Interview: Music Artist Robert Beauty Garcia

Finding and showcasing local talent wherever I go has become a real passion of mine lately. The prospect that I may be a small stepping stone in gaining exposure for somebody else’s journey to prestige and success fuels my creative writing efforts and makes writing this blog all the more worthwhile for me. One recent find of mine is the extremely talented and gender non-conforming R&B singer Robert Beauty Garcia from Brooklyn New York. At only 24 years old, Robert has amassed quite a following that anxiously awaits his announcements of personal shows on his social media accounts. Garcia’s soulful and resonant voice coupled with the personal nature of the lyrics that he himself writes (often on train rides the artist mentioned) connect his audience with the universally shared feelings of yearning for love and the desire to be seen and accepted as we are. I was fortunate enough to recently be present for one of Garcia’s recording sessions, and while he is known for his crooning, mournful ballads there were some very uptempo hard edge songs that this author really vibed with. So, without further ado I introduce you to the popular New York artist Robert Beauty Garcia.

Me: How important is it for you to write your own songs, and what are some of the messages you want to get across to your fans?
Robert: It’s very important to me to write my own music because my story can’t be told better by some one other than me. When it comes to the message, I honestly want people to understand that I sing more about my personal journey and becoming who I am today. Of course that involves my gender fluidity but it also involves my love stories. I’ve seen pain, I’ve seen hurt, and I’ve been in love and fallen out of love. I also want to motivate people as well, and when I write about personal experiences or about my journey I say things that I wish people said to me when I was down or “struggling.” At the end of the day I really want everyone to relate to what they feel we have in common, be it my life style or my history.
M: What is it like for you being a struggling artist in New York City? How do you stay motivated?
R: Well I honestly don’t consider my self a struggling artist I like to say that I’m working just as hard as any other artist in NYC to make my dreams come true. How I keep motivated is by Continuing to write music and continually trying to elevate my self as a musician. Also, being a makeup artist makes that process easier because I have something that allows me to be creative while my other musical dreams are coming true.
M: Who are some of your musical inspirations?
R: My musical inspirations have always been Grace Jones and Prince because of their androgynous visuals. Their existence shows that there is a place for me in this industry. I can’t forget Mariah Carey either. I am such a big fan of hers not only because of her music, but also her way of not letting society make her evolve in a way that she doesn’t want to. She evolves herself on her own, and I feel like her music shows that whether people like it or not. I’ve had all her albums and they all have a different take on her original sound.
M: You are known as much for your music as your genderless personal style. What is gender fluidity mean to you personally and in your music?

R: I’m known for being an artist. So whether it’s my makeup artistry , my voice, or even my gender fluid life I’ve always wanted to inspire people by being who I am so that every one knows that they can be themselves and love themselves for who they are.
I define Gender fluid as a person who doesn’t really associate with or stick to one gender. I love to be male and sometimes I love to be female. I love to push society’s views on what they believe genders should look like and show that there is nothing wrong with wanting to embrace your masculine and feminine traits. It doesn’t make you gay or anything, it makes you human and it makes you courageous cause you choose to live in your own truth. In my music I love that I can tell my story through my lyrics looking at both spectrums male and female. It creates a story where more people can relate because we all go through tough times no matter what we look like.

