Interview with Andrea Aragon for “Somas Magicas” | Exhibition on view February 5 – 26 at Thinkspace Projects

Thinkspace Projects is pleased to present Andrea Aragon’s latest solo show, “Somas Magicas.”

Aragon draws upon her own experiences and surrounding community to create breath-taking oil paintings that do not sugar coat the human experience. Aragon’s goal is to present an awareness and give a perspective of individuals whose story has yet to be fully told, reaching a broader audience than they might on their own. The artist hopes her works sheds light on how similar we are as inhabitants of this earth, and how we can benefit from just a little bit more understanding.

In our interview with Andrea Aragon, she shares wisdom for her past self, a peek at her artistic practice, and when she knew she wanted to be an artist.

Can you share with us a little bit about your upbringing and where you are currently creating?

I was born in Anaheim California and moved to Montebello when I was really young, but now I am currently living in Huntington Park where I create from home.

What was the inspiration behind this latest body of work? What themes have you been exploring in your work?

Currently, my work taps into the idea of having magical moments with the ones I love. Or having a beautiful moment with a stranger. Where time isn’t as important and one exists in the moment. I’ve been exploring the ideas of human interaction with the everyday and how our influences tap into our subconscious for our everyday decisions.

Could you share what your day-to-day looks like when working in your studio?

What I usually do is eat in the morning and sometimes I spend a little time with my partner and our new kitten. I sometimes just mentally prepare myself for what I need to execute for my projects and or if I need any supplies for future ones. Then I tend to put on some music/documentary/ podcast to get me in the flow of concentration. Most days I like to at least get a minimum of 6 hours in for creating.

What’s in your “artistic toolbox”? Are you particular about brands that you use?

I tend to try to stick to oil paints and when I’m usually at the store I try to check the quality of the pigments. I’ve noticed certain brands have better quality pigments than others or one color from two different brands may have the hue a bit different. When it comes to brushes I don’t usually have a preference but with time sometimes I can now be picky.

How do you like to unwind outside of the studio?

I like to hang out with like minded artistic individuals. I also tend to take my camera wherever I go so when I’m hanging out and if I ever get inspiration I can take photos for ideas.

Do you have a process for sourcing and/or keeping track of your inspiration?

I usually tend to keep it upstairs in my brain. It’s only on certain occasions I write it down on my phone or have a sketchbook around. Once I want to solidify the idea a bit more I tend to create mock-ups on photoshop on my computer.

What was on your playlist while creating this new body of work?

I tend to listen to hip hop, rap, neo soul, indie rap, oldies, some music from other Countries etc.

Most artists express themselves creatively as a child, but there is a moment when a shift occurs from just being creatively inclined to being more artistically minded – do you know when that moment was for you?

One I can remember was when I was in 8th grade going into high school. I requested to take art classes because I already knew that’s what I wanted to do. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to acquire the class but that’s a whole different story. Long story short, that didn’t stop me from pursuing the want to create so I would draw on my own. I never thought of doing something else at that point in my life.

Have you ever worked outside creating public murals? If not, would you be interested in pursuing one day?

Yes, I would love to create murals but when the opportunity presents itself.

What words of wisdom would you share with your past self when you were just starting to create art?

I would say keep practicing and if things don’t come out the way you intended that’s okay because you can always try again. Your mindset is never permanent. Be cautious and only accept what your body can take at once. Don’t take on too much. Listen to your body.

Is there anything in your artistic journey that you wish you may have done differently?

Nothing at the moment. I know that my journey isn’t over yet and it’s hard to pinpoint one thing.

What did you find to be the biggest challenge of 2020 for you?

Understanding my wants and needs and what I find most important to me as a person and giving myself permission to vocalize those wants and needs are.

What is your proudest accomplishment of 2021? Life thus far? (can be art-related or not)

My biggest accomplishment was leaving my regular full-time job to pursue an art career. I grew up with not a lot of money which created some frugalness in my adult life. I was scared to be in that state again, but I bit the bullet and had confidence in myself.

