We had the good fortune of connecting with Andrew Cortez and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Andrew, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
Before the pandemic, I was working roughly 35 hours a week, making enough to stay afloat, while doing commission artwork on the side. In order to feed my creative desires I would draw/paint before work, so I didn’t feel unproductive in my art pursuit. I like to think I’m a teamplayer and will try to help as much as I can at my job, but I found myself increasingly putting my art on the side, thinking “there will always be time to paint on my days off,” even though my days off would be filled with errands. Needless to say, I didn’t leave much time for creating. Not only that, but I didn’t allow myself to step into the unknown in my process and experiment with materials and subject matter. I felt every art piece I created needed to count, and my subject matter should be appealing to all audiences. So I was living blissfully unaware of the hamster wheel I put myself in, until a great, terrible thing happened; COVID-19. At the beginning of lockdown, our team was hard at work trying to keep the company alive, and successfully doing so, however, it was really difficult. Over the months, I was losing hours at work due to the quarantine, but slowly I began to embrace it. With new hours in my day and new days in my week, I felt relief. I used this new found time to read, research, work on my portfolio, express myself differently in art. I felt my mind was resetting, rethinking and questioning the way I’ve been living. I’ve been putting someone else’s dream in front of my own. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job and I wanted to help out as much as I could… but not for so long, I have my own life goals to fulfill. It wasn’t someone else’s fault that kept me from risk, from daring greatly like all artists do. It was myself who didn’t set boundaries between my job and my art. This past year, although a terrible year, had a silver-lining. I found me again. Someone who did take risk in art, and strived for great creativity. I’m taking on new challenges, really venturing into fields I didn’t think I would go. I’m putting art first now, and work as a way to help me when needed.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My art is about the world around me: family, friends, trails, lakes, travel, dark hallways. Right now, I’m focusing on plein air painting. I think it is one of the more difficult practices. A plein air artist has to understand all the fundamentals and color theory and work within a short time frame to capture the light around them. My goal is to create large landscape paintings from my plein air studies. I also have a YouTube Channel dedicated to teaching kids art called Drawing With You, where I sneakily teach kids fundamentals of drawing and painting. This is an area I did not think I would ever venture into but with many kids stuck at home looking for some creative outlet, I wanted to provide a fun way of learning art.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
One location I would go is Santa Monica Pier, where there’s lights and sounds of the ocean. Another is the LA Arboretum which would then lead us to the Norton Simon Museum and then hangout in Old Town Pasadena. And of course, any brewery, bar or coffee shop with a variety of drinks.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would like to shoutout many people, places and things, but sadly I know I’ll regret forgetting some. So here are the ones I can remember: Daring Greatly by Brene Brown, and Show Your Work by Austin Kleon. To Camille Przewodek for her inspiring work and for turning me on to plein air painting. To What You Will Learn podcast by Adam Ashton and Adam Jones for exposing new self/business improvement books. To many of my friend artists! Of course, to a lovely person, Brooke Hunter, whose talent is inspiring, and also for revealing to me the ways to an artist’s life. Many thanks to many others who inspire me. Shoutout and thanks to all frontline workers.

Website: http://www.andrewcortezart.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/andrewcortezart/
Youtube: Drawing with You: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdvoKj-8jd3hcmpH2AdZfTQ

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