Thank you for taking the time to discuss your art and experiences as an emerging artist in Los Angeles.
Did you want to be an artist as a child? Have you always been an artist? Were you previously working in another industry? How did you become an artist? Why did you become an artist? When did you decide you wanted to be an artist?
On becoming an artist
“Thank you, well, as a child I am not sure that I knew being an artist was something people became. I just knew famous ones from the frequent trips to the famous art museum in Ponce Puerto Rico near where I grew up. I have always been creative and enjoyed art but it was not until I moved to Buenos Aires, Argentina with my partner that I started to paint. We love travel and after a trip to Argentina we just decided to give everything away and move from Los Angeles. Something about that city’s energy motivated me to walk into an art store and buy a cheap set of watercolours, a couple of brushes and paper. I just took to it and I soon moved to acrylics and canvases! Now, keep in mind that we ended up staying in Buenos Aires for 6 years! So almost from the very first day there and for 6 years I painted daily. I taught myself and developed techniques that I continue to work with and evolve everyday.
When we finally decided to move back to Los Angeles, we moved back to West Hollywood where we had lived before, It is an area known for creative individuals and there are many studios, galleries, and move productions studios there so the creative jibe is always in the air. So here we were…a few hundred finished works that we brought back with us from Argentina so now let’s get into selling art! What an unknown and sort of mystical “job” of being a working artist. So yes, it was in 2013 that I decided to give it a go as a pro.”
What does being an artist mean to you? What type of artist would you describe yourself as?
On being an artist
“Being an artist (in the USA anyway) means being a rebel because you are not conforming to the expected usual 9 to 5 and 5 days a week job working for someone else. Being an artist gives me freedom and that freedom allows me to create not on a set schedule but when the creative mood hits. Of course, I don’t consider making art work or at least not “traditional work,” it certainly is “work” if you strive to be a working artist as I do. There is a myth of the starving artist and that is that if an artist makes money then they are not a true artist…I say, that is a BS and not at all true. Using your natural talents and doing something you enjoy doesn’t lessen the artist value of my work at all. Quite the opposite really. Competition is stiff and there are a ton of talented artists out there so for me to stand out I have to want to succeed which just helps me take my artwork to the next level and make even better art!
I make abstracts because I find it a challenge to create works that are not preplanned and put them within the confines of a canvas. It’s really an experience that works can not describe which is I suppose the ultimate reason of making them. To create something visual that is indescribable in words. I break from tradition and vary my painting styles because I have so many ideas that they simply can not be confined to one style or type. But I think when viewed as a total body of work they all clearly have my distinctive voice.
I also love nature and the patterns you find like magnetic fields, animal migration patterns, weather system formations, and even how time is a relative concept. Abstracts actually visually represent the world in a much more true scene than another other for me. Science has changed our perceptions so much and how we view the world including art.”
Where do you create? What is your studio?
On the studio
“I am an L.A. artist and here in West Hollywood many artists have working areas that they also live in with space being limited and at a premium with so much demand for it as you can imagine! My working space is the majority of that area so it is really like living in a working studio! I have a really supportive partner I live with who is very understanding himself being a self-employed entrepreneur working online and that is a big help to me.
There are many benefits to living in the same space since it gives me the opportunity to get up anytime, say, 4 in the morning when I am struck with the inspiration to paint and be able to do it immediately, There is also no commute time so more creative time instead, Most of all, I have my two chihuahuas always there to not only keep me company but remind me to take a break now and then if only to take them out for a walk! It’s also nice to have lunch everyday with my partner.
Of course, I do plan on moving to a full studio at some point next year. There simply is too much growth and with that more room is needed for supplies. Larger canvases which take up more space. In fact, just last week I had a canvas delivered for a private commissioned work of 89 x 66 inches, barely got that through the door. It’s going to be a challenge but I think that it will be easier to keep things organized and have several large projects going on at the same time.
Another great thing about the internet is that it gives me a “virtual studio” that anyone can visit with just their smartphone or tablet.”
Where, who, what, and when inspires you?
On inspiration: Where, who, what and when?
“Travel certainly inspires me! It is the only way to really have a fuller understanding of the work we live in but the human condition. I live in Rio de Janeiro for a year and did some journals, photographs, and did some drawings. Perspective certainly because I started to do serious painting in Buenos Aires. I took my first art class there and I also entered my first shows while there. Such good memories and so crucial to my development as a painter.
Music certainly also motivates me and I will often listen to Joni Mitchell and Tori Amos while painting. In fact, both reference painting in their music and Joni has even said she considers herself a painter first and a singer songwriter second!”
