We had the good fortune of connecting with Miguel Angel Almeida and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Miguel Angel, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
Like most children, I grew up loving to create and exercise that creative bug in me. I loved drawing my favorite cartoon characters and making Dragonball Z flip book animations out of sticky note pads. As I got older, I never got bored of making art or had it lost its spark. There has always been something about tapping into that creative energy and head space. I knew I had to choose something that involved creativity in a career. Coming from a family of Immigrants from Zacatecas, Mexico whose first jobs were picking fruits and vegetables in agriculture it was hard to see being an artist as a possibility for me. My parents, Tios, and Tias all worked factory labor jobs. I didn’t know anyone making a living as an artist or had met one in person, especially one that looked like me. My father didn’t see it as a career and tried to sway me towards something more practical like engineering, medical field or finance. After highschool I tried more creative practical careers like graphic design, 3-D modeling, 3D animation, video game design and Visual development for animated films at first but fell out of love with all of them. It was all missing that creative freedom and feeling art initially gave me as child/teenager/adult. That’s when I realized I really would only be happy with a career if I pursued a creative life of an artist. At first it felt very risky, realizing this at age 25 but I knew I had to give it my best shot in pursuing this dream/life.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
The art I create is influenced by my Mexican heritage as well as experience of being a first generation Mexican American. Coming from a family of farmworkers, my work touches a lot on immigrant farm workers. The goal of my art is make the Latinx/e community and our contributions visible in Idaho. Growing up I Rarely ever saw our stories, culture and people reflected in the arts publicly and commercially. That kind of representation is very important. I know it could have helped me as a kid seeing art that resonated with me in my community. It is a privileged to be in the spot that I am thankful to be able to use my voice to touch on subjects that resonate with the Latinx/e community.
The road to getting too where I am today was not easy. Living in a state that is 90% White, and with my target audience being a small percentage of the population it was a little challenging creating work that could be commercially successful and true to me. I spent a lot of time thinking about my work, what kind of work I wanted to create and just creating till I hit a point when it felt right. I found ways to satisfy the child in me that loves creating to create and the adult in me that wants to create meaningful and impactful work for my community. It’s been great bouncing between both while always sprinkling a little bit of my Mexican heritage in all the work I do. I knew I was onto something solid when people who grew up like me would tell me about how meaningful my work is to them. To me there is no higher compliment than creating something that makes someone feel something special.
The lessons I learned along the way are to be true to yourself and create the work you want to create. Make work that makes you happy and feel fulfilled. I was afraid to create work that was true to me, but I am very glad I followed my heart and set out to use my creative voice to give my community visibility.
I want the world know how lucky/privileged I am to pursue a creative life. I am not self made and if it weren’t for my parents sacrifices my life would look a lot different. Had they not sacrificed their passions/dreams and immigrated to the USA their story might have been mine.
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?
I would start out by taking them to Push and Pour for a cup of coffee. They have some of the best coffee in Boise and are super rad human beings. From there we would for sure hit up Rhodes Skate park for some skateboarding. After that I would take them to Prestige Skate Shop and hang out there for a bit. It is one of my favorite places to go to. The owners Paul and Greg are amazing people and always make anyone feel welcomed. They also know all the rad spots in Boise and have great suggestions. For food we would hit up El Torito Taqueria for some Mexican food and the Best Michelada’s in town. After that we would end the day with playing some Smash bros and a couple beers at Space Bar Arcade. I easily can get stuck down there for hours playing all the arcade fighting games and tasty beers.
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?
I would say my parents, and my wife are a big factor in where I am today. It is a huge privilege to be able to pursue a creative life. My parents both immigrated to the United States when they were 17 and 18. They had to work to survive and to provide for me and my brother. They didn’t get to chase their passions. They had to get jobs that paid enough, with benefits and etc. They set me up to be able to chase dreams and I am forever grateful for how hard they worked. The 50 hour work weeks, the tired weekends taking me to the skatepark and soccer games. If it wasn’t for their sacrifice of leaving their little pueblo for a better future, my life would be a lot different right now. My Tio’s and Tia’s are also to thank because without their help my parents may have not been able to immigrate to the United States.
My wife has encouraged me and also helps me with the professional art side of things. She has a Bachelors degree in Fine Arts so I am very lucky to have her be able to critique my work and also help me with applying for grants and public art opportunities. When I first met her, I had very little knowledge and good practices on the professional side of art.