Different Strokes with Tim Brien of the Create Art Podcast


Are you a right-brain or left-brain kind of person?

This isn’t a question many people pause to think about daily, but as today’s guest points out, it is a big question when working with Veterans and how they are trained to think to survive while serving. 

Art has become a great tool that has allowed Veterans to tap into their right brain and establish new thinking patterns and relaxing methods. 

Tim Brien is an Army Veteran with a background in art, and he found his story, combined with his love of art, was the perfect marriage to create the Create Art Podcast.  It was the ideal medium to provide a safe place for people to heal without saying out loud they are hurting. 

"Go out there with an open heart, and open mind without any fear"

Key Topics:
  • Why was the Create Art Podcast started (1:11)
  • What is it about art that helps Veterans specifically (4:49)
  • How did Tim go from Theather and Art to starting a podcast (9:34)
  • Is a Podcast a form of art (13:10)
  • Starting a podcast focused on helping a cause (14:29)
  • What makes Wounded Warrior Project the charity he chooses (18:39)
  • What is the best advice for someone looking to start a podcast (21:51)
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Hi and welcome to Cause I’m your host, Mathew Passy Heracles Bonds, we have one simple mission to highlight the amazing folks who are using podcast as a way to raise awareness for good causes and make the world a better place, whether it’s in their own local community or their taking on global issues.

Please visit us at calls. Cosmos thought we can learn about our guests, show their favorite charitable cause. Join our Facebook group of resources for cause based podcasters and find a link where you yourself could be a guest here on Cosmos. Again, that’s all that cause pods dog.

All right, folks, taking me down to Virginia and I am very, very, very excited for our guest on the show today. He is the host and the creator of the Create Art podcast. He is what I would probably say is a dear friend of mine.

I have known him for a few years now. I enjoy his company. I love seeing him when we get to, you know, hang out together in person at podcasting events and podcasting conferences. And in full disclosure, I have done a little bit of work helping him with this project. So I am especially proud of the work that he is doing there. His name is Tim Bryan. Create our podcast.

Tim, how are you doing? Welcome to because spots doing real good today, doing real good today and enjoying the weather here down in good old Virginny.

I don’t know if it got better up by us.

It just went from fall to like quick winter. I know it’s not like staying this wave of men’s. Was it cold and nasty today?

But I’m originally from Chicago, so any time it’s in the, you know, the 40s or 50s in October, hey, I’m in shorts. I’m ready to grill.

Let’s go, kids. As I say, any time there’s double digits, you’re pretty comfortable, right? Oh, absolutely. Absolutely.

So take us back a little bit. Why did you start to create our podcast in the first place?

Well, I’m glad you asked me that.

The reason why I started that I was working for the Army at Fort Belvoir, which is about 40 minutes, maybe an hour north of me, working for the Army in Fort Belvoir, about 40 minutes north of here for the Warrior Transition Unit. And I had already had a podcast going on called Katie OAI chemos den of Iniquity, which, you know, doesn’t really say anything about art. But I was working with soldiers that were getting out of the Army through a medical discharge.

And I’ve got an art background anyways. I’ve got a master’s in theater education. One of the things that they do there is they do a lot of art therapy. And I was seeing all these all these soon to be veterans, you know, scribbling in notebooks, writing poetry, writing novels, making pottery, all that kind of good stuff. And they would bring it up to me because I was the art guy, plus some air force. So, you know, we had a nice rivalry there and they would bring it up to me and they’re like, yeah, Tim, this is crap.

But, you know, it helps me with my therapy. And I would remind I would let them know this is not bad stuff. That’s actually good stuff that should be in a gallery. And luckily, we had a couple of galleries nearby Fort Belvoir that were very veteran friendly and they were happy to show their works. My original intent for Katie. So I kind of morphed into Create Art podcast where I wanted to encourage people to get rid of that.

Why not get rid of the inner critic? I think we do need the inner critic, but to kind of tame that down, tap that down a little bit and let everybody know, hey, listen, you can create art and it can be shown in a gallery. You could make a living at it. Maybe it’s a side hustle. But I just wanted to be that voice of inspiration for people that may not have a art background, a art degree, and just let them know, hey, listen, you can do this.

