For many artists, the digital sphere has been a necessary tool in reaching larger audiences and sidestepping possible gatekeeping from institutions. Instagram, with its emphasis on all things visual, has been particularly helpful.
Since the 2018 rollout of a feature that allows users to share other peoples’ posts in their Instagram stories, profiles on the social media platform have become reminiscent of the blogs on LiveJournal or Tumblr, with personal posts placed between music suggestions and images meant to boost an imagined aesthetic. Queued after videos from, say, a hike or a meal, you may catch the work of an unknown artist your old friend or little cousin admires — and find that, after visiting the artist’s profile, you admire them, too.
ALL ARTS has always been a platform meant to bolster the work of artists through a supportive community that transcends genre, and the ALL ARTS Instagram is no different. Every week, we feature posts from creators in the digital space on our Instagram stories. And now, with the aim to foster our arts community, we’re talking with a new artist every week in our new series: Artists of Instagram.
Meet Peter Valcarcel (@petervalcarcel), an “ageless” abstract artist based in Astoria, New York. Originally from Peru, Valcarcel began his career by taking art classes while earning an associate’s degree in Liberal Arts. “When I was in school, I had a teacher who told me that a good artist always has something to say through his work,” he said. “For many years I could not find what I wanted to say, so I stopped creating.”
Eventually, after immersing himself in other artists’ work and creating relationships in the arts community, he returned to his own practice, inspired by nature and geometric shapes, “just to create either beauty or a moment in time.” You may have seen his paintings on Scaatchi Art or in museums like Cooper-Hewitt National Design in New York or the Olympic Museum in Switzerland. He has also been invited to talk about interior design on numerous panels and TV channels around the world.
We spoke to Valcarcel about his pieces, his inspirations and what art means to him.
What does art mean to you? How does it fit in your story?
Art is a necessity for me, an escape and a way to mark a moment in time. I feel the need to create just as I feel the need to eat. There is an evolution that you are able to see through your work, not only as an artist but also as a human being.
How would you describe the type of art that you create?
Well, I started painting very graphic things, and I still do. I have gone from no color to full color, and I think that is obviously the evolution. I am starting to paint flowers now, something that I have not done in 20 years, so it’s hard to put a name on it. However, if I have to describe my style, I would say “graphic happy bubbles,” at the moment.
How has social media and the digital sphere helped you with your art career?
Social media is an enormously positive tool in my career; I think that without social media I would not have a career. Social media allows me to show my work freely to a large audience, and it demands that I become even more creative with the way I show my work, and I love that challenge. Posting a picture of your work is only the beginning. You must follow up and [engage] with the people that follow you to have some success.
How has the current global climate (and isolation) affected your art?
Emotionally, it is not always easy, and of course, you need time to process what is going on and [to] find a way to find your place as a citizen and as an artist. I am past that point, and I have become even more productive now. I am home, and I have time not only to paint but also to promote my work. What I have found to be very rewarding is collaborating with other artists or creative people on projects on social media. I think now more than ever we need to collaborate with others and find a new way to connect [while] keeping social distancing in mind.
How do you find inspiration?
Inspiration can come from going to the supermarket; as an artist, you have a long mental list of projects you want to work on — at least I do! And so I keep adding to that list as life goes on. I look a lot at books and get many of my color combinations from fashion shows. I follow many galleries and artists on social media, and that always triggers ideas.
What other artists inspire you?
Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Carmen Herrera, David Hockney; Yves Klein … I like color.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Art should be appreciated and looked at simply for what it is. If it makes you stop, smile or even get mad, then you had a connection with that piece. Look at art and enjoy it for what you see. Do not always try to find a message or a story; just enjoy the moment for the connection you had with the piece.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Top Image: Courtesy of Peter Valcarcel