We had the good fortune of connecting with Rey Bustos and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Rey, what is the most important factor behind your success?
My name is Rey Bustos and I have been teaching artistic anatomy, figure drawing, art in general since 1990. After graduating from the Art Center College of Design in 1989 I illustrated for many publications and through the years I have also had many fine art gallery shows. But all of that aside, I consider myself to be a teacher, first and foremost as far as my profession. I “liked” illustrating, I “liked fine art”, but I LOVE being a teacher. I am often asked by my many students through the years, “Professor Rey, what is the secret to your success?” I always say the same thing. Live in gratitude. Although this does not assure financial independence nor fame and it does not instantly alleviate pain nor struggle it does provide comfort when challenged, humility when rewarded or praised. I tell them that success is a self-defined term. For me it is being grateful every single day. I often say that I only have two kinds of days, I have good days, and then I have GREAT days. It is up to each of us to create what kind of day that we have. It is not always easy, I am not naïve, pain and sorrow are all around, but that was true before we were here and it will be true after we are all gone. “Things” happen, they are not good nor bad. With each second, every second, someone experiences the great joy of birth and at the same exact moment someone is being needlessly killed by another in some other part of the world, as an example. We selfishly think “good and bad” only through our own bubble/point of vie, our own perspective and vantage point as if the world revolved around us. Artists more than most, I feel, should be as well educated as doctors and lawyers. Through the arts we can elevate humanity and that takes a lot of intelligence, empathy and passion. We need more lifting up in this world. So, when I say my good-byes to my students, I remind them to be successful at every stage of their lives. They are successful if they are in school, learning to play a musical instrument, smiling often, being kind, hiking with a friend, all of the sweet things in life are a part of a successful life, of being. With all that I just said, you will live successfully instead of searching for it. Professor Rey Bustos December 2020
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 graduated from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA in 1989 and started illustrating for as many publications as I could find. I also started doing fine art shows and was represented by a gallery in San Marino,Ca. and did both concurrently for years. I also started a figure drawing workshop to keep me in the practice of drawing from live models and also to give myself teaching experience. I knew from the time that I started as a student that I wanted to teach and specifically artistic anatomy. My teacher Burne Hogarth was the one who planted that in my head along with a couple of other teachers. I set my dream goal to teaching the same class as Burne Hogarth and I eventually got that position after his death in 1995. I still illustrated and did a few fine art shows but the more that I was in the classroom, the more I was pulled in. I liked my job as illustrator and liked doing shows but I realized that I loved teaching. I started to lessen my work as illustrator and fine art and focused exclusively on my teaching. The initial challenge was that no school wanted to hire me due to not having any teaching experience, but how could I get experience if I can’t get a position to get experience? That is when I decided to create my own class. I asked a friend that owned a frame shop and she also had a gallery space and I asked if I could rent her space on Sundays, her one day off. So, I built drawing benches, set up a model stand and put fliers up everywhere and voila, I started having weekly workshops that I did for years. After Mr.Hogarth died, I was finally given the opportunity to teach that class, I did it for 22 years without missing a single term. What I learned was something that I had always had, determination. I honed my skills in seeing into the future, creating a clear picture of me, almost like watching a movie in my head, and then directing myself to make the vision a reality. I had my bumps in the road and challenges but as I often tell my students when they ask me if things stop being so hard, when will the “bad” things and bumps stop? I tell them. “Never”. This is not a negative answer. I further state that “bad” things will always be a part of life and “bad” is too broad of a term, it is relative. To one person waking up to a flat tire is bad, then the same person later hears that a dear friend died. Now the flat tire is insignificant. What we do learn if we want to have a happy life is how to deal with all of the things that happen that we see as “Bad”. How we deal with life’s challenges will make us stronger for the next challenge and the one after that. We get a rote memory of how we got over all of the challenges before the latest event. Basically we create our own place of contentment and we do this by reminding ourselves of our past conquests and how in time they were all within our grasp to get past.
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?
If I had a friend visit I would take them to the Huntington Library and Museum in San Marino. For me, it is heaven on earth. The 200 acres of gardens , the Chinese garden is my favorite place there, and the museum buildings make this my favorite place in my area. Afterwards I love eating at their cafe or going out to nearby restaurants in Old Town, Pasadena.
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 graduated from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA in 1989 and I owe my training there for my success. It is now a very different school so I do not think that I would go there today, but at the time is was very hard core and very strict and disciplined.I owe so much to the handful of teachers that were real teachers, in the best sense of the word. Many have passed on like Burne Hogarth, Richard Bunkall, Dwight Harmon and Vern Wilson. The few that are still around that I owe much to are Harry Carmean, Mark Strickland, Lorrie Madden and Craig Nelson. My parents for bringing us here from Colombia, S.A. so that we could have this life that we treasure here in America. As far as books, there are many but just to name a few, The Art Spirit by Robert Henri, Happiness is a Serious Problem by Dennis Prager and Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari.
Facebook: Rey Bustos
All artwork by Rey Bustos