There’s not a whole lot of magic behind it. And that’s how Create Art podcast came around. I wanted to simplify the name and I wanted to simplify my focus. And so Create Art Podcast was born from the ashes of one podcast into what we currently have here today.

It’s such an interesting cause, so many of the times we talk to folks on the show and it’s about a medical cause or some sort of, you know, social justice fight that they’re taking on.

But this is so unique because it is such a art can be such a powerful tool for people. Right. It can be a healing tool. It can be a discovery tool. It can be a growth tool. What was it for you that drew you to art in the first place? And what have been some of the the benefits you’ve seen of being able to share that gift with others in particular because of your background in the armed services?

And of course, thank you for your service and everything that you’re doing today. Right. Like how does it help that community specifically?

Well, when you’re in the military, you’re very one sided. You’re Bryan very logical side of your brain there, and that’s to enhance your chances for survival. So when you’re looking at art stuff, it’s really not enhancing your survival. I got out in 94 and I was an art guy anyways in high school. And when I got out in 94, I was an art guy as well.

But there weren’t a whole lot of programs for me at the time about, oh gosh, I want to say ten, maybe 12 years after I got out, Ninety-four got hooked up with my local VA in Chicago. I was doing it intake with them and they handed me a flyer for some veteran art group that was in Chicago.

I went ahead and. Picked up the flyer and I was like, OK, I’ll I’ll check it out. I really wasn’t interested in talking to the psychologist and the psychiatrist there at the VA. They don’t have a really good track record with me, other people. I’m sure they do. But with me, it’s not so much. Once I got into that community of veteran artists that was in Chicago, the light bulb kind of clicked for me. I had all this great theater background, all this great art background predated my military service.

But now I had other people that I could talk to and have that line of communication where it was OK to talk about art, talk about our feelings, talk about our experiences. Now, you know, keep in mind that from 94 to about 2008, I didn’t have that conversation with anybody. I went to schools. I went to southern Illinois, Carbondale, got my bachelor’s in theater and I went to Virginia Commonwealth University. That’s how I ended up in Virginia.

I got my masters in theater pedagogy there. And out of those two schools, I may have ran into three, maybe four veterans in our program, in our theater programs about 2008, 2009, when I got hooked up with the veteran art projects in Chicago. That was the first time that I was able to really express myself and not feel like somebody was going to point the finger and laugh at me or, you know, call me a wuss, because, you know, I may have cried over a memory that I had back in the military.

I had people around me that supported me and the art that I wanted to do in theater. We always talk about, you know, supporting collaboration and supporting and supporting each other. But it wasn’t until about 2008, 2009, where I actually felt that support and where I actually felt that collaboration helped me write a play called A Green Curtain to help me with a national novel writing month. That’s how I first heard about that. And I really exploded in my writing and in painting and in performance art.

So it tremendously helped me in my recovery. I’m seeing that we’re doing that with the military now. And when I started working for the Army, gosh, back in 2014, I saw them using a lot of those same artistic therapy techniques. I was happy to jump in feet first and join in as much as I could. Now, when I was working for the Army, I was helping folks get jobs, but I was reminding them that, hey, listen, we can get a job, we can get you a nice job, a nice job, a nice desk job.

But when that job is done with nine to five is done and when you are at home, why don’t we try some art and incorporate that in the therapy that you’re already getting and see where that takes us? Could be a side hustle. It could be just something for you, but at least give it a shot and, you know, incorporate that with your therapy and see if that helps you out. And for the most part, for my for my clients, for my veterans, for my soldiers, it really improved their recovery times and really set them up for success when they became veterans.

I love that.

You can point to not only in yourself the impacts of what you do, but in others you worked with and and sort of throwing this at them, even though it wasn’t really part of your job.


You you were just offering this up because it worked for you as a side consultation, let’s call it, and saw the benefits and continue to see it to this day. So you have a background in theater, right?

