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Meet Omid Orouji of Los Angeles based Interdisciplinary Artist in The Valley

Today we’d like to introduce you to Omid Orouji.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Perhaps not being a hardliner was a huge factor! Not accepting any 9 to 5 lifestyle was the only thing that I wanted, but I just wasn’t sure exactly which direction I wanted to go. I started with math and engineering field after high school. I changed my path toward music and art and finally settled with Industrial Design. I was pursuing higher education in my home country, Iran, in the design area and art critique, but in graduate school, one of my final projects got into trouble due to the nature of bureaucracy and funding system between university and City Hall. Eventually, I gave up and left the country. I started from the beginning in the U.S, and I got my first degree in Art History, and later I received my Master of Fine Arts from California State University. Since then, I being accused of being an Artist and I plead guilty gladly every day.

Has it been a smooth road?
Is there any easy thing out there? What does it mean “easy” at all? Does “Easy” mean you have enough money to dump your responsibility on other people’s shoulders? It has never been easy. Not for me, not for anyone else. Everyone is facing some difficulties in their unique ways. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying it is extremely hard to do so. For being an artist, (a dedicated and responsible one), you need to be ready to share part of yourself. Whatever that it is; beautiful, ugly, good or bad. Do you know any other job that you get this opportunity? Actually, I was lucky that I had to experience a mandatory displacement and get to know more people along the way. It gave me enough ingredients for years and years to come; different cultures, different religions, different every day, different everything. It is like the rest of the life. You sacrifice something to gain something else. It is not easy, and it is not hard. It is what it is.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
Let me start with this. The “Emerging Artist” is a funny term. And it is funnier to be an “emerging artist”. Since when do you call yourself an emerging artist? Who has the credibility to give you this title? Until when will you carry it? When you introduce yourself as an artist, you might portray the most relevant stereotype of an emerging artist; a hungry one. You are fighting every day to pay the bills and staying a productive artist with dignity. You want to keep up with your friends, fellows, colleagues in real life and at the same time, you don’t want to lose your “emerging artist” title.

I do not have a business. What I make in the art world is not sellable; I make offbeat objects. I arrange strange installations. I create irregular images. Fortunately, there are people with the same mindset out there. I got to teach them. Teaching is my business if you will. I teach design and art at California State Universities. Even though the teaching has set hours as a job, I do not consider it a 9 to 5 lifestyle. In every class, I have a chance to challenge my expertise with 20 to 30 fresh minds who are eagerly looking for a new answer. This is the best business; I’m getting paid to keep my knowledge update while I’m enjoying what I do. Yes, it might not be enough to call it an “easy” life. But it is what it is.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Los Angeles is one of the weighted cities in art among New York, Austin, Portland and other cities. Therefore there is more opportunity for artists to explore, learn and of course express themselves. The same story in Art education; you find more positions to teach art comparing to smaller cities. Meanwhile, we have a long way to run to see the “art” as an extension in the everyday life of ordinary people, similar to what you see in Toronto. So far, it has been a good experience to live in the city of Angels; nevertheless, sometimes you have to face one of the hidden evils.

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