The Artist in the Spotlight.

Creative Trap

Artists are tortured souls. Some of the great artists, past or present, have gone thru extreme personal tragedies and emotional struggles that define their character. It is my belief that great art comes from pain. If you research John Milton (Paradise Lost), Petrarch (Il Canzoniere), Van Gogh, Beethovan, and countless others, the same pattern emerges. Some tragedy, either in childhood or later in life, makes these artists - abnormal or let's say -- Great!

Suffering shapes and molds the way artists perceive everything around them. That character development, for good or bad, is what gives the rest of us - ART. I do not claim that great art only comes from suffering. Only that art without suffering is likely to be mediocre. It is easy to retrospect and talk about someone's motivations and struggles. It is not easy to talk about your own. This series aims to capture some of the visitors & emerging creative artists that visited the exhibits during Photoville LA 2019 at the Annenberg Space for Photography (@annenbergspace) and the struggles they face and their motivation - in their own words.

I also had the opportunity to meet a great visual storyteller, photographer Bil Brown (@bilbrown) and learn how he captures the "emotions" in his work. His unique perspective has changed mine.

"God rewardeth the sufferer in proportion to his Pain."

- Sir Thomas More, 1553 AD

"I usually quit a job after six months from not being able to create my own work full time."

- Amber Aisha (Photographer)

"Photography is a moment in time that we can never get back. I aim to capture vulnerable moments, real moments, natural moments. I usually quit a job after six months from not being able to create my own work full time. What keeps me motivated is knowing that I am great at what I do and the connections I make at the jobs I work at (usually photography full time jobs) will only help in my journey!

Lastly, not letting money get in the way of what I love to do! I don’t want photography to become draining I still want to be able to enjoy what I love doing most!"

- Amber Aisha (@amberaisha), Photographer

"No matter what I decide logically in my brain, music will always come back to me. I couldn't stop writing songs [even] if I tried."

- Hannah Bowers, Singer & Songwriter

"The art I create is very emotion-based. When I feel something strong enough I feel the need to capture that in a piece of art. It's very hard to work day jobs while pursuing a career in art. I'm often hindered by lack of money and lack of time. I wish I had all the time in the world to create and it can be hard when I only have a couple hours in the day to dedicate to my art.

Sometimes I get burnt out, frustrated, and tired. But I never feel like quitting because music is my biggest truth. It's sewn into my identity - how I view and experience the world. There is no other thing I could do that brings me such honest joy. No matter what I decide logically in my brain, music will always come back to me. I couldn't stop writing songs if I tried. My main philosophy is that I know nothing for certain, and I am always learning and growing. I don't like to take life to seriously. I know this existence is my own so I will live it in my own way - creating a happy and fulfilling life for myself."

- Hannah Bowers, Singer & Songwriter (@thehannahbowers)

The Photographers

The Visitor

The Art Curator

"No matter what my internal or external struggle was, I have a certain privilege to have that struggle resolved. I easily can switch gears at any point to make my life easier."

- Bil Brown (Photographer)

"I believe we truly create our own reality, we can obtain and manifest anything and everything we believe in. If we truly believe and in our selves and know that we can create success, love and happiness in all areas in our lives if we remove doubt and fear then our dreams will unfold in divine time.

The only reason people fail is because of their own limited beliefs that they aren’t worthy, good enough etc. Its time we all recognize  our potential and trust that we have  been placed on this earth for a purpose. Follow your bliss and passion to discover what that purpose is. " 

- Mary Beth Whitehouse (@mb_whitehousestyle), Fashion Stylist; pictured left

"I live for my art and creativity, without it my life is dull with no purpose. I will always pursue my art regardless of the income. "

- Mary Beth Whitehouse (Fashion Stylist)

The Girl Looking at Art.

A selfie with Tupac.

Veteran revisiting War.

"Any photographer who says he's not a voyeur is either stupid or a liar."

- Helmut Newton, Photographer

"As an artist I tend to be driven by high emotions. When I am stuck, I simply remove myself from work and go outside. It’s important to keep myself happy and healthy both physically and mentally.

