Several weeks back I reached out to a local artist who oftentimes paints the Dodgers for an Blue Heaven Interview. As you may know, from time to time I like to put together these kind of features to highlight artwork, books or anything (really) that I find enjoyable. I've had a lot of fun with these, but never has someone's story been as captivating and inspiring as this one.
Gustavo Vasquez story is about dreams... And of chasing those dreams. It's about realizing a talent and letting it take you wherever it may. This is a tale that has gone from sacrifice to poverty to even a taste of success - no matter how fleeting that has been so far. It's a biography that still has many pages left to be written, and I hope that by the time it is all said and done it ends with the kind of success dreams are made of.
Please meet self taught artist Gustavo Vasquez in the photo above. Feel free to check out his Facebook page called "Painter of Champions" here. My interview with him is below.
A: Thank you, Ernest for having me. I think my interest in art started at about the age of 3 or 4, but by kindergarten I started drawing like any other kid... I knew I loved drawing and had to get better, so the whole class was in a competition that year for the best painting of whatever... I drew the spirit of 1776 & won a kite. It was funny I won, but was so embarrassed when the teacher gave me my kite. Never entered another show, but I knew I wanted to paint for the rest of my life.Q: Did you go to school or train to be an artist?
A: I come from El Paso, TX. Self taught since then. I graduated high school, went into the Navy, got out still drawing, but not seriously. After the Navy I met my ex-wife and was married for 12 years....
I told myself if I'm going to be a painter... I'm going all out for it, so I sold all of my pencil work, made about $1000 bucks and packed my van and headed west - not thinking about where I was going. I just left, and sure enough life as an artist is a tough one. I was about 40 (years old), landed in Fullerton, CA - not even painting or drawing at all - but I knew I was going to continue to draw... It took 2 years of being homeless and 8 years of odd jobs to survive on the streets til I made up my mind that this way was not going to get me there.... I got a job, I'm a bricklayer by trade, made a few thousand bucks and decided to get a room. That's where I found (a) friend... she knew my dream and started buying me my supplies. Then just about 3 years ago I started painting baseball.
I love the figure of the athlete in action, I guess - just love painting it... For the past 5 years I've been teaching myself... To this point I sell commission's on my Facebook page and at the same time still learning how to market myself.
Q: I also see that you've had the opportunity to show some of your work to the folks you painted; like Manny Mota. What was that like? How did it feel to share your art with the subject of your art?
A: I went on the internet about 5 years ago and stumbled on a charity for Mr. Manny Mota. I called and asked if they need an artist for their charity. The charity (event) was the next day. They finally called me that night. I did an all-nighter. Finished the Painting... When I got there some ladies met me at the door... 3 minutes later here comes Mr. Mota. I couldn't believe it. He was so nice an humble. Took one look at my painting, asked me if it was for his charity, or if he could keep it. I said he could keep it if he wanted, so he did. I was very well received by his family and friends. As the night came, they invited me to their dinner auction, as I donated another painting, and raised $1200 for his charity. It was the beginning of my painting career. After that I got connected.Q: Have you had an opportunity to show Vin Scully your painted cap of him?
A: I started painting on caps, bats and jerseys because not a lot of artist do that, so I taught myself to get better and better.... I made my first one and found I liked doing them. They take a long time to produce - that's why they are expensive. I started about 3 years ago. A friend from facebook told me about a closed group called dodger blue, (so) I decided to paint Vin Scully and to my surprise he and TMZ sports noticed me. He texted me back and asked if he could share it... I'm still trying to get Dodgers attention to get into the Art of the Game.Q: I understand that you had opened your own studio. Tell me about that. How can fans get a hold of you?
A: ... good and bad experiences... most big name people just want everything for free, and a lot of downs have happened during that point, but I still keep Painting... And looking forward.
As far as my galley, long story short, I have met a lot of shady people... I end up just working for nothing, so I'm on my own now. I lost the gallery... right now I go by commissions - it keeps me busy. I can paint anything people want; portraits, cars, bikes, landscapes, whatever.Q: Gustavo, thank you so much for coming onto Blue Heaven.
A: Thank you for your interest in my work. GustavoYou can check out much of Gustavo's work on his facebook page here: Painter of Champions.
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