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3 Rising Artists Making Their Mark in NYC

Pablo Picasso once said, “every child is an artist, the problem is staying an artist when you grow up.” This is true for many of us, as we grow up, we tend neglect one of the most beautiful aspects of what makes us human: our imagination, our courage to be different. At some point in the trajectory of our lives, society makes us self-conscious, cautious. Some of us say we are not creative, yet we all have the ability to create. There is no doubt that pursuing a creative path can be a bold choice, someone who calls themselves an artist to the world can rid him or herself of self-imposing limitations.

 

Art Zealous had a conversation with three rising artists that are making their mark in NYC. We have no doubt that these artists’ careers will reach new heights in the future.

 

Reiko Hamano

 

AZ: Where are you from?

Reiko Hamano: Japan

 

AZ: When did you start creating art? Why?

RH: I think this answer depends on how you define art or what you define as art. I went to schools to be trained for some art traditional techniques, such as representational drawings and paintings, in order to prepare for art school. I think I wasn’t sure what art was or what I wanted to do through art or design, even thought I was working on paintings and drawing. Therefore I went to a liberal art college in Japan, where I majored in business administration. During that time in college, I traveled around the world, especially Europe. I visited many contemporary museums. I remember being impressed by those artworks, and how interesting they were. That was a big influence for me. Back then I was thinking of becoming an artist, but I also wanted to learn more about what it meant to be an artist.

 

AZ: Do you ever have any doubts about the path you are taking?

RH: Yes. Almost every day I think about how to support my life by only creating artwork. Yet I know I have to keep taking this path

 

AZ: How do you get your motivation?

RH: I like to walk around towns and travel to refresh my mind and get inspired by landscapes, such as beautiful natural sceneries, even objects thrown away when their composition accidentally creates art in the street. Maybe I am talking about where I get my inspiration however, those inspirations give me motivation as well.

 

John Tona

 

AZ: Where are you from?

John Tona: I was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. Although now Brooklyn has gotten way too expensive for an artist to afford.

 

AZ: When did you start creating art? Why?

JT: I always had a fascination for creating something. I realized at a very young age that I could not draw and soon decided to take my family camera and start taking photos, and it became a huge hobby for me. It wasn’t until 2010 that I started to pursue photography as something more than a hobby. I saw work being exhibited at an auction house recently which made me realize, “This is what I want to do with the rest of my life.”

 

At that point, I was the Director of Client Services for a technology company, soon after I saw that exhibit I was laid off from that job, and I decided to take it as an opportunity to start my life over as a photographer.

 

AZ: Do you ever have any doubts about the path you are taking?

JT: Of course. I gave up the stability of a six-figure salary to enter the world of the unknown. While studying photography, I was couch surfing with friends. Going from a very comfortable living to the “starving artist” cliche is scary. But I knew it was what I wanted, so the constant struggle was entirely worth it. Photography is hugely competitive here in NYC, so trying to find your place in the world is sometimes very difficult.

 

AZ: How do you get your motivation?

JT: I get a lot of my motivation from other artists. Going to galleries and museums is very inspirational to me. I also buy a lot of magazines and books that highlight beautiful photography from all disciplines. Since the majority of my work usually centers around people, I also take inspiration from my subjects themselves. Creating a mood or even an entire series of images based on a conversation with that person.

 

Enrique Polanco

 

 

AZ: Where are you from?

Enrique Polanco: Born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela.

 

AZ: When did you start creating art?

EP: I don’t remember exactly when I started creating art but I still have paintings from when I was 11, back then my interest was trying to do something as awesome as Kandinsky. Both my father and mother have cousins who are sculptors. They were both (and still are) very helpful and kind to me. To expand a bit on their influence; when I was 5 years old, Alfredo (Alfredo Ramirez Lara) had a killer show in Caracas. It was probably the first show I remember. There he showed very experimental work which expanded my definition of art. Toño (Jose Antonio Fernandez Reyna), managed the best foundry for many years in Venezuela. That is where I got to see the lost wax bronze casting method; his work and process, and that of other fine artists such as Cornelis Zitman, Alirio Palacios, Jimmy Mathison. 12 years later I’m doing my first bronze piece!

 

AZ: Do you ever have any doubts about the path you are taking?

EP: No doubts! Before focusing completely on art, I studied architecture. I would do it again with no regrets because I think there is no better education for a sculptor.

 

AZ: Where do you get your inspiration?

I realized creating makes me happy. Also there is something about entering the flow experience which works as therapy. Guess you could call it art as therapy. I’d say in order to feel good I need to have a creative output.

 

top image // courtesy of John Tona