M: Do you model your personal style after anybody?
R: I don’t model my personal style after any one because they aren’t yet too many self proclaimed gender fluid people out there. The fear of confusing people is what holds us back some times. I will say that jaden smith being a gender fluid model is beautiful and I hope as more people come forward we can inspire today’s youth. Sometimes we as community really want to be in between, and not all of us want to choose a side. why choose when you can have both?
M: Since there are not many role models for genderfluid and gender non-conforming kids, do you see yourself filling that role?
R: I definitely see myself filling that role. I have a story and I believe that story can motivate everyone not just gender fluid kids. But the fact that that’s who I am, and that I can encourage them means the world to me, because I know that in my experience I wasn’t truly happy till I felt comfortable enough being myself. We should all live life to the fullest, and that includes fulfilling who we are and how we feel inside.
M: Have you ever been harassed because of how you present yourself? How do you deal with the ignorance and hate?
R: I have. I honestly use to take it hard cause I never understood why people where so bothered by me. I lived my life never caring about what the next person was doing so I felt like every one else was the same. How I handle it now is, I either educate the person or I walk away. I learned to choose my battles and it’s not a battle when I’m defending who I am, because that’s something that no matter what or who has a problem with me that identity won’t change so why tackle it? I believe that eventually people will embrace it and see that it’s no different from anybody else.
M: Before we go, are there any upcoming shows or projects that you would like to promote?
Omg yes yes yes. I am truly excited to announce that I will be having a headlining show at the duplex on Christopher street on June 16. Tickets are being sold on my website at http://www.robertbeautygarcia.com. This will be an amazing opportunity to meet me first hand and truly take a ride with me on my journey. My music is so personal it tells my story and I’m excited to let all my beaudettes in with no filter. (See flyer below for more details)

I want to personally thank Robert again for being such a genuine and open person, and for doing this amazing interview with me. If you’re interested in listening to Robert’s music he just released a new song and video with Didier Entertainment that is titled “You Don’t Have To Wait” and you can watch the video here. Please feel free to subscribe to his social media pages as well as this blog for more artistic work to come! Thanks for reading everybody!

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Interview: Artist Jenri Gonzalez

Before introducing you to the incredible artist that I was fortunate enough to interview this past week I want to make a personal statement. The reason I have been remiss in my writing this year is because I have had quite a few drastic changes in my life. I graduated Magna Cum Laude from Flagler College in St. Augustine Florida in the Spring and then I moved to Long Island to intern at Nordstrom where I currently work full time. Never-the-less despite all the tumultuous events of 2015 thus far one aspect that has remained completely the same in my life is my ardent love for finding new art. So without further ado, let me introduce a recent new friend of mine, artist Jenri Gonzalez.

Jenri is a 26 year old New York native who works primarily with acrylics, oils and pastels. His work is very self-reflective in nature and he tends to employ his own visage in his work, making each piece seem like a screenshot of his everyday life and inspirations. I was fortunate enough to convince Jenri to talk with me about his magnificent work and what inspires him to create it:

Me: What drives you? What made you want to be an artist?

Jenri: Life, Life drives me I’ve lived so much of it and experienced it that Life is My masterpiece.

M: What is the process behind each piece? What goes into creating one?

J: Well recently my works have become premonitions I paint what I dream or how I feel so I always have paints and canvases everything I do is spontaneous. I always felt that being in the moment is better then planning it out with art. Capture the moment, feel it and truly embrace it.

M: What is your biggest inpiration for your work?

J: My biggest inspiration is what I’ve seen and felt in my life. I always paint what I feel or what I have envisioned.

M: Who are some of your favorite artists and how do they inspire your work (if at all)?

J: My favorite artists are Frida Kahlo and Vincent Van Gogh. they Lived such painful lives but put what they felt on canvas and created some of the most memorable and hauntingly beautiful images in art history. A little bit of anime Pokemon and Tenchi Muyo have had some influence on me, I’ve always appreciated the style and colors when I watched them growing up. Cartoonist David Gonzales, he’s an inspiration to me just seeing how far he has come and being proud of who you are and where you come from, and turning it into something positive. I’m a big fan and somewhere in my draws are a couple of the homies. I’ve also always looked up to Selena Quntanilla I listen to her songs when I paint. She worked so hard and has opened the doors for us Latinos in the music industry so I have to give her a shout out just because I look up to her for her work ethic and for making her dreams come true.

M: A lot of your work (like Selfish, Remember Me, The Broken Man) seems to be tragic and introspective in nature, can you explain why this seems to be the case?

