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

Hi Ariel, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
It stresses me out. I definitely have had periods where I am incredibly productive and periods where I just can not think creatively for myself. Currently, I am going through a period of art block. This pandemic has forced me to think about real-world things like paying my bills especially at a time where job security is thin. It felt as though I needed to shift my focus and energy and I had to basically weigh out what made more sense. It made more sense to focus my energy on staying secure. I think about what would stress me out more, not having art to show, or money to pay my bills, and paying my bills wins every time. I can’t make art if I am not stable. The hard part is the unknown factor- I don’t know how to set a goal date, like “okay everything is okay now.” It’s a vicious cycle, previously I was working with upcycled materials, this helped a lot because I wasn’t spending money on the bulk of what I was using, but now I want to invest more in practice, I am scared that I will be incredibly unlucky and the day after I drop money on a project, I will need it again for something else. COVID has definitely amplified the concerns. I am hoping that once I mentally relax, ideas will come and the confidence to invest in my work comes back.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I work primarily in installation art. My work is very bright, colorful, and escapist. I can never create a single perfect object, I work best in multiples, and in a space that I can take over. I am still in my early career and it feels about as hard as I was told it was going to be. It can be difficult to find places to show work and fit art-making in with regular life at times. I think the biggest lesson I learned (and luckily very quickly) was to not compare myself to other artists. I think a lot of artists are understandably guilty of looking at what their peers are doing- “Do they have a job in the arts? Do they have a job out of the arts that pays well? Do they have their own studio? How many shows are they in? How quickly are they making work? Are they at every opening?” I stopped doing that because I realized that even though I am still super early in my career, I used to dream about where I am today. And by my own metric, as of now, I am at least on the path I worked so hard to be on.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I would definitely take them to Sunken City in San Pedro
Downtown Long Beach
Downtown LA (arts district + little Tokyo)
The Bread Lounge
Pacific in Huntington Park and walk through all the dress shops and food places
Border X Brewery
Hakata Ikkousha in Little Tokyo
Jonestu Ramen in Downtown Long Beach
MOMA
LACMA
Grand Central Market

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Martin Hernandez. My partner has definitely been my rock through my creative career thus far. I consider myself incredibly lucky to be in a relationship where both of us are studio creatives. He understands the art-making process, he understands that art isn’t always serious, and sometimes it’s a windy road. No matter what I make he is always encouraging. The most supportive thing he does is help me out on a day-to-day basis. I can be doing something that to an outsider looks like I am just goofing off, wasting time, etc, and I might not have time to cook dinner or do some other household chore because I am “in the creative zone,” and he understands! Art-making doesn’t always look serious, and I think about living at home or even potentially with another partner who isn’t creative as well, and how they might see me doodling or wrapping yarn around an object and say “Just do that another time, come do this now” and he’s never done that! He’s given me the space to be creative, grow creatively and always supported the work I create along the way.

Website: arielaurora.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/_arielaurora_/

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.