almost like Jesus was holding the bike, like someone got really into this test and went really far.
So it's kind of interesting to hear the, the spectrum of what the executions are, how they come to form in this bicycle test.
Jon Key: [00:08:15] Yeah. I never heard of that one, but I've seen some really cool. And so over over time,
Jon Sorrentino: [00:08:20] What did you go into RISD as? Did you can forward design specifically?
Jon Key: [00:08:23] Yeah. I think I applied as a graphic designer, but then when I got there, I feel like every RISD students like, Oh, I'm going to do illustration.
I'm going to be a painting, I'm going to do fashion, I'm going to do dah, dah, dah, dah, dah. And I ended up taking like painting classes and apparel classes and all of this stuff. But then I ended up doing graphic design. Um, anyway. I mean, it worked out for the best because you can kind of. You use all of those different skills, you know, throughout,
Jon Sorrentino: [00:08:46] you can apply them in different methods and execution.
You sort of find that design somehow, like channels, all of this like artistic ability into like usable instances.
Jon Key: [00:08:56] Yeah
Jon Sorrentino: [00:08:57] I think I always admired some of my classmates who were like really talented illustrators, but they're like, I'm gonna call myself a designer because it makes more sense to people.
There's always that awkward moment of introducing yourself as a designer or whatever it may be. What do you say to people that you're just meeting for the first time that aren't, that you kind of like have a notion that they're not in the creative industry?
Jon Key: [00:09:17] Oh, sure. If it's like, um, yeah, if I'm meeting someone, I might be like, Oh, like I'm Jon, I'm a graphic designer, artists, creative type person, you know, I like just throw it all in there.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:09:28] Give them a better, broader idea rather than just like one thing.
Jon Key: [00:09:31] Exactly. And then also I run a graphic design studio, but that also I find also can confuse people. They're like, I don't know what that means.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:09:38] Graphic design, are you making like signage, whatever.
And you're just like, yeah, I guess it could be.
Jon Key: [00:09:45] Yeah. Do you need me to do that?
Jon Sorrentino: [00:09:46] Um. So you're in RISD. And I noticed in your portfolio at the time that you were doing a lot of projects in theater, you know, you were doing like a lot of design projects for theater organizations around the community. How did those come about?
Jon Key: [00:10:00] So I think, you know, when I went to RISD I was still very much in love with theater and very much in love with like. This kind of multidisciplinary art practice and not necessarily just being like, I'm a graphic designer and just doing that and letting that be my thing. So I was, I mean that's, and I also think that's the best part about going to RISD that you do have access to Brown University.
And so my twin, actually Jared went to Brown university, and it was completely by accident that we ended up in school in Providence at the same time.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:10:27] I had written that down and I almost, I forgot to ask like. You guys didn't go to the same school. Was that like a breaking point, being your twin brother?
Was that a thing or am I just making that up?
Jon Key: [00:10:35] I mean, it wasn't a thing for us because we had very different interests when we were go, we were applying to undergrad, but I knew I wanted to go to RISD because I went to RISD pre-college. And like went to the SCAD thing before that. So I was like, I want to be in an art school environment.
I want to be surrounded by creatives and I want to be surrounded by people who are passionately interested in this without the kind of liberal arts distractions. However, what was, it was really great that Brown was there because I could take liberal arts classes at Brown that I was super interested in. I was an acapella at Brown and I musically conducted for two years and I produced theater at Brown and all of this stuff.
And I think similarly, I was always trying to find opportunities where I could use my graphic design practice and merge it with theater, merge it with the arts. So, you know, naturally being part of this theater environment, I was like, I want to make every poster for every play at Brown. I'm going to light design.
I'm going to take photography, headshots of all the actors, you know, out here hustling in college. Um, but also, you know. Just really making work that I actually cared about that were outside of my assignments that were just fun to, you know.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:11:45] You did. Uh, I, you know, I saw some of the posters for like Pygmalion and Marie Stewart.
Jon Key: [00:11:50] Wow. Yeah. How did you see these?
Jon Sorrentino: [00:11:52] I dig, and I think it's interesting to hear, you know, you obviously have a connection and even so much as when you were younger, being involved, um, doing like little home videos or whatever it may have been, and seeing that consistent string and sorta come through even through college.
