"He who listens to his inner voice instead of the cries and clamor of the market,
he who has the courage to teach others what his heart has taught him,
will always be original."

                   — Ludwig Börne
 

Jono McCleery

Singer, Songwriter, Guitar: England

“Hearing my father improvising on the piano as I would sleep when I was a child split my mind and ears open for life. And furthermore, losing him at the point which my memory fades somehow allows me to use this kind of music as a way to stay connected to him.”

Edgaras Žakevičius

Composer: Lithuania

“With my few first albums I was so in love with ambient music and space music that I just wanted other people to stop thinking about trivial things on Earth and to start imagining more, and to really feel their surroundings – not just nature, but the entire Cosmos. It may sound like a rather big goal for someone like me, but I liked the idea that maybe I'm not the only one who can see the Universe through music.”

Matt Haber

Painter: Brooklyn, NY

"My grandpa would always say to me, It takes two people to make a painting – one person to paint it, the other one to sit there with a hammer and hit 'im on the head when it's done."

Matt Straub

Painter: Brooklyn, NY

“It’s tough work. It’s not always pretty work. I can remember thinking in my early 20s, oh yeah, it might take 10 years to get good at this, and 10 years go by, and wow, I’m still learning. People don’t realize how difficult painting is. It’s pretty rare that an artist can be successful early and just hang on to that style and continue being successful for another 30 years. It’s really challenging.”

Daniella Bonachella

Painter: Brazil

“I always thought art was the only thing I really knew how to do. You know when you’re doing something that you like and you can spend hours on it and you don’t see the time go? That’s how I always felt doing painting and drawing. I can go for hours and I don’t need to eat, or anything. Time goes like this [snaps fingers]. It’s very nice.”

Seonna Hong

Painter, Illustrator: Los Angeles

"I love music. It’s a huge source of inspiration and also the motor that keeps me going when I’m painting. I love that you don’t have to know who somebody was writing a song for to recognize something of yourself in it; that we’re all crying to that Adele song. [Laughs] Even my daughter – which I thought was hilarious – we were both weeping. I was driving and she’s nine years old and I was like, what are you experiencing?"

Ken Garduno

Painter, Illustrator: Los Angeles

“It’s nice to have a direct connection to people who are your art patrons. It’s nice to have conversations with them and find out what it is that they like about your work, and also when you stop hearing from them, wonder why – what it was in your work that changed, that kind of pushed them away. But that’s ok, though. That’s part of taking the risk and evolving in your work.”

Mitch Dobrowner

Photographer: Los Angeles

“You go out there and all of a sudden the light’s starting to change and you realize that it’s a four-hour hike back, and you’re by yourself and have a limited amount of water and food and have to scramble back in the dark. And I remember going through all this…how am I gonna even see? So lots of times it’s to stay there and get that shot. And that’s landscape photography.”

Andrew Hem

Painter, Illustrator: Los Angeles

“More people are allowing artists to do murals on their buildings. I think it’s because of the whole MOCA street art exhibit. People gained more appreciation for it. It wasn’t that way before. But nowadays it seems like everybody wants some of that, and it’s getting more visible. Like this last mural I did, everything was legit. I had a permit from the city. It was pretty impressive. Times are changing right there.”

Valerie June

Musician: Tennessee

“I have a grandmother. She’s very sweet. She’s always like, ‘One day I’m gonna see you on Good Morning America.’ I’m like, ‘Ok Gran, keep livin’! I’m gonna try to catch up with that dream you got for me.’”

Rebecca Bird

Painter: Brooklyn, NY

“I remember being really frustrated with color crayons when I was small—that they didn’t do things you wanted them to do. I remember I saw a play of The Happy Prince in kindergarten and I tried to draw his gold armor with crayons, and I had brown and I had orange, and it didn’t work.” [laughs]

Tamar-Kali

Singer, songwriter: Brooklyn, NY

"What’s crazy to me is that’s how we experience the world — not by actually being present and taking in the information, but by comparing the information to other information that’s already in our brain, and it limits our sight and understanding a lot of times."

Sanithna Phansavanh

Painter, Illustrator: Atlanta

"As soon as I wake up there’s gotta be music. Most people have coffee. I don’t drink coffee. I just need music in my headphones to get me started."

