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How did you become a designer/artist?
I’m addicted to making things. Growing up as one of three children in a single family home, the message from Mom was ‘go to college and find a career where you can make money and take care of yourself’. Needless to say, artist was not on that list. After completing a degree in Engineering, I started working and taking art classes whenever possible. Finding more fulfillment in my artwork than in corporate work, I finally found the courage to leave the corporate world and begin my real career as a visual artist. Through many classes and countless studio hours, I have finally found my voice and my place in the art world as a painter working in mixed media.
Where are you from originally?
I was born in Norfolk, VA, grew up mostly between New York and Bayonne, France. I finished high school in Dallas, TX, then attended Engineering school at Texas A&M.; I’ve been living in California since graduating from college: three years in Southern California and in Northern California since then.
Who were your main influences growing up?
Lucille Ball and Pablo Picasso.
I love how Lucille Ball could make people laugh. And while she was beautiful, she never took herself so seriously. She willingly allowed herself to look silly for a good laugh. I feel that way about art. It can be serious, but it should never be so serious that you can’t laugh with it. Funny art is good art! Art should be fun.
Picasso had a way of constantly reinventing himself. While I didn’t get the work when I was younger, I knew that there was something there for me to find. I love challenges, and art that challenges me is even more intriguing. It’s nice to paint beautiful paintings, but I want my work to do more than that.
Did you go to art school/college for design or are you self-taught?
I am self-taught. My dream was always to go to art school. However, I’ve found that by taking many different art courses, I’ve been exposed to many different ideas and processes. I was able to create my own medium, my own art form, something that is uniquely mine.
Any advice or tips to novice designers?
Believe in your vision. Believe in yourself. Don’t be afraid of hard work. New ideas are everywhere, stay alert.
What has been the most rewarding and challenging project you have worked on?
Transitioning to a full-time artist. Realizing that a career in the arts is not sitting around all day waiting for inspiration and painting pretty pictures. It’s lots of hard work, and while at times, it’s discouraging, I’ve found qualities in myself that have surprised me and made me proud of myself: believing in myself when all I have is 85 rejection letters from galleries and venues; working on long, hard, complicated commissions that I thought I would never complete but, somehow, they turned into works that I like; coming up with new strategies for selling and marketing my work; finishing a painting that I started six months ago without ever knowing where it was going to land.
What is your favorite design piece? Why?
The Apple brand and product designs. Great brand, beautiful designs for the products. Smart advertising. Ingenious. They continue to innovate and create. I wish more products were this well-designed and thought-out.
Also, the Mini-Cooper. Classic, cute, functional and stylish.
What American artist inspires you most?
Jasper Johns. I love how he turned letters and numerals into design elements, not just icons and text. Even though the work starts out with a simple structure, the paint is gestural and emotional. Taking ordinary objects and turning them into art. Wow.
What unlocks your creativity?
Lots of things:
– A regular studio habit. Like clockwork, when you work on a very regular basis, inspiration comes.
– Getting out of the studio, going to museums and galleries. Seeing what other artists are doing. There’s always something to learn from other artists and designers. Even those I don’t like. You have to stay open and observe.
– Browsing eBay. So many different things for sale that I wouldn’t normally come across. Always new ideas to be found from seeing old things. Same can be said for hardware stores.