Waldys, tell us about yourself – your background, influences, where you are from...
Well, I was born and raised in Cuba. Came to the U.S. in 1995 when I was 12 years old. I have a huge family, we are very close with each other and they inspire me. Every decision I make is inspired by them and for them.
How long have you been working as a professional graphic artist? Do you prefer working freelance or sitting behind a desk for some corporation?
I've been a professional graphic designer since 2011. I like both corporate and freelance work. They both have their good and bad qualities. With corporate, I feel like I have a job, you know going to and from a job at a certain time like a "normal" person. With freelancing you get more freedom and you're more comfortable. You don't have to answer to anyone – no boss! Freelancing is also a little unpredictable, whereas a corporate job gives a sense of security and a steady paycheck.
At what age did you realize graphics and illustration were your chosen career path?
I have been an artist since I was born, but really started developing and becoming myself artistically since 2003. I decided to go back to school in 2009 and get an actual degree. I was interested in graphic design because it was completely different from anything I had done before. I was completely "computer-challenged" and had never used a computer to create art. I wasn't in the loop when it came to software and technology. I thought graphics would be the best way to go for me and my style. I figured I could do better financially with graphic design.
I see a vibrant pop influence in your work. You seem to live and breathe the flavors of Miami – how and why is this important to you?
I've never been afraid of color. I think it's important to let yourself go sometimes and allow yourself to explode. Especially through hard times or bad experiences. I don't like attention and feel uncomfortable in the spotlight, but I like making an over-the-top spectacle from behind the curtain sometimes. The best way to describe my colorful style is in the new Trolls movie when they are having the sickest party ever... right before they are discovered by chef Bergen. That scene is me in a nutshell.
Can you share a little about your Latino heritage, the influence it has in your art style?
Yes, I am Cuban. It is definitely an influence in my work. I like color, lights, electricity, in-your-face visuals. Before I came to the U.S., when I was about 10 years old in Cuba, I would go out and take buses to the beach or city. I would walk around and enjoy the architecture and blocks of buildings arranged in different colors. Hundreds of clothing lines from balcony to balcony with colors dancing under the sun... It was beautiful. I think those experiences certainly had an impact on my work.
Featured at the bottom of this interview is a gallery of illustrations from your ElectroPop catalog. Why are these particular images so special to you?
Well, I thought it would be nice to show a timeline from the beginning of my artistic journey to the most recent works. Like a visual of me growing as a creative person. I've done almost everything, used almost every media, and jumped between several styles. Here you can see many of the different styles I have experimented with through the years.
What is ElectroPop and how did you come up with the basic concept of this colorful brand? Where you would like to see the business in five to ten years.
The name ElectroPop popped into my head one night while going through some of my work. It's a musical genre and sometimes people get me confused with producers or DJs as a result. My previous brand was called Art by Waldys, but after seeing a few people with the same title on social media, I decided it was time to be different. I searched and could not find anyone with this name so I claimed it. I then started to reinvent myself and my brand completely. I redesigned my logo and portfolio and adopted a new look, which is why you see me wearing a very colorful and chaotic suit everywhere.
I really don't know what the future holds for my brand or myself. I honestly just want to create art and make people's days more positive and beautiful. I know it sounds cliché, but it's genuinely how I feel. I do not and never have done any of this for money or fame. It's nice to make money from what you love doing, but I would still be doing it even if it didn't pay my bills. So, to answer your question, I have no idea where the brand will be in a few years. I keep doing my thing whether people like it or not. I am making myself happy, and if others get contaminated by that joy, that's just icing on the cake.
Your vibrant illustrations are reminiscent of Andy Warhol. Was he an influence on your style? If not, who are some artists who have really inspired you?
Ha-ha, you must be talking about the Car-Toon Series. I actually don't know much about Warhol. I enjoyed the few pieces I have seen of his work, but he has never honestly been an influence or inspiration for me. Any resemblance is purely coincidental. The biggest artistic inspiration since I started has been Salvador Dali. He is hands-down my favorite artist of all time. I also love Van Gogh, Monet and Klimt.
How does music affect your creative thought process and who are some of your favorite musical inspirations?
I listen to all kinds of music. There is not a type of music that I don't enjoy. I feel music physically – it affects me tremendously. I see shapes and colors when I listen. I make little music videos in my mind and get a lot of great ideas from doing this. I also get many of my ideas from dreams. Most of my work is very colorful and electric, so I like clean lines and modern styles, futuristic looks and innovation. I consider myself a very classic person, I love everything that was done before; black and white movies, old jazz and blues. I just love Etta James, Sinatra, the Bee Gees. I also love electronic music; Goldfrapp, Robyn, Muse, ZHU... If you listen to Aura by Lady Gaga – that is exactly the kind of electronic shit I'm into.
When a client recommends an idea, are you at the mercy of their vision, or do you provide variables prior to agreeing on a visual statement?
I am very stubborn, especially when it comes to my work. At the end of the day the client is the one paying, so I also want them to be happy with their product. I have the habit of being too blunt or honest when it comes to giving my opinion. Again, there are always exceptions to everything depending on the project, but the client is the one paying, so they need to be happy with what they get. I also have to watch out for my reputation. I don't need people thinking I am responsible for a monstrosity.