What challenges do you face as an artist? Do you experience creative blocks, and go through periods where you struggle to produce work? What do you do when this happens?/How do you cope with that?
“The biggest challenge that I face as an artist I mentioned earlier and it’s that “starving artist” image which is actually true. There is a lot of competition and it takes a combination of time, hard work, and just a bit of luck to get noticed and to start selling. But you have to stuck with it and believe in yourself. Just last week I was commissioned to do an 89 x 66 inch painting for a client’s new home. They love my work but I had nothing of that exact size so they commissioned one that is exactly what they need for the space. You just never know what the day will bring which always full of potential and I think that is one of the scary but also most exciting parts of being an artist!
I sometimes get blocks but it’s more because I have an idea in my head that I can visualize but never get put onto the canvas! Now that is frustrating! It usually means that I am just bored with a particular “style” and am wanting to change directions…sort of a transitional stage. Those can make you wonder if you will ever make anything you like again and then finally you break on through to the other side of the block and you get it!”
Do you have a favourite artist/collective that you look up to? (this doesn’t have to just be one!)
On other artists
“I admire so many artists but some of my all time favourite artists are Mitchell, Kandinsky, Matisse, and Rothko. I like Mitchell’s take on landscapes, her colour layering and the spontaneity and freedom in her work. Kandinsky was clearly was a master of the interaction between colour and form and an amazing use of geometrics. Rothko has stunning color blending, depth of field and large format works. Recently I have also been drawing in my spare time and I am really getting into Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. I really love his way of capturing people and the feeling of movement in his work. I also love his unique use of contrasting color combinations which make his work so visually compelling and contemplative.”
Who is your role model?
On role models
“My role models are successful working artists who are working for themselves and making wonderful art that the world values enough to pay for. I admire artists who have achieved success through both their artistic abilities and their business skills needed to work for yourself. I always admire artists who remain true to their visions knowing that success will follow if they just remain themselves and make the art that only they can produce. My role models are people who stay true to their own voice and don’t pay attention to fads.”
Where do you live? Do you live by any kind of philosophy? Do you follow any particular advice that you’ve been given? (If so, who gave it to you? What was their advice? When did you receive this?)
“I live in Los Angeles and specifically a section called West Hollywood. I think that we need to live in the moment and art should capture our attention and bring us into the moment if only for yes, a moment! I think that being an artist helps me express my feeling of the human condition and experience we all have individually and something about my art connects that to others.
Most of my family think I am a little bit crazy or wasting time by not having a “regular job” and knowing where my next pay check is coming from. I just think they don’t understand that it takes a lot more work to make something from nothing with just your mind and hands and paint, than to just show up at a job like most people do and don’t even enjoy. I am happy creating and I think I have the most wonderful “job” in the world!
You only live once so you have to do what makes you happy. Working for someone else is not for everyone. It’s a diverse world out there and again, travel showed me that and will show the same to anyone who takes the time to travel out of their comfort zones.”
Do you have any exhibitions coming up? Are you planning any future exhibitions? Where do you see your art in the future? Where do you see yourself in the future? What are your goals/ambitions for the future?
On the future
”Absolutely I have a couple of them in the planning stages for Spring 2017 but no confirmed dates yet. Continuing to sell my artwork on Artfinder of course! One ongoing goal is to continue to develop my artwork so the demand will continue to grow and ultimately my work will become more and more collectible. Since I don’t look at making art as a “job” but rather a calling I don’t ever plan on stopping. I just plan to keep pushing the envelop and making art everyday! Also keeping up with technologies like social media to keep collectors aware of my latest works and projects. The hub of my online presence is my personal site NestorToro.com which has links and information about me and my work.”
Do you have any advice for other artists?
“I would say to be realistic with the time that it is going to take for you to get noticed. There are a lot of great artists out there and I am sure better ones than any of us but no will ever know because they couldn’t or wouldn’t wait it out. So my biggest is to have patience.
The second most valuable piece of advice is to have your own voice. Do Not Copy another artist! Sure, be influenced by the of course, but don’t copy anything. Use your own voice. If you try to copy there will be nothing of you in the art and ultimately what a collector is buying is YOU! That unique work that only YOU could make. Sort of having one of your thoughts put on a canvas they can enjoy everyday. So I am always true to my voice and vision and it seems to work because I have sold to collectors on 5 continents and this is just the beginning! Just never ever give up on yourself!”
Thank you very much for your time. You are very talented.
“Thank you, it was fun and thank you for the compliment on my art as well.”
Nestor Toro – Abstract Artist – Los Angeles
Here are some useful links for additional info:
My main site:
Social Media sites: