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

Hi Andres, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
Balance is like happiness; no one really knows how to define it, but we all want it. When I was starting my freelance branding/photography business I worked two part-time jobs, and I was going to college full time. I was constantly running around, trying to meet deadlines. I was underslept, and spread too thin. My life revolved around completing tasks and switching hats from one gig to the next. I prided myself in being able to multitask, plan ahead and be resourceful. I thought I was hustling, but in reality, I was just trying to make ends meet. My attention was divided and my energy was used up on so many things at once, at the end of the day I didn’t have any left for my own projects. That’s when it hit me; I realized I was investing all my energy, time and creativity on someone else’s projects. And no one was investing in me. I made a decision to invest in me. I focused on working only one job, primarily (still had bills to pay), and I rid myself of as many of the side projects that consumed my time that weren’t essential to me. Saying “no” is hard when you’re a doer. Right after I made my decision, my day seemed to accommodate more of my own ideas to come to fruition, I started booking more of the clients I wanted, and my technique improved. I noticed the change almost overnight, and so did the companies I was creating for at the time. Today, I try to use my time more wisely; I resist the urge to overbook myself and I learnt how to say no to projects that don’t motivate me or that simply distract me from achieving my goals of being independent and self sustainable.

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.
I believe I’ve always been a scientist at heart—exploring the world through my art and using different mediums, techniques and tools, to capture the essence of what draws me in. At some point in my childhood it was clay. I was really into paleontology then, and all my creations resembled dinosaurs. Later on, I got into anime and manga, and took pen and illustration markers, and drew thousands of faces and characters I saw on magazines and tv. The tools I used to create with didn’t feel truly essential to me. I just had this urge to try it all, to experiment, to try out new things and learn. Eventually, one day, I picked up a film camera, a Kodak Pocket Instamatic, and my world changed. I traded all other tools and focused on capturing images. I had no clue what I was doing, but the idea freezing a moment forever in time was magic to me. Fast forward two decades, and I am still experimenting with new mediums and tools, but a camera has never left my side on my travels and adventures in nature. Today, I am working on two projects: first, I am writing my own photo/poetry book, that I am excited to say will include a view into many aspects of my creative development and some of the projects I’ve worked on with friends and family along the way. And finally, I am venturing into my latest creative project; sustainably hand made silver and gold jewelry I’m calling Right at Sunset. Currently in the throws of designing pieces and building content for a website for it. Looking forward to share both projects soon, as my art will surely continue to evolve as I explore the world my way and expand my scientist’s tool box.

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?
I recently moved from Honolulu to Maui. I needed a change of pace. I know what you’re thinking, “those are both in Hawaii, so you’re still in paradise”, but the truth is they couldn’t be more different. As a landscape lover and photographer, if my friend were coming to visit for a week long trip it would go like this: First day, land in Honolulu and catch sunset at a beach on the West Side. The beaches there are wide and sometimes vacant. And the colors in the clouds, wow! Then we would drive back to town and check into the The Laylow, Autograph Collection Hotel in Waikiki. Get us two Aperol Spritz (add a shot of gin) at the bar and enjoy the live music. Next day, we’d drive out 20 minutes to the East Side. Check out the scenic views from Makapu’u lookout before driving to the beach below and spotting my friend and paragliding instructor, Jorge, landing right behind us. That’s right, we are about to go up with him. If you’ve never tried it, paragliding is the closest thing to riding a floating roller coaster. After a couple of hours in the air, were gonna get hungry, so we’d grab a healthy and hearty tofu poke bowl and a BBQ portobello sandwich at Ai Love Nalo. Ok, third day is North Shore! No trip to the island of O’ahu is complete without checking the famous town of Haleiwa and trying the the mouth watering shrimp farms up in Kahuku. After a day of beach hopping, snapping photos, and enjoying the waves, we’re gonna be spent, so we’ll take it back to Waikiki and enjoy a rich meal in a more quiet setting. And yes, that is possible in town! La Vela is an intimate restaurant located in the Waikiki Sand Villa Hotel, and the quirky Croatian man who runs the show is very likely to get you instantly hooked on his seafood dishes. After a big day, its good to take the next morning easy. If we wake up a 9:00am, that’s ok. We’ll check out Arvo cafe in Kaka’ako and enjoy their variety of Aussie health foods and Sightglass coffee to go. Downtown Honolulu offers a range of museums, galleries, and open artists studios within walking distance. We will check out Lana Lane Studios first and say hi to Kamea, one of its founders, who along with Jasper Wong started POW! WOW!, an international mural arts festival that takes every February in Honolulu. The Honolulu Museum of Art is next on the list. Founded in 1922, their collection includes over 50,000 works and the largest Asian and Pan-Pacific art collection in the United States. For our fifth and last day in Honolulu we will go hiking. O’ahu offers incredible panoramic views of the island from the summits of its many mountains. Do we feel like climbing a waterfall in Nu’uanu? Trail running on Tantalus? Perhaps, tiptoeing along the razor sharp edge of the East Side ridges above the Pali Highway or Waimanalo? Or even rope climbing on rock walls? Good news is the views guarantee unbeatable photo ops and we’ don’t have to pick just one! The last few days of our trip, we are island hopping over to Maui. My family lives upcountry and we can stay in a little cottage 10 minutes from the beach on the North Shore. If we wake up on time and feel like talking a day road trip we can go on the historic Road to Hana, with over 50 bridges and countless waterfalls along the way. And if we feel like an even more scenic drive, we will visit the summit of a dormant volcano above the clouds named Haleakalā; literally the house of the sun. The views there are unbeatable, and with no more than a blanket, and some music playing in the back, we are bound to catch the best sunset ever.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
About five years ago, during my senior year of college, I landed a very unlikely job at Arvo, a cool little cafe in Honolulu. With no experience whatsoever as a barista, and perhaps only my Colombian heritage to support my being there at all, I took a chance and followed my gut. I stood at a crossroads then; I was six months from graduation, with a promising job lined up in my professional field of applied linguistics. Something, though, didn’t seem right. Deep down, I had always dreamt of pursuing my art and developing my creative power. I knew, if I took that other job, bells and whistles, and all, I would be denying myself the opportunity to dream. Arvo, and the family that runs it took me in, fully uplifting and propelling me into a world of creativity and art and I could have only dreamed of before. I am most thankful to them for believing in me, pushing me, allowing me free range creatively, and supporting my ideas. Arigato, mates!

Instagram: @kingofmongols

Other: Spotify and SoundCloud — Kingofmongols

Image Credits
Personal Photo: Walter Siefker (wsierfkerphoto.com) B&W: Rodrigo Moraes (@rodrigomoraesphotography)

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutLA is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.