What big projects do you have coming up in 2022 and 2023 that you’d like to share more about?

Currently, I have been working as a painter’s assistant and since I’ve been in this type of environment with other creatives it’s inspiring more ideas for future shows, but so far I’m just going with the flow and seeing where life takes me.

Andrea Aragon Artist Statement on “Somos Magicas”

My current body of work is inspired by my relationships between my friends or family. It’s about finding the beauty between those interactions and highlighting the mannerisms of those moments by illustrating them as careless children who have no concept of time or nor do they even care. My goal is to reach my audience by having them either reminisce about their own moments or can find a relation to the idea within my work.

Interview with Alvaro Naddeo for “Intersections” | Exhibition on view February 5 – February 26 at Thinkspace Projects

Thinkspace Projects is pleased to present Alvaro Naddeo as part of our new group exhibition, “Intersections”. The exhibition is a solo show for each artist in their own right, and continues to build on their momentum into 2022. Each artist’s work is unified by storytelling, displaying an array of memories and experiences within the walls of the gallery.

Alvaro Naddeo approaches Intersections with the desire to create work that mixes personal memories with the collective memories of our society. In pulling textures from the places Naddeo has personally been and incorporating them into greater social and political commentary, he is able to tell stories that may not have previously been told. He works to give space to the marginalized and the minorities, “those who can see and smell everything good that America has, but are never allowed to get there.”

In our interview with Alvaro Naddeo, we get insight into his philosophy behind creating art and a deeper understanding of the life perspective expressed through his compositions, plus knowing his favorite activity outside the studio.

Can you share with us a little bit about your upbringing and where you are currently creating?

I was born in São Paulo and grew up one block away from a shantytown in a middle-class family. Brazilian shanty towns are a lot poorer than United States standards for the poor. The average “house” has no sewage, no water, and has stolen electricity. Around my teenage years, we moved to an upper-middle-class neighborhood very close to obscenely wealthy people. It was a shock and a very vivid example of wealth inequality. That had an impact on me for sure. 

Later moved to Lima, New York, Tampa, and currently living in the Los Angeles area, Lawndale, to be more precise.

What was the inspiration behind this latest body of work? What themes have you been exploring in your work?

The inspiration for this show comes from my desire to create something where I’m able to mix memories with textures of the places I’ve been while at the same time making a social and political commentary on our society. AmeriCan’t is about the marginalized, the minorities, those who can see and smell everything good that America has but are never allowed to get there.

Could you share what your day-to-day looks like when working in your studio? 

I’ve recently moved, and my studio is at home. The new place has great light, and with the working from home scenario (I have a job in advertising), I was able to enjoy the flexibility and paint more during day time, which I prefer. I paint during daylight and work on compositions on the computer at nighttime. During the day, I go back and forth, bouncing between painting and working on my job. An on and off approach works fine, considering sometimes I need time to let the paint dry (around 30 to 60 minutes breaks.)

What’s in your “artistic toolbox”? Are you particular about brands that you use? 

Before going into brand names, let me give unsolicited advice to future watercolor artists: Paper is the one item where quality and price make a considerable difference. Invest good money on it. Painting is the second in that regard. Professional-grade paint is a little better than student-grade paint, but the student-grade is fine too. And finally, brushes. No need to spend money on that. Cheap brushes are as good as any. I prefer Fabriano and Arches paper (I haven’t tried other “good ones” yet), and I like Winsor and Newton paint. I use Dynasty brush black gold.

How do you like to unwind outside of the studio? 

I enjoy spending time with my son and daughter; they are teenagers, and being with dad is not their first choice of “fun,” but we get to spend some quality time pretty often. Eating and watching movies is what we do the most. I also enjoy going to the gym almost every day; being physically active after a day spent almost entirely sitting is needed.

Do you have a process for sourcing and/or keeping track of your inspiration? 