It shows up in the work and you know, as a designer, I can look at it and be like, Oh, you know, that some of the thought was like, it's, it's theater, it's movement. It's, it's like emotion. And in the design there are elements of that as well.
Jon Key: [00:12:17] Absolutely.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:12:18] I don't remember, I didn't write down any times in terms of like when you graduate, but you eventually decide to kind of create this like community, this group called Codify Art.
Jon Key: [00:12:28] Right, yes. So Codify Art. So I graduated RISD in 2013 and so right before I graduated, a few friends at Brown university. Um, we decided to come together and produce a theater space. It actually kind of happened by accident where one of our friends who was an MFA student was like, I need help putting on my solo show.
And then ended up calling like all these people of color, all these queer people, all of our friends. And then we helped her put up her theater show and it was like, wow, like we did this by ourselves. Like it's really amazing. And then from that, we did an event at Brown called QTPOC and the up space, which is queer and trans people of color in the up space and up space was a like a student run theater space at Brown.
Basically we put on kind of like a musical cabaret type of night and it was super successful. It was super amazing, like every performance was completely packed. And again, I think that resonated with us that, you know, there is a need for us to make space for our community. There's a need for this type of work.
There's a need to. Um, to share these narratives. And we also can do it like we also have the skills to do it. So we moved to New York with all of us moved to New York, of course, of in 2013 basically the same thing happened. Like somebody needed us to help putting up a theater production in New York. And so Jared and Leandro both worked at the public theater.
Cat was working as a designer illustrator in New York. I was working at an illustrator in New York, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah. We all came together and gave to put up this
Jon Sorrentino: [00:14:03] Like the justice league or some kind
Jon Key: [00:14:05] yeah, I don't know. It's so, it was like. Very, I mean, and I think it's just because we will also just looking for opportunities.
Also looking for ways to expand our community, our network, meet new people. We just got to the city. Um, and then yeah, after that we realized it was like, Oh, this can be a thing. Like we can actually make work in New York city, we can help each other make work in New York city. We can invite other people to make work in New York city and like create some type of organization that can do that, which was the founding of Codify Art.
So Codify's kind of mission and purpose is to produce, curate, and showcase works by queer people of color, women of color, and trans people of color. And those are our main kind of audiences that we want to highlight and amplify. And so this looks like. You know, over the past four years, um, open Mike nights, networking events, mixers workshops for at high schools, or at the Whitney or doing gallery shows and spring break art fair and dah, dah, dah. I just goes on and on and on.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:15:04] It's like you find that there are these gaps and it's just like, what can we do to bridge that and then also kind of make the community stronger?
Jon Key: [00:15:12] Absolutely.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:15:12] Looking through some of the projects that the group has done, it's very interesting to see that.
You know, not only you, but a few of my guests are like looking to for these opportunities to build community. And I think now more than ever, as we get more digital, as we get more technology over time, it's like we're looking for those connections. And I think Codify is a great example of that, especially in the creative community here in New York.
Jon Key: [00:15:34] Thank you.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:15:35] Um, so you organize, Codify, you know, you mentioned you were working as a designer and illustrator over that time. You also freelanced at, you know, like a few brands like HBO, you freelance with the Grey group. What is your thinking as you're walking through this like landscape of being a freelance creative in New York?
You know, was it intentional, or are you just sort of like still trying to find out what you're interested in?
Jon Key: [00:15:56] So when I first moved to New York, kind of simultaneously as the Codify thing was slowly taking off. I first got an internship at Spot Co, which does all the Broadway theater advertisement as well, so it's like, you know, I've been trying for a couple of years to work there, and I was like, okay, well I might as well try to see if they'll give me this internship.
Even though I had just graduated, I didn't really want to internship, and it was super. Not great. Um, I was just like, you know, there was some like, shimmers of light and hope, and I was like, okay. Yeah, but, you know, the first day someone literally asked me, did I know how to use InDesign? and I had just graduated from RISD.
And I was like, I definitely do. Um, but anyways, so it was like, it was kinda crappy, but I learned a lot, and I was actually able to seek how do these large theater key arts come to life, which is a, which was a way more complicated process than I knew, you know, coming out of school and making my little theater posters for...
Jon Sorrentino: [00:16:56] It's not just a conversation with the person who needs it.
You're like, there's so many business meetings.
Jon Key: [00:17:00] Exactly. Exactly. And so I was there for like a very short time and then I quickly moved over to Grey and worked there for two years as an art director and designer. And that was really a great cause Tore was the chief creative officer of Grey. Really amazing, super smart and talented.
