We had the good fortune of connecting with Israel Campos and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Israel, what’s your definition for success?
This is a question I’ve asked myself a lot these last couple years. I do not like how we are taught at a young age that the goal of an education is to simply get a good paying job at the end. In our materialistic culture owning a bunch of expensive things is often synonymous with success. I didn’t know any better as an undergraduate student so I approached college with this mentality. It wasn’t until I attended graduate school and got the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life that I started to realize that there are multiple valid paths to a fulfilling life.
I no longer consider simply having a high income or material possessions as a sign of success. I also don’t consider fame or power as a sign of success. Success is the realization that our existence is just one in the tapestry of life. Coming to this realization makes you a better person. It motivates you to help the people around you, it keeps you mindful of your actions, and it makes you realize that time is the most valuable thing we’ll ever have. Once you value time you won’t waste it doing something that makes you miserable and will instead spend it with your family, friends and doing what makes you happy. In other words, success is making the time to stop and smell the roses.
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.
My current artwork is the culmination of a decade’s worth of trial and error. I have always been interested in refining my technique while also experimenting with new ones. I currently focus in printmaking processes and gouache paintings. The work I have made predominantly explores the Chicanx experience as the amalgam of two distinct cultural identities but I have been immensely influenced lately by Afrofuturism. I am incredibly fascinated by the aesthetics of the movement and its forward thinking philosophy. It allows Black Artists the flexibility to invent new aesthetics, new perspectives, and forms of expression while remaining distinctly Black. I have been thinking a lot about this movement because I am interested in doing something similar with my work. I want to look to the future and move past the Chicanx as the culmination of two distinct cultures. I want to create an aesthetic that draws from neither culture but that remain distinctly Chicanx. This is the challenge I am currently grappling with and is something I am incredibly excited to explore.
An artistic career comes with a lot of challenges the main one being not having enough time to do all the things you need to do. I need to make work, research my subjects, apply to show finished work at galleries, promote the work online and connect with other artists. An artist has to have a balance of creativity, discipline, and organizational skills to keep everything in order to ensure things get done. I would definitely recommend to an artist starting out to consider the making of the artwork equally important to promoting it and showing at galleries. I am often tempted to just make, make, make, but there is no point if the work isn’t shown. These are important skills that are often neglected in school which is unfortunate since its necessary to be a practicing artist. This is also the most important thing I have learn a long the way. I spent several years straight out of school just making art neglecting to make an effort to promote the work. While this was a mistake it did give me a couple years to refine my technique and learn a lot more about my subjects. In retrospect, I don’t think my work would be where it is right now if I hadn’t spend so much time just making.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I would definitely be interested in showing a visitor glimpses of Los Angeles that counter the stereotypes of the city. Two things that I would highlight would be its history and how industrial the city is. I find it incredibly annoying when I hear people say that L.A doesn’t have any history. The origin of the name for the city is testament to its history; El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles. Of course the Art Deco in downtown and Wilshire Blvd would be in the list but also the neighborhoods teaming with Victorian houses down Angelino Heights and West/East Adams. As for the industry I would want them to see the area east of Alameda street. It’s incredibly disorienting only for how rural it feels. There are a lot of great taco stands along the way that cater to the working class in the area. Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There are a lot of people that deserve a shoutout but I would like to definitely give one out to the friends and collogues I met while in grad school at UW-Madison. I never expected to ever find myself in the Midwest let alone Wisconsin for 3 years but the impact this experience had in my life is immeasurable. Being surrounded by other artists completely transformed how I see the world and how I approach my practice.