Music is very powerful and can motivate us to do some wonderful things. Tonia Calderon, a painter and designer from California was heavily influenced by music to create some beautiful artwork. The 27 year-old entwined music and art together to create her “Black&Gold” series. The paintings are portraits of various artists and include many of their famous lyrics. Her pieces are featured at the Tupac Afeni Shakur Museum in Atlanta, GA and the National Museum of Contemporary Art in San Francisco, CA. The unique paintings can also be found in the homes of celebrities such as Usher, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, and P.Diddy, to name a few. Keep reading to learn more about Tonia below.
How did you develop your aesthetic? Did you go to art school or were you self-taught?
I've always felt my aesthetic has been guided by music. I studied business at Arizona State University and knew I wanted to do something creative as a career but was undecided in direction. I loved music and art. I came up with a series of paintings I wanted to create to bring that together... I bought canvas, paint and thought myself along the way. I can't imagine doing anything else.
What inspired you to create your music themed "BLACK&GOLD" SERIES?
"Black and Gold" is the first collection of paintings I ever created, my original series. I love music and art, so what better way to bring the two together than in gold. It was a way to show my appreciation to some of the most talented musicians and lyricist that I had loved for years.
The majority of your work is stemmed from music. Who are some of your favorite musicians?
Some of my favorite musicians include Tupac, Nas, Miles Davis, Sade, Little Dragon and Frank Ocean. But I'm constantly searching for my new favorite artist and inspiration.
Your artwork has captured the attention of Diddy, Lady Gaga, Usher and many other celebrities. Are there any other celebs who you would like to see collect your work?
There's no one in particular I would like to see collect my work. I just love to know my pieces are in the hands of people who truly love art. I would like to see my work in more national and international museums.
Where did you grow up and how do you think it influenced your style? Did California have a big impact on the look of your work?
I grew up in San Jose California and moved to Arizona while I was in high school. Being in California exposed me to artist like Tupac who definitely impacted me and my work. I don't know if it was ever really California that was ever the impact, but more so the people and artist I have been exposed to being in California.
What has been your best experience to date?
One of my best experiences was being honored by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art as an upcoming Hispanic female artist.
What is your favorite print from your portfolio and why?
I'm not sure if I have a favorite painting from my portfolio. I love every piece individually for different reasons. My William Shakespeare piece I've always felt a deep love for. I used the last scene of his play Othello for the writing across the painting. I love the idea of beautiful art with a deeper and sometimes darker meaning behind them when you look closer.
What advice would you give to a young woman who wants to follow in your footsteps?
I think the best advice I can give any young woman who wants to follow in my footsteps is never give up. I truly believe anything is possible if you keep making steps forward.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
I don't know if I would want to give my younger self-advice. I like all the mistakes I've made and how they helped me grow as an artist. Perhaps the simple answer would be to have more patience. Something I'm still working on.
Have you faced any challenges during your career? If so, how were you able to overcome them?
There's always challenges! I think it's remembering that challenges will always be there and to be okay with them! All we can do is continue to move forward no matter the challenge.
What’s next for you?
Next for me is simply to continue creating. I have some exciting collaborations and shows planed this year. I will also be releasing my first series or prints and merchandise ever available of my artwork.
How can fans connect with you?
The best way to connect with me is through my instagram: @toniacalderon
*Artist Tonia Calderon partners with Pretty Girls Sweat for a limited edition t-shirt!!! Available online (HERE)
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