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

Hi Ortega, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
I grew up in the country on a small farm just outside my hometown of Dallas City, IL. I was an only child (until 13) and a lot of my “playtime” was just me and my imagination. I read a lot of comic books and loved listening to music. I started drawing my own comics, creating my own stories and moved on to my own characters. This carried over into me creating “real life” comics using my super hero figures (Nothing could beat a MEGO figure, Hell, not many compare even today.) My grandmother would make me “costumes so I could pretend I was a superhero. I’m sure this would explain why I was so drawn to KISS as a youth. They were like rock & roll superheroes. The make-up, the personas…NBC must’ve seen it to because in 1978 they did what only my mind had done and put them in a movie with each one having their own “super power’. I would put on their records and lip synch, strut around and “air band” every member. Super hero, rock star. These were my ” I wanna be a…” careers. Now, as I got older and entered the work force, I never stopped being creative, whether writing, painting, drawing etc; but it did become more of a hobby than a way of life. I did my 40 hours, paid my bills, etc; but I wasn’t satisfied. I certainly wasn’t happy and knew I wanted something more, something different. While on my lunch break one day, I looked around the room at my co-workers, some who had done this day in, day out for years, decades even. When I looked at their faces, they were so beat down, bored, and had relegated themselves to the repetition. I looked in their eyes and saw emptiness. Right then and there i decided that this is not the life for me. Their present will not be my future. Of course I still had to have a job to pay bills and of course eat but I didn’t have to make the job my life. I worked so I could live the life I wanted. I was no longer going to work just to live (exist). Since then I have been fortunate enough to have a couple successful (by my terms) bands, promote live music, stay creative AND make my living while working in the arts. About 15 years ago I had a bit of a “creative hiatus” do to some mental health issues, bad relationships and bad life choices. Fortunately, I’m past that and have gotten back into the core of who I am/want to be. My focus may have switched from one endeavor to another but I’m happy and fulfilled.

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 “art” is not set in one media or discipline. When I was young I drew and painted alot. That led to writing lyrics, fronting a band and owning a stage. Now I do, to quote Henry Rollins, “Talking Shows’. It’s not stand up. It’s not spoken word. It’s definitely not slam poetry and even though much of it is (will be) done via the internet, I don’t consider it podcasting persay. It’s me philosophizing, ranting, recanting and hopefully inspiring someone. I’ also currently have a “food show” on Youtube. I cook, share recipes and cooking tips as well as review and simply discuss food. The biggest challenge I feel any of us face in this arena is ourselves. Self-doubt is a bitch. Worrying about “if they like me or not’ is a huge deterrent if you let it be. You have to be able to fail and continue. It’s easy to fall short of your own expectations and simply give up. Unfortunately nothing is gained at that point. Accepting the failures, learning and moving forward is where the success begins. Right now, I’m just a guy. I’ve got a small following online, contacts all over and the desire to create. I’m not trying to become rich or famous ( won’t complain if I do) I’m just trying to experience life and turn my experiences into something that might inspire someone else. When I was a kid in my little hometown, if you’d would’ve told me all the things I’d see, do and experience I’d wouldv’e laughed at you. I know better now. It’s all out there for anyone to go and get.

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.
That’s a tough one as most of my “best time’s ever” are when I’m on the move. Going to a new city, meeting new people, eating new foods. This has led me to have a lot of favorites, unfortunately most of them aren’t here at home. Even though we house a major University and are home to people from all over the world I would be hard pressed to show a friend their “best time ever” as I just don’t feel we have the arsenal of awesome “to-do’s’ here. That being said, sometimes, the best times are just sitting and spending time and experiencing each other.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There are many people who helped me be/get to who/where I am today, but I’d say the core would have to be Bob Hanks (wrestling coach) for instilling drive and a “if at first you don’t succeed” mentality. My cousin Rick Burkett and his good friend (and mine) Andy Newberry for the love of music, and Kathleen Reilly for helping me see myself.

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Twitter: @COwsley33 / @OrtegasHotplate / @Project33ICIA

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