And that's where I began kind of freelancing outside of work because I love my job. I really liked the kind of clients I was working on sometimes. Um, because, you know, I was working with like Red Lobster and Olive Garden and like Robitussin, you know, and when I wanted to work on was the Whitney museum, which is what I eventually, you know, got to work on and worked on that for like a year.
But, uh. Yeah. So I, I was freelancing still cause I really wanted to still find clients that I wanted to do, do work that I actually could care about, like actually build my own personal portfolio that wasn't necessarily tied to a huge team of people. And so I was at grey for a couple of years. I left there, went to this startup called blink health and was a brand designer and help them build their brand off the ground.
And I really loved the idea of blink health, which was to make prescription drugs more affordable for families who don't have insurance. So that was super exciting. It was also a little bit crazy. And then, um, was still freelancing on my own outside of work. And then when I left blink health, I kind of just took all of my freelance work that I was doing and just made that my main focus.
And then sometimes I went in house to HBO or A&E or IDEO or a lot of different places, but it was still always kind of like doing my own work and then doing, you know, this like nine to five
Jon Sorrentino: [00:18:40] Pay bills kind of work. Was there anything specific, you had mentioned like the mission that was behind blink.
Is that something that you started to just want to focus more on and being able to create work that has more meaning than just advertising?
Jon Key: [00:18:52] Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. And I think. You know, that was one of the big reasons, and like the catalyst behind codify was we know we all kind of had these kind of corporate jobs when we moved to New York and it was really trying to make impact, right? Do things that we actually cared about. How can we actually create work that is not about money? You know, that's actually about impacting people.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:19:14] Culture. Yeah. Pushing the needle.
Jon Key: [00:19:16] Yeah, exactly. And I think a lot of, you know, the work that I cared about.
And still care about is an section of like arts and cultural stuff. Working for nonprofits, working for marginalized voices, working for the queer and trans community, working for people of color communities. Like those are things that I am very excited about and that inspires me and I learn from and get to make really amazing work for.
Um, and again, not like the only thing that we do, but still something that we want to prioritize and emphasize.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:19:45] You are now the partner at the studio MorcosKey. How did I just met Wael, how did you guys come into contact and and form the studio? I think as a designer, right? You have friends that you tend to overlap and work together and you're like, let's do this studio thing.
And then like sometimes it fizzes out whatever. You guys are, have been creating work for some time now. How did that come to fruition?
Jon Key: [00:20:09] Yes, so I met. Wael when I was at mystique, well, it was a grad student and I was undergrad and I was really having a hard time in my graphic design program and the undergrad program and not getting a lot of good feedback and not, not feeling very supported.
So then I met in a meeting Wael, this class that we were taking, and then we hit it off and I think. I really respected the work that he may. He was really interested in the work that I was making. I kind of expanded my network into this huge grad school space, which was really important for my work because I just got good feedback and interesting questions and people challenging me and people actually.
Giving a fuck. You know what I'm making?
Jon Sorrentino: [00:20:54] Like they make the questions that aren't just like beating you down, but it's like, you know, how can we give feedback in a way that makes you think about your decision? Because it may, may or may not have been the right one.
Jon Key: [00:21:04] Exactly. And I think that was really nice.
Like getting access to all of these classes so Wael and I were working a lot together. We moved to New York. Um, we both like got our corporate jobs, but also we're both freelance freelancing simultaneously. And then sometimes would freelance together and like help each other on our projects and yeah.
And then they just kept going and kept going and kept going. And then we both had, we both kind of left our last full time job at the same time and there was freelancing full time in New York. Then we got a project. Uh, for the Cooper Hewitt museum, that really solidified that we had to be a real studio.
We had to, it was time, and we had been talking about it for years and, and it always been a dream of mine to run my own studio. And it had always been a dream of Wael's as well. Yeah. So it just really. Worked out.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:21:53] I've written down a few projects, so feel free to, these are some of the more popular ones that stood out to me as, especially as a designer and loving typography.
So, um, you were able to work on things like the identity for Slay TV. You were able to do the, which now I know was a result of, of your work was the commercial typeface showcase on that website with all the cool like typeface and weight changes and stuff like that. And even more recently you were able to work on a project and be a part of a show for the artists KAWS, and it's really interesting to see the MorcosKey website, the portfolio, and see this very strong emphasis around typography and messaging.
And you had mentioned that you were struggling with that in school. Is that something that you've come to now appreciate and learn about.
Jon Key: [00:22:35] Like any designer, you know, you don't know anything. And then slowly over time you gain new skills and craft new skills and meet new people that teach you new things and can help you elevate your work.
You help them elevate their work. So yeah, absolutely. And I think, I think one of the things that we in general, like about typography is that it can do a lot of heavy lifting, you know, and it can be very specific and nuance and bespoke and really. I don't know, tap into the messaging that we're trying to share.
So like specifically with the Slay typography, you know why we love that is because we kind of imagined that typography working, as we'll say the word slay, how's it roll off of people's tongues. And then also thinking about like the community that is really speaking for, and it's like a very diverse community.
It's not a monolith. There are people in different shapes, sizes, beliefs, everything, personalities. And so how can. That logo type help express diversity in this. Yeah.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:23:33] I had mentioned that I came into your work specifically through your paintings and you know the series a, a man in the violet suit and I dug a little bit deeper because as a designer, to me, what I see is like a very simplified color palette. Geometric shapes, very simplistic way of portraying anatomy and things like that. So like as a designer, I pulled that out and I'm curious as to what are your thoughts, because we just talked about typography being something that you work with constantly and it's like now you've kind of departed away from something in another totally different area.
Jon Key: [00:24:07] Yeah, I think, you know, typography and image making go hand in hand, I think for like a logo for, you know. A typeface or something like that. Obviously the topography needs to be able to live alone, tell a story and be as clear and legible as possible or whatever the goal is. And I think with image making, part of it is still something that's a very, I dunno, clear tool to communicate an idea.
And I think, again, just like topography, there's so many different combinations and iterations and compositions and textures and things that helped tell that story. And so with the paintings. I originally started those paintings right after the post Orlando nightclub shooting. And really thinking about the spaces that queer people of color claim as safe and owned for themselves.
And relating that to my own personal narrative. And I guess even to backtrack a little bit further. When I was at RISD, I spent a lot of time writing my own personal narrative and really thinking about how does my identity reflect in the work that I make? Does it reflect in the work that I make? Should it reflect in the work that I make?
What kind of clients do I like? Do they need to reflect my community? What does it mean that I'm a southerner graphic designer? Does that matter? Does it mean that I'm a queer graphic designer. Does that matter? And so basically in these kind of four pillars of my identity, which were blackness, queerness, family, and is, were intersections that I thought defined who I was as a person.
And from those four intersections and pillars. I translated them into four colors, which then was the work that was the foundation for these paintings. So black is black and red is for family and green is for southerness. And violet is for queerness. And so, yes. And then the post Orlando nightclub shooting happened, and I think it was a very scary moment for queer people all across America and the world.
And yeah. Yeah. So I started thinking about my, my own personal experiences and this figure and this shape and these kinds of geometric spaces and kind of simplifying it down to color, composition, shape and form. You know, really just thinking about that and how do I communicate tension or anxiety or love through these very simplified elements
Jon Sorrentino: [00:26:25] In that way of limiting yourself through color and shape.
I always find that when you're not given any constraints, it can almost be a little bit tougher. Um, so giving yourself those kind of, those prompts or those briefs to work through. And then also, um, you had mentioned that like you were a painter, um, as you were a kid. It was interesting to hear that you started this sort of in RISD a little bit.
How do you find the balance now. You know, like as a designer, as a partner of a studio, I think like knowing that you have these kind of two passion projects, or what is your passion for design and then this passion, for like, it's something that I'm constantly battling with as well. It's like how do you find the balance?
Jon Key: [00:27:02] Yeah. I mean, I literally get this question every single day.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:27:07] It's like, where do you come up with more time? Yeah. I mean, do you have a time machine?
Jon Key: [00:27:10] I have a time machine. That is my trick. Um, no, I mean. Painting is really important for my design practice and my design practice is very important for my painting.
And I think that I learned things when I'm designing that I immediately think about my paintings and my painting practice, and I think. You know design I think a lot about, you know, structure, color, form. How do these scenes kind of fit together? And then with the painting is more like storytelling, feelings, narratives, and how does that, again, how does that show up in my design?