I just jolt some scribble on any piece of paper or post-its with the intent of keeping a record of an idea. Is super rough and sometimes is just words, not even a sketch.

What was on your playlist while creating this new body of work?

This year I listened to a lot of Bauhaus, New Order, Joy Division, Judas Priest, and Dio.

Most artists express themselves creatively as a child, but there is a moment when a shift occurs from just being creatively inclined to being more artistically minded – do you know when that moment was for you?

No, I don’t think so. Sorry for the lack of modesty, but I’ve always been creative and active in that regard my whole life. I just expressed it differently at different stages in my life.

Have you ever worked outside creating public murals? If not, would you be interested in pursuing one day? 

No, I’ve never created murals, and yes, I would be interested in doing it someday.

What words of wisdom would you share with your past self when you were just starting to create art? Is there anything in your artistic journey that you wish you may have done differently? 

If I ever achieved anything, it was only because I wasn’t looking for it. I always painted for the instant reward of just being creative. I never had a goal; I wasn’t painting to achieve something specific. I never inflicted on me the responsibility or burden of being liked or selling my art. I love receiving positive feedback, it fuels my creativity, but I was lucky that that was not the reason. If I get isolated from society for any reason, I would still do what I do to entertain myself. I wouldn’t give my past self any advice because I believe my past self was painting for the right reasons, and I wouldn’t like to interfere with that. I wouldn’t try to be more famous, have more followers, or sell more. 

What did you find to be the biggest challenge of 2021 for you?

My job in advertising was demanding some periods this year. It looks like in some industries the working from home also became working anytime and any amount of hours.

What is your proudest accomplishment of 2021? Life thus far? (can be art-related or not)

That would be any time one of my kids expressed that they liked me and agreed that I am doing my best to be their father.

What big projects do you have coming up in 2023 that you’d like to share more about?

I don’t know yet. But I believe it would be at Thinkspace!

Interview with Sean Banister for “Intersections” | Exhibition on view February 5 – February 26 at Thinkspace Projects

Thinkspace Projects is pleased to present Sean Banister as part of our new group exhibition, “Intersections”. The exhibition is a solo show for each artist in their own right, and continues to build on their momentum into 2022. Each artist’s work is unified by storytelling, displaying an array of memories and experiences within the walls of the gallery.

Sean Banister uses this show as an expansion and continuation of his work in 2020, delving into the identity of humans as storytellers and collectors. Having developed a strong interest in how the items we interact with and collect help us to craft our own self-narratives, Banister explores how this affects image and individuality, from the way one sees themself personally to the way they exist and are viewed in the world.  While each of his pieces for “Intersections” is unique, together they all act as facets of the same experience of living in our current time.

In our interview with Sean Banister, he shares why he loves Pinterest, how he is spending more time on his art, and the mural that brought him back to painting.

Can you share with us a little bit about your upbringing and where you are currently creating?

I was born, raised, and currently living and working in Riverside, CA. As the oldest of 3 boys (I’m 8 and 9 years older than my brothers), we spent a lot of our time making up games in the backyard, playing in the pool, or exploring new video games and board games together. Building things out of random materials in the backyard, mostly from cardboard, and modding our nerf guns to try to get them to shoot faster were all major parts of how we spent our time growing up. Even if I wasn’t making art by myself, creating things was a part of our family culture. I love to travel and experience new places, but I always love coming back to SoCal and feel a very deep attachment to it as a place and a culture.

What was the inspiration behind this latest body of work? What themes have you been exploring in your work?

The latest body of work is my effort to continue and expand on the ideas that I started in 2020. Humans are storytellers. We are also collectors, and I’ve always had an interest in how the items we interact with and collect help us to craft our own self-narratives about who we are personally and how we exist in the world.

Could you share what your day-to-day looks like when working in your studio?

