Interviews

Published on June 14th, 2013 | by gatsbyadmin

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Tonia Calderon

Ask a musician what inspires them, and most of the time they’ll say a fellow musician. Ask an artist, they usually say another artist. Very rarely can an artist say they’re inspired purely by music – and that is what sets Tonia Calderon apart from the rest. She’s a 25-year old California native and self-taught artist specializing in popular art. She’s done paintings that can be found in the homes of some extremely well-known people, such as Dr. Dre, Rihanna, P. Diddy, Shaquille O’Neal, Beyonce, and Ludacris, to name a few. Her portraits are unlike anything you may have pre-conceived in your head about what “art” should look like, and include subjects such as Brad Pitt, Bob Marley, Marilyn Monroe,  Michael Jackson, and Lady Gaga. For Tonia, what it’s all about is simple: “My art is simply about appreciating creation, creation of the art and the music behind it. I wanted to create something different and I hope to continue to evolve and inspire change”.

“I always knew she wanted a creative career”, so after moving to Arizona in high school, she pursued college at Arizona State University, but ended up being overworked bartending and working at a local magazine. Then one day she told us, “ I came up with the idea to paint and involve lyrics raised above the portraits… I went out bought some supplies and haven’t stopped since.”

 

Music has always been her first love, she knew it was something that would be the core of her art. Which was reflected in the first painting she ever sold – of her favorite rap artist, Tupac Shakur. It’s also important to Tonia to get the majority of her inspiration from music rather than art, to ensure her ideas remain organic. She describes her influences – “ Tupac, Common, Miles Davis, Nina Simone, Jill Scott to Frank Ocean” – but says she’s far from musically talented. It may seem like she knows exactly what she’s doing, but she revealed that one of her biggest challenges as an artist is staying on track with her concept and not giving the entire world all of her ideas at once. When she gets an idea, the most important thing for her is for it to be organized – “ I don’t like clutter and only want what is truly needed around me. I also prefer to create at night.. I feel like there’s less distractions and better energy, I can’t truly describe the change in energy from day to night but it feels more open and peaceful”. After that, all she needs is tea and music….

“The past few years of my life have been the greatest for me in personal growth… Every year I can feel myself changing as a person to a much more creative and open individual. I feel like I’m so far from putting out my best work… I feel like this is just the beginning and I have so much more to offer that people haven’t seen yet.” Even though she says she has so much more to offer, its hard to discount how much she’s already put out there. Rihanna saw the custom piece Tonia did for Dr. Dre and, of course, had to have one. Little did she know, the piece for Dr. Dre originally had the wrong lyric painted on Dre’s portrait – which Tonia only realized when Dre himself pointed it out. “He was very skeptical I could fix the painting, but the next day I brought some supplies to the studio and fixed the painting neat and quick… He was very happy with the result saying ‘You know I’m a perfectionist… It looks perfect.’ ”. Her favorite celebrity she’s worked with is Swizz Beats – a huge art lover.

 

When it comes to her passion for art, she has endless plans for the future, advice for other aspiring artists, and perspective on her own career thus far. To those who hope to be like her one day, “I feel like the biggest mistake for aspiring artist is to not go their own direction… A lot of young artists paint any thing that comes to mind.. My greatest advice is to come up with your own concept and run with it… something people can recognize as your style and brand.” If young artists do aspire to have a career like hers, they should know that Tonia doesn’t have the traditional ideas regarding success and how it is defined – she views success as being with the people we inspire, and that it isn’t on an individual level. She views her greatest career accomplishment as simply doing what she loves to do every day, “I couldn’t imagine something else I would rather be doing”. She’s currently working on a large solo show in Los Angeles called “Cocaine” which she describes as “a piece of art and something people haven’t seen before,” with large pieces as well as sculptures.

 

I think it’s amazing to see how technology, art, fashion and film all intersect today! Technology has given the world access to share every type of art to the world with just one click.” True indeed, Tonia. With that being said, check out more of Tonia’s amazing work and show some support for this truly uniquely inspired artist.

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