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

Hi Eli, do you have some perspective or insight you can share with us on the question of when someone should give up versus when they should keep going?
This is an important question that a lot of people ask themselves when embarking on a new endeavor. I think the key is to pursue something that you simply couldn’t stop doing, even when you fail.

A lot of people have said to me over the years, “I wish I could draw”, but I always try to remind them that they can do anything that they want to do. The operative word is “want”. I want to be an artist bad enough that I am able to work through and accept the constant failure that it takes before success.

When we start something new, we aren’t good at it. so the failure rate is very high in the beginning and this is the gate with which everyone must pass in order to gain a “talent”. There is an inherent masochism in anything that is going to produce more failure than success and you simply have to like it.

Whenever I get a little down about my own work, or progress as an artist, I like to think in terms of sports statistics. A great batting average is .300, which means that great ballplayer is only getting on base 30% of the time. Of course the inverse of that is that they fail 70% of the time at bat. The same goes for basketball, or any sport: you fail more than you succeed and that’s just part of the game. You have to be ok with it.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’ve been a professional artist working in film and video games for nearly 20 years now. It all started when a roommate showed me that people are employed as artists for video games and movies. I worked on my portfolio simultaneous to attending UC Davis for a history degree. I spent many countless hours studying art, reading about the lives of successful artists, going to museums and, of course, painting all the time. I’d say the biggest challenge of my career has been my attitude. It’s easy for me to get down on myself or feel that I’m not worthy to be where I am and it made me grumpy and defensive in my early career because I was afraid that at any moment I’d be discovered as a fraud. Over the years I’ve learned that a lot of artists also suffer “imposter syndrome”.

Another key factor is that I started to accept that I don’t have to be number 1 to still be a good artist and enjoy what I’m doing. That’s the most important thing: realize that you are an artist and fortunate to have that as a passion and career. Being good at something is a result of practice and enjoyment. Your audience can tell when you enjoyed making something, so don’t ever forget to be grateful and enjoy the process. Drawing is fun!

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.
This is a fun question. I have traveled a lot and I sort of expect locals to be able to answer this when I’m visiting their hometown, but when I’m asked this I realize it’s actually quite a difficult question to answer succinctly. I suppose when I was living in LA I’d just take them to my favorite spots: Malibu/ Santa Monica beaches, Hiking around Malibu and Topenga, Going to see the Getty and various fantastic museums in LA. I’m a big fan of food and LA has some of the best food in my opinion. So of course we’d be getting sea food off of highway 1 just outside Malibu at the always buy Shrimp Shack (I can’t remember it’s name, haha). There’s always Nobu if you’re fancy, but I prefer Sugarfish for sushi. Then there is Jon & Vinny’s for some epic Italian food (Hint: if you’re into celebrity sightings, go to Jon & Vinny’s in Brentwood. In fact, Brentwood is basically where I saw like literally all of Hollywood when I was living there.) We could go visit Griffith park and the observatory (kind of touristy, I know, but still cool) and also hang out along Venice Beach Boardwalk. I loved to cycle to the Venice Boardwalk and watch skaters at the skate park. When the Street basketball competition is going on, it’s also a really great place to watch some of the best basketball you’ve ever seen in your life. But any time of year you can go to Venice Beach and watch people playing Basketball. Finally we’d have to go see some comedians (LA is GREAT for comedy) and maybe see some bands playing at any of the major or minor venues in LA.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My father: Mike Maffei. He’s the smartest guy I know and no one is more inquisitive and supportive of learning new talents than he is.

Website: www.elimaffei.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/eli.maffei/

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/elimaffei/

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/c/user173

Image Credits
Painting of Kurt Cobain, Painting of Scarlett Johansson from the movie “Under the Skin”, painting of photo from rap album “at your own risk” by King Tee

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