I’ve been a full-time high school teacher since 2004, so my typical day in the studio occurs after I get off work and have had a chance to reset my brain. I really enjoy the act of painting, but before I jump into it I like to take a 30-min power nap, or if the weather is nice I’ll go for a quick walk. Once I get the gear-switch handled, then I click into a playlist and get to work. Somewhere in the evening, I’ll take a quick dinner break, maybe about 30-40 min, then back to work until somewhere between 8-10 pm. It’s easy to slip through an evening while painting, and I could go later but would definitely pay for it through the next day of work. Weekends get turned into studio work time too, but that’s a bit more loose depending on what’s going on. Some days will be a few hours and others will be a longer workday than I can fit in Monday-Friday.

What’s in your “artistic toolbox”? Are you particular about brands that you use?

As far a brands go, I’m a fan of Trekell brushes and almost exclusively use them for my work. For paints, I use Nova Color as I like the flow, but am feeling a need to branch out in the near future for more color options. I paint on cradled wood panels that I make myself, especially since companies’ supply chain have recently stopped working. Aside from those essentials, I use frog-tape masking tape from the hardware store, which gets me the nice crisp edges when I need them, a squirter bottle to wet my working surface to help achieve a variety of effects, and some house paint brushes for larger blending effects. Also, a blow-dryer is a big part of my work flow as it sets my paint and gets me to be able to work on adding the next layer.

How do you like to unwind outside of the studio?

I like my garage hobbies (my garage is like a woodshed/maker space), various kinds of physical activity, watching movies/ binging shows, spending time with loved ones, spending an evening at the local pinball arcade, playing music, etc. Unwinding is a weird idea though, as sometimes I feel like work helps me unwind; like it’s de-stressful to get at it, whether it’s at school or at the easel. My experience is probably different than other artists as I’m not full-time in the studio, so for me it feels like a balancing act. Sometimes my stress comes from the studio and other times it’s a stress-relief to be working in there.

Do you have a process for sourcing and/or keeping track of your inspiration?

While I have only really been creating work in earnest for a bit over 2 years, and my process is still really new, I do try to be intentional about how I collect input that my subconscious can then sort out before I compose a piece. I keep a sketchbook where I work out compositions, but I find that my freest work happens on scraps that I don’t really care about. I think when it’s a scrap, I don’t care if it’s trash and I don’t let my self-judgment hold me back as much. When I get a good scratch-paper thumbnail that I like I snap a pic to keep on my phone. I like mining ideas through random collections I keep on Pinterest as well, which I like because their program can take me down some pretty interesting visual rabbit-holes and lead me to a place I might not have thought up otherwise.

What was on your playlist while creating this new body of work?

As a pandemic project, some friends of ours made a great 80s playlist that’s about 45-50 hours long, so it’s great to put that on shuffle and just zone out on the work. It’s a good mix of genres from that era too. I like listening to new alternative music, hip-hop, and dance stuff too, but I don’t have much energy in spending my time curating playlists for those while I’m working, so while every now and then I’ll listen to the playlists Spotify makes for me, I mostly don’t wanna think about what I’m listening to and just zero in on the painting. So for 2020 I’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of that 80s playlist from my friends.

Most artists express themselves creatively as a child, but there is a moment when a shift occurs from just being creatively inclined to being more artistically minded – do you know when that moment was for you?

I got labeled as an art kid by my classmates and teachers through elementary so I was thinking about art pretty early as a part of my young identity. Thinking seriously about art the way I do now didn’t happen for me though until like 2018 as I shifted my priorities back to being an artist. I had been doing freelance graphic design for local companies as way to be in art outside of my work as a teacher, but it got to a point where I hated doing that and wanted to just have fun making art for myself again, so I got back into painting after a very enjoyable mural job I did for a local (now my favorite) arcade that helped me realize what I had been missing out on. It was really working on that mural job where I was in this large space, by myself, up on a ladder painting my designs on the walls and listening to music that I was like, “hell yeah, this is it” and so from then on I just try to keep taking steps toward more of that feeling.

Have you ever worked outside creating public murals? If not, would you be interested in pursuing one day?