Balance of mind, body and spirit will guide you towards your happiness. Never let the three steer away from one another. Keep them in line."

- Chelsey Rose, Photographer (@chlc_rose)

"In the eye of the storm, beauty is born through overcoming odds and living out aspirations."

- Kc Dolce, Hip Hop Artist

"I don't have a 9-5 [job]. I believed if I could generate a lot of money for a company why wouldn't I be able to [do] so for myself. Without struggle there would be no reward.  I feel like I'm a  caterpillar transforming into a butterfly. Being able to inspire people all over the world keeps me motivated."

- Phree Hester, Art Designer (@phreeart), center. Also Pictured: Brittany Paige, Musician (@priestesspaige), right.

"My vices used to be people and their negative mindsets, lack of support from relatives and friends. My struggle is getting my message and story out to [as] many people as possible and the constant drive to create genius. It's been times I felt like quitting in the past while on my journey but in the process of falling in love with the craft, I realized I would never quit, even if I didn't make a cent because I'm truly passionate and my art has purpose, a true message.

My philosophy is we can always do everything! It's that simple we're born the capacity of good and evil life is all about choice and the balancing of the two."

- Kc Dolce, Hip Hop Artist (@canalwaysdoeverything)

"Enjoy the little things and the life you live, and eventually the chips will fall into place."

- Hanna Sappington (Ballet Dancer)

"I'm currently a student, but finding the balance can definitely be a struggle. My biggest struggle would be myself. I lack time management and the motivation. I find it hard to stay motivated and not let the fear of the future hold me back from the potential that I have.

My friends and girls who've I've gotten the chance to watch over the years are my biggest influence, they each inspire me [in] different ways. Other styles such as contemporary pushes me and carries over into my movement, allowing me to get out of my comfort zone. What I hold true to myself, is that self empowerment and love is so important and is the key to maximizing your own happiness and without the love and support from friends and family I wouldn't be where I am today. Enjoy the little things and the life you live and eventually the chips will fall into place."

- Hanna Sappington, Ballet Dancer (@hannasapp)

"When the political elite make it to where you have no voice, when you can’t even express your life and desires without someone trying to sell you to an unreasonable mob, then the only opposition to this is to delve into who you are. How you see and react to the world, and eventually that becomes the visual dialogue that transcends social mores and gets us closer to who we really are.

After all, who we are is what actual art is all about. Anything else is trying to sell you something. Is low, and destructive to the intimacy we all want, and the responsibility we all have."

- Bil Brown, Photographer (@bilbrown) with his Leica M10.

"Without struggle there would be no reward. I feel like I'm a caterpillar transforming into a butterfly."

- Phree Hester (Art Designer)

Pointing Fingers.

The Artisan.

The Philosopher.

"I feel like sometimes I get stuck in a rut photographing the same thing, this exhibit was the perfect opportunity to look at something new for me. Art is what I feel or what I fail to put into words. I have a hard time communicating with people sometimes, which is why I tend to lean towards street/candid photography. My lack of networking with other artist keeps me from striving towards new goals and ideas at time. That is something I have constantly struggled with, but photography has changed that in some ways. I do believe artists are flawed. I believe that all great artist see the world in ways some of us cannot, and that is what makes them so great.

Staying motivated while working 8 hours a day has always been an issue for me. I quit my full time job a year ago, I was so frustrated that all my energy was going towards something I was not passionate about. Creating something different keeps me motivated. I want people to look at my work and think about it for a couple of days."

- Moises Vazquez, Photographer (@moisview); next image is what he captured.

"This pictures evokes mixed feelings for me - seeing an injured child in pain."

Shot by Moises Vazquez

Thanks to all who agreed to be photographed for this series. Images were taken on Canon 5D Mark III (24-70L f/2.8 @ 35mm), Leica Q2 (prime @ 28mm), Apple iPhone 7 Plus. Special thanks to Leica USA for loaning the camera. And also to Bil Brown for showing me a new perspective. [5/2/19]