Today we’d like to introduce you to Wolfgang Bloch.
Hi Wolfgang, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
It’s been a long and unimaginable journey for me…I was born and raised in Ecuador. Came to the US in 1982 at the age of 19 to go to college in hopes to become a marine biologist. Life in the states was very different than what I was used to; Latin culture is vibrant, loud and warm. Central Florida didn’t offer much of that…it took some adjusting.
English was my third language; I had an accent and when people asked where I was from, I was amazed that so many had no idea where Ecuador was. I struggled with chemistry during my first year of college, and after I took an art class as an elective, I realized that I was much better at art than science. I changed majors and graduated in 1987 with a BFA. I was in the US on a student visa, so to stay here, I needed to be in school. I applied for grad school throughout the country and was accepted at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena into their Graphic Design program. It was for another Bachelor’s Degree, but I didn’t mind; I was really excited to move to California. It was time for a change.
I still remember today the feeling when I finally arrived in California after driving across the country in a U-Haul without AC in the middle of summer…then driving past and seeing the tall buildings in downtown LA on my way to Pasadena. I was in LA…I couldn’t believe it. I loved it; the diversity of people, so many different cultures, the variety of foods, music, art, and I could finally speak Spanish again without getting dirty looks… Art Center was an incredible experience. Just visiting the campus for the first time and seeing the iconic, modernist building was an incredible and inspiring experience. The workload was intense, but I loved the fact that most of the faculty were actually professionals teaching from a real-world perspective. After graduation, I got a job working for Gotcha Sportswear in Irvine, first as a designer and later as an art director. It was a great job, I had lots of creative freedom, but somehow working on the computer all day wasn’t for me. I really missed getting my hands dirty and actually touching what I was working on.
After four years at Gotcha, I decided to venture out on my own as a freelance artist. I did a lot of illustration work, mainly working for companies in the surfing industry. It felt really good to use pencils, brushes and paint again. I continued doing that for about ten years. In the year 2000, I was commissioned by Billabong, a surf clothing brand, to create a painting for their lobby in their new building. It was a large piece and it forced me to move my studio out of my small one car garage and into a larger space. In that space I started painting again. It felt so good to create work for myself; to have the opportunity to experiment, to enjoy the process and not know where the work was going or where it would end up. It had been years since I experienced that. I participated in some group shows at the Surf Gallery in Laguna Beach.
My work was well received and I got some exposure in magazines, and little by little I was painting more and doing less design and illustration work. In 2008 Chronicle Books published a book about my work titled Wolfgang Bloch: The Colors of Coincidence. I’ve been painting now full time for almost 20 years. My work has been exhibited in galleries and museums throughout the country and world. I’m in my studio everyday. I love to work, I love to create; if I’m not painting, I’m building panels or experimenting with different materials and mediums. It’s been a long journey and I don’t take anything for granted. I’m so thankful that I get to do something I’m passionate about everyday.
I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
Definitely not a smooth road…many lessons learned the hard way. But I’ve learned that struggle has only made me stronger. It taught me perseverance and has helped me keep my feet on the ground. Growth also comes from enduring difficult and emotional times. It has also pushed me to create some of my most honest work. In 2013, I was going through some very difficult and emotional times, where I felt as if I was drowning. I started a series of underwater paintings tiled Pacifico, that show images of being deep in the ocean. On the surface, they represent the contrast of light versus dark, but looking deeper they represent the struggle I was going through. They are dark and bear a lot of weight, but always show a promise of light…a promise of hope. I think the biggest struggle for me to deal with has been and still is, to learn to trust. Learn to believe in myself and my work and trust that I’m on the right path and that things will somehow work out.
Please tell us more about your art.
I consider myself a painter. At a young age, I was introduced to the outdoors by my parents. We often camped on secluded beaches and traveled by car throughout Ecuador. I still clearly remember images I saw while looking out the window on the backseat of our VW. Beautiful, vivid landscapes with hardly anyone around. Looking back, I think those trips and being exposed to that landscape really shaped me into the person I am today. Being in nature is still vital to me. It helps me stay centered; it inspires me, opens my eyes and opens my heart. My work centers around that feeling. In my paintings, I’m not trying to illustrate an image, I’m trying to evoke a feeling, an emotional reaction. My paintings have been described as moving, romantic and evocative contemporary sea and landscapes that border between being representational and abstract work.
My creative process is purely intuitive and emotional. I don’t plan, sketch or paint from photographs; it just evolves. I build my own panels, combine different materials, creating an assemblage to paint on. The surface is really important to me. I paint on discarded and used materials, such as reclaimed wood, cardboard, paper and fabrics. I don’t want my paintings to look manufactured. I like showing little imperfections in the materials; I want them to have a somewhat organic feel. I’m just incredibly thankful for everything. It’s been a long journey with many ups and downs, lots of tough lessons learned, but also many rewards. I’m thankful for where I am today and that I get to do something I’m passionate about everyday.
Alright so before we go can you talk to us a bit about how people can work with you, collaborate with you or support you?
I’m definitely open to collaborations. Best way to reach me is via email.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: wolfgangbloch.com
- Instagram: @wolfgangbloch