I have only worked on outdoor murals while helping friends on their projects and volunteering at a few mural festivals here in SoCal. I love being outdoors working on large projects, and the physicality of painting large areas is also a fun aspect. That kind of work is exhausting, but it’s the good type. I definitely want to get into doing my own outdoor murals in the near future.

What words of wisdom would you share with your past self when you were just starting to create art? Is there anything in your artistic journey that you wish you may have done differently?

If we’re talking about my past self from 2018/2019 when I was making a return to art, I would say make more art, but there were a lot of factors at play. I don’t know how healthy it would have been to expect myself to do more than I was at that time given my schedule and learning stage. If we’re talking about a younger me though, like teenage me, I would talk myself into developing a sketchbook discipline asap. Mostly to develop a habit of generating ideas, both good and bad without judgment, but it would also be an added bonus of having 20-30 more years of drawing mileage behind me now for sure. I also would have liked to have had an art school experience, but while I’ll always wonder “what if” because it’s always a tempting game to play, the thing I can do is do my best now so that future-me won’t be looking back wishing I did this or that differently.

What did you find to be the biggest challenge of 2020 for you?

Trying to feel normal in a year where nothing felt normal. As a high school teacher, the whole year was totally lame, but I had to try to make it worthwhile somehow for my students and myself. As an artist, I was trying to continue to discover myself and develop my practice, at the same time as discovering and developing my new and expanding relationship/s within the art world, grasping at any scrap of info I could find on how the various ins and outs of that world work. I get a lot of enjoyment out of exploring and interacting with the world as well but that was a big pandemic no-no. So yeah, just establishing norms in a topsy turvy world was the biggest challenge.

What is your proudest accomplishment of 2021? Life thus far? (can be art-related or not)

For almost my entire teaching career I have both taught in the classroom for my full workday (first 15yrs as an English lit. teacher and the last 3 teaching art) and coached the aquatic teams at my high school after school almost year-round (yes through summers too). This year I knew had to finally make the full split away from coaching after 17 years so I could have room in my life to make art, and that wasn’t easy to do. I’m very proud of what I accomplished in my time coaching at my school, but I am also really proud in making that step for myself to be able to feel the type of fulfillment that I get from painting. It’s really a huge change in my life that I’m still adjusting to, and I’m very excited to have taken that step.

What big projects do you have coming up in 2022 and 2023 that you’d like to share more about?

I still feel very early on in my art journey, so I’ve not been jumping out of my skin to find new commitments to fill up 2022 and 2023 with. While I’m sure to be on the hunt for new projects after this show opens with Thinkspace, the biggest project I have to work on this year is myself, setting goals and enriching my practice as an artist.

Sean Banister Artist Statement for “Intersections”

With this new body of work, Banister continues where he left off in his 2020 Thinkspace Projects show “A Tourist at Home”, showcasing in each painting how the objects we keep in our lives can define how we see ourselves and our place in the world. While each of his pieces for “Intersections” is unique, together they all act as facets of the same experience of living in our current time. 

Interview with Gustavo Rimada for “Intersections” | Exhibition on view February 5 -February 26 at Thinkspace Projects

Thinkspace Projects is pleased to present Gustavo Rimada as part of our new group exhibition, “Intersections”. The exhibition is a solo show for each artist in their own right, and continues to build on their momentum into 2022. Each artist’s work is unified by storytelling, displaying an array of memories and experiences within the walls of the gallery.

Gustavo Rimada brings the perspective of his own ancestry to the show. This body of work is part of an on-going series from Rimada, which tells a story about how our ancestors connect with us. “Whether it’s celebrating Dia de los Muertos in my work or telling old folk stories about our ancestors returning to nature, my goal is to create a space where you can feel the connection and spirit between nature and the afterlife.” This series is heavily influenced by his culture, emphasizing the connection between humans and nature from the day they are born to the day they pass away. With these works, Rimada aims to translate that journey, aiding viewers in understanding.

