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Meet Glendale Fine Art Instructor: John DeCastro

Today we’d like to introduce you to John DeCastro.

John, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
My Kuya (brother in Tagalog) was my main inspiration becoming an artist. We would just draw our favorite video game characters. Drawing, it made me feel at peace. Art gave me zen, whether it was creating or admiring others work. I feel like I was destined to be this, an artist. I was put here to express and immerse people in a world they have never seen or been a part of. I want to emphasize beauty in the world, instead of competition and power. I want to create work and not feel intimidated. No matter what, anyone can relate to it. Psychology has been a primary focus and continuous study to my works. I’ve been to Art Center in Pasadena and studied Fine Arts, and currently studying Graphic Design at Glendale College. I teach as a Grumbacher Fine Art instructor at Michaels Art Supply. Teaching has also been a plug for my inspiration. I encourage people to use my techniques. I have no shame in showing my processes. Los Angeles has been my oyster as an artist. Every day is different. Everybody has an artist in them. Whether it’s their character or what they make, everyone is passionate. I participate in some Urban LA art shows like “Chocolate and Art” and “Beyond the Lines”. I currently work as an artist at “The Wooden Fork” and teach classes as well as curate art shows for other local artists. Even though some may think artist are introverts, one of my biggest tools as an artist is my voice. These days now, what drives my inspiration is biking around downtown and having a cup of coffee. Inspiration usually just comes from being in other places.

Has it been a smooth road?
I’ve struggled tremendously as an artist. I was the art student who never lived alone (roaches). When I got accepted to Art Center, I left home. I sold all my old collectibles and Super Nintendo games at this convention called Frank and Sons. I didn’t have much money at all and I did starve sometimes. I wanted to be there. I needed to be there. Even if it made my health awful. I was in such a creative stigma so it didn’t matter. I definitely don’t recommend it, but I just turned 19 at the time. I worked my way up, and that meant putting on a mask. I was on my feet for 12 hours in the back of a kitchen. I was a dishwasher. Dishwashers don’t just wash dishes. They throw trash and scrub the toilets! Oh yeah! It paid rent and I saved the tips I got for art supplies. I had no shame, I was quite blessed and happy. It wasn’t until I was buying acrylic paint and was asked if I wanted to teach classes at Michaels. That’s when success as an artist started to unfold. Opportunity came one after the other. Most importantly, I was just happy to not be washing dishes! Soon enough I was able to invest in a studio space and supplies. Hard work takes patience, that was the challenge overall. Not knowing when the opportunity will come. But it does alright. It always does if you work hard and send good vibes! Sometimes the answer could be right in front of you.

When you look back, what are you most proud of?
One of the proudest moments of my career is when it began I guess. Before I came across my position teaching Fine Art, I was washing dishes for 12 hours a day. The only time I had was between the two-hour bus commute from West Covina to Pasadena. I wanted to keep art consistent so I brought my Konica Minolta with me and took photos of Architecture, before and after my shifts. I was also consistently posting photos on Instagram and Editing them in Vscocam. It wasn’t until a really good friend of mine wanted me to be a part of an Art Show. I never thought anything of it, I just thought I’d do it for fun. It wasn’t until I actually sold 75% of my works that I realized I possess an amazing creative gift. It wasn’t selling the pieces, it was the work getting displayed and serving a different purpose. My whole family showed up to the show. I was the first one in my family to pursue the Fine Arts and it had to be done with a big bang. Breaking the stereotype that Fine Art can’t bring success. It was my proudest moment because I got back into painting with so much inspiration from struggle and establishing myself. This pushed me to find a career in teaching others that creativity is important for the result of our future.

Tell us more about the struggles you’ve faced along the way.
I guess I have been bouncing the word struggle. Struggling to survive. You know survival of the fittest! Paying the rent, cable, electric, student loans, and groceries. I’m not going to say I had it bad, though! It was an amazing learning experience for me as an artist, and independent. I didn’t eat the best all the time, so much of what I was paying for was rent, but since I’m Filipino, I know the best cheap ramen packs at the market to last me for the week. I just got creative with my meals, my Kuya taught me so many tricks with cooking and conserving. the chefs at my work were very nice and would save food for me at the end of shift too. I guess struggling isn’t so bad for an artist, it’s really about how creative you are.

What’s your outlook for the industry in our city?
I would definitely recommend any part of Los Angeles to find a career in art. I feel as though the opportunity is right in front of you in most places. There are so many events and social happenings. But you have to be a strong communicator. You need to be around the right people out here. Everyone here is usually very kind and polite. To me, I feel as though Los Angeles is an amazing place for me. The people and environments always give me inspiration. Art is very fluid here, marketing yourself here as an artist is usually highly commemorated. From my experiences, my peers have been very noble, appreciative, and supportive of my position as a Professional Fine Artist. You just have to make the time and be consistent with your art and keep a positive attitude!

Contact Info:

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