“Let the moment be your creator”
At the age of 50 you invented a new style of abstract fine-art photography for which you won international awards. Can you share the story of how this happened?
Honestly, by mistake. In June 2020, during the lockdowns, I decided to take a road trip out into the mountains and the deserts of the American Southwest. Before I knew it, I started photographing my journey, shooting landscapes and cacti.
Four months later I was called back by some sort of energy force to photograph this old green steel dumpster that was just rusting away on the side. As I looked closer at this steel object, I saw an otherworldly face staring back at me. This being was very, very small, maybe half the size of my palm, if not smaller. So, I got real close to it, as close as I could with my lens and started to take photos.
“I saw an otherworldly face staring back at me”
As the weeks went on I started to see more and more of these faces just watching me in these old abandoned, worn or decaying man-made objects scattered all over the crime ridden neighborhoods of Los Angeles. When it came time to print, I began to experiment with different kinds of materials and, after trial and error, a realization hit me – if the otherworldly shapes and faces that I captured with my camera were originally on metal then my photographs of them must be printed on metal as well! This is the only way that people would see what I saw, exactly as I saw it.
The original metallic object, such as a steel dumpster, was first created by human beings. Because of time, rain, wind, sun, and dirt it decays, transforming into something else. I photograph this transformation with a macro / closeup lens and print my images on metal so the audience can see and feel the actual texture of that decayed object.
And it all just happened by chance! I followed my gut instincts and listened to the supernatural beings that wanted to be photographed and reborn on similar materials they are currently living on, so the rest of the world can see them in all their glory, feeling what I felt when I first came upon them.
Are you now a full-time artist or is this something you do parallel to acting and other ventures?
Since I retired from acting in 2018, I’ve been focusing on pushing the boundaries of contemporary art by blurring the lines between photography, painting, and sculpture. Now I want to figure out how to make my limited edition fine-art photography even more sculpture like. I’m also planning to start doing art fairs across the U.S. sometime this year or early next year, and then find a way to get my artworks into museums.
“I’ve been focusing on pushing the boundaries of contemporary art”
How do you come up with new and innovative art ideas?
I just try to create and do things in a totally different way than everyone else. I’m blending mediums to create a new medium to get people to see art differently, but to also to make people see their surroundings in a totally different way. I honestly believe art should make people think, question, and ponder about their own reality, otherwise, what’s the point of art?
Plus, when I print my limited editions onto archival metal or acrylic, I am also making the fine art photograph into an immersive experience, because you can physically touch them with your fingertips, inspect with your hands and never ruin the artwork.
The whole point is to affect the audience’s heart, mind, body, and soul in an entirely new way and to hopefully create a new art movement in the process, so, we can finally take photography to another reality that no one has ever imagined.
“The whole point is to affect the audience’s heart”
Many new artist struggles with finding their unique style. Older people, not just artists, often see a decline in their creative thought. As someone who found his style in multiple professions and is highly creative after 50, what advice would you give to those who may be struggling with these issues?
Just create what you’re experiencing, whatever it is that you’re experiencing right now, in this moment. Let the moment be your creator. If you can’t write, because you can’t think of anything to write, well, write that instead. Write about why you can’t write. If you can’t figure out what to paint, well, make that painting into something else instead. Who says it has to be a painting and who says you have to put paint onto this piece of canvas. Use something else instead of paint. Or take scissors or a knife to that piece of canvas and create something totally different. I honestly believe it’s all the rules of – this is how you should do it – that is getting in the way of our childlike imaginations. It’s these rules that keeps us all boxed in and all scared about what to do next. So, I say, break the rules, create new rules, and see where that takes you!
“Who says you have to put paint onto this canvas”
You are not just an accomplished actor and artist, but a successful businessman. Clearly this wasn’t always so. How and when did you cross the barrier of success? And was it difficult?
There’s an old saying: “Overnight success takes ten years of hard work.” It’s just putting in the hours, the days, the weeks, the months, the years, and the decades, and then, following your heart to wherever it takes you next. Now, I could say there are ways to figure this out, to get yourself quicker to this goal. But you have to be honest with yourself and be willing to follow your heart, no matter what. In this rat race world loves to keep you trapped like a hamster on a treadmill. The question is – are you willing to travel on your own path instead? The ones who stand out, really STAND OUT from everyone else, but it ain’t easy. I learned this the hard way. The crowd pushes you out of the group so you’re literally STANDING OUT from the crowd. But that’s where you’re meant to be if you truly follow your heart. We were not born to be like everyone else. We were born to be like our creator. That’s why we create – he created us to create. I don’t care if you call him God, Universe, Karma, Mother Nature, Earth, it’s all the same thing. You just have to create the way you were born to!
“You have to be willing to follow your heart, no matter what“
Many artists struggle with money and self-worth. A great deal of them don’t like to promote themselves or their art. Others find it difficult to ask for more. A lot of artists just can’t make ends meet. Did you have to overcome any of these problems, and do you have any stories or advice that you would like to share?
Honestly, it doesn’t matter. We all die in the end, and no one will ever know if we were rich, poor, or middle class. Just go to any graveyard in your country that is hundreds of years old and look at the names of those tombstones, if you can still read the names on those tombstones. Who were they, what do we know about them? Honestly, nobody cares anymore. They were long and forgotten once the youngest person who personally knew them passed away. So, just focus on creating art and getting it out into the world anyway you can. That’s all that matters. If you want to sell it, sell it, if you want to give it away, then give it away, if you want to store it and hope someone takes it after you die, then do that too. Either way, focus on creating the art that you want to create in this moment in time. That’s all that matters, that’s all there really is. Everything else is just an illusion of false realities of what we think life is, but actually isn’t.
“Honestly, nobody cares anymore”
Now, if you truly want to sell art to collectors, then find mentors who will teach you the way. The ones who have done it themselves or the ones who teach it successfully. When people ask me how do I market my art so easily? I tell them to listen to podcasts by Art Storefronts, FASO, and Eric Rhoads. They will teach you the way if you’re interested in putting in the hard and smart work. Now, if you want to dig deeper than this, then go study the great ones of our current time. There’s plenty of books and documentaries talking about all of them, and how they did it.
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