You have two different degrees in the theater realm. You’re doing this through your actual job. What made you and I know this started with your old podcast, but what made you start and stop and think I should do this as a podcast?

Why this medium for getting this message out there?

And what have you learned along the way? Well, it’s a very easy medium to produce with theater. You got to think about the lights. You’ve got to think about the actual space, the sound effects, the costumes, the whole rigmarole.

With a podcast, you get a microphone and you get a way to put it out there into the world. A lot of my soldiers, they couldn’t sleep at night. Some of them transferred to different bases across the country. So this is an easy way for them to pick up on the medium. It was very accessible to them. A lot of the folks that really took to it were my guys. So they already knew about podcasts and they didn’t see a whole lot out there in this realm of art therapy.

You know, in podcast world, there is some therapy stuff out there. There is some art stuff out there, and there’s stuff for veterans out there. But when you combine all three into one podcast and, you know, I have to say, I am not a therapist, nor do I play one on TV, but I play one on a podcast.

But when you combine all three of those aspects and they can just whip out their phone at any time, they can do it in the middle of the night when they can’t sleep, they can do it when they’re driving because they just want to get away from whatever issues that they’re having. It is so accessible to them and it is such a godsend to them to be able to to go ahead and do that for themselves, give themselves the therapy that they want, that they need whenever they want it.

They don’t have to wait on a Wednesday from, you know, 10 to 11 o’clock. They don’t have a 50 minute window that they got to play around with. They can have this any time they want to have it. And it’s there for them. And they know that, hey, Tim’s been in the military. Of course he’s been in the Air Force. So it’s military flight. We know this and that’s OK. We still have the best football team.

But that’s you know, that’s my job at the Army in the Navy.

They know that, you know, I’ve been there and I’ve done that and I’ve been successful at it. And, you know, my my day job is not as an artist, but.

The job that I love to do is sitting behind a microphone and doing what I do, I also, you know, looking behind me, you can see paintings, you can see books and the whole ten yards. I surround myself with art that I create and that other people create. And it helps me on my journey throughout this thing that we call life to be able to, you know, give that gift to other people. That’s what it’s all about.

You know, I never really thought about it, but as you were talking, you know, earlier, you said art is often especially for tough guy types. You know, in the military, it’s often frowned upon, looked down upon and so seeking out that help, seeking out that therapy could be compromising to some folks.

And so the fact that they could probably consume your content, not only in almost any situation, but also privately.


It’s very hard for someone to look on your phone and see that, you know, what you’re listening to, what you have earbuds in for all they know, you could be listening to music or whatever, but I imagine to it it affords people a little sense of privacy that they can absorb that kind of content, that they shouldn’t be proud of the content that they are listening to and that you’re putting out.

But understanding the culture that they’re living in, it might be, you know, might take some time for them to open up.

Do you consider or do you see a lot of podcasts as art? I know there are some fictionalized works out there and things like that.

But, you know, a lot of this just feels like marketing. Do you treat it and think of it as your art right now?

Yeah, I do treat it as my art. I really do. I’m not trying to monetize it. You know, every every podcast conference that we go to when they start to talk about monetizing it, I’m usually the guy in the back looking to go grab a cigarette or go into the bathroom and stuff like that. It’s not that I have anything against marketing. If people want to, you know, toss me a ton of money, hey, not a problem, but I’d say the Tim Bryan empty pocket fund is always open for everybody.

But for for me, I really consider it my art.

Podcasting is is a way for me to express myself that I can be in control of everything. I can be the director. I can be the actor, the sound designer.

There’s not too much lighting, design and podcasting, but I will find a way to put lighting, design and podcasting. I guarantee that next year you’re going to it’s going to be the rage lighting design for everybody.

So now for somebody else who and this is possibly even amongst the people who you are counseling and consulting and, you know, providing encouragement to what would be your advice to the person who needs an outlet, who needs a place to get the message out there or simply use this as a creative outlet. What’s your advice for folks looking to get into podcasting in particular for some sort of cause?

Your best thing to do is do a lot of research, ask a lot of questions, and don’t be afraid to ask the questions. Don’t be afraid to to be the newb in the group, OK? I’m the kind of guy that I’ll raise my hand a million times. I’ll ask the stupid questions. And I would also find a couple of mentors that can guide you through your podcast journey because it is a journey. I started podcasting back in 2006 with blog.

Talk Radio is my media host and I had no idea what I was doing.

I was just putting stuff out there because it sounded crazy and cool and all that kind of jazz don’t recommend that. But, you know, later on I discovered a meet up here in Fredericksburg in Virginia, where I met. I started a good friendship with a friend of ours, Mr. Kyle Bandele, and he was the one that made sure that I attended these podcasting conferences. And so if somebody is just starting out on their journey, get on the Facebook groups, ask the questions, try to research the question on the Facebook group first.

If you can’t find the answer, then ask the question. If anything, if I’m on that group, ping me. I’ll be happy to answer the question. Usually I answer questions with questions, though, because just saying, hey, what’s the best microphone? You know, I know Depends is not sponsoring the show, but that’s usually my answer. It depends on what kind of show that you’re doing. So if somebody was, you know, pinging me and asking me questions, I expect to get a lot of questions back because there’s not one way to do all this stuff.

And that’s the beauty of podcasting. There’s not one way you make your own individual path.

You get advice from people being influenced by other people, but it’s your own path and it’s your own journey, just like any cause that you have. If you want to share that cost with other people, it’s going to be your own journey. You’re going to be speaking from your heart, from your experience. And I’m one veteran. There are millions of other veterans out there. We all have our own unique stories. We all have our own path and how we got from where we were from basic training until today right here, be able to, you know, be able to share that path because that makes people that makes other people listening to it.

Feel a little less lonely, you know, you connect with the person behind the microphone by listening to their story and going, yeah, I get that, yeah, I live through that. And you did a stupid thing like that. I would never do that. I did, you know, this stupid thing. And that’s why I’m in the position that I’m in right now. So definitely go out there with an open heart, with an open mind and without any fear, because a lot of people in the podcasting world, I’ve run into one or two jerks, but the vast majority of the people that I’ve run into have been fantastic and been very giving.

And, you know, they’re good people to mentor. After my met, my initial mentor, Kyle Bandeau, there’s some things that I’m better than him and there’s some things that he’s better than me. And so it’s a constant not a competition between us, but it’s say, if I learn something, I give it right over to Kyle. If you learn something, he has it right on over to me and we go like that. So definitely be brave about it.

And that’s kind of what art is to going out there, putting your heart out in whatever work you’re doing and being brave about it. Only because I know he will probably listen to this and he’s a friend of ours, there’s probably not much that he’s better than uet, just a little bit.

So speaking of good causes, again, going back to your service call service as well, the charity that we were talking about today is the Wounded Warrior Project. I think most people know what this is all about. But for those who don’t tell us a little bit about Wounded Warrior, what it means to you and why this is, you know, a cause that we should be supporting with you.

Well, Wounded Warrior Project is mainly aimed at post 9/11 veterans. Now, myself, I was in 91 through 94, so I’m actually kind of excluded from it. Everyone I’ve talked to, everyone I’ve worked with, with the Wounded Warrior Project has pretty much said, hey, the rules are X, Y and Z. But here, come on over here.

We’ll give you a hint. What they do is they provide a lot of support to veterans, folks with PTSD, folks with amputations, all that kind of jazz. I’ve got one of my battle buddies right now out in California for a three week retreat.

Didn’t cost that person a dime, Wounded Warrior Project picked up the retreat, picked up the airfare to get them out and back here, they they’re getting a lot of intensive care that they need. When I found out about Wounded Warrior Project, when I started working for the Army back in 94 and there were one of our service partners that really took an interest in our soldiers who are becoming veterans because they know as soon as they they get the deed to 14, their discharge paper and become a veteran, then a lot of people kind of fall off and they feel like they’re on their own.