Which programs and methods do you use to create your illustrations?
Most of the time I am more spontaneous with my designs. I have a vision in my head and I just go for it. Sometimes I sketch something out first, but most of the time I just jump in and let the chips fall where they may. I feel more comfortable this way and it's more genuine for me, more natural. I mostly use Adobe Illustrator and PhotoShop. If I am doing animation, After Effects is my go-to program.
I've noticed you take a lot of photographs of flowers and buildings. Is this an extension of your creative passion?
I am the photographer in my family. I have pictures and videos of every occasion, so they come to me when they want pictures. I have always been this way. Memories have always been very important for me, so I have a natural love for photography. To me, nature is the most talented artist there will ever be, so I figured I would exploit that talent. With family spread across the U.S., I am always camera ready and will stop the car in the middle of the street because I saw a flower and wanted to shoot it. It will bother me the entire day if I don't take the opportunity. I simply do this for fun, I am not a professional photographer. And yes, anyone interested in one of my pictures is more than welcome to purchase them.
On your Behance site there are many interesting animations. Did you create these videos for clients, or do you have a background in animation as well?
Most of the animations in my portfolio are from school projects or personal projects. Some were for clients. I did quite a few 2D and 3D animations a few years back. I am still into animation, but haven't worked in that medium in a while. I mostly do graphic design and photography at the moment, but I do enjoy working on motion graphics projects.
What are your long-term goals as an artist? Where do you see yourself in 10-15 years?
Honestly, I don't think about that too much. I am a laid back dude. I like to just go with the flow of things. I don't have expectations with my art. That is one thing I have always wanted to keep personal and pure. I refuse to let money or status change me or what I do. I don't want it to be corrupted by finance or career goals. It will not be fun anymore if I turn it into something simply to get ahead. I want to keep it fun, like a hobby. I do make money off it, but that is just a perk. I know that is confusing, but I'd rather stay spontaneous and free, so if someone wants to pay me for that then I guess I am lucky.
What brings you the most satisfaction as an artist?
I get to be completely, honestly, genuinely, authentically and unapologetically myself. I am very introverted – always have been – but when I am in my zone I am very expressive, unfiltered and passionate. I curse… A LOT… I have a big mouth that tends to get me in trouble. With my artwork, I get to do and say anything I want. If I want to paint a big dick with hairy balls, I will do that… and no one is going to stop me!
You'll be the first artist at RepDigest to answer this challenging question. How do you respond to critics or negative people who don't understand your craft?
I don't… Being an artist is very personal, sort of like religion or relationships. It's nobody's business – they don't have to like it because it's none of their business. I have learned that you need to develop very thick skin when you are a creative. Accept that not everyone will like or understand you. You can't please everyone, and you shouldn't be concerned with doing that anyway. You need to be sure of who you are and what you are capable of. No one needs to validate you – you do that for yourself. YOU are what matters. YOUR opinion is the one that matters. YOUR happiness is what matters. If it makes you feel good, do it. If someone else likes it too, then that is just gravy.
As a freelance artist, do you struggle to find consistent work or gain traction. A melting pot location like Miami must be a very competitive location.
This is why I have a full-time job. It's consistent and steady. I do freelance here and there, but again, I don't want my work to become "work". I want to keep it fun and feel good about it, so I don't worry about that aspect so much. And yes, this is a very competitive industry. Anyone can make a poster with Microsoft Word or PowerPoint and call themselves a designer now.
What seems to be the best method you have discovered to promote your services as an artist? What works best for you getting the ElectroPop brand out to the masses?
The best platform has been LinkedIn. Not because of the platform itself, but because of the people that inhabit this space. I have found some really wonderful people that have become very good friends. The support and encouragement has been a gift to me in this incredible network. There is so much talent and kindness that it will make you cry. I also have a portfolio on Behance.net as well as a Facebook and Instagram account. All those things together do not even make up a fraction of the engagement I get from LinkedIn. I also try to make things interesting by changing my profile pictures and banners with different colors every month. Nothing crazy, I simply do this for me, not to be popular or famous.
What advice would you give to aspiring artists entering the graphics industry?
Do it because it's what you love doing – what keeps you passionate and getting up every morning. Practice… Learn new things and styles. Develop the thickest skin you can, because you will face criticism, negativity, and insults. Embrace all this horrible shit and use it to your advantage. Let it motivate you and make you even better and stronger. Do things for YOU first and foremost, not to please anyone or fit in anywhere! Stay humble and genuine.
Anything you would like to include about yourself? The floor is yours:
I would like to thank everyone that supports my work. There are many people that have supported and encouraged me, even through a complete rebrand and reinvention. I truly and genuinely cherish their love and support. They have inspired me to continue and make me feel like I actually make a difference, even if it's just a smile when they see one of my colorful designs. I especially want to thank you because you are one of those kind and wonderful souls. You and many others have shown me nothing but kindness. I just hope you all know how much I genuinely appreciate your friendship. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart...