We had the good fortune of connecting with Alex Woz and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Alex, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
A few months ago, I left a great job to pursue a temporary position teaching art to low-income students at a local school program. Shortly after that ended, I decided to put down the lesson plans and pursue a career as a full time artist and printmaker- at the risk of my own stability.

Art has always been my calling, and my way to fully explore and reveal the most vulnerable aspects of myself. Through painting, illustration, and graphic design, I’ve been able to immerse myself in parts of myself that I never knew existed- and it can be daunting to reveal that to the world.

I think the most important foundation in any artists career is their commitment to taking those risks and potentially stepping out of their comfort zones, which is something I’m still very much learning. It’s also important to understand that risk is defined differently by each artist individually! For me and my work, risk-taking is innately tied into how vulnerable and authentic I allow myself to be. I think we as artists are constantly being pulled between the notions of maintaining authenticity in our work – which in turn is authenticity to ourselves – and understanding what works, what sells, and the methods in which we earn exposure for our work.

This feels especially exaggerated in this new era of social media, where your popularity and success can feel determined by likes, views, saves, and shares. The new modality of gaining exposure as an artist is completely different than it’s ever been before- and we’ve had to learn how to adapt to it quickly. We’re really all learning together.

In terms of my own ongoing journey as an artist, I’ve had to evaluate which direction I’m heading in, or rather, being pulled in, at times. And I think even in a short 23 years, I’ve learned a few valuable lessons about the duality of authenticity versus formula within art- and that is that popularity will follow your authenticity. Your authenticity will be the thing that will earn your exposure, although it may seem like a slower process. To be authentic within our art in of itself is a huge risk- it’s a risk because our artistic authenticity is innately tied to our own vulnerability as people and as artists. I’ve gotten countless rejection letters from galleries and showcases who refused to display my work- but staying persistent, along with being able to consciously remove your emotional charge from your work when it doesn’t serve you, is key.

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.
At this current point in time, that authenticity I’ve focused on heavily derives from maintaining diversity within my work. Although I’ve observed that a certain style of my art has gotten more exposure, I always want to keep moving. I never want to stay grounded in my work. There’s an insatiable hunger that I know many artists feel to keep improving ourselves, to keep challenging ourselves on what we are capable of, to surprise ourselves with what just birthed from our brains. That, to me, is a form of authenticity- but if you ask me this question again in a few years, I know you’ll get a completely different answer.

This inner sense of pressure to be diverse in my work spawned a new idea for how I structure and release my work- in sets, or “collections”. Because of the seemingly random variety of my work, I wanted to be able to have some semblance of coherence in terms of how I present my art- something about just releasing totally artistically conflicting pieces one after another just doesn’t sit right with me, nor does it look good on my feed, haha.

Being deeply inspired by music, and growing up listening to mostly albums with conceptual thematic overtones, I wanted a way in which I could convey that sense of packaging and thematic unity within the realm of visual art. On albums like Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” or Kendrick Lamars’ “To Pimp a Butterfly”, although there are several diverse tracks, you get a feel that they are all unified by a common theme and motif. Although “To Pimp a Butterfly” contains several diverse tracks, none of them would fit comfortably anywhere in his discography alone from the album. By releasing my art in “collections”, I hope to accomplish the same feelings that these albums brought onto me- a feeling of complex diversity, yet unified by one commonality.

If you go on my page or see my portfolio, you’ll see that one set couldn’t look more different from another. That’s my goal. To have people see some of my work and say “Woah, Woz did that…? That seems out of field for him, but I can kinda recognize his style…”

Overall, the structure of albums of music has deeply influenced how I release my art and as I grow older and accumulate more experience as an artist, I hope to only continue expanding on this idea and process. I want my “collections” to be viewed as several pieces of ONE cohesive work, exactly like an album of music. All pieces are dependent on each other, none able to stand alone without the others.

I know I’ve spoken a lot about authenticity- and to me, it’s just that important. Being vulnerable enough to say that I have, and continue to make mistakes in my art. I’m not perfect by any means, nor do I EVER do things the “correct” way. I’m sure even people who aren’t designers themselves can go through my portfolio and pick it apart- “this gradient looks off, this composition and colors are weird, this placement is funny”- and in a strange way, I pride myself on that. Many times, I’ve rejected the proper ways to do things and only applied my knowledge in a way that makes sense to me- which has caused many headaches throughout my career. I wouldn’t recommend that method to anyone, I have always just stubbornly learned how I’ve wanted to and in a way that makes sense to me. This has resulted in a lot of relearning the basics, but I do feel as if it’s given me a slight edge in the sense that I don’t rely on specific techniques to convey my creativity. To me, making these mistakes feels like it’s an extension of my vulnerability as an artist, which is my own inner authenticity.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Oh man, luckily my best friend DOES live about 10 minutes away, so I’ve never had to think about this scenario, haha. First off, I’d invite them over and make some extremely strong coffee, then maybe go to the mountains of even relax on the beach. I love to relax and take it easy. I’m not an “extreme” guy by any means. Give me some coffee, art supplies, and the people I love and I’m happy. I love to travel and have always travelled a lot since I was a child- my parents being immigrants kind of reinforced the notion that there was no place to be tied down to. With that comes a feeling of freedom, however with that also comes a longing for stability. I still travel frequently, and always want to, but when it come to relaxing, I’d prefer to do that at home or close to home. Honestly, my ideal “friend date” would be doing absolutely NOTHING with them- just enjoying each others company, laughing, drinking, and smoking. I’m very much a 90 year old Jewish man stuck in a 23 year old body.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My shoutout would be the people who have loved and believed in me throughout the years, including the people who have been following my work, and supporting me in what I do- whether that’s buying a print, sharing my work, leaving a comment, or even a private message telling me that they appreciate my work. I see all of these things and take my time to respond to each and every one. They always make my day and in a way, affirm my work. I think more than most, my mom deserves the most love. She’s an artist herself but had to forgo her own aspirations when she immigrated to this country from South America. I think growing up, she saw the same passion in me that she had when she was a kid, and she did everything in her power to nurture that.

Website: https://alexwozart.com/

Instagram: woz_art

Image Credits
My mama! <3

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