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

Hi James, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
There are so many reasons that I wanted to purse a creative career but I think it can all be summed up to the fact that creating art for me is like breathing, sleeping or eating. It might sound dramatic but it is imperative to my existence as a human and I can’t not do it. Since I was very young I’ve been creating, I always had a sketchbook under my arm and have been drawing basically since I could hold a pencil. It is my language, how I relate to others and the world around me. It is how I process my own identity, especially my queerness. It is how I work through and heal my own past traumas. I guess I am lucky in this respect, that there really was no other career option for me. I knew from a very young age that I wanted to be an artist. I’m also lucky to have a very encouraging mother who saw this innate creativity in me and nurtured it, insisting I should go to art school even though it would probably be a harder life journey (especially financially). Even though it is indeed very challenging to be a working creative, I am ultimately extremely grateful for this “outside the box” kind of career path. It is scary but also incredibly liberating to be able to forge one’s own path in life, straying from the conventional norms. There is no blueprint, there is no one singular way to be a working artist. And I find that incredibly exciting, to be able to try new things and create in different ways and just see where it lands.

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 work is a love letter to Queer people…our existence, expression, identity, romance, sexuality, fashion…all of it. It has also been an exploration of myself, my own queerness, sexuality, gender identity. Visual art has been such a wonderful way to explore who I am, to shed layers of the performative self to uncover the real individual beneath. I pour so much of myself into my work. I feel things very deeply, so everything I create has a lot of heart and soul imbued into it. I want to celebrate radical softness, sensuality, vulnerability…all the things that this society doesn’t celebrate and tries to stamp out (especially in those who are socialized as men in this culture). I want to celebrate QUEER JOY. I want my art to depict queer individuals thriving, living their best lives, loving and living freely and without shame. I am proud of this softness in my work, the depth of feeling and heart that is poured into it. I think sensitivity is special, its something I was always made to feel ashamed of but now have come to see as my superpower. In a harsh, sometimes very aggressive world I think having a depth of emotion is more important than ever.

Being a full time working artist has been incredibly challenging, I won’t try to sugarcoat that. It is still challenging, particularly the financial aspects. We’re sort of encouraged in this society to never talk about money, but I think it’s important to break out of that stigma and have open and honest discussions about it. So many people don’t value the arts as a viable career option, they don’t want to compensate artists for their hard work and time. Creativity is dismissed as just a hobby, something that isn’t that important. Yet everyone consumes art…whether it’s the chair you’re sitting at, the music or podcast you’re listening to, the meal you’re eating at a restaurant, the film you’re watching or the visual art on your walls…someone created these things with a creative vision and poured time, effort and skill into it. Art is all around us and yet somehow still is dismissed collectively as not being that important. In an increasingly heavy and frightening world, with pandemics and mass shootings and so much hatred and division…I would argue art is more important than ever. Artists can imagine a better world and pour that vision into their work. I wish we could get to a place as a society where we nurture the creative spirit from a young age and value what artists bring to the fabric of the human experience.

In many ways I am still trying to overcome the challenge of being a working artist in a society that consumes art ravenously but doesn’t seem to really value it or the people who make it. But as I said in a previous question, I also think I am incredibly lucky to be forging my own path in life…not being stuck in a box society had intended for me or succumbing to a job I don’t want to do that dulls the spirit. I still take on “money gigs” to pay the bills, but I try to frame anything I do for money as ultimately being in service to my art career. I have a lot to be excited for, I feel like I am unlocking more of my own skill set with each new drawing. I have fallen in love with my own art in a big way which is huge as I used to struggle with being very self deprecating. I feel like I am very much on an upswing of self love and authenticity which is coming through in the work, and I really just can’t wait to see where it takes me!

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?
Oh! Wow, well I am happy to say I really love living in New York City. It’s been my home for nearly 10 years now, it really is a wonderful vibrant place. I mean if they’d never been here before I’d want to take them to lots of the major art museums – a day at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for sure or MoMa…but also would love to take them to the Cloisters, which is part of the Met located in upper Manhattan. It’s a really special spot, dedicated solely to Medieval and Renaissance works of art, fashion and architecture. The building itself is designed like a Medieval cloister (hence the name). It’s located in a lush park, so you really feel like you’re transported in time and space and have to keep reminding yourself that you’re still in NYC. One of my all time favorite works of art, The Unicorn tapestries, resides here permanently and is so worth seeing. I also love Central Park so much, I’m full of lots of nerdy historical tidbits about it and would love to take them on a walking tour of it…especially to my favorite section of it, The Conservatory Garden. It’s a really lovely spot, essentially three different lush gardens that are lovingly tended. Another place where you forget you’re in the middle of a big city.

There are so many amazing places to eat and drink…I’d probably want to take them to the West Village where you can find lots of cute dinner spots. And show them some of the historical queer spots like Stonewall, but we can really just pass by that because my actual favorite historical queer bar is Julius (also in the West Village). It actually predates Stonewall and is the oldest queer bar in NYC, and still operates. My friend Dan first took me there when I was in my early 20s, it was the first gay bar I’d been to in NYC and has held a special place in my heart ever since. I’d probably want to take them around Brooklyn too, where I live. The Brooklyn Museum, Prospect Park, the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, the myriad of queer bars in Williamsburg and Bushwick…all special spots worth a visit. If I wanted to take them out on a nicer dinner, there’s a restaurant in Dumbo, Brooklyn called Celestine that’s right on the water and is so lovely. It has gorgeous views of the Manhattan skyline, a really delicious Mediterranean inspired menu and great cocktails. I could go on but this is already becoming a novel, suffice it to say I am very enthusiastic about living here and would be so excited at the prospect of sharing it with someone who is visiting!

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Oh there are so many! I think one of my favorite things about being an artist, especially a queer artist, is finding a sense of community with other creatives. I am constantly inspired by the work of other artists that I’m lucky to count as friends, their work opens up new pathways for creation in my own art. I’m also very lucky to have a supportive family base with my Mom and Stepdad embracing my queerness and my creativity, ultimately loving their very outside the box child exactly as they are. I know this isn’t always the case, it’s something I don’t take lightly and am very grateful for. I could shoutout so many specific individuals but this would become a novel, so I want to zero in on a dedication to one very special artist friend. Their name is Guelmo Rosa (@g2ther on IG) and they are without a doubt one of the kindest, most genuine and uniquely creative individuals I’ve ever met. They pour their whole heart into their art, and everything they touch is transformed with beauty. Their work deserves all the recognition in the world; it is so lovely, intricate and truly one of a kind.

And lastly a shoutout to a book I revisit often that has shaped my world view, sense of self as well as informed my creativity – The Faggots and their Friends Between Revolutions by Larry Mitchell. It was written after Stonewall and right before the AIDS epidemic, it’s a special snapshot into queer existence at that time and so much of it still resonates today. I get something deeper from it with each reread.

Website: jfalciano.com

Instagram: @jamesfalciano

Image Credits
All works are original drawings created by me between 2021-2022.

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.