We had the good fortune of connecting with Robyn Ness Alcantar and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Robyn Ness, why did you pursue a creative career?
There are so many reasons why I chose the life of an artist, woodworker, and small business owner. However, to keep it short and simple, I chose to pursue an artistic career because it makes me happy and it gives my life purpose. Whether I’m woodworking, painting, sculpting, taking photos, singing, or playing the guitar, I’m able to express myself through my creative passions! Additionally, being able to pour my creative spirit into the projects I make is fulfilling in a deeper sense; and when folks support my work, as well as other local artists and small business owners in the Queer and BIPOC communities, it gives me a sense of connectedness.
Overall, choosing this artistic career has been life giving, even with the challenges that may come along: because to me, art is like a candle in a dark room; Art is a Learning Process, Art is a Teacher, Art is Love in All its Forms, Art is a Nonverbal Conversation, A Feeling, A Moment; Art is a lifestyle; Art Brings in Community, & most importantly, Art is Healing.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My art is an extension of myself; whether I’m painting, taking photos, or woodworking. My art also serves as a representation of my thoughts, emotions, intentions, and identities. Through painting, I learn to be intentional with the marks I make, both on a canvas, and in life. As a Nonbinary Trans Filipino American artist, I understand that representation of marginalized identities matters, and this is what I practice through my paintings in abstract ways. Through photography, I learn how instances of a memory can be captured within a photo, making time feel irrelevant. Through woodworking, I am humbled as a student in the process of learning the beauty of trade skills, even after years of time spent honing my craft. I feel immense child-like joy when I turn a piece of reclaimed lumber into a work of art, whether it’s functional or sculptural. I become proud of myself when I take time to solve problems that may come up in the shop, and I also learn when it’s time to begrudgingly start projects over when mistakes happen, because they do/will happen. As a self-taught artist, woodworker, and small business owner, I am proud of the things I’ve learned to do, such as: creating my own website, social media marketing, content creation, and all the new woodworking techniques I learn during each new build. However, the main factor that keeps me inspired to keep on creating, is the sense of community & support that I am continuously finding in the maker community.
If you would like to learn more about my business, RNA Wood Works, I highly encourage you to check out my website (www.rnawoodworks.com) and read the “About Me” page, as well as look through my portfolios!
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.
If my friends were visiting for a week, I would love to take them around the local restaurants and bars in Barrio Logan, Hillcrest, and the beaches of San Diego! The Barrio Art crawl events that happen every weekend fills Logan Ave with loud music, artists, vendors, and street food that fills the air with delicious aroma. Then, in Hillcrest, whether it’s walking around Balboa Park, attending the Sunday farmer’s market, or getting a drink at Gossip Grill, being in the neighborhood always brightens my day/night. I would also take folks to National City and bring friends to Filipino restaurants like Tita’s Kitchenette, Oi Asian Fusion, and Seafood City! As for the beaches of San Diego, I love hitting up Silver Strand, IB, Coronado, and the Fiesta Island Dog park & bonfire pits!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I wouldn’t have made it to where I am today without my Family, Friends, & Community. Even though I know that I put so much individual work into my passions, I am not “self- made”; I am community made.
First off, Shout out to Noodle, or as I grew up calling them, Natalie, for just being you! You and the fam have always supported me and my work and it’s because of you that I’m able to even be in this interview right now!
Next, I want to shoutout my UniPro Pamilya, especially the folks who just graduated from the first ever UniPro Summer 2021 Internship! Y’all know who you are and you all have impacted my life for the better and continue to show me what it truly means to live life through Kapwa- a core value in Philippine indigenous psychology; “finding self in others.” Here’s to planting and nurturing the kapwa seed!
Furthermore, Shout out to my friends and the folks in the LGBTQIA2S+ & BIPOC communities, specifically the folks I’ve met through Queering The Path! There is so much community love and support and you all make life so much better (to say the least)!
Additionally, I want to shout out my family:
Shout Out to my parents, who have given me space to run my wood shop in their garage.
Shout Out to my siblings, for always checking in on each other, supporting me, and for being down to watch my YouTube videos with me.
Lastly, and most importantly, Shout Out to my bestfriend/love/partner, Jesse Danelle: You make me feel safe and reassured. You continue to shower me in unconditional love, you wholeheartedly support my creative endeavors, and I love that we always encourage each other to grow individually & together. Here’s to Us and here’s to You; Thank You
Robyn Ness Alcantar