We had the good fortune of connecting with Alex Casillas and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Alex, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Over time I’ve learned that comfort leads to complacency. Once I settle a little too much into a certain style or idea, my work becomes bland and I lose inspiration. Risk is such an essential part of the creative process because it’s what pushes you to explore the unknown territory where those next-level ideas are hiding. There’s an infinite amount of new works and ideas that exist purely in hypothetical form, just waiting to be created, and risk allows us to tap into them. In my own career, stepping outside of what I’m comfortable with has been the key to any amount of success I’ve seen. Whether that’s reaching out and pitching to specific clients I want to work with, trying out brand new ideas in the middle of a shoot, or stepping into new mediums all-together, the uncertainty that comes with risk taking is what keeps me going. It doesn’t always work, but that’s the best part.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Ironically, I never thought art would play such a vital role in my life. I’ve been a photographer for as long as I can remember, but I always thought the end goal was commercial or fashion work full time. Pretty early on, I got bored with this direction and my work started to become much more experimental. This helped keep me going, but I still craved a creative outlet that was completely detached from any pressures of making money. This led me to acrylics and opened a whole new world of art that I now can’t imagine living without. Although I still do plenty commercial work (bills), I no longer resent it. I’m learning that there’s a beautiful joy that comes from the balance of work/passion projects. Sometimes the monotonous un-inspiring work is a nice break from diving deep into the depths of my psyche every day. I’ve made a lot of bad work. In fact, I’d even say that majority of the work I’ve made is bad. But by consistently showing up and doing the damn thing, the gems start to emerge. And over time a formula begins to create itself that lets those gems emerge more often. There’s been so many times when I just wanted to quit and go back to a straightforward job that didn’t require me to wear my heart on my sleeve, but the biggest lesson I’ve learned in all this is that you simply have to keep going. Quantity breeds quality. Repetition leads to refinement. One of my all-time favorite quotes (that I have to remind myself of daily) of is from painter Chuck Close. “Inspiration is for amateurs – the rest of us just show up and get to work.”
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?
Although Riverside is a bit out of the way, we do have some hidden gems that are definitely worth exploring. California Citrus State Historic Park is probably my favorite place to go and find stillness. It has beautiful winding walking paths with killer views overlooking the orange groves and usually isn’t too crowded. Wolfskill is definitely the place for craft cocktails if you’re looking to grab a drink. The staff is friendly, the music is good, and the vibe is comforting. For my fellow vegans, Teriyaki Plus is the spot. It’s a tiny hole-in-the-wall type restaurant with delicious food and a lot of character. During the week they have vegan options, but on the weekends they turn into Anti Diary Fight Club, which serves strictly vegan food. Try the tofu orange chicken. The Game Lab is a great spot to grab some beers and have some laughs. It’s a large bar-cade style spot with a nice blend of new and classic arcade games. And for the coffee lovers, my favorite spot in all of Riverside is Back to the Grind. You may be able to find better coffee somewhere else, but you won’t be able to find more character and authentic people. The walls are lined with books, art, plants, and history. They host all sorts of community events (including an 18+ ‘riverside prom’) and truly do their part in giving back to the culture. Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I wouldn’t be here today if not for the constant love and support I receive from my friends and family. They’ve pushed me when I didn’t want to be pushed and guided me when I didn’t want to be guided, and I’m eternally grateful. Along with those people, there’s a few books that have played an essential role in my growth that I can’t recommend enough. Each of these can be read countless times and the reader will come away with new truths over and over again. Art & Fear – David Bayles and Ted Orland Dropping Ashes on the Buddha – Zen Master Seung Sahn A New Earth- Eckhart Tolle
Personal photo by Raymond Alva – raymondalva.com