So I know that both of these processes are important for me to feel like the sane person. However, because I have both of them, it does you know, get a little bit chaotic. Um, how do I balance it? I don't know. I, to me, it really is some days, like I know that I'm looking at my schedule and I know that I really want to paint at least twice a week, so I know I'm going to go to studio Saturday and Sunday, so I'm already going to be working seven days anyways, which I still work on graphic design on the weekend too. But anyways, um, so yeah, I know I'm going to do that and then if I can make it to my studio more than that, that's awesome. And normally I try to make it another day or two, but that can depend on if I'm super slammed, like if I have presentations every other day that week, and I'm probably not gonna make it to my studio.
But if I'm getting ready for a show in like a couple of months and I really need to be in my studio, and then as I get closer through the show that it's more like I'm always in my painting studio, you know? Versus here working on graphic design, I dunno, it goes back. It's
Jon Sorrentino: [00:28:42] It's very much a priority that I feel a connection with your work ethic, right?
This idea that you prioritize these opportunities to express your ideas and work through some of those thoughts. On a personal level, like it can affect you with relationships and things like that. Right? Like, it's not just, I'm not the only one sitting here having experience with that. Right. Like you share that in some ways as well.
Jon Key: [00:29:04] Yeah. I mean, Wael's and I's biggest thing is finding work life balance, right? Like, we don't have it, it doesn't exist, but I think like, you know, we're running a graphic design studio. And it's only been around for two years. So, and I teach and I run an arts collective and Wael also has a community building nonprofit project that he does.
And. Yeah, it is a lot, but I think at the same time we're in New York, we get the opportunities to do things that most people don't get to do, and it is a hustle, you know, like it is a hustle, you hustle. And then I also find out through the paintings, through the design, through all of that, I might meet clients because I went to a gallery show for graphic design things.
I might be selling paintings because of clients through graphic design things. So I dunno, it goes back and forth, but we tried to make space for other things.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:29:57] At the end of the day, you just wouldn't have it any different though. Right. It's not. It's like, this is what I enjoy. And you know, I don't think, I can't picture myself doing something else.
Jon Key: [00:30:08] Yeah, no, absolutely not.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:30:10] So you had mentioned the studio's two years old. You're also an educator. You teach at Parsons Parsons, right?
Jon Key: [00:30:17] Well, I teach at Cooper Union. I was teaching at Parsons, um, for two years. But not this year. The last two years, um, I was teaching an advertising class and then I was teaching at Cooper Union in the spring, but now I'm teaching at Cooper Union for the whole year.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:30:35] That's something to, to look forward to, um, as a studio, as a partner of a studio, as a painter, you know, are there things that you are looking at, grow into as your career progresses as we go into potentially a new year as well?
Jon Key: [00:30:48] Yeah, I mean, one of the things that. We are trying to, I mean, one of our goals for 2020 especially for MorcosKey is to, you know, get a really nice, legit studio space and like hire our first like two full time employees.
Um, and I think those will be very large steps of, again, creating this work life balance, but also recognizing that we are growing and we are getting bigger and we do need help, we're growing. Um.And as a painter Um
Jon Sorrentino: [00:31:19] And as a painter is there are there things that you're also working forward
Jon Key: [00:31:23] Yeah I mean painting is happening so real It's so real which I mean I'm just like every time I get to have a show or sell paintings or get to go to my studio and pay I'm just like odd You know Like it's a blessing but also it's like still absolutely work. You know It takes I have to be there for hours and it's still a process but it's a blessing. See a painting is happening I'm actually going to be an Untitled in December Untitled art fair. I'm going to be in the Armory art fair in March with Laila Ali which is an amazing artist. I just had You know solo show in LA and a goose show in Hong Kong and all these things are happening which is super exciting. And I just moved into my own studio space you know for painting which is amazing So I'm excited about being able to devote more time to my painting practice and pushing when I'm making and figuring out new ways to tell and expand my stories. It's fun though.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:32:19] It's exciting to hear I'm I'm excited for you. Um Jon where can people find more of you and your work and MorcosKet as well.
Jon Key: [00:32:26] Yeah so you can find MorcosKey online MorcosKet.com or at our Instagram and Facebook or Twitter which is @MorcosKey. And then all of my kind of art practice work can be found at jonkeyart.co and my Instagram which is J K E Y 1 3
Jon Sorrentino: [00:32:50] Jon thank you so much for joining me today