Born on April 25th, 1984 in Harrisburg, PA, Trystin Bailey had always utilized his creativity as a means to communicate with those around him. The product of interracial parents, Alicia Johnson and Steven Bailey, and raised Catholic with little money by a single mother he was exposed to a number of ideologies and situations that fueled his illustrations and general outlook on life as a child.
For whatever hardships there might have been, the focus had always been on support from the family and finding fun in the unexpectedness of everyday life. Being part of a family overflowing with athletes, Trystin never really felt isolated so much as on a different plane of thought. Fortunately, he was blessed with a pair of supportive parents that pushed him and continue to push him to follow his dreams. His mother stressed the importance of embracing the things about him that made him stand out, his creative prowess, as well as how crucial it was to never let fear stop you from doing what your heart tells you to. His father constantly pressured him to speak up if he had something to say and to go out and meet people; to be social and make connections with the world outside. These lessons formed a core from which Trystin continues to draw from.
In 1998, Trystin entered high school and his world was expanded ten-fold. Here now he was exposed to a far-expanded set of educational opportunities. Honors classes. Student government. A more involved a professional take on art and, his newest passion, theater. More ways to succeed. More things to explore. The school was a prominent Catholic High School which brought in students from the wealthy suburbs and the more rural areas surrounding the city. It was a cultural overload and Trystin made it a point of understanding the lifestyles of these new additions to his world. He made a great many friend from a great many walks of life, most of which he continues to learn from today.It was also around this time that he began feeling a disconnect between himself and the Catholic church…and then Christianity and organized religion as a whole.
Being raised to focus on differences, he could not reconcile the idea of fitting his entire belief system into one that had been pre-made; especially one that, while stressing love and community, also seemed to flat out reject things that caused no harm but were outside of their stern laws. People such as homosexuals, Atheists, and more. A three week tour of Europe between his Junior and Senior years also solidified the idea that the world was far too big and diverse for these giant systems of belief to be a satisfactory connector for them all.
2002 marked the year Trystin graduated and headed off to the Art Insitute of Pittsburgh to major in Animation, his first true artistic love. The school had an even stranger collection of students and faculty. Many were ultra-individuals, odd to an almost cartoonish degree and the city seemed to have none of the life that he’d remembered back home. It was in Pittsburgh that, by trying, he realized the business of illustration was not for him. The losing of a passion he was certain of and the absence of his familiar family and friends sent him into a lonely tailspin where he had to re-figure out who he was and find other ways of expressing himself.
Trystin had written a few things here or there, but drawing had always been passion number one. But since he had fallen out of love with the art, he wrote more and more, realizing that it was the story itself, not the actual designing of the characters, that fulfilled him. A bit nostalgic, his first pieces involved caricatures of his high school friends going on crazy adventures through various time periods. It then evolved into original tales of uncertain people forced into leadership and eventually succeeding at the end of a dark and twisted path.
He left the Art Institute and returned to Harrisburg to rebuild for a year before attending Kutztown University, located in Kutztown, a small rural place in Pennsylvania where simple folk and the frequent Amish sighting created a backdrop for the college experience. After flipping through a number of majors, he decided on theater, an old friend and wonderful means of fulfilling his love of performing and speaking to people. He was engrossed in the multi-facetness of college theater, directly taking part in set-building, costume and make-up designing, acting of course and, most importantly, play-writing. It was through this medium, the marriage of his dual love of theatrics and writing, that he found his premiere platform of telling his story to the people.
Plays are shorter than most written works and are more accessible and, when produced, create a direct live connection with an audience. Then, as now, his plays were a symbolic testament to his life, raw and chaotic, dark at times, but always infused with humor and based in ideas of diversity, acceptance, following one’s own path, survival and meant to provoke thought that could apply to just about any life.
In his constant quest for growth and honesty, he unveiled a great truth about himself in the first person he truly fell in love with: a spritely and kind artist who happened to be male. His attraction to another man garnished very little hesitation to act on his behalf. One of the initial sparks that caused him to leave Catholicism behind involved their outlook on homosexuality after all, connected in part to the fact that a man from his childhood who had died of AIDS and his high school mentor were both gay and both absolutely wonderful people. Excited to share his new found romance, he shared the news with just about everyone vaguely close to him. Reactions from friends were entirely positive for while he kept a diverse crew they were connected in their flare for equality (my current best friends include an atheist biologist, a conservative naval lieutenant, a Catholic priest and a New Age cellist). The reaction from the family was split, but, at the end of the day, family is family and that bond trumped all other things. The relationship burned hot and went out, gifting Trystin with the sting of heartache that then fueled his characters with a new kind of pain and a new need for hope that followed him out of college and into the real world.
2008 hit and it was time for a change. He was a college graduate with big ideas and big dreams that he was certain were larger than his largely Pennsylvanian life. It was on June 30th that his hunger for a substantial change and new experiences landed him in New York City, 3.5 hours and a world away from Harrisburg.
Since then, he has been in the city,currently Brooklyn, writing plays, novels and drawing the occasional picture, always with the goal of getting a point across. In addition to continuously seeking out new people and adventures he has taken a keep interest in world events, adding global knowledge to life experience and coming up with newer, clearer ideas. With such a shift his creative focuses shift as well. While the works of fiction continue to flow (Trystin has been quite appreciative of his success as a playwright in the city) he is beginning to feel that some ideas are too big to be wrapped in a plot and need to be dealt with powerfully and directly. Gay rights. Environmental issues. Political gridlocks and childishness. These are becoming his new source of inspiration and his writings are creeping from fiction to essays and blog posts with the intent of specific change.
Trystin Bailey is excited and grateful for what his life has been up to this point and can only look to the future with optimism, smiling widely at what is to come…