J: Selfish is about fighting myself, I am my best friend but I am also My own worst enemy. So with me it’s a constant struggle, I’ve been taught that being selfish is a bad thing but being a doormat is something undesirable so finding a balance is something that I struggled to work on in my past. The broken man is the story of the bonding with me and a bird I found on the street, I’ve always associated myself and identified myself with birds. They are the symbol of freedom, I told everyone that if I couldn’t be an artist then I wanted to be a bird. I would always look outside at them when I was in school and for a long time I envied their freedom. Anyway going back to the broken man, I had just come out of a really bad time in my life, poor choices and lack of good friends destroyed me on the inside and for a long time I felt shattered so finding this bird on the street with a broken wing was a sign from the universe. I took him home with me I cleaned him up and helped him heal. One day I looked at him and really looked at him and stared into his eyes and In that moment I understood him and how him and I both were feeling, and then the broken man was born out of that experience. Remember me comes from a vision I had where I began to fade away into the sky and I saw these beautiful birds fly with me and from what I could remember I was saying remember me, so that was the birth of “remember me”.

M: Each piece looks like it could be a scene from a larger narrative or epic, do you create a specific backstory for each work or is it just coincidence?

J: Each work is a moment in my life or a vision I have seen, the work that I have been putting out is my autobiography, sometimes I’m bad with words so I paint what I feel and see.

M: You have had a couple of solo exhibitions and 23 group shows.  Do you have any upcoming events or appearances you would like to talk about?

J: I’m currently working on new solo show and based on what my fans like on my page I will make more prints from this show. It’s great interacting with my fans since I have favorites, but my fans love other pieces and I never thought that they would be good enough just because sometimes I do ” joke art” which is like really simple work it’s a moment in my head. Like “sweet victory” I never thought it would catch on but it did so I’ve been selling more of that print. My website and fan page will announce anything upcoming so subscribe, press the like button, or press follow for anything new.

M: Finally, are you working on anything new that we can look forward to?

J: Actually yes, my new series is about starting over, like a rebirth and entering a new world. I’ve been dreaming a lot more, and my dreams have become very vivid. I dream of being in this forest that exists inside of a vagina, and it’s a new feeling, a feeling of peace. There’s a lot more nudity so I’m not too sure how much I can get away with on social media with showing it to you guys, but I’m going to give you a sneak peak at the new material.

After the Rain

“After the Rain” from Jenri’s new collection

In Utero

“In Utero” another new piece

I would like to sincerely thank Jenri for his time and for allowing me to preview some of his new work for my blog. Check out more of Jenri’s work below and on his website: http://jenrigonzalez.com for other works mentioned in this post i.e. “The Broken Man”

Interview: Photographer Alejandro Gonzalez

Alejandro (Alec) Gonzalez is a young and very talented photographer whose work has been featured prominently all over the internet. Born in Oaxaca, Mexico but now stationed in Bellflower, California Alejandro is the oldest of two children and at 21 has already accomplished a lot of incredible goals that any artist would envy. From having one of his photographs be selected for the cover of a Buzzfeed article, to being featured as the cover artist for The Flagler Review literary magazine, and also landing on Tumblr’s radar page and their “Photographer Spotlight” multiple times Alejandro has had mass exposure for his work. I had a lovely chat with Alejandro through emailing back and forth and he graciously agreed to this interview so without further ado, here is my personal interview with the amazing Alejandro Gonzalez.

Josh: Could you tell me what first inspired you to start photography?
Alejandro: I took Photography fundamentals in my junior year of high school and I took the year class in my senior year. The only reason I took photography was because I wanted to walk around campus with a camera and take pictures. During my senior year I had a friend named Vincent and we would take pictures every single day. Back in high school I was more of a freelance photographer and Vincent would model for me. I was in love with Vincent and one day he just passed away, literally. One day we were hanging out and the next day I received a phone call that he was in the hospital. He had a brain aneurysm and a vein popped in his brain while he was in the gym and never woke up after that. I’m not happy that he died, but I’m glad he didn’t suffer. After his death I stopped photographing for 8 months and after a long break I decided to start a 365 project. I started my project on April 2013, but that only lasted 14 days so I started again in May and from there I just kept going. I started a 365 project because I needed to keep myself occupied and fill the void that Vincent left. Once I overcame his death I decided to keep photographing because I really wanted to improve and accomplish the same things photographers my age were accomplishing.

