We had the good fortune of connecting with Sandy Delgado and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sandy, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
Risk for me has always led to two things; ending up with some sort of take away from not accomplishing what I wanted to, or it working out completely in my favor and it opening doors for me. The unknown of not going for something and living with all those negative “What if…” questions is more terrifying than going through all the emotions you do taking whatever risk itself. I would rather know rejection or failure than live wondering what could have happened if I had just gone for it. We are allowed to fail, we are allowed to learn, we are allowed to try again. I always think of life as something I’m here to experience with everything it has to offer, the good the bad and the ugly. I am here for all of it. How I handle it myself always depends on what baggage or benefits that risk brings along with it, but it has all shaped me to be who I am today, as a person and artist. Choosing to pursue an art career straight out of high school wasn’t something I necessarily planned. I knew I loved to paint and I knew the risks that came along with that. I had friends way older than me that went for it and would tell me about the financial struggles it came with, not to mention the time they sacrificed to create more work and not having a lot of time for family, themselves or a social life. I didn’t go to college and ended up quitting a few jobs to paint full time. I took that risk and til this day I don’t regret a single thing. I’m doing what I love and that’s something I wish for everyone. Even if you decide not to take a major risk like that, do at least ONE thing in your life that fulfills you and brings you happiness. We have one life, really make it count.
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.
People are often times skeptical to believe this at first, but I paint with toothpicks. It isn’t until they are up close watching me do a live painting at art shows that they see it isn’t a tiny paint brush as they first assumed. Their reactions never seize to amaze me. Some process it in silence, and some literally shout across the room to call the person or people they’re with to come see what I’m doing. It’s always priceless and one of my favorite things about doing live art. Right off the bat I always get asked, “Why toothpicks?”. At 19 I still couldn’t really afford top of the line paint brushes, but I had plenty of paint that I was way too eager not to put to good use on canvas. So what did I do? I had to improvise, if I didn’t have a brush to get to the smaller detailed parts of my Tank Girl painting, I had to use something that would fit in those tight spots. I grabbed a toothpick, fell in love with the texture it left and the rest is history. I have been doing full paintings using toothpicks ever since and I can’t really see myself going back to using brushes to paint anymore. Customers love that they can feel all that texture just by looking at the the painting, as weird as it sounds. More times than not I let them touch my paintings because the curiosity of my process is so apparent, I can’t let them leave without letting them run their fingers through it. Plus, I like getting to connect with my customers in that way. Most of my work is pop culture based, though horror is my main focus. It’s amazing coming across others who love the same music or movie characters, then having other people joining and weighing in on the discussion about why their favorite slasher film is better than yours, it’s always such a good time. I remember attending my first convention when I was a little kid. My uncle Bobby who is an artist walked us through the entire place and when we finished walking all of Artist Alley he told me, “that could be you one day too”. Fast forward 15 years and he was sharing his table with me at my first convention as an exhibitor. I didn’t go to college or an art school, I quit my last job at 24 and just stuck to painting. Doing that first show really solidified that this is what I needed to be doing. All the shows, exhibits, charities, conventions I have done are a constant reminder that everything I decided early on was completely worth the risk. Being in the art industry has it’s pros and it’s cons. It’s not always financially stable, a lot of time goes into painting and nothing else, you’re constantly putting money into art shows for merchandise, displays and the tables or booths themselves without a guarantee of breaking even. But all of it is so worth it for me. I make my sales, I meet the coolest people, I network, and I come home and get to do it all over again whenever I want. It doesn’t always go smoothly, nothing is perfect, but at the end of a show whether I made a bunch of sales or not, I know people take enough business cards where I end up getting messaged for commission work or get a new follower. I’m constantly told by my own customers and other artists that I underprice my work. Here’s the thing, I like making my work affordable where I know it’s as fair to them as it is for me. I mean, knowing people want to display your work…that is massive! Something I’ll never tire of is opening up a message and it being a picture of my print or prints hanging on someone’s wall. Specially original paintings. I get so attached working on them, but seeing them in others homes really brings a feeling of pride and accomplishment, like “you’re really out here doing this.” There’s no specific end goal I have with this. All I know is that I want to paint and I’m pretty confident that if we cross paths, that’s exactly what you’ll catch me doing.
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 mean, if we’re gonna explore L.A. we have to do it on a full stomach right? One of my favorite restaurants is Pan Tang in Tujunga, if you want amazing Thai Food definitely hit up that spot. Or if they wanted tacos, El Matador Taco Truck is a definite go to. If they wanted food and drinks, there’s this awesome place in Buena Park called The Cauldron Spirits and Brews with a witchy atmosphere. After that we would look up any art shows or live art or music happening which is easy to find around downtown even if you’re not really looking, you have to appreciate L.A. for that. Something all my friends know, if we’re going out, we absolutely have to fit in dancing at some point. I love dancing to 80’s New Wave, Post-Punk, Synth-Pop, Brit-Pop, and Spanish Rock. You’ve got ‘Blue Mondays’ at Boardner’s on Monday nights, Club Rock It in Pomona Thursdays and Saturdays, and of course, the one I’ve gone to the most, Club Underground in Chinatown on Friday nights. There are just so many things to choose from! One thing we would have to do at some point though is choose something/somewhere random and unplanned that neither of us have done. Spontaneity is essential.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
It’s definitely hard deciding on one person when I have so many friends and family that keep me going on a daily basis. No amount of words can express just how grateful I am to each and every one of them for being my biggest support system all these years. I also want to mention my followers on Instagram on this one, their support is overwhelming in the best way. Their comments and messages are always so positive and encouraging. I could get busy with commissions and not post for a while and there they are checking up on me or making conversation because, why not? I dig that. To those friends family and followers, mad love to all of you, always.