Name: Susie Cortez
Favorite Quote: A culture is as great as its dreams and its dreams are dreamt by artists.
Susie Cortez is a fine art consultant and visual artist who has over 20 years experience in the field of art & art education. She worked alongside renowned master fine artist Larry Gluck in the expansion of the Mission: Renaissance Art studios, a chain of art schools for children and adults in Los Angeles. Mission: Renaissance went from 6 locations to 20 locations with Susie’s contribution. Susie relocated to Dallas in 2018 to pursue her full-time artist career. She travels frequently between the west coast and east coast as well as the Caribbean, and Central America to events where she paints live or works to improve her skills. In March 2018 she became the first Salvadorean artist to be invited to paint at the National Gallery in Washington DC. In her art, Susie works to evoke emotions on the viewers so they become a silent partner and enjoy the experience. The different mediums she uses also contribute to the feelings she wants to convey.
“I’m always trying new palettes, combinations of mediums or different techniques. I imagine the painting and then figure out how to communicate that on canvas or paper or even wood. Its a constant game I play. Trying to create in the physical world, what I have envisioned in my world of thought. This is what makes being an artist so much fun and rewarding,” she says.
Check out our interview below with 2019 COSIGN Creative Artist of the year nominee, Susie Cortez as we discuss her early life, struggles, and how she transitioned to becoming a full time artist.
Everyone has a unique story, what would you say is yours?
My unique story started when I was trying to fit in as an immigrant child in a new country. I was five years old when my parents moved to the US from El Salvador. My escape was drawing. I could let my imagination run wild and have it erase the difficult days I had being bullied for my accent, height and weight. As I grew up and developed my skills, I discovered I could be identified as an artist. My confidence grew and it gave me a sense of security. It helped me stand out for different reasons and I love it. I feel that having this confidence, changed the trajectory of my experiences with other people. I stood out, but not only because I was Latina and full size, but also because I was a pretty good artist. I created something that gave people inspiration and feel good emotions when they looked at my work.
That’s amazing, so you would say that growing up you were always creative, right? How did you develop your talent?
Yes, I would say so. As long as I can remember, I would spend afternoons drawing and watching cartoons, being amazed at what artists could create. All children are born creative, it’s maintaining that creativity that becomes a difficult task. Thanks to my parents I was able to harness my creativity and thanks to my mentor, Larry Gluck I was able to develop a talent/skill that has a strong foundation in the basics of fine art.
I never thought about it like that, you’re right. Who would you say was the first person that #COSIGNed you and inspired you to pursue your passion?
My parents and siblings. My parents always supported my art and made me believe I was an artist! They truly encouraged me to pursue my passion. One of my sisters would draw for me and send me drawings when I was little. I used to love them so much, I think I still have a couple of them.
It’s always great when you have that support from your family. What was the defining moment or spark that inspired you to step into your life as an artist?
I was working as the Quality Assurance Director in Los Angeles for Mission Renaissance Fine Art Classes. I had spent all of my adult life thus far with the company and as much as I loved what I did, I had this emptiness in my heart when it came to my own passion and dreams. I had accomplished all that I had set out to do, I had won the game there. Now I needed a new one. That’s when I realized that I had to give that up in order to find my passion and harness it. I decided to move to Dallas because my family was there and I had the opportunity to grow more as an artist and really give it my all to pursue my goals.
After coming to this realization, what immediate steps did you take to start bringing your vision to life?
I discovered that Dallas was a very unique place for art. Not only is it growing rapidly but people genuinely want to connect and collaborate with each other. So I started to visit art related events, got my name out, participated in art shows. Anything that would help me connect with other like minded people in Dallas. I also traveled back and forth to LA, Miami and Turks and Caicos to gain exposure as an artist.
Do you remember the first thing you ever created as an artist? Tell us about the process and how you felt after you showcased it to the world?
Haha, well the very first was a drawing of my dinner on a card I sent my mom. I must of been six. I wanted her to see that I had black bean soup for dinner. She still has the card too! But seriously, my first group exhibition was very exiting. The sense of pride I felt seeing my parents so happy with my work. It was amazing. In addition, the community in Whittier, a city about 15 miles from downtown Los Angeles was very supportive as well. One of the most memorable parts of that show was receiving flowers from my mentor and his wife, the card read, “To our favorite artist.” That meant the world to me!
That’s amazing! What does being a creative in 2020 mean to you?
It gives me a voice and platform to inspire others to do good, to create and share their talents with the world. Art is dynamite for the soul. The more you immerse yourself in it the happier you’ll be, more creativity will fuel your life. That is pure gold! That’s how I feel and I want others to experience the same. The arts are so unique that people don’t have to compete amongst each other. We are all amazing spirits and so original that no one artist can reproduce the same exact work of another and get the same reaction from the audience. Therefore, we all have to support each other and inject the world with art.
Can you discuss the most difficult part of your journey thus far?
I think it’s not getting to where I want to be fast enough. Not because it’s the end game but because I feel that these times we need something that will inspire good will in people. The more people i can reach the closer I get to the goal.
What is one memory that you have that you reflect back to when being an artist tests you?
When I was studying how to paint in oils I remember one class I was having the most difficult time painting the rim of a bowl. I kept trying to do the straight sharp line I saw and I could not duplicate that on canvas. My mentor came by and asked me how I was doing.. I bursted into tears. I told him I couldn’t paint the rim. I felt like such a failure. He sat down, took my brush and with a stroke erases what I was having difficulty with. Then he showed me that going from general to specific was the way to go. Not to over complicate things, simplify things and get a foundation first then dive into details. Now that he has passed, his words echo in my head when I paint. Build a foundation first then add details.
If you could ask one question to your idol what would you ask and who would you ask?
It would have to be a technical question to American artist John Singer Sargent. His brush strokes look effortless, but yet communicate so much. There’s emotion attached to them, a feel of delicacy yet boldness encompasses the canvas. It’s magical. I would love to have seen him paint in real life and just absorb the greatness.
What does the COSIGN Awards mean to you? (If it means anything at all. lol)
I think the COSIGN Awards is a good way to celebrate the people who bring so much aesthetic to the community. Having a publication COSIGN for you as a creative is a very special opportunity.
Last but not least, name 5 people you #COSIGN along with their Instagram handle.
Martell Holloway: @artbymartell
Nina Hernandez: @_theninaproject_
Taylor Morgan: @thetaylormorgan_
Susy Solis: @susysolisss
Prynce P: @pryncepthegreat