J: Your photography is very dark and almost moody. What goes through your mind when you create a picture, and what do you hope to convey with your photographs?
A: I try to give my photos a dark feel to them. I usually sketch my photos before I start photographing them, so the only thing that goes through my mind is the concept that I’ve sketched because it’s very important to me that my final image looks like the concept I sketched. I want to convey whatever it is that I’m going through. I’m sure I’m not the only person who experiences heartbreak, depression, and happiness so I photograph according to what I’m going through. I try to express how I feel through my photography and hope that people will connect with my work in some way. My 365 project was kind of all over the place because sometimes I felt happy and sometimes I felt sad. This year will be different and I can’t wait to share my new work.

J: Would you consider changing your style or do you simply plan on molding it further?

A: I don’t plan on changing my style I just plan on improving it. I believe I have a creative mind and now that I’m regaining my confidence I plan on creating some pretty cool photos. I love getting creative and building/buying props and conceptual photography has allowed me to combine all of those things in one. However, I have been looking at portraiture photography so maybe I’ll give that a try
J: Almost all of your photographs feature you exclusively as the central figure. Is there any specific reason for that?
A: I guess I’m a bit of a narcissist and I’m not ashamed of it. I love myself and I feel comfortable in my own skin to take self-portraits and post them for everyone to see. The reason I’m the central figure is because I have no one else to model for me. When I first started my 365 project some of my friends would model for me, but now they’re doing their own thing so I had to learn how to take self-portraits. I had to learn how to be independent and I think it’s better this way because no model can ever portray the feeling I’m trying to convey. My work becomes even more personal when I’m my own model and I love that.
J: What is your editing process like and what is your preferred mode of taking your pictures? i.e. what kind of camera or lighting do you prefer?

A: My uncle bought me a Cannon Rebel T3i as an early high school graduation gift so that’s the only camera I’ve ever used. It’s a pretty good beginner camera and I’ve managed to create all my work with it. Maybe I’ll upgrade next year, but for now I have to work with what I have and so far I think I’m doing alright. The only thing I have upgraded are my lens, I went from a kit lens to a Canon 50mm 1.4 lens. There’s nothing more that I love than photographing on location with natural light. Natural light just makes everything look more beautiful and natural, but I also use studio lights every now and then. Before I start editing I make sure I have some snacks, then I blast my music and get lost editing. I don’t like to be bothered while I’m editing because I like to focus on bringing my sketch to life. Editing is by far my favorite part of creating new work, sometimes I even enjoy it more than photographing. I have an old computer so editing usually takes longer than it should, but every photo usually takes anywhere between 4 – 7 hours (sometimes more.) When I was working on my 365 project I would photograph, edit, and post the photo on the same day and I usually wasn’t satisfied with the colors the next day. Now I post my work a day after I’m done editing it because I like to give my vision a break and make sure that I’m satisfied with the colors. It’s sort of like typing a 5 page essay, I mean, I wouldn’t turn in an essay I typed the same day because it would be filled with misspelled words and other mistakes. I need time to proofread it and I apply the same rule to my finished work.
J: You have been featured prominently on Tumblr’s radar and home pages. Does the exposure put more pressure on you to deliver photographs more frequently or at a higher quality?

