STORY BY RACHEL SCHWARTZMANN – Follow Justin’s work – PHOTOS BY JOANNE PIO for The Style Line
In matters of art, we’ve found
that there are still creators who have the ability to look beyond the ease of technology and see a true blank canvas, brimming with opportunity. Justin Teodoro is one of these individuals. A formally trained fashion designer and now primarily fashion illustrator, he is no stranger to the readily available resources that the city provides for just about any creative endeavor. Even so, Justin attributes much of his artistic success to keeping his eyes and mind open. “I’ve learned over the years to keep your eyes open because anything can inspire you. I’ve found inspiration in the most unexpected places and times,” he shared with us in our interview below. “It’s important to not be so linear in your creative thinking but be open…”
Upon visiting his vibrant Long Island City studio, we found ourselves immersed in his distinctive graphic style infused with color, craft and a whole lot of character – needless to say it came as no surprise that his workspace mirrored this bold aesthetic perfectly. It was there that we had the opportunity to learn more about the role New York has played in his story, his thoughts on embracing discovery and the important role creativity plays in shaping one’s identity. “Art has helped me figure out a lot of who I am as a person,” Justin shared. “…I definitely don’t think I would’ve accomplished any of what I’ve done in my life without it.” Continue reading to discover more of Justin insights and take a virtual tour of his Long Island City studio.
*THIS STORY WAS ORIGINALLY FEATURED IN MAY 2015 AND REFLECTS UPDATED CHANGES TO THE LAYOUT
My name is Justin Teodoro
and I’m an NYC-based artist, illustrator, and designer. I’ve always stuck to the philosophy that a key thing in life is just being happy with who you are and what you do. And I really feel lucky that I can honestly say I really love my work. I’ve always been that “art-centric” person who has been drawing, painting, designing all my life so I feel pretty fortunate that both my professional and personal projects involve all that. I try to surround myself with things that I enjoy – like art books, music, movies – and I generally spend my free time in places that will inspire me (anything from the Chelsea galleries to a magazine shop). And having a balance to your life is important for anyone so I definitely enjoy doing things like hanging out with friends over drinks, taking yoga classes – things that allow you to have those healthy moments away for yourself.
As a creative person, why do you think art and creativity are important aspects of our lives?
Creativity is a form of expression and I believe anything that is an expression is a powerful and important aspect of life because it is how we choose to show ourselves as individuals. From how you dress to how I paint, these are all different types of creativity. And without creativity, the world would definitely be a lot less fun because we’d all just be the same. Art is a big part of my own character and life. I started drawing when I was 5 and it became second nature as a way to express my ideas. Art has helped me figure out a lot of who I am as a person and I definitely don’t think I would’ve accomplished any of what I’ve done in my life without it.
What is one of your most unexpected forms of creative inspiration?
I’ve learned over the years to keep your eyes open because anything can inspire you. I’ve found inspiration in the most unexpected places and times. It’s hard because sometimes you can tend to become so specific in what you think that you get tunnel vision. But whenever that happens to me I have to force myself to take a break and go for a walk to look at something differently.
And it’s usually in these unexpected moments when that light switches on in my head and I get my most original ideas. David Hockney once said that he sometimes paints with a different paint brush than he’s used to because it forces him to change his direction. So it’s important to not be so linear in your creative thinking but be open to take those turns because sometimes they can be the most eventful changes.
What is one question you wish people asked you more often?
There really isn’t that one question, to be honest. I think it’s nice when people ask about you and your work and I like to share experiences and ideas in conversations. So far any questions I’ve been asked sometimes take on different meanings depending on who asked it or where you were at that point so sometimes every answer can end up being different. It’s so important to always have that sense of discovery in your work – that sense of curiosity is vital to any creative pursuit. When I get tunnel vision, I have to force myself outside my own comfort zones to just see whats out there. Which is why I really do enjoy the opportunities to work with different projects and new people because its all different experiences.
I realized in the last few years I definitely am that creative type who likes to have a mixed bag of projects going on at once because it’s exciting and challenging to keep your brain working under different hats. You just also discover more when you’re doing more. And I thrive on that creative spontaneity.
How do you think New York fosters its creative community and what role has it played in your growth as an artist?
I’ve been enamored with NYC since I was a kid and I still remember my first visit and being completely amazed by its energy and scene. To me, NYC has always been that city you to go to pursue your dreams and if you wanted to be some creative type then NYC was especially the place to go do it. It’s definitely a tough city and there is a lot of hustle everyone has to do to make it happen. I’ve been lucky though to meet some great people over the years and you just start to develop a nice network of friends and colleagues. I’ve gotten the chance to work with friends and also collaborate with new people on a great project. It’s been a supportive community as well – people in your same field all understand the ups and downs of the job that it’s nice to have that similar understanding.
Why do you think fashion illustration should be celebrated and what aspect do you think people love most about it?
We really live in an age where we’re constantly being bombarded with imagery. And after awhile the images can just become repetitive. Between blogs and Tumblr pages, it sometimes feels like we’re all eating out of the same bowl because the constant images start to become all the same and too similar. We’re all capable taking pretty decent photos with our iPhones but creating an illustration is really a skill that only someone’s physical hand and mind can create together. Fashion illustration is then such a unique perspective that it can be just refreshing to see amongst all the too similar images out there.