We had the good fortune of connecting with Victoria Ester Orantes and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Victoria, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Risk is necessary to have a life of vigor and satisfaction; if we do not ask, the answer will always be no. I believe risk also intertwines with faith, intuition, and an understanding of personal intentions. Though taking a risk means to expose ourselves to uncertainty and possible danger, when an individual understands who they are, what they want, and recognizes that life is a garden of growth, change, and learning, the risks that are taken are of a different kind. The danger of the risk lies more in the uncertainty, rather than it qualifying as dangerous due to an absence of wisdom. Nevertheless, risks are risks. Though the chances I take may not necessarily qualify as being calculated, I do my best to take risks that apply higher wisdom and act beyond impulse or superficial desire.
The initiation of this mindset was due to my rock bottom in 2018. That gritty abyss left me a stark choice to either continue living in fear, doubt, imprudence, and self-loathing, or I could take charge of my thoughts and instead choose joy, humility, bravery, and love despite the discomfort of each of them. I realized that bravery is not the lack of fear, rather bravery means to be afraid and face the beast anyway. At my rock bottom, for the first time ever, the pain of not taking risks and doing the things I had always wanted to do, was surpassed by the humiliation of my mistakes and the apprehension of chasing my dreams all those years before. Choosing to change my thinking was my first risk, and in three months I cured my own depression and discovered life, no matter how mundane, could actually be fun just by rewiring my thoughts, purifying my intentions, and practicing gratitude. When I readjusted my thinking, the way I experienced the world changed. After confronting myself, it was time to reintroduce myself to physical earth and its people, pursuing the vision of my ideal life. Risks would no longer be impulsive or out of desperation, risks would be taken with faith that the same power that gave me the strength to confront myself, would guide me through future ambiguities.
How will I become a full- time artist? How am I going to travel the world? How am I going to make money without chasing money? How am I going to sustain a spiritual mindset in a material world? Exactly how, only time will tell, but certainly it will be done with faith, with love, with accountability, with prudent risks.
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.
One thing I am particularly proud of is that I am not a person that follows trends, I am a self-taught oil painter, I came up with a clever way to exhibit my art to the public by converting my 1966 Volkswagen Beetle into a mobile boutique where in addition to my art, I sell clothing, and jewelry, and I write poems for each painting I create.
Artistically, I think what sets me apart from others is I am not afraid to share my anguish, anger, desire, dreams, gashes, and growth; this is discernible in my painting style and technique through surreal personified elements of nature, bold colors, expressive faces/ body parts, sharp lines, and the unabashed use of my face. For each painting, I write a poem which is a map to the symbolism of the work. Some may argue that because my work does not not address political issues, use man-made symbols, or comment on world events, the voice of my art is of less importance, but I completely disagree. Though my paintings and poems are inspired by personal experiences, everything I’ve experienced is in some way universal, therefore my art addresses the human experience. I believe my way of expression will inspire others to cultivate what the world needs more of- honesty and bravery.
Overall, all of this Victoria(ness) comes together when one takes a visit to my mobile boutique V.E.O. Visions, the name meaning “I see visions”. V.E.O. are my initials, and when pronounced as a word, means the phrase “I see” in Spanish. You’re met with an adorable scruffy matte black 1966 V.W. Beetle draped with red and purple patchwork fabric, whereupon art and clothing are displayed, the trunk ( the front of the car where most cars would have their engines) are the jewelry displays, and at the rear of the car is a community painting space where the spontaneous passersby can join in on the art making. The mobile boutique is an accurate representation of my old soul, free spirit, passionate nature, and my desire to uplift and contribute positively to the world.
The greatest challenge of doing what I do is staying consistent and embracing the obstacles. When I was fixing up the V.W., the engine was not reliable but I saved to have it rebuilt. When I wanted the tattered V.W. interior redone, I bought a beautiful jacquard fabric, rolled up my sleeves and reupholstered the interior myself, when I write a poem it may be weeks before I have a speck of eloquence, but being patient with myself allows it to eventually come together, and as I continue to learn how to navigate oil paints, I remember to not be discouraged because I am not be a fast painter, rather recognize that I am, most importantly, a consistent soulful one.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
The way it usually goes is we hang out in the same spot for about 3-5 hours talking in a quiet coffee shop like Charlie’s Coffee House in South Pasadena. By that time, hunger has arrived, so we go to another location like La Fuente Bar and Grill in Eagle Rock and talk and laugh for another 3 hours over lunch/dinner. If we started in nature, then we’d be in the same spot for 5-7 hours, and end the evening in a low lit restaurant local to the area and continue the conversation. It’s simple; it’s fulfilling; it permits true connection.
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?
First and foremost, YHWH, the great creator. Any speck of wisdom, talent, or light I have is directly from him. Secondly, my family because from them my forceful personality, work ethic, spirituality, and ambitions were established. Thirdly, my found family and all of the kindred spirits who fuel the fire within me.
Facebook: @VEO Visions
Other: Tiktok: @v.e.o.visions
Website of Ana Cristel: https://anacristel.com/ Instagram of Ana Cristel: @anacristelphoto