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Art & Life with Shiloh Valdez and Dante

Today we’d like to introduce you to Shiloh Valdez and Dante.

Shiloh and Dante, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
So Far East It’s West is a collaboration between Dante and myself (Shiloh).

Dante: I went to college. From schooling, became a tattooist, lived like that for 20+ years, traveled all over the place, experienced different cultures, painting. That’s about it. That’s as unique as I go. Now I’m just writing a lot.

Shiloh: I was born. I went to school. I haven’t been to jail. I don’t think my story is so unique. I’ve moved around a bit excessively, went to school, studied fashion and have worked as a Technical Designer and fashion illustrator for almost 20 years. I’ve been a professional freelancer for the last three and we’ve had So Far East It’s West just over a year now.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
There’s so many steps in the process of making a shirt from the paintings we both do. We both draw, paint, make shirts, write. We have a lot of different art fields we work in.

As far as the idea of what we want people to take away from it, at the risk of sounding generic, people take away from art things that are already inside them. Art is a mirrored reflection back of that person. They’re going to take out what they want to see. Every piece of art we create is how we’re thinking, feeling, or what we think looks cool at that moment, but after that, it’s not really up to us anymore. It’s up to the person looking at it and what they feel. Their interpretation is like most of life, just perspective. If anything, we hope our work is like an exploration into their own mind, like a Rorschach test. It’s what you see in it. One person sees a work of art. Another person sees pornography. People see war. People see peace. It’s all a matter of perspective.

Dante: I’ve been inspired by many different things in my life. At times I realized I was influenced by my own ego and the idea of trying to one-up myself either technically or mentally with my work. That was a trap in itself. What inspires me now is the act of creation. The freedom to. Even with the limitations of the physical world we’re in the creation within the mind is the most liberating thing we have. I’m inspired by the nature of creation, that we have the ability in this short time on this planet to actually create something as an extension of our own minds and maybe just the universal sense of some truth we’re looking for like a poet singing in the dark. It’s an unspoken language that never really conveys straight truth but can repaint a really blurry picture of it. I feel the same way about art.

Shiloh: I’ve always liked the process. I didn’t always have as much respect for it as I do now.

Dante: Oh me too. I care much more about the process than I ever have before.

Shiloh: Since we’ve gotten to know each other more and have worked on all different types of art I’ve learned more to appreciate the process and not worry so much about the end result. The end result is what it’s going to be and although my intention is always pointed in a certain direction, how the piece ends up is at the end and I need not worry about that along the way. I used to always and still do labor, over is it going to be perfect? Is it going to be what I had in mind? Is it technically good? Is that line perfectly straight? Is anyone going to like it? I worry about things like that when I draw and paint and I think a lot of my work suffered for it. I would feel anxious.

Dante: I think the opposite of you. I think I didn’t care. I just had fun doing it. I’ve become more technical over the years to where I appreciate it in a lot of ways but I’m still trying to find that balance between caring and not caring.

Shiloh: You and me both. Two sides of the same coin.

How do you think about success, as an artist, and what do quality do you feel is most helpful?
There are different types of success. Commercial or financial success and personal success. Both are equally valid. One way or another you have to accept as an artist you will struggle. There’s very few that can make a substantial amount of money through art, percentage-wise.

Expanding your connections is probably your surest, but not guaranteed way to success. Working hard and following through is important. When you say you’re going to do something, do it. Make sure you communicate whether or not you can pull off the project and when. If your deadline needs to change communicate that clearly. Art and business are two diametrically opposed things. You can say you need your special time to create and that’s great, but you’re on a deadline. So, I know that your muse is not touching you correctly at the moment and you can’t do anything, but guess what, you have to do something anyway. Sometimes you just have to bear down and get it done. You have to lose your ego in a lot of ways in the business world with art. It’s not about you. It’s about meeting that deadline and are they satisfied with it?

It’s important not to put $1000 worth of hours into a project you’re only getting paid $50 for. We’re both so guilty of this. If the client is paying for a rough sketch, don’t give them a Picasso, but still, do your best work in alignment with that project. Make sure you have a safety net as far as money goes. Always have a savings account. Life happens. As an artist, you’re going to struggle and there’s going to be lulls in payment where you’re going to be poor, very poor. Having a backup plan is really good. Have a way out of it, because art is finicky.

Be open to innovation, definitely, with any kind of art field, because things change. It’s really easy to get caught in the past of your work. Whether that be in the level of quality vs. the idea of tools that are being utilized, you have to be able to change and adapt.

Contracts. These will help you get paid.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
You can check out our work at as well as our Instagram and Facebook pages. Please feel free to shop and contact us. We love conversation. We’ve talked briefly about doing a show in the future, but nothing concrete or specific yet.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Photography: Shiloh Valdez; Artwork: Dante & Shiloh Valdez

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