Artist of the Month: Taya De La Cruz

What is your art practice? What themes do you explore and why?

My art practice is a little unconventional as my approach to mark making is not commonplace in the art world. I compose my pieces with tiny handwriting, and tiny paint drips created with medical-grade syringes. 

I aim to stimulate opposing parts of the viewer’s brain to engage “the sweet spot”, or “in the zone” thinking. As each piece requires time to be seen, owing to the intricate details, exposure to both types of stimuli affect the subconscious and increase the ability to problem solve and think outside of the box. I’m hoping the experience leaves the viewer feeling more positive and calm.

Which artists and movements historically have influenced you?

I’m very affected by both the abstract expressionist movement, most notably Jackson Pollock, and the minimalist movement, namely Bridget Riley and Agnes Martin.

Their influence is unquestionably present in my work with elements of all of them visible; Pollock’s viscerality, Riley’s composition, and Martin’s influence in mark-making.

Perhaps I am making the most of the cards I have been dealt as an artist, as I am not a talented drawer or painter. I’ve had to find my own expression and play to my strengths, and I find great appreciation of detail where most would not. I don’t think many would have the patience to pursue the kind of work that I do – I at times struggle with it! The time needed to complete a piece is much much higher than most practitioners and that’s hard to deal with sometimes as it limits the total amount of pieces I can complete.

How important do you think it is that ArtCan is able to offer opportunities for exhibiting outside of a formal gallery structure?

I LOVE THIS! I am not a fan of the traditional gallery model, as it’s such a closed circuit. It’s not accessible to art lovers of all budgets, whereas if you go off the beaten track a bit, you are able to be a lot freer with your choices and presentation.

Who knows, I may change my mind in the future, but if I could be successful (whatever that word means) without a gallery, I will choose that option every time.

Do you have to balance your art practice with a day job or other work?

Yes, and I’m appallingly bad at it. I always give 100% to everything I do, even a day job which isn’t what I want to do for the rest of my life, but whilst I’m there, I will give it my all. That usually results in me being so tired at the end of the day to even think about art at all.

I’ve made it habit to get up at 4:15am every day, so at least the first couple of hours of the day belong to me, and I do the best that I can then.

I honestly don’t know how others manage to not only sustain a thriving art practice, but also find the time to document it on Instagram as well. Please send tips!

What would be your advice for artists starting out in their careers?

I very much put myself in this category as I’ve only been going for a couple of years, but I have learned a lot in that time. I think perspective is the biggest thing. Because there are lots of open calls, it seems easy. But what you have to remember is that big open calls attract the most seasoned artists who have been working for 10 years and are known by many in the industry. 

Occasionally you’ll get an unknown talent who will come in and break all the rules, but they are the exception and not the norm. The best thing you can do is keep your own house in order. Ask yourself the following two questions: “Am I creating the highest possible quality of work I can create for where I am in my career right now?” and “If art fairs and galleries didn’t exist, how would I thrive as an artist?”

If you can answer those two questions honestly for yourself, you are definitely on the right track.