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  • Writer's pictureArsenio Baca

Art Battle Monterey

February 15, 2020

Photo Cred: Brian Mack (@bmack.ig)

This is an event I would have never imagined ever participating in before. 20 minutes to me is not enough time to even think about what to paint much less execute. That on top of the fact that a tornado of people is crowded around you watching and recording as you paint, then they decide which one they like best to move on. I have enough anxiety thinking about what to paint next just by myself in my own studio, that added pressure is not at all appealing to me.

So why do it then you might ask?

Well, one thing that this journey has taught me is that nothing can stir up more creativity than unseen challenges. As an Artist I can be somewhat of a control freak when it comes to my process and how I create. In studio I practically have rituals to how I set up my work area and the steps I take to prepare a new painting. If things don't happen just right, then I am constantly battling to find inspiration and the will to paint. That can lead to long hours of minimal progress as I try to find focus and motivation.

What interested me with Art Battle is that it challenges the need for foundation and makes you rely on sheer creativity in the moment with no chance to step back and reflect on what your painting. You have 20 minutes to create something that people then vote on to see if you are worthy enough to make it to the next round. It leaves no room for doubt or contemplation on my part. That seemed extremely uncomfortable and out of my normal realm, and that's what made it so intriguing to me.

Photo Credit: Kristen Seaholm

I have only grown as an Artist by constantly challenging my own boundaries and comfort level with everything I do. That is the reason I believe I have become so versatile with what I create. Before I learned to tattoo I was terrified with the art form and couldn't understand how anybody would be willing to draw on someone else's body with needles and not be completely stressed out and worried about making an irreversible mistake! So after much contemplation I came to the only logical conclusion on how to overcome that fear, to pick up a tattoo machine and get to work! I would figure it out on myself and if I messed up then no one would get hurt but me. Well, 8 years later and I have tattooed countless people all over the U.S. and it has opened more doors for me in more ways than I could ever express.

Challenging that which I fear most has always made me stronger in the end.

Art Battle was yet another way for me to challenge my own limitations and open a new door to my own creativity. The funny thing is that it ended up not being that big a deal to paint in front of so many people. I learned that once I get painting I kind of zone out and become oblivious to anything and everything that might be going on around me. The first time I competed I went in with ideas of what I wanted to paint and even practiced everyday the week leading up to it trying to make sure I would be able to come up with something cool yet efficient so I could get it done in time. This time around I wanted to take the opposite approach and have no practice and no idea of what I wanted to paint so that I could be open to whatever came to me in the moment. Each process had its pros and cons, but I took something away from both. The first process helped me to refine my technique and feel prepared and up for the challenge. The second process made me rely on my experience and confidence in myself to get the task done despite having no preparation. I enjoyed both experiences equally. I didn't advance either time, but people really seemed to love my work and I got a chance to interact with other amazing artists and see how much fun it could be to share my art in a live event outside my studio.

Photo Credit: Julie Chon (@juliehchon)

These days so much of our interactions happen online especially with artists as it seems the best way to reach the most people with our work is to post pics on our social media so that people can see it anywhere in the world. Unfortunately, we get caught up in this and find ourselves having all our interactions online and never come out and share our creations with people face to face. Art Battle gives us that opportunity to showcase our art but more importantly to interact and connect with each other. We need to know that there are others just like us out there being creative and pursuing passion, not just money. One thing Ive always believed is that money can never buy identity. That comes from within. You have to know what lights your own soul and brings out the best in your own character to know who you truly are.

Photo Credit: Belinda McLean

Art Battle has brought me new friends in the art community and helped me to connect with my supporters in a new and fun way, and it has also made me a much better artist by giving me a new form in which to explore my techniques. I look forward to getting better and participating in more events in the future hopefully in different Cities around the world. Why not? Possibilities are endless as long as you never hold yourself back.

Thank you to the people at MHAA: Salvador Dali for inviting me to participate and for their constant support in the Arts. They truly make a difference in the community for Artists. Thank you to all the other Artists for sharing your skills and for connecting with me and the others. We truly feed off each other's energy and it was an honor to paint next to all of you!

Lastly I want to send a special shoutout to my family for coming down from the Bay Area to support me at this event and make it a great weekend! You all truly make my life memorable with your laughter, stories, and love. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all your support.

Your friendly neighborhood Artist,


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