Jesse Paul Warren
A Designer*
Jesse Paul Warren
A Designer*
Everything we make with love
Everything we make with love
Everything we make with love
and share with the world
and share with the world
and share with the world
puts weight on the scale of the universe,
puts weight on the scale of the universe,
puts weight on the scale of the universe,
bending it toward more love.
bending it toward more love.
bending it toward more love.
Sometimes this happens
Sometimes this happens
Sometimes this happens
in ways we can comprehend,
in ways we can comprehend,
in ways we can comprehend,
but the greatest impact always happens
but the greatest impact always happens
but the greatest impact always happens
in ways we cannot.
in ways we cannot.
in ways we cannot.

Assemble is a tool that helps anyone understand how a citizens' assembly works, envision how it could impact their community, and finally advocate to make one a reality.

It reflects my belief in change by design: the idea that it is possible to reshape society through well-designed tools and systems that change people's behavior in ways that are inspiring, creative, and engaging.

The failures of our democracy today — polarization, gridlock, and short-term thinking — are the result of flaws in its centuries-old design.

Democracy Creative is a nonprofit organization working to more deeply understand these problems and design solutions for them.

I never bought an NFT before this project, and I haven't bought one since.

But any chance you have to create something — whether it's a skyscraper or a set of pixelated cat NFTs — is a platform to bring a dose of love and truth into the world, knowing that it will ripple out in ways you may never fully comprehend. I try to do that with everything I do, because otherwise I feel like I'm wasting my life.

These were 60 small wooden panels that I painted together as one piece, then broke apart and sent individually to family, friends, and acquaintances for the holidays.

Expressing love like this was not all that comfortable for me. It was a personal challenge but I knew it was the right thing. Life is series of moments where we can either give in to our fears, or do something great despite them. I don't always take the better path, but I try. And the small wins, like this, add up.

In 2020, I ran for State Representative, and IT IS POSSIBLE was the theme.

The creative work of the campaign was interesting, and I'm proud of it. But the most interesting thing is that I lost. And it taught me, more viscerally than ever, the importance of failing early and often.

Some people hold on to unfollowed dreams until the day they die: running for office, starting a business, opening a restaurant, traveling the world. The tragedy is not that you might succeed if you try, or that you have to live with the regret of not trying. It's that if you give it a shot, whether you succeed or fail, the space in your mind where you kept that old dream is freed up to be filled by a new one. That's the only way to evolve.

So try the things you think about trying. It's the only way to get somewhere.

This is a booklet I made to help gain support for the organization I was starting at the time, called "The Insitute for Art In Politics." That organization eventually became Democracy Creative.

JFK said that the connection between art and politics was easy to feel but "hard to explain logically." I have found this to be true. The best way I could communicate it at the time was by presenting these quotes in a way that might inspire others to connect the dots themselves.

In 2018 I was asked to help organize and photograph The Sanders Institute Gathering in Burlington, VT.

The energy in the room was explosive. At the time, Bernie Sanders was contemplating whether or not to run for President in 2020. After coming so close in 2016, everyone there knew he had a real shot of winning. This buzz gave everything an intense positive charge. I wanted to capture the love, enthusiasm, and profound ideas shared there in a way that the rest of the world, who did not have the privilege to be there, could feel.

So after the event, I worked with the Institute to create a full-length book of photos and insights, aiming to capture the soul of the event.

In 2017, I ran for City Council, challenging the more conservative incumbent in the South End of Burlington, VT.

I designed the lit pieces myself. I thought that if they were clearly made with more care than what people were used to seeing from a political campaign, they might think twice before throwing it straight in the trash.

In hindsight, that proved to be true.

On January 21st, 2017, I was supposed to meet up with my then-boss, Sen. Chris Van Hollen, and his family to take pictures at the Women's March on Washington. The March was so packed, however, that we could not get to each other.

Alone with my camera in the sea of people, I took as many pictures as I could. And in the year-and-a-half that followed, I worked to turn them into a photography book.

After many rounds of editing and re-arranging, a poem emerged. Each line,  paired with a picture of a person holding a sign, was my attempt to distill that signs' message into a more fundamental truth that anyone, regardless of political affiliation, could understand.

Skyris was a music + tech startup that I co-founded with two friends toward the end of my time as a music producer. The idea was to connect music with physical objects, replacing the tangibility of records in the digital age.

Like many things, it didn't quite work out. But this project launched my deeper dive into what it meant to be a designer.

Spektrem was the name I produced music under as my first career. It began in 2012 when my first song, In a Dream became a surprise hit in my college town. It ended in 2016 with the last song I made, Don't Look Down.

The most significant recording from this period is “Shine”, which found a home in the world of NoCopyrightSounds and has amassed over a hundred million plays as of today. Ten years later, it's amazing to me that Shine, and the other songs, still have a loyal base of support.

I don't make music anymore, but it shaped my understanding of the creative process. I still view every creative project as a song, just with different tools and instruments.