Tran Nguyen

Painter, Illustrator: Georgia

“You know that this painting you did touched someone so much and helped them. Like I said, I’ve had really caring parents and wonderful friends. They’ve always taken care of me, so I kind of want to give that impact to other people.”

Juana Molina

Musician, Singer, Songwriter: Argentina

"To see someone on stage who only sings and presses buttons on a computer, where’s the risk? There’s no way to get it wrong – unless your computer crashes. What do you do if it crashes? They probably have a backup. Another computer." [laughs]

John Shannon

Singer, Songwriter, Guitar: Brooklyn, NY

“I had a few great teachers growing up and in music school. I was lucky to learn the lesson that no one can be better at being you than you, and because of that I developed an awareness of the difference between innovation and imitation.”

Martin Wittfooth

Painter: Brooklyn, NY

“I get a lot of inspiration from the landscape out here in Brooklyn. Symbolically speaking it’s just got so many layers of paint and stuff, or just layers of grime, even. It’s like all those layers suggest some era gone by.”

Jesse Kerr

Illustrator: San Diego

“Acquiring more skill, at let’s say drawing, is not about that latest new drawing as much as the new drawing is the latest understanding and experience of one single drawing that the artist has been making his whole life.”

Yoskay Yamamoto

Painter, Sculptor: Los Angeles

“I try my best to work in different media, not just painting. I love doing sculptures and recently I’ve been trying to incorporate installations when I showcase my work. I think people enjoy seeing a variety of work from one creator.”

Julienne Hsu

Painter: Los Angeles

“I studied a little bit of English when I was a kid and my dad thought I was pretty good at it. He was hoping I could be a translator, working for the government or something like that. But he wasn’t expecting me to be a painter, no.”

Lizz Lopez

Painter: Los Angeles

"As much as I respected a lot of my friends who just full-force said, 'I’m only gonna do art, forget it if I don’t have a job, I’m gonna make it...' I didn’t want to put that burden on my artwork. I wanted to paint whatever I wanted to."

Edwin Ushiro

Painter, Illustrator: Los Angeles

“Memory fascinates me. All you need is something to trigger a memory, and then you get it. But it was always there. It could be something you haven’t thought about for years and I don’t know, it could be anything, a sound, that could trigger that whole memory.”

Sam Amidon

Folk, Indie: Vermont, New York City

“YouTube, that’s a total folk tradition right now. I mean, someone puts something up and then you have 40 videos of other people doing that same video; their version of that video. It’s like folk performance art.”

Jenn Porreca

Painter: San Francisco

"Art takes so much time. You dream about what you want to do, and then to make it happen it's going to take multiple experiments and...a lifetime. You have to be crazy about it. For me, that's what it is. I'm in love with curiosity. That's what keeps it exciting."

Havana Carbo

Singer, Composer: Cuba

"You can tell a lot about a musician by the way they let other people do their solos. Music is about the live performance."

Les Nubians

Neo-Soul and Urban Poetry: France

"After a project like this, it's like going to class and having a degree. It really changed our way of working and the way we envisage words and the power of words."

Piers Faccini

Singer, Songwriter, Poet: France

"Sometimes people say 'Oh your lyrics, they're kind of vague and I don't really always know what you're talking about'. And I say that's good, because if it's poetic then it can't be explained. Poetry can't be explained, otherwise it's no longer poetry."

Susana Baca

Singer, Composer, Historian: Peru

"My father played the guitar and my mother was a dancer. We would play on boxes, or dump clothes out of a drawer and use the drawer as percussion. I grew up in the middle of all this history."

Grimanesa Amorós

Multidisciplinary Artist: Peru

"When I came to the states I had to leave everything and start from zero. So the fact that you are able to do that is a wonderful relief. It's a very tough journey. I didn't become an artist because I wanted to be famous, or wealthy. I didn't see an alternative for me."

Magali Souriau

Pianist, Composer: New York City

"People can do fantastic things, really. Even some people with very little experience. If you trust them and they trust you and you tell them to really go for it, they can really blossom and it's a pleasure. It's a pleasure to do that."