In our interview with Gustavo Rimada he shares with us words of wisdom for a young artist, how Palm Springs and his culture has influenced his work, and what you can find him doing when not painting.

Can you share with us a little bit about your upbringing and where you are currently creating?

Hi yes, I was born in Mexico migrated to the US when I was 7 with my mother brother, and sisters. I grew up in Indio CA , after high school I moved to Fairbanks Alaska after joining the Army . It was there that I started to paint again after seeing Juxtapoz Mag & Hi-Fructose. About 12 years ago I decided to move back to the desert to start my art career, I’ve bounced around a Southern Cal from LA to San Diego and now once again I am in the Coachella Valley, Palm Springs to be exact, where I work in my home studio.

What was the inspiration behind this latest body of work? What themes have you been exploring in your work?

Like most of my work, I am heavily influenced by my culture the colors the patterns the beautiful landscape/ nature. This body of work is also inspired by my culture’s spirituality and folklore. Because I have spent the past 4 years in Palm Springs where modernism and simplicity is around me my work has taken a more cleaner / simpler theme.

Could you share what your day-to-day looks like when working in your studio?

We’ll I am a very routine artist my day-to-day after I wake up around noon or 1 pm is to decompress a bit for about an hour before driving to grab some coffee downtown PS. When I get home I try to grab a bite before starting, I paint on and off for about 4-5 hours until around 10 pm when my family heads to bed, and I paint up until 5 am while watching some of my favorite films/documentaries. Somewhere in between paint sessions, I like to go for a drive to just listen to music and focus on my tasks especially if I’m feeling a little bit of artist block. 

What’s in your “artistic toolbox”? Are you particular about brands that you use?

When I comes to paint yes I only paint with acrylics, the brand I only use is Liquitex Heavy Bodypaint. For brushes I don’t have a particular favorite I tend to beat up brushes fairly quickly so they all seem the same from the most expensive to the least expensive. However, Trekell brushes are really easy to acquire they are a small company too so I buy those a lot. I use Trekell panes as well but the best panels I can buy are sourced locally here in Cathedral City at Custom stretched canvas super high-quality stuff.

How do you like to unwind outside of the studio? Do you have a process for sourcing and/or keeping track of your inspiration?

Outside of the studio, I hit museums as much as possible but on a daily basis, I watch my favorite films, and like I said in one of the other questions I love to drive and listen to music especially certain songs really put me in a place that inspires me to create.

What was on your playlist while creating this new body of work?

I listen to a lot of different music but my go-to when working on more culturally themed paintings is music from artists like Vicente Fernandez, Natalia LaFourcade, Juan Gabriel, Selena etc… classic rock like Pink Floyd, Les Zepplin, pretty much any Rock in the 70s and of course hip hop I am a 90s kid so anything in that era is always on my playlist.

Most artists express themselves creatively as a child, but there is a moment when a shift occurs from just being creatively inclined to be more artistically minded – do you know when that moment was for you?

Yes, I remember being chosen to work on a huge banner in middle school for the local zoo the program was after school for kids who were artistic and I remember the people in charge were really impressed and encouraged me to continue that moment has always felt like the beginning for me, but my mom always talks about moments as a kid where she can see that art was in my future but what mother doesn’t say that lol.

Have you ever worked outside creating public murals? If not, would you be interested in pursuing one day?

I’ve done 3 murals only, two in a restaurant it took me way too long and another through Thinkspace for PowWow Antelope Valley and yes I enjoyed it very much, it was a short timeline so it was difficult for me since I paint really slow despite contrary belief. I would totally do it again it was such a great e pero and I learned a lot.

What words of wisdom would you share with your past self when you were just starting to create art? Is there anything in your artistic journey that you wish you may have done differently? 

I wish I would have taken things more seriously early on in my life whether it was high school or college. I wish I would have been more eager to learn about art history and different movements. Instead today, I find myself doing a lot of research which I love but being a better student is something I wish I was growing up. 