A: I have actually been featured 5 times on Tumblr radar. I literally went to sleep with 270 followers and woke up with over 1,500 followers the first time I got featured. When I woke up I couldn’t believe it, I thought my phone was acting up so I decided to check my computer and after I confirmed it I went crazy. I was on photo 70 when I got featured so it added a lot of pressure on me. I started my 365 project to keep myself occupied each day, but when I got featured I felt the need to improve because now I had an audience. Then I got featured again, and again, and again. I had reached over 11,000 followers and I wasn’t even close to finishing my 365 project. Then Tumblr added me to their “Photographer Spotlight” page so I got exposed even more and I started gaining new followers daily. Other photographers usually get noticed when they complete their 365 project, but getting noticed while I was still working on mine added so much pressure on me. Having that many followers sort of destroyed me and I started to look at my photography in a negative way. I felt like I wasn’t good enough because I wasn’t satisfied with the daily photos I was creating. I lost my confidence because I knew people expected more from me and I felt like I wasn’t delivering. The whole point of a 365 project is to improve daily and to have fun doing it, but I turned it into a competition with myself. I later realized that I was destroying myself and I decided I shouldn’t be taking my project so serious. It’s okay to make mistakes and it’s okay to make crappy work because that’s the only way any artist will improve. I started a 365 project because I needed to keep myself occupied and fill the void that Vincent left, and when I was half way through my project I realized I had accomplished what I wanted in the beginning. I was a mess before my project, but creating daily work really helped me heal. It helped me overcome my friend’s death and I was no longer depressed so I really had no reason to continue with my 365 project. I also decided to end halfway because work and school were getting in the way.
J: Do you have a favorite photographer or artist that you look up to? If so, how do they inspire your own work?
A: I don’t have a favorite artist at the moment, but when I was working my 365 project I pretty much looked up to Flickr photographers. Kylie Thompson, Nicolas Scarpinato, Ben Zank, Marcus Bitsch, and Logan Zillmer all inspired me in different ways. They each had something I wanted to learn from them so I developed my own style through their style (If that makes sense.) Thompson and Scarpinato had that dark moody feeling I wanted to learn how to add to my photos. Zank inspired me to learn Photoshop, Bitsch inspired me to use inexpensive materials (like cotton and cardboard) and create cool props and Zillmer inspired me to keep my creativity alive. I’m not saying I’m a mix between all 5 (Because I’m not) but they each influenced my style and made me the photographer I am today.

J: I definitely want to say congratulations on having one of your work be selected to be the cover photo for the Flagler Review Literary Magazine. What did getting the cover mean to you?
A: Thank you. I’ve never had my work published so getting published for the first time AND making the cover was a big deal for me. Seeing my photo as the cover really boosted my confidence because I used to think that my work wasn’t good enough (for reasons that I stated above.) Making the cover made me realize that I have a lot potential and that I just need to believe in myself. I’m very happy that the editors liked my photo enough to make it the cover. The cover is what everyone looks at first and I think it’s pretty amazing that a tiny part of Florida has seen my photo. The whole experience of getting published was literally the cherry on top of my year and I’ll never forget Flagler for giving me that experience.
J: What are some of your long term goals with photography?
A: My 365 project has come to an end and I would have loved to finish it, but life got in the way. However, I still managed to improve my photography and I believe that’s the main purpose of a 365 project. I still have over 100 concepts that I never got to photograph so I plan on photographing those concepts this year. I also plan on posting one or two new photos every week because I want to maintain an active blog and keep improving. I have 5 different themes I want to tackle this year and I’m going to start with heartbreak. If all goes well I plan on having my little art gallery by the end of the year; I already have the tittle and the cover for my future gallery so now I just need to work hard to make it happen. Tumblr exposed me a lot and I’m very grateful for that and now it’s up to me to get my name out there. I don’t plan on building a career with photography, but I need a bigger audience if I want to show awareness with my other themes. I also plan on getting a good laptop and a wacom tablet so I can start producing faster and better work. I have a feeling 2015 is going to be a good year for me and I can’t wait to share my new work. There will definitely be A LOT more narcissistic photos.
J: What are some long term goals in general that you want to achieve for yourself?
A: My long term goals are pretty similar to everyone’s long term goals. I want to start a family, buy a house, travel the world etc, but that’s a long time from now and I haven’t even reached my mid-life crisis yet. For now I’m want to become an HIV counselor and maybe become and HIV specialist/doctor in a couple of years. I plan on working in the public health field and spread the word about the importance of safe sex. I also plan on spreading awareness through my photography sometime this year. Maybe I’ll become a well know photographer and quite my job and start photographing for Vogue, who knows!

I am very grateful to have had this fantastic opportunity to speak with such a creative person and I hope all of you enjoyed reading this interview. Be sure to check out some of Alejandro’s amazing work below and don’t forget to subscribe for more content in the future!

Self Portrait with Clouds

Self Portrait with Clouds

On a Snowy Day

On a Snowy Day

The Magic Box

The Magic Box

Sweater Weather

Sweater Weather