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.

Brought to you by Wealthfront, Zero, and ExpressVPN. More on all three below. 

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


This episode is brought to you by WealthfrontWealthfront pioneered the automated investing movement, sometimes referred to as ‘robo-advising,’ and they currently oversee $20 billion of assets for their clients. It takes about three minutes to sign up, and then Wealthfront will build you a globally diversified portfolio of ETFs based on your risk appetite and manage it for you at an incredibly low cost. 

Smart investing should not feel like a rollercoaster ride. Let the professionals do the work for you. Go to Wealthfront.com/Tim and open a Wealthfront account today, and you’ll get your first $5,000 managed for free, for life. Wealthfront will automate your investments for the long term. Get started today at Wealthfront.com/Tim.

This episode is also brought to you by ZeroZero is the world’s most popular fasting app and is helping millions of users around the world unlock healthier, longer lives by harnessing the power of fasting.

Whether you’ve been fasting for years or are just getting started, Zero equips you with exclusive videos from people like Peter Attia, personalized fasting plans, and advanced health data to keep you on track. Listeners of this podcast—that’s you!—can get 30% off a one-year Zero Plus subscription, an upgrade for power users that I’m now using. Visit ZeroFasting.com/Tim, and your discount will be automatically applied.

This episode is brought to you by ExpressVPN. I’ve been using ExpressVPN since last summer to make sure that my data is secure and encrypted, without slowing my Internet speed. If you ever use public Wi-Fi at, say, a hotel or a coffee shop, where I often work and as many of my listeners do, you’re often sending data over an open network, meaning no encryption at all.

A great way to ensure that all of your data is encrypted and can’t be easily read by hackers is by using ExpressVPN. All you need to do is download the ExpressVPN app on your computer or smartphone and then use the Internet just as you normally would. You click one button in the ExpressVPN app to secure 100% of your network data. Use my link ExpressVPN.com/Tim today and get an extra three months free on a one-year package!

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


Note from the editor: Timestamps will be added shortly.

  • 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?
  • Where did Dustin get his entrepreneurial hustle?
  • Who was the mad physicist Dustin met upon returning to Colorado from his travels abroad, and what did he learn from him?
  • 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?
  • 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?
  • How Dustin’s natural hustle inspired marketing his art like “a plague” to turn it into a viable source of income over time.
  • On The Crack-Up and Dustin’s need to rescue Zelda Fitzgerald.
  • 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?
  • In Dustin’s estimation, what makes a good storyteller, and who does he consider to be outstanding in this field?
  • Has Dustin found anything outside of hallucinogens to widen his mind’s aperture to perceiving more of the hidden world?
  • How has Dustin been lucky enough to not only survive, but thrive while tapping into the sometimes life-threatening currents of chaos?
  • What are the creative benefits of working from an anti-competitive angle, and what does this look like in the real world?
  • Why doesn’t Dustin worry about finding inspiration — and what does he feel is a more valid concern?
  • How does Dustin alleviate the effects of system overload?
  • Dustin is a film buff. Here are some of his top recommendations.
  • What is Pioneer Works, and how has it evolved over time to become what it is today?
  • How did Dustin secure the massive funding needed to grow Pioneer Works beyond its “original shithole” beginnings?
  • 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.
  • What keeps Dustin tethered to the aim of progress — especially when he’s feeling a bit overwhelmed?
  • 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?
  • The three questions Dustin asks himself about any new piece of art he creates.
  • What are psychogeographies, and what styles and trials led to their creation?
  • What are some of the common mistakes Dustin sees aspiring artists making?
  • What would Dustin do if he found himself and his studio suddenly bankrupt?
  • Dustin describes his newest, almost-bankrupting creation: The Politics Of Eternity.
  • 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.
  • A question on the lighter side: how did Dustin end up dancing in a Jay-Z video?
  • What would Dustin’s billboard say?
  • What’s Dustin’s current project — involving a supertanker — about?
  • 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?
  • Parting thoughts.