We had the good fortune of connecting with Terry D. Chacon and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Terry, putting aside the decision to work for yourself, what other decisions were critical to your success?
The biggest decision was to quit my job as a Medical Transcriptionist of which I had done for 17 years. The last five years of working at my previous job I started creating more art and decided to start selling at some outside venues. Hiring a web person to build my website to share my artwork in the beginning was the best decision I could have made to share my artwork world wide. From there I started sharing business cards, business brochures and working on a monthly newsletter that eventually turned into an online blog. About that time Facebook was becoming very popular and I set up a Fan Page. That really shared my art world wide and I continued to work daily not only creating art but working on my business. I have always felt that 65% of my business was in promotion and 35% was left to work on my creations. I spent many late hours promoting and I feel after 20 years it has paid off.
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.
To be an artist, is to dream the unknown. Terry d. Chacon I live by this saying that I created for my website. Once I decided to work full time as an artist, I have never stopped dreaming of what I can do tomorrow. I love working in different mediums (bronze, precious metal jewelry, oil painting on location or in my studio). I am always dreaming about new ideas, and every morning when I open up my studio its like Christmas. I can’t wait to see what I have done the day before (sometimes if I wake up in the middle of the night, I look at my ipad just to see the last photo of what I am working on). Its all so very exciting and working in the different mediums I am never bored. Nothing is ever easy, putting it all together and building a business takes a lot of time. I live and work my business and create my art but I have taught myself to be very disciplined in order to get it all done. I do enjoy all aspects of my business. I like the sharing of my work online and getting feedback from others, building my website with new creations, watching and learning from other artist on videos. I like working on a painting and then putting the brush down and picking up some clay, I can have up to five things going at once, those are crazy times. It all seems to work and I don’t think in the last twenty years that I decided to open up my art business full time, have I had a problem being creative. My mind is always on what I am doing, but also running on to what I want to do next or who I want to share a new idea or piece with.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
As a plein air painter I thoroughly enjoy going to different areas to paint. I love the Inland Empire in the winter time and the beaches in the summer. Being able to paint at different places is all very exciting to me. In the winter some of my favorite painting spots are in the Palm Springs area, painting at Indian Canyon, Whitewater Preserve or Twentynine Palms. Painting snow in the Oak Glen area or painting distant snow covered mountains with Palm Trees in the foreground around the corner from where I live is also one of my favorites. In the Spring you might be able to keep up with me traveling around the Inland Empire chasing and painting wildflowers. Some years there are just not enough days to paint all the different varieties. So many places to paint along the SoCal beaches including Santa Barbara, Newport, Balboa Island and Laguna to mention a few favorites. And then there is my favorite. Catalina Island. Every year, for the past 14 years, I take a couple trips to Catalina. Either a painting trip with some artist buddies or to teach a workshop on the island. Painting the sparkle on the water is like no other that I have ever seen, which is why the Plein Air Artist of America was started in Avalon. The views from Mt. Ada, Pebbly Beach, Hamilton Cove and Descanso Beach are more favorites. The food is wonderful at the Bluewater Grill, the Cafe Metropole, Avalon Grill and the burgers at the Coney Island is a must. I have never had a bad meal on the island there is really something for everyone. I will always visit the Catalina Art Gallery as they exhibit my artwork and the Conservancy and Museum have great exhibits as well. I think any visiting friend might find any of these trips either overnight, weeklong or just a day a wonderful experience and I am always happy to share my work locations.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
As an artist I needed to build on my skills and techniques over the years. You really never quit learning your trade. When I decided what type of paintings I wanted to create I looked through the internet at different artist who gave workshops. What I found was the paintings I was attracted to all the artist had taken classes with Henry Hensche at his school in ProvinceTown Massachusetts. One of his students, Susan Sarback was giving a week long Plein Air workshop in Laguna Beach and I took the class. I was hooked. For the next seven years I traveled to either her school or another workshop on location a couple times a year to keep learning. She taught me not only how to paint in oils using a palette knife but taught me how to capture luminous light and color in my paintings. I was then able to take that knowledge and use it in the studio to create beautiful paintings of animals, mostly dogs and build a career of selling pet portraits of which I have worked with collectors from over 20 countries. I also have to give credit to my mother who worked in ceramics and taught me about sculpture. When I decided to work in bronze sculpture I was introduced to Bob Escoto of Heritage Bronze in Hesperia, Ca. He along with his wife Sherrie helped me learn the business of making and selling bronze sculpture. Bob gave me the courage to go life size and I was able to create two life size Afghan Hound sculptures that make their home in Norway.