Monday, September 26th, 2016 | T: lamono
For some people, being creative is a necessity, for others, a choice, and then there are those who make a living out of it. When this process is carried out amongst the four walls of our home and remains private, the result of these impulses tends to be effective, liberating and, often, satisfactory. But when the results go out and come face to face with the public opinion, that frame of mind changes, and insecurities, doubts and fears come to surface. For reasons like this, many creative beings fall short along the way, but lets not be too dramatic, because when there’s effort, nothing is impossible. With this issue in mind, we decided to talk with some artists to listen to advices they have received and will never forget; advices that they believe might work for us today. T: Vicky Navarro / Cover photo: Olga Capdevila.
There are still many things you don’t know the moment you decide to become an artist. It’s a leap of faith where the first obstacle you’ll meet is uncertainty, but don’t worry, many have gone through this phase and, eventually, have landed safe and sound on both feet. Catalan artist Chamo San, known for his realistic illustrations of naked bodies and portraits made through delicate pencil strokes, affirms that “if you take care of your own work and are very punctilious with it”, it will have a bigger chance to transcend in the audience. “I remember seeing photographer Israel Ariño work; he used to cosset his works, and everything he did made sense”; he was one of his inspirations when the time to face the challenge of becoming an artist presented itself. Since that period in his life, Chamo San firmly believes that if you want to get somewhere, “you cannot dismiss any opportunity, remember, everything can be negotiated”; before saying no to a new opportunity, it’s always important to analyze every possible option. Chamo San’s main technique is drawing, but he has never stopped experimenting with other possibilities, and he is one of the members of the Penique Productions collective, which makes temporary installations with huge inflatables, endowing different spaces with a whole new identity.
Chamo San (f: Mauricio Salinas)
Daniela Carvalho clearly believes that “if it’s too easy, is because you are doing something wrong”. If you are not a hard worker and conform yourself with whatever comes along, without aspiring for more, you might meet a productivity roof before expected. Never stop producing, making mistakes and starting all over again. In Daniela’s mind there’s one quote from Picasso tattooed (metaphorically) in bold letters: “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working”. She was born in Lima, Peru, but currently lives and works in Barcelona; studied graphic design, Fine Arts and Illustration, and worked for ten years in the advertisement industry. Just like Chamo San, her body of work is mainly constituted by pencil drawings, though she is constantly experimenting in other fields. Portraits, typography, murals, watercolors… all barriers are self-imposed.
Olga Capdevila is in a constant state of adaptation, which leads to evolution, a much needed characteristic in these times, when everything comes and goes at the speed of thunder: “Everything is changing so fast that the advices you give and receive expire faster than a picture on Snapchat”, she claims. Each piece of work you are commissioned is a world of its own, that’s why it’s important to stop and think, hindering yourself from getting carried away by the “vital stress”. This Catalan illustrator is completely aware of this possible situation, as she remembers one of the most recent advices her muse, Javier Jaen, gave her, in relation with a mythic Pirelli advertisement: “Olga, power without control is useless”. Nevertheless, she can never stop doing things, coming up with ideas, experimenting, like a tornado, because she believes you cannot stop emerging. “If we are curious and delve into unknown fields, we will emerge for ever”, she explains. Maybe that’s what being an artist is all about, because you never stop being an apprentice, as in life; in the arts there is always something left to be made, and plenty to learn.
Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working
Octavio Barrera (f: Ampi Aristu)
Handling criticism is always hard for a creative mind; regardless, it will always keep on coming, relentlessly, good and bad. The solution is to find the positive aspects about it, as Octavio Barrera says, “it’s through criticism that it is possible to see your work from someone else’s point of view; many times we find ourselves immersed in our caverns, unable to see reality”. Because making decisions about ourselves is quite complicated, knowing what to change or towards where to go. “Nowadays there’s a lot of competition in the creative environment; due to all the social media you can access the works of artists from all over the world with just one click, and that is something that must have some kind of surveillance, because right now, I think, we have become saturated with visual information”, he suggests.
It’s important to know how to differentiate constructive criticism from ruthless and biased judgments. Daniela Carvalho has a comprehensible opinion about this: “I usually listen to criticism attentively and with a lot of analysis, in order to take from it whatever motivates me and discard what doesn’t”. Olga has a very similar approach, giving it a relative importance, “I strive to listen, but I also strive to follow my intuition. When the criticism hurts and infuriates me, it usually is because I’m not convinced with my work either, so when the anger dissipates I work on the needed changes, thus the project improves magically”.
Other times the situation can be quite different, as Crajes, the duo conformed by Carla Rendon and Jessica Ruiz, says, it’s the galleries who tell you how and what do you have to do. “In that scenario your work stops making sense. It’s true that the younger you are, the more things like this can affect you, since you tend to believe that they have more experience and that you might be wrong, but as time goes by, you realize you must be true to yourself in order to withstand the pressure”. Crajes has had exhibitions in many galleries and participated in national and international events, though it wasn’t easy making a name for themselves. One day, a friend of theirs, who is also an artist, told them that in this industry, “what comes up fast, will eventually fall even faster”, and they truly believed him. The duo’s work focuses mainly on the female figure and their paintings irradiate an obscure and melancholic aura that demonstrates they are pure emotion; bodies filled with desire, which are subsequently punished by a cynical and hypocrite mentality from a society filled with taboos and limitations. Nevertheless a society where everyone finds its place, even if fitting in it costs a lifetime.
If in a country like ours is hard to make a living as an artist, it’s also because many people see it as a hobby or simple amusement, and not as a regular job that is worth money. “The official currency in Spain is the Euro, not visibility, cocktails or shoes”, Olga concludes intently.
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