We had the good fortune of connecting with Patrick Whitehorn-Schmidt and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Patrick, do you have some perspective or insight you can share with us on the question of when someone should give up versus when they should keep going?
In short: Listen to yourself. Find what moves you and dig in deep. When in doubt, keep going. For me, it was 10 years into a business career in tech before realizing how far from my core I’d strayed. I grew up drawing all the time. Later, it was making music, performing in theater, then video, comics, and graphic design. Creative expression is central to who I am. As someone that also enjoys puzzles and helping others, finding relevance in tech was no big leap. There was music in my connections with colleagues and patterns in the projects I led. And the financial stability didn’t hurt. Toward the end, though, it was taking more than it returned, leaving me too exhausted to create. When an opportunity arose to change course last year, I took my wife’s blessing and went for it. No one imagined how heavy 2020 was going to be. But we made it work. Through a lot of self-reflection and experimentation in the year since, I dug deep into my roots. I gave myself permission to be a beginner again. To create every day and to learn new ways to continue my career as an illustrator, designer, and artist. While that opportunity proved timely, my journey still would have led me to where I am today. It wasn’t so much about giving up my path in tech, as it was about returning to who I’ve always been. It’s good to grow in new ways, to view things from new perspectives and apply old skills to solve new problems. Even better when you can take those experiences and apply them to what you’ve always had within you.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My journey as an artist is not very common. I’ll begin at the start. Growing up half-Mexican in Saudi Arabia had a profound impact on how my tastes developed. Geometric patterns and calligraphy crashed into my growing knowledge of fine art and pop culture. By the early ’90s, my love for modern and surrealist art merged with an infatuation with comics. This is also when I gained access to a healthy stream of experimental animation, horror sci-fi movies, and absurd British comedy. These formative years created the core for all my art. Today, the work I enjoy creating is bold, expressive, and high in contrast with a minimal color palette. Usually this means black on white with red for mid-tones and silver for highlights. I also like experimenting with line, or balancing clean line-work with broad brushstrokes. My work explores ideas that range from the grand to the absurd. They are stories, myths, dreams and strange portraits of moments captured. I enjoy borrowing language from my deep affinity for film, music, comics, and animation. Lately, I’m on a path to breathe life into my art through my own animation, with the aim of telling stories with music. In all my work with clients, and even while still within tech, my history runs in the back of my mind. It is the voice that I try to weave in all I do. It’s seldom easy, but if there’s any lesson I’ve learned for myself, is to keep going. To continue collecting experiences and creating something new with them.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
COVID aside, and now that I technically live in San Jose, we’d start with Korean BBQ, Sushi, or Indian food at any of the several places nearby. Then a good place for beer at our local dive The Patio, or Original Gravity downtown where there’s more variety. Later, we’d end up at the San Jose Museum of Art or out in nature on a hike. And of course, we’d do a winery at some point. Back in LA, we’d start with La Estrella Tacos and The Hermosillo in Highland Park. Then head downtown for some drawing at Philippe’s the Original. For lunch – Little Tokyo or Würstkuche with a stop at Angel City Brewing. After a final hang at our favorite bar La Cita and if it’s not too late, it’d be on to check out galleries nearby. Other spots we’d hit over the week would be a movie at Hollywood Forever or a show at the Hollywood Bowl, and then LACMA. If we’re feeling adventurous, we’d drive into the San Gabriel Mountains, hit up El Matador beach in Malibu, or drive to hike the desert rocks in Joshua Tree.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I credit most the undying support of my family, my wife Autumn, and best friend Silas. There is no way I’d be here without my folks teaching me the value of hard work and instilling in me a sense of curiosity and kindness. I am grateful for my wife’s trust and support in my journey to find myself. She’s flippin’ brilliant and her love and sense of humor always keep me going. And my buddy Silas for decades of inspiration since high school, always pushing me to create more.