New York: It all started with a drawing date
Take a trip to Brooklyn and get to know the story of Juan Miguel Marin drawings.
When did the idea of "Drawing Under the Influence" find its way into your world? Is there a city anecdote or story that inspired it?
I found this body of work (Drawing Under the Influence) in New York City; there’s no doubt about it. The first week of 2011 –the first week of the rest of my life– came with a particular experience that would shape in many ways the years to come. It’s certainly why I am drawing today. At the end of 2010, I had cut ties with my last employer to reconnect with music and develop my art. I had spent my entire career working for studios/agencies and brands as a graphic designer and art director. During that first week as a free man (aka unemployed), and in my late twenties, I was invited to a drawing date by my now dear friend Shantell Martin. I couldn’t remember the last time I had picked up a marker to draw without a plan, without an agenda for a client, or just for fun. It was a very simple dynamic. With music playing in the background, Shantell and I each had a piece of paper that we would swap every 10 minutes or so. Three hours felt like 5 minutes went by, and I felt a million times better than when we started. I drew nothing worth sharing, but the lesson was profound. I am forever grateful to Shantell for that invite. She’s definitely an inspiration and one of the best humans I’ve come across in life.
At least another 2 years went by from that moment until these repetitive/meditative lines turned into a conscious path. First as a form of meditation and now finally as a form of dialogue with my memories, emotions, and the world.
Three hours felt like 5 minutes went by, and I felt a million times better than when we started. I drew nothing worth sharing, but the lesson was profound.
What was your main inspiration, can you tell us when was that moment when you felt you had something unique to take your work and start working on projects on a bigger scale?
A friend of a friend ran this dinner series in Williamsburg (Brooklyn). They were hosted in a very large warehouse with huge walls. She knew about my drawings (small scale) and asked If I was interested in making big versions to fill the wall in space. I came back to her with the idea of making the work come to life as the nearly 500 guests were in attendance. It was the first time I had done something like that, and it made me realize that the scale benefits the drawings quite dramatically. The opportunity to reveal the process, and interact with an audience left me completely buzzed. It was a 5-hour drawing in front of people type of session. A hand full of private commissions came after that night. I take those little victories as signs to live by.
When doing work, what story do you feel you are telling to people? Is there any particular moment in which hearing something or reading the news affected your work?
"The work comes from a very intimate place. I channel everything that goes through my mind when and wherever I am making these pieces. It might be hard to explain exactly how things from the real world translate into these strange shapes, but I want to believe that they are influenced by my journey in this world and what happens in it."
What inspires you today? What’s the connection you feel with New York? Why do you feel New Yorkers or other cities connect with your work?
New York is a beast. A wonderful beast that today, after 8 years, feels like home. The thing about New York (for me), is that it demystified the idea of what it is to be an artist. It brought it from the abstract to the real –I grew up in Ecuador in a different time and without knowing anyone first hand who made a living as an artist (or musician)– New York and its hustle shows you and reminds you that the artist has to put in the hours just like the accountant or the lawyer does. Seeing actors rehearse a script for an audition on the subway, or the stand-up bass player dragging their instrument to a gig, or the 70-year-old painter painting in their studio every day definitely had an impact in my path. New York is unique in that way.
How do you stay focused?
It is tough. I’m still navigating my way through my art practice along with my musician side, and some of the commercial work I do for films and other artists. I can tell you though, that having a routine is important. Exercise and healthy eating have an impact on productivity. Trusting my gut is very important, although it’s easier said than done.
Do you see NY as a city you will live in for a long time? How would you like your New York story to be remembered?
This is a huge question, not sure I can tackle it in full just yet.
I definitely feel like I could live in New York (or Brooklyn) for a long time, although I long for Ecuador. Perhaps a dual home base one day?
I think I’ll remember New York more than New York will remember me. And I can live with that.
When is your next exhibition?
I have a public mural coming up in Portoviejo, Ecuador, a coastal city where I spent my high school years. This place was destroyed by a 7.8 earthquake less than two years ago. I am honoured and humbled to leave my mark there.