Today we’d like to introduce you to José Poves.
José, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I was born and raised in the city of Zaragoza, Spain.
Zaragoza was a nice place to grow up in—big enough to have about everything a child would need, but small enough not to be flooded by tourists all year long.
At the age of fifteen, I traveled to New York to study in my sophomore year of high school in an international boarding school called EF Academy. That year, while isolated in Tarrytown, NY, with hundreds of people from all over the world, I learned to let go of past expectations and embrace who I truly was. I was encouraged to participate in any and all activities. I joined the soccer team and the literary magazine, I played in student-organized concerts, and I ran for student government. I even took drama classes for the first time in my life and was eventually cast in Footloose, the spring musical, as the main character.
Before traveling to New York, I was a studious and well-mannered kid. I was convinced by every adult around me that I’d make a great engineer, just like my parents before me. Maybe I’d even take over the family business someday. I never felt a strong calling towards engineering, although I did excel at mathematics and science. Engineering always felt like a sensible career choice, even from a young age.
New York changed all of that. I was celebrated for my creativity just as much as I was celebrated for my intellect. I felt supported in anything I wanted to do, as opposed to steered into a career that was not of my choosing. Long story short, I stayed in New York for the remainder of my high school studies and eventually moved to Los Angeles, California, to study a BFA in acting at the University of Southern California.
During my junior year at USC, I was sexually assaulted by a stranger. That single moment changed my life forever. I developed symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, which eventually led to depression, an anxiety disorder, agoraphobia, and an eating disorder. The following two years were the toughest I’ve ever had to face. As I grew more and more distanced from the people around me, I felt more and more uncomfortable onstage. A professor of mine later said to me: “To be an actor you have to like to be watched.” I realized then that I used to like to be watched, but I didn’t any longer. I wanted to hide.
Halfway through my senior year, I started exploring other artistic endeavors. Without resigning to ever act again, I started drawing and writing poetry and short-length fiction. A year after that, I had published 244 Haikus—a collection of poems in traditional haiku form in both English and Spanish—and opened an online store with merchandise featuring my designs.
During this first year after graduating, I have spent a lot of time learning how to better take care of myself. I am still learning, slowly but surely.
Artistically, I will continue searching for my calling. I only yearn to learn and try and love as many things as I can.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It has not always been a smooth road.
Life in California brought unforeseen challenges. I remained a competent student and I was already accustomed to living away from my family; but, for the first time in my life, I felt like an outsider. We were all foreigners in New York, so, in a way, nobody was out of place. The lack of international students around me at USC and the heightened importance of international politics at the time felt very isolating.
Nevertheless, I was lucky to be surrounded by kind, open-minded people. In the beginning, I felt like there was always an invisible barrier between them and me. They felt like they belonged there. I didn’t feel welcomed into the culture.
The United States really is the land of opportunity. Anything you want to do, you can have a shot at in the USA. The culture was harsh to me initially, but the continued support of my friends and their willingness to learn about our cultural differences allowed me to find a home in a foreign land.
We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
As a multifaceted artist, my business is very personal and varied.
I sell merchandise with my designs on my webpage. These include t-shirts, hats, posters, mugs, and beach towels, between other things. I also recently published a poetry book that consists of 244 poems in traditional haiku form in both English and Spanish. These are available on Amazon in paperback and eBook versions.
The thing I am most proud of is my poetry book. Although the end product is fulfilling and the reviews have been better than I expected, the process of writing and publishing it taught me incredibly valuable lessons as a person and as an artist.
Personally, writing poetry was a way to explore my feelings and put them into words. Putting emotions to words helped me identify facets of my personality that I was suppressing—it cleared my mind to who I really was at that moment in time. That exploration of my deepest feelings gave me a new perspective with which to pull myself out of major depression.
Artistically, writing poetry was a way to speak my truth. I had always been told that any writer should start by telling the stories they know, before venturing into the stories they had to imagine or do heavy research for. I had never found an appropriate way to share my story. I wrote these poems as openly and honestly as I could, sugarcoating nothing and sharing my thoughts just as I had them. The honesty in my words made it easy for me to share my work with others. In 244 Haikus, I share my deepest secrets—a little bit of my soul—but I am proud of sharing them because they are my truth.
So, what’s next? Any big plans?
My future is exciting and very unclear.
At this moment, the thing I am most passionate about is learning as much as I can from as wide a range of artistic outlets as I can get a hold of. I continue to write poetry and hope to have the opportunity to publish more work in the future. I continue to draw and am currently exploring different techniques when it comes to visual art—pencil, pastel, paint, etc. I am developing an animated series with my best friend and I am writing short fiction of my own.
I want to spend the rest of my life learning as much as I can, developing deep relationships along the way, and making good art, whatever form it takes.
- 244 Haikus (paperback) – $6.99 + shipping
- 244 Haikus (ebook) – $2.99
- T-shirt – $21.45
- Hat – $25.70
- Smartphone case – $19.30
- Mug – $17.20
- Website: josepoves.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @jose.poves
- Facebook: @jose.poves.art
- Twitter: @jose_poves_art
- Other: https://www.behance.net/josepoves; https://www.pinterest.es/josepovesart/