This service, this group, Wounded Warrior Project, provides them that cushion that helps them, they’re veterans, they understand when a veteran has gone through, civilians can kind of understand what veterans go through. But it’s helpful when you have another veteran there that you don’t have to worry about what you’re going to say if you’re going to scare that other person, if you’re going to insult out of the person. You know, when you speak to another veteran, you kind of have that shared, that shared background.

And you can speak more freely now with you. Man, I can tell you anything that I did in the military. And yeah, you probably roll your eyes some somewhat, but then you’d be like, yeah, no, I know he’s a good guy. He’s a good he would never do that. Really. He wouldn’t do that. Yeah, I would.

But anyhow but that takes a while to build that rapport with the civilian, with a veteran. That’s an instant rapport and sometimes that’s what somebody needs right away. Most people have heard about Wounded Warrior, everything that I’ve heard about is it’s a fantastic organization and they do an incredible job taking care of those who have volunteered and served our country honorably. And we want to thank them for what they’re doing.

And, of course, I want to thank you for everything that you have done in service of our country, both during your time in the military and then afterwards helping all these veterans who come to you and need advice for us in terms of their career and in terms of, you know, just getting back into the groove of life and by encouraging them with your art. So before we let you go, we always ask everybody if you had any kind of did this before, but I’ll put you on the spot and get one more from you.

But if you had one piece of advice, right, one thing that you would tell somebody who’s starting a podcast dedicated to their cause, what would be the one thing that you would make sure that they would do?

Ask for help? Don’t do it. Everything on your own. Ask for help. There’s a ton of people out there willing to help you. You have this podcast that is set up to promote that kind of stuff. All the conferences that I go to, everybody that I know that runs a conference that I personally know, that runs a conference, wants to help you out, be brave, ask for that hand, because you’re not going to know everything about podcasting.

There’s a lot of stuff about podcasting that I don’t know, but I make it a point to raise my hand and be that dumb guy in the classroom and go, hey, how do I connect this Xolair cable to this microphone?

Because somebody else may need to know how to do that and they’re too intimidated to say it, so I’ll say it, you know, if you’re afraid to ask somebody, ask me, because I’m you know, I am probably one of the most approachable people unless you actually see me and then you might be scared of me and go, oh, but now I’m a big teddy bear.

I really am. He’s also a twin dad, twin dad of girls.

So, you know, he knows how to take care of people that I know how to change your diapers.

I can smell poop from a mile away, that’s for sure.

Well, once again, it is the Create Art podcast. You can discover more ACRI, our podcast, Dotcom. We have a link to that. His Apple, Google, Spotify links this Facebook group, Twitter, Instagram handle’s, as well as a way to donate and support the Wounded Warrior Project on behalf of Tim in the show. Notes or cause pods dot org. Tim buddy friend, it has been a pleasure having you here because Bot’s thank you so much.

Thank you very much.

It’s, it’s great to see you, even though it’s, you know, for video screen is great to see your smiling face and thank you for what you do. And please, please continue to do what you do. We all, all of us that have a cause. Thank you very much for your generosity. So thank you. Thanks for listening to this episode.

Of course, iPods, if you’ve been inspired by the work of our guest, please check out the show notes of this episode in your podcasting app or at Coors Ponds dot org. There you will find links to their show, their website, their podcast, links on Apple, Google, Spotify, as well as a link to support the charity that they highlighted here. In this episode, you will also find a cause pods dot org. But where to subscribe to this show on your favourite podcasting app, how to sign up to be a guest on this show and a link to our Facebook group, which is going to have special resources just for the folks who are podcasting for a good cause.

And I can tell you right now, we’ve got one great deal from our friends, a pod page. But you’re only going to learn about it and get that special deal if you are a member of the Facebook group for cause bots. And before I go, I should say thank you in particular. The show is edited and produced by Ben Kilroy of the Military Veteran Dad’s podcast. And what a great job he has done. And all this is made possible because of the great support that I received from Shannon Rojas here at the podcast, consulted Dotcom once again.

If you want to learn more, go to College Sports Dog. Thank you so much. And we will see you next time on Cosmos.

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