We had the good fortune of connecting with Riley Waite and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Riley, why did you pursue a creative career?
I think of myself lucky as I always knew I wanted to go into the arts, as far back as kindergarten. I had a natural talent for studio arts, and that was coupled with the encouragement from my mother, so I almost always knew I was going to be an artist. I never gave much thought to a plan B, so that made going into the arts and sticking with it much easier. I would also consider myself a solitary and inward thinking person. I am introverted and prefer to work alone so I always gravitated towards working for myself, and a large part of art making is solitary. That contributed a little into my decision to pursue art.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’ve moved around quite a lot when I was growing up. Born to an Irish mother and American father in Oceanside California, I moved to Ireland with my mother at the age of seven. I grew up there for several of my formative years, and then made the decision to move back to California at the age of eighteen. I didn’t really have much to my name at this point and didn’t really know what to do, Other than having a tendency for artmaking. It was in Costa Mesa, California that I met a local Art teacher who pushed me in the direction of studio arts. I started taking art classes at the community college, graduated with honors to Cal state, Long Beach, and graduated with my Bachelors in Fine Arts in 2019. It was very intense few years, as CSULB’s Art program was strenuous and I recall working a full time job at the same time too. But I think in the end it was really made me into a better person, my time at art college, however daunting, was probably the best times in my life, and I have the students and faculty to thank for that. After graduating I started practicing fine art full time. My Art is strongly influenced by my upbringing in both Ireland and California and the hybrid of cultures that resulted. I still practice fine art and paint every single day. For my ‘day job’ (because every artist needs one) I paint portrait commissions via Etsy, which is enough to pay the bills.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
As a matter of fact, My best friend from Ireland, who has never come the states before, recently visited and I took him all over California. We did the usual first-time tourist attractions; The San Diego Zoo (which I love to sketch animal at), six flags, waterparks. I also took him to some cool art spots in the area, my favorite being the public art in the central Library. I love coming there on a weekend and sketching some of the art pieces. I also bought him his first taco, but it didn’t agree with his Irish palate I guess.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Although I always knew I wanted to be an artist, I never made the leap to professional fine artist until I met the local community college art teacher who happened to live down the street from me. His name is Tom Dowling and he was the first person to actively encourage me to pursue fine art. It almost seemed like he had a clear plan for where I was heading before I knew it myself. I owe a lot to him and the community college he taught at, Orange Coast College which had a great studio arts program at the time. I would consider him a mentor and we still talk now and then.