We had the good fortune of connecting with Gabriella Guzman and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Gabriella, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I started NOVEL because I couldn’t stop thinking about my former students. I used to be the Head of Animation at a vocational school for adults with Autism, and as the pandemic stretched farther and the effects of it hit the job market, I just didn’t know how some of my former students were going to fit in a post pandemic economy. If a business owner has to pay more wages after losing revenue for so long…and they want the fastest, most productive worker to help them recover, I fear my students won’t be given a chance. I also couldn’t stop worrying about how the pandemic was affecting their services, their care, or their progress. Starting this business was a way to connect in an isolated world, and a way to feel like I was doing SOMETHING, even a small something, to ease that worry.
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 like to draw ugly people, so I’m told. Only I think the people I draw are beautiful!! My style depends on the tool in my hand, so if I’m using ink, my figures will have more wrinkles, pimples, crevices, or broken bones. If I’m using Acrylic paint, my portraits will be a fixation on the colors in your skin, or the gloss in your eyes.
I’ve struggled a lot in my art career because of my own insecurities. It’s taken YEARS to learn how to say “no” to work I don’t enjoy, even if it would bring a bit of financial security. You’d think that after being flown to a private island in exchange for a portrait I wouldn’t feel insecure anymore, but that’s still far from true. In order to ease that insecurity, I had to take myself out of the art world for a few years. I stopped doing custom portraits, I stopped taking jobs I couldn’t stand. I stopped looking for gigs on those horrible exploitative websites. I just stopped.
There’s a magic that comes from being away for a while in the sense that nobody is expecting anything from you anymore. I mean that in the best sense! If you don’t post work today, it’s no different from yesterday. It’s the first time in years that I’ve been able to sit down and discover myself as an artist..in private, with no financial obligation to make anything work for anyone but me.
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.
Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena Villa Verde Rooftop Garden in Pasadena
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Actors for Autism Tierra del Sol Foundation
First Street Gallery Art Center
Jasmine Abdulla Richards