Growing up in central Texas and living now in Pennsylvania, Schneider didn’t spend his waking hours encountering his Bosch-like subjects: machine-gun savvy pelicans, dinosaur-sized crows, and humanoid panda bears. He calls the dream life in which he met his sculptures-to-be “just as valid as the one we live in waking life.” He goes on, “even if one subscribes to the notion that dreaming is just a collection of random firings of synapses, it is still generated in some cavern of the mind.” Exploring that cavern and the images within it is Schneider’s mission. He says, “By making work that addresses these images, I am able to focus my telescope a little deeper into the well.”
Since Schneider’s dreams have always come “complete with color, smell, taste, and touch,” he has no trouble touching on his brand of inspiration each night. Remembering it clearly in the morning, however, is a different matter. To solve the problem, Schneider has developed “all sorts of practices for becoming more aware and participatory in dream time.” He goes through mental checklists or meditations each night before bed “to try to be more present.” He finds that periodically waking himself up throughout the night helps him to remember his dreams as they come. Finally, he says, “I also try to do things in my dreams to assert control, even if it seems insignificant, like opening a door. It helps me remember.”
So with his inspiration coming at a steady stream, Schneider buckles down to turn his ideas into reality. It’s not always an easy task, but to Schneider that’s good news. He says, “Every piece I make offers some kind of a challenge – sometimes it is with the imagery, sometimes with the message, sometimes with a technical aspect of the material. The frustration and the challenge are what keep me going… By pushing through the challenges, I feel I come out a lot stronger as an image maker on the other side.” Considering his love for technical, messaging, and imaging challenges, it’s not surprising that Schneider works best under the pressure of deadlines. And there’s another challenge he likes: juggling and culling hard-to-realize ideas.
He says, “There’s always an expected attrition with ideas. Some are too complex to express, some fail because of the limits of the medium, and some just sucked to begin with. I usually start a few projects for the same goal at the same time, and the winner usually emerges pretty quickly. Some of the other works that didn’t make it get scrapped completely, but others that have potential and a decent start can be spun into successful projects later. For me, just acknowledging that some ideas are born before their time is a great asset in staying on track – know when to run!”
He may never find himself wearing a pelt, toting a rain stick, and chanting his way around a fire, but finding longevity as a shaman of sorts is key to Schneider. He says, “I’m in this for the long haul.” To other creative professionals aiming to make their careers hold steady, he advises, “Journal. Ideas fall like rain every second of the day. Obviously we can’t just sit with a sketchbook and draw constantly, but even capturing a little imagination at a time can potentially seed massive projects in the future.”