We had the good fortune of connecting with Morgan DeLuna and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Morgan, work life balance: how has your balance changed over time? How do you think about the balance?
Balancing work and life is particularly tricky as an artist. The line between your creative and personal life can be blurry; add in working for yourself, and the 24/7 work cycle can take over. When I was starting out, I use to work all the time, and it caught up with me. It took a toll on my physical and mental health. Now, I have learned to set boundaries to my availability, accessibility, and work hours. I tuned into the times of day I am naturally at my most creative and productive to establish a more intuitive workflow. I also overhauled the time I spent on social media; this one was a significant stress relief. I am now more focused on the present, which is key to balancing life and work.
Please tell us more about your art. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about.
Every artist is inherently unique; our individual experiences and interests fuel the work that we make. In my visual art practice, I use photography to express ideas and questions about identity and humanity. Being a multi-ethnic person from an interfaith family and growing up in an area that still harbored anti-semitism led me to question how others judge outward appearances and labels. My involvement in the performing arts allowed me to further explore humanity; how our inner worlds and outer realities often do not align. These experiences inform my life and, in turn, shaped the focus of my work. The challenge of finding new ways to communicate these ideas and connect with people visually is exciting to me. It is always rewarding when a viewer has an emotional connection with my work.
How did you get to where you are today professionally? Was it easy? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way? What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
Mentorship and being fearless with asking questions! As I mentioned, I have had the guidance and support of some wonderful people, which has made all the difference. There is no linear path when working as a visual artist, and the steps to building a career, which is a slightly separate endeavor from making the art, aren’t laid out in a neat checklist. Understanding my art in a broader sense, where it belongs, and how to get it there would not have been possible on my own. Knowledge is a priceless gift that has been selflessly shared with me by some remarkable people. I have benefited greatly from it, and I happily pass along what I can to others because I know what a difference it makes.
Well, that is a tricky question to answer; yes and no. From an early age, I knew that I was an artist, that would be my career in some shape or form. I have always been curious, self-motivated, hard-working, and eager to evolve my skillset, so that part came without question. Deciding to be an artist full-time and navigating the inner workings of building an art career, not so easy; nothing worthwhile ever is, right? Working in the arts can be an emotional rollercoaster full of uncertainty but extremely rewarding, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. While never without its challenges, having the support of my partner, mentors, friends, and a little bit of luck now and then helps make it manageable.
I have had to learn how to deal with the mental blocks that expectations can bring. There is a freedom of expression that you do not realize you have before sharing your work outside of a classroom. Once I started exhibiting my work, I noticed that I began feeling performance pressure. I had this sense of needing to live up to or better the last project I did, and it was discouraging me from executing new ideas. I had to tell myself that you never know if an idea will work or not; you can’t stop taking risks and creating because of a perceived expectation. I now know to quiet down that noise and practice my craft without hesitation.
My artistic process involves self-questioning, reflection, research, and observation. The context of my imagery is integral and offers a more in-depth understanding of what I am saying, exploring, or asking.
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. In your view what are some of the most fun, interesting, exciting people, places, or things to check out?
I am willing to bet that we all have our little dream itineraries at this point. Could I list off some favorite places that I look forward to visiting again? 2020 has been such a bear of a year for local businesses, and I know how vital our continued community support is to them. Here are some lovely places in San Diego, many of which are set-up online to take orders, schedule appointments to visit, holding virtual viewings and events, or offer take-away, so please check them out! For food, because I can not be the only one tired of their own cooking, I like: The Mission, Pappalecco, Paleo Treats, OB Noodle House, Pachamama, Mama’s Bakery & Lebanese Deli, and Ashoka The Great. To take in some culture, the San Diego Asian Film Festival, Digital Gym, and San Diego Italian Film Festival are currently offering films to view. To visit some art in person, you can schedule an appointment at Bread and Salt, Hill Street Country Club, and The Photographer’s Eye Collective, and some of San Diego’s museums now have online viewing. Luckily we have access to beautiful beaches and trails to unwind outdoors. If staying at home to relax, I love the refillable candles at Often Wander. You can stretch out with an online yoga class through Yoga Arts Studio or curl up with a book from Bluestocking Books.
So is there a person, group, organization, book, etc that you want to dedicate your shoutout to? Who else deserves a little credit and recognition in your story?
As a county, San Diego’s art and photographic community has been amazingly supportive and welcoming. They collectively deserve a big shoutout, especially with how they have all adapted to the challenges of 2020. I have been fortunate to have the support of individuals and organizations alike. Patricio Chavez, Donna Cosentino of The Photographer’s Eye Collective, Scott B. Davis of Medium Photo, APA’s San Diego
Chapter, Open Show-San Diego have all helped me in my journey. By no means is this a complete list, and it is too difficult to single out any one person or organization.
Without a doubt, I have to acknowledge the people in my life that continue to support and encourage me personally and professionally. I am so grateful to my partner, friends that have become my family, and teachers who have become trusted friends and guides. These people not only bring out the best in me; they help me find the courage to continue being vulnerable and honest in the work I make.