Can you actually have a career in street art?
After a while, I began to see that there was a way to make it work. I see it as a way to let others know that they can develop what they like to do into something worthwhile. That's how I see it.
How I Became a Street Artist
Hello, I am Patcharapon Taengruen
aka Alex Face. I'm an artist.
An Artists' Perspective
Today at CI Talks, I will be talking about my work experience, my thoughts and my approach to self-development.
A Natural Childhood
I was born and raised in Chachoengsao. My dad was a minibus driver for traders in Bangpakong market. My mom worked at a factory nearby.
My grandmother was a rice farmer. I used to help Grandma on the farm. At the time, I didn't think much about it. "Go and help grandma out". So I went to help harvest her rice, spending days in the sun.
Looking back, I feel lucky to have been raised in that environment. I could row a boat, play in the canal, and play in the mud like children in open fields. I saw the colors changing; from vivid green just after sowing to darker tones of green, before changing into yellow. I climbed trees and played with clay. Looking back, it's like these things enabled me to develop my artistic skills.
Finding My Passion in Art
I started getting serious at secondary school as there was an art room and art teacher. I got into the art club and was an active member, spending my time drawing in the art room. I had the chance to represent the school in an art competition. So I became even more serious.
I remember from grades 7-9, I was mostly in the art room. It was clear to me that I really liked art; something many view as a kid's activity. I began to ask myself what I should continue to study.
Back then, everyone thought that studying art was not a good choice because art was not a good career. I was urged to continue studying to Grade 4. My family's goal for me was education, to graduate with a degree.
I asked myself what I wanted in life and the answer was to study art. I persuaded my family, reassuring them that I would go to university and study art, that I would graduate with a degree.
My parents allowed me to pursue art.
Graffiti and Street Art
I started doing street art at university, when I was in the second or third year. I had a group of friends and we were into skateboarding. I started listening to hip-hop and graffiti came from this phase in my life; from a skateboard magazine, from the hip hop culture.
One day, I was walking back to my dorm and came across a construction shop. I asked for 2 tins of paint. Walking further I saw a wreck, a wreck of an old bus. I stopped on my journey home and said to myself "let's do this". This time, I only painted "Alex", my name. I just felt so good. Maybe it's the act of spraying, like I could release something.
People see what we do and the diversity of our work. It's that feeling of opening up, revealing ourselves to the world.
While studying art, I learned that this kind of artwork would take a long time to finish; months for some pieces. But here I was, finishing it in 5 or 10 minutes. It was as though I'd found a new technique.
Graffiti was a hobby I could do with friends. We found new places to spray and met new friends.
After a while, Lad Krabang, where I stayed, was full of graffiti.
Getting Inspired to Paint
What is my inspiration?
First of all, it is my kid. I am inspired to go out and paint about various issues, through the character of a kid.
I think art is a perfect medium to record what happens in society at a certain time.
The International Art World
I held an exhibition hoping that it would change my life around. The feedback was good to an extent. I saw it as a stepping stone. Looking back, I could sell my artwork. I sold like all of them, sold out.
But I didn't set prices too high. I reasoned that if I could sell some of my work it would take me to the next step and more exhibitions. In that respect, it was a great success.
I got a lot of money which I invested in traveling abroad. I had dreamed of painting overseas for a long time. So I took my child and family to work on various projects with European friends.
In 2013, I went to the UK. At that time, the Brits loved graffiti and street art. I met a lot of people while painting there. I was interviewed about graffiti and street art by the press but when they talked to me, they didn't know where I was from at first. So they asked and I told them that I came from Bangkok, Thailand. They were like "Thailand!". They were really happy. They hadn't met a Thai graffiti artist before.
That experience made me really proud. I had achieved something that other Thai people rarely manage to do. Creating International Brand Identity After that, I worked with several brands, Mercedes in 2017, Coach in 2019, and SEIKO. It was like an ad campaign for them.
It's an example of how, with this kind of work, we can have international clients. In fact, in this online era I think it's easy as you can market your work to the world. It was different before with no social media, no Facebook.
5 Self Development Keys for Artists
From my personal experience I have 5 tips to help anyone wanting to pursue a career in arts.
Find your Strengths
First, you need to find your strengths.
You may need to start by experimenting. Don't worry whether it will look good. It may not look good. It may be a mess. Don't think too much. Just do it, and if you have fun, keep doing it and your skills will gradually develop by themselves.
Create Opportunities for Yourself
Second, create opportunities for yourself and be ready for opportunities that come your way.
To find opportunities, you need to be open minded. Talk to people about what you're doing, present yourself.
For example my first exhibition started from a talk with someone I knew. He asked whether I wanted to exhibit my artwork. I said yes, I'm ready straight away. because I had paintings all over my house. When the opportunity came, I was able to make it straight away. I didn't wait or get ready for the exhibition.
So if you are ready for the opportunities, whenever they come, you can seize them. Making it easy for our first step.
Become a Better Person
Third is learning from your friends and network.
Hang around people who you think are more talented than you. You can then learn a lot from them and develop yourself.
You can’t always go it alone. Our society and friends around us can help us develop ourselves. It’s about being among people who create a good and positive environment. Try to steer yourself towards a good environment.
Keep Improving Yourself
Fourth, is to never stop improving yourself.
I have to keep trying to improve myself. The longer you work, the more you have to improve on the quality of our work. I always try to find new information. I read books and develop my languages, and other skills; anything that will be an an advantage to our future work. I think it is important that we have an open mind and continue to develop ourselves.
Be Patient & Stay Focused
Fifth is to be patient.
In the arts, there are no shortcuts. You have to go through processes and prove yourself. You have to practice and go through the processes not knowing if they will be successful. I personally believe I've been successful working in the art world. I continue to create artworks. I do what I like doing.
Back when I was a kid, there was a term "the poor artist", "There's a poor artist, That's the poor artist!". I was worried that I would become that poor artist. But at that time I made a choice to be poor so long as I could paint. I really thought that way.
I believe that our main goal should be to feel that we are happy doing what we do. I think this is the main key to keep in mind. Then there are goals, but we have to be patient and wait for those goals. I felt that I knew what I was doing. I liked doing it and it felt right.
People and other distractions come to take us off our path. Listen to them. Ignore them or they will make you lose confidence in your goals. We all have a flow so let it flow naturally. Do it because you love to do it. Everything will then come automatically.
The Creating a Personal Brand video web series is brought to you by CI Talks. Find more inspirational videos and stories that spark change on CITalks.com and be inspired to take action and grow.