We had the good fortune of connecting with Raphael Bittencourt and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Raphael, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
Risk taking has always been an essential and constantly present characteristic in my career as an artist, a creative professional and an entrepreneur.
Every time an artist starts a new work, a new piece, a new film, he or she is already assuming all the risks involved in exposing himself or herself to the public, to the world. It is a need that resides in the core of the artist. You’ve got to expose yourself and all kind of results and outcomes have to be embraced equally, for the good or the bad.
That is what feeds the artist and the public at the same time in a symbiotic relationship. Who knows if that exchange is going to lead to tears or smiles? It doesn’t matter, you’ve got to take the risk with an open heart in order to be honest to yourself and to the public. All masks down, and that is a huge risk.
As a creative it is very much the same. A new design, a new brand, a new idea, putting it out requires a lot of courage for it is risky. Rejection, judgement, and the utmost risk of losing a client or your own job. But there is no beauty, nor success, if there’s no risk.
Finally, from an entrepreneur point of view, risk is almost a synonymous of entrepeneuring. You can’t be an entrepreneur without taking risks. From the moment you dive into a new business you’re under the risk of failing. Does that stops you? Never, or you wouldn’t be an entrepreneur. Of course, one will always try to mitigate the risks, but they will always be there. It’s part of the adventure. It doesn’t matter how many times you repeat to yourself that the risks are calculated, they will never be zero.
Put all that together, trying to be an entrepreneur in a business directly related to art and creation and you end up embracing risk as the fuel that moves life forward and makes it interesting and bearable.
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.
I am an artist in eternal discomfort. Isn’t that so with every artist? I guess. That’s what moves art forward. Everyone has ones own source of discomfort and a particular way that discomfort resonates internally.
For me, part of my discomfort, or maybe part of how I fight my discomfort is mixing techniques. Drinking from different sources over the years, blending it all into what I believe to be a tasty yummy cocktail only I can prepare.
Metaphors aside, I believe when I’m at full creative speed I can turn design, photography, fine arts and film all into a single thing. A unique multilayered and multidimensional expression of creativity and storytelling.
Sounds nice doesn’t it? But the weirdest thing is that it’s not always perceived as that. In a compartmentalized world that likes labeling everything and placing everyone in little predictable boxes, being too versatile is not always perceived as a good thing. It usually scares people.
The best way I found to fight that perception is persisting in the risk taking, in becoming more and more versatile, in adding more to my toolbox so the messages, the stories I wanna tell can gain more body and leave a bigger, deeper footprint. Increasing the volume of the message by making it more and more consistent.
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?
So many things to do in LA and surroundings that it deserves several “one-week visits”. In one of those weeks I’d go for a day in The Getty Center, another day going to The Broad and then walking down a few blocks to the Grand Central Market, then on the next day Olvera Street, Union Station and the last bookstore and the nearby galleries.
Moving on towards the coast, Venice an it’s little peculiar shops and street-life and Santa Monica. Back to the city, the Academy Museum, a walk around the vivid life in Hollywood, maybe try a screening at the Egyptian.
That would be during the day, but the fun would definitely keep on going after dusk. Rainbow, Whisky A Go Go, Viper Room for some nice rock’n’roll and some beers. Harvard and Stone for some great cocktails, burlesque performances under a classic energetic rock set list just for fun. Attend to an independent band show at Lucky Strike and then just cross the street to chill out at the Power House. Just to name a few alternative options towards the rock’n’roll world, but really, the options are endless in LA, for all tastes… jazz, electronic, blues, classic (check the schedule at the Hollywood Bowl).
If the theme of the one-week trip was motorcycles, the canyons, Mulholland Drive and all the little roads in all directions, specially towards Malibu are no brainers. 100% guaranteed fun that any rider would love to try.
Gastronomy? Start by the farmers market at The Grove. Wanna go fancy and tasty? Try Il Pastaio in Beverly Hills. A great burger, beer and some nice music? The Fox and Hounds. Cool ambient with very interesting Asian Fusion Cuisine? RockSugar
Oh, nature and hiking is the thing? I don’t even know where to start. Maybe Griffith Park with dozens of options just there. Runyon Canyon for some great city views and loads of people! Malibu Creek Park. If you want drive a little further out the city, Vasquez Rocks is out of this world!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Over the years I have had the support of a great number of people.
I’ll start with the most obvious support one can get, and I am very lucky on that regard, by citing my close family, specially André and Maria da Graça Bittencourt, my parents, for paving the ground that started me as an artist and a believer that I could change the world.
Then I had some very influential artists and creatives such as David Carson, Scorcese or Trent Reznor, to name just a few whose works helped define a lot of my own voice.
And later, some fundamental creative partnerships with people that believed in my work, with no questions asked, and fed me with infinite inspiration and support, like Wolfgang Glattes, owner of an incredible career over 40 years in some of Hollywoods major productions, who has been my godfather since I landed in the US.
Last but not least, my great creative partner, Muller Barone, whose thoughts and creations sometimes inspire me, sometimes complete my own work and sometimes drinks from me as a source of inspiration. One of those relations where different opinions and minds collaborate in the production of unique provocative ideas in a dynamic balance.