What did you find to be the biggest challenge of 2020 for you?

To be 100% honest I am such a homebody and because I am so fortunate to be able to work from home it really wasn’t much of a change. However, I do feel terrible for those whose businesses went under, and for those who have to follow protocols daily, I couldn’t wear that mask all day. My heart always goes out to the healthcare industry the doctors and nurses on the frontlines I have it infinitely easier than them and I am beyond grateful for their sacrifice and hard work during this never-ending pandemic.

What big projects do you have coming up in 2022 and 2023 that you’d like to share more about?

We’ll there’s one that I just wrapped up and that was doing the key art for one of my favorite series on Netflix Narcos Mexico. It was beyond amazing to see them using my art for marketing and even did a massive billboard in Times Square which I was lucky enough to go see in person with my wife and daughter. In 2022 I have the 4 person show with Thinkspace, after that, I am in a couple of group shows and late in 2022 I have a solo at Antler Gallery in Portland OR. There are a few commissions sprinkled in 2022 but once I am all done with that I want to finish a series of paintings that I have been postponing for years now it was originally supposed to be painted for Greg Escalante’s gallery in Chinatown but after his passing, I set it aside. I never seem to have the adequate time to finish it so unfortunately it keeps getting pushed back but the goal is to finally finish it. The series is based on Alice in Wonderland but with a Mexican twist.

Gustavo Rimada Artist Statement

This body of work is an ongoing series I am working on where I am telling a story about how our ancestors connect with us. Whether it’s celebrating Dia de los Muertos in my work or telling old folk stories about our ancestors returning in nature. My goal is to create a space where you can feel the connection & spirit between nature and the afterlife. It is a series that is heavily influenced by my culture, the tones are meant to create a space where the subject is the focus. We are all connected with nature from the time we are born to the day we pass and this is my way of translating that journey.

Interview with Manuel Zamudio for “Intersections” | Exhibition on view February 5 – February 26 at Thinkspace Projects

Thinkspace Projects is pleased to present Manuel Zamudio as part of our new group exhibition, “Intersections”. The exhibition is a solo show for each artist in their own right and continues to build on their momentum into 2022. Each artist’s work is unified by storytelling, displaying an array of memories and experiences within the walls of the gallery.

Manuel Zamudio also brings the theme of life and death into his collection, focusing on the transition between them. He maintains the post-apocalyptic world that he had built with his previous solo show here at Thinkspace, but delves into architecture and urban landscape as a foundation for the exploration of the afterlife. With new-age ghost-inspired characters, Zamudio explores the delicate line between life and death, which grows thinner every day. He highlights the fragile boundaries between body and soul, life and death, day and night, living in the transitions.

In our interview with Manuel Zamudio, he shares with us his bad habits, how his work has helped to heal past trauma, and the artistic influence of Dragon Ball Z.

Can you share with us a little bit about your upbringing and where you are currently creating?

I was born in Mexico City; years later my family and I came over to the United States, and we landed in South Texas. Since the transition was a difficult one and we did not have our papers, we really couldn’t move around so we stayed in Texas. Growing up was difficult, especially during my teens, since there weren’t a lot of different cultures in the area, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve learned to love the peacefulness of it. I’m still currently living in South Texas and it’s where I create.

What was the inspiration behind this latest body of work? What themes have you been exploring in your work?

With this body of work, I still kept the post-apocalyptic world that I had built with my previous solo show. But this time around I delved into architecture and ways to bring these people into an urban landscape. The main theme explored is the transition from life to death. It didn’t start out that way but it slowly began building into that. I also started incorporating new characters into my world, like new age ghosts type of characters, which bring the theme of the afterlife into play. I lost my father at a very young age and it was very traumatic. I think this show really has helped me bring closure to that aspect of my life.

Could you share what your day-to-day looks like when working in your studio

Sure! I usually wake up and go straight for the coffee, as most of us do. If I’m in the middle of a painting, I just go right into it. I’ll start the day off painting, take a break to have breakfast, then go back for a couple of hours, take another break for lunch, etc. In the evening I usually go for a long run, little bit over an hour. Then head back into the studio and work into the late night/early morning. I try to get in at least 8 hours of work a day.

What’s in your “artistic toolbox”? Are you particular about brands that you use? 

I think my toolbox is pretty standard: mediums, paints, brushes. But lately, I’ve been starting to buy different higher quality brands, especially with paint, and it makes all the difference in the world. So I’m not particular about brands but just the quality. I also hoard a ton of brushes, that way when I’m working and need a fresh brush, I just open a new pack. Kind of a bad habit, haha.

How do you like to unwind outside of the studio? 

I usually like to curl up with a good video game at the end of the day, maybe a good movie. I also really enjoy grabbing dinner and beers with friends.

Do you have a process for sourcing and/or keeping track of your inspiration?

I usually have a string of ideas of things that I want to work on, so when I shoot my reference photos I capture a few ideas at once and have them ready for the next piece. Of course, I will go back and change things, move things around, but the ideas are set.

What was on your playlist while creating this new body of work?

A lot of ambient music/electronic music was on my playlist, especially at the beginning when building ideas. Artists like Haircuts for Men, Aphex Twin, and Harold Budd were in rotation to name a few. The music really helped me build an understanding of the atmosphere I was trying to go for.

Most artists express themselves creatively as a child, but there is a moment when a shift occurs from just being creatively inclined to being more artistically minded – do you know when that moment was for you?

I had always been drawing and doodling as a kid, but there was a moment for me early on, when I was around 11. During this particular moment it had been a few weeks, maybe two months after my dad passed and I had an epiphany that I wanted to become an artist. Mind you, this happened while I was drawing a large-scale Dragon Ball Z piece. That moment always stuck with me, it was euphoric; I truly felt in that moment being an artist was it for me, nothing else.

Have you ever worked outside creating public murals? If not, would you be interested in pursuing one day? 

I had the pleasure of being a part of POW!WOW! Lancaster in 2020, and prior to that I’ve done a few graffiti murals, since that’s what got me into painting. I really would like to learn more and follow the art of mural painting at a more professional level, hopefully later on.

What words of wisdom would you share with your past self when you were just starting to create art? Is there anything in your artistic journey that you wish you may have done differently? 

I think that the best advice I could give to my younger self is not to waste time on self-doubt, or the doubts of others. I think if I had done that and focused more, I could’ve become a better artist at a faster rate. But like they say, everything happens for a reason and you are where you need to be.

What did you find to be the biggest challenge of 2020 for you?

The biggest challenge for me in 2020 was transitioning to a full-time artist during a pandemic. It was a strange and trying time, I had to be aware of the world but also separate myself from it in order to create. It felt surreal.

What is your proudest accomplishment of 2021? Life thus far? (can be art-related or not)

I think becoming a full-time working artist is the biggest one for me so far. It’s been my dream for so many years. Shout out to my wife, I could not have done it without her!

After the show in February, I have a split 2 person show with A Hurd Gallery and a feature at Archenemy Gallery. Excited to see what the future brings!

MANUEL ZAMUDIO Artist Statement

The delicate line between life and death grows thinner every day.  Along with that dissolution, other threads come unraveled.  Perception shifts, and memories can blur until they don’t feel like our own. 

Are we united in the disintegration?  Body and soul, dust and stardust, the boundaries breaking down until only that which is shared endures.  Then we are finally something other than a body, a mirror more than flesh.  

Or are alienated spirits connected only in their collective struggle?  Drifting through shades of experience and longing to escape the mundane.  Feeling its pull from purity to profane as powerless observers. 

In any order of our experience, there is a perpetual transition between states of being. Death amidst life, night within day, the carnal enveloped by the ethereal.  The cosmic dance between is the grace and terror of existence.