Step into the visionary world of artist Michel Ortega, known as michel23ortega, as he shares his captivating insights on how he weaves the essence of our modern era into his artwork. In this article Michel delves into his unique process of connecting the dots and crafting a contemporary mythology through vivid visual metaphors and symbols that inhabit the canvas. With a talent for playing with narratives and evoking conflicts within his art, michel23ortega's work transcends the ordinary, leaving you mesmerized by the mysteries that lie beneath the surface. Discover the enigmatic journey of an artist who feels like a conduit for something greater, an artistic force that ceaselessly seeks to create.

Bichi by michel23ortega

the beginnings

Q: What initially drew you to your chosen medium or art form, and what keeps you engaged and inspired to continue creating?

I was drawn to painting back when I was a teenager as a natural evolution from drawing, my first love.
Painting, as a medium, infected me deeply in my psyche, and I am grateful for that.
The never-ending vision that keeps blossoming in my mind is what keeps me engaged and inspired to continue creating. There's always some new vision to create in this plane. I want to share that transmission.

VIRUS MENTAL I by michel23ortega

the inspiration

Q: Can you describe your creative process? How do you generate ideas, and how do you bring them to life in your work?

I have to show every day. Even when inspiration is not there, it is part of the creative process to show up every day and be patience until inspiration bites the bait. It's like fishing, David Lynch said, and I agree.
On the other side of my creative process, the way that I generate Ideas is by simply allowing ideas to pass through me, without judging them.
I try to look for what I notice, but no one else sees.

Expresionismo Tumbado XXI
Expresionismo Tumbado XXI by michel23ortega

Q: Many artists have a particular theme or message that they explore through their art. What central themes or ideas do you find yourself consistently drawn to, and why?

I think that some current themes in my art are related  to the current times and those ideas floating around me. I connect the dots and create a contemporary mythology of visual metaphors and symbols living inside my paintings.
Playing with narratives, and trying to create conflicts inside the surface, is how I evoke some of the ideas that I find myself consistently drawn to. Sometimes I don't know why, sometimes I just feel like a tool of something bigger than me. Something that wants to keep creating.

finding middle ground

Q: How do you navigate the balance between staying true to your artistic vision and meeting the expectations or demands of the audience or art market?

I think that it is like a dialog with the mirror.
The audience and/or the art market can tell you a lot, but at the same time, there's that inner dialog that I can't avoid hearing.
So, it's important to exercise intuition and pay attention to that. I try to use it like my compass that helps me to navigate through this creative adventure. It's not always easy to be guided by experience and feelings. Just like walking blind in a dark forest, you never know what might happen next. But, mystery is a beautiful part of life, so I embrace that.

Q: Artistic expression can be deeply personal and introspective. How do you handle vulnerability and emotional exposure in your work, and how does it affect you as an artist?

 Like leaving your journal open to everyone's eyes, it's hard to accept that art is just like that, only that you're also naked in the middle of the desert; where days are hot and nights just as cold as the void you have to jump if you want to be part of this club.
With every new artwork, I try to go a little further, expressing something more vulnerable every time, looking deeply into myself for something to say in this never ending conversation that we are having. It's my time to participate, and I just want to be sincere, as much as I can.
It's really hard, to be honest.
As an artist, it is very rewarding to connect with people that reflect on my vulnerability. After all, we are not that different, even if I don't know them, and that is beautiful to me.
The process can be very cathartic too. So, there's nothing to lose really. It's just part of the artist's job, “The Creative Habit, “as Rick Rubin says.

A painter in another dimension
A painter in another dimension by michel23ortega

the influence

Q: Are there any artists or art movements that have had a significant influence on your style or approach? How have they inspired and shaped your artistic journey?

Since I'm a self-made artist, as a teenager, the DIY movement had a big impact on me. It made me believe in myself and my ideas.
I relate a lot to misfits and outsiders that keep pushing the frontiers and changing the fabric of reality as we know it.
In those formation years as a teen, I read a lot of Juxtapoz magazines and also Vice. Those two were my main points of reference that inspired me a lot.
At the same time, the local Mexican art scene that was happening in my hometown, Hermosillo, and later when I moved to Mexico City, were a big influence on me.
I have and had the fortune to be surrounded by very talented friends who I admire and respect very much. 
We are together in this journey and I cherish their victories. After all, the art world is like a big family of misfits.

Q: In the creative process, artists often encounter challenges or roadblocks. Can you share a specific instance where you faced a significant obstacle, and how did you overcome it?

You're right, there's always challenges in this creative journey. But, we must adapt to those challenges and keep going.
For me, I try to be as patience as I can, even when it can be very frustrating and stressful, I push it to the limit for the vision. It's give it all for that vision, so I can bring it to life.
I can remember a few examples of times when I faced obstacles. 
There was this deadline that I had to complete in the art residency that I was last month. I committed to making 5 paintings in 5 weeks, and the time bomb was ticking louder each day. 
At the end, that bomb exploded with some fireworks and it was worth it. 

Melted Vision
Melted Vision by michel23ortega

Q: Collaboration can be a powerful force in art. Have you ever collaborated with other artists or professionals from different disciplines? If so, what was the experience like, and how did it impact your work?

I have collaborated with different artists during my career as a painter. 
I've done several album covers and a few book covers that I'm very proud of.
My experience doing covers has been very exciting because ever since I was a child, album covers, book covers and comics have been a big big inspiration for me. So now I can taste what it feels like.
Every time I'm in charge of some collaboration of that kind, I devote myself to the responsibility that it brings within.
But, I never forget to play during the creation process. Like an Art Monk, I play every time I collaborate.
Also, I've had the honor of collaborating with some colleagues in the NFT world, and it's been really fun too. David Nun, Fevra and Matteo have been really great friends in this space, and I'm grateful to have collaborated with them. Every time there's a chance to do it, I jump on that train. So, I keep looking for those rides to Collaboration Town.

Virus Mental V
Virus Mental V by michel23ortega

the experience with Exchange Art

Q: Could you describe how your involvement with Exchange Art, has impacted your life as an artist?

This platform has impacted me greatly.
I love the community and the energy flowing though us.
Recently, my X (previously Twitter) account got compromised, so I had to create a new one. And the community has been showing me the support in many ways. I'm grateful for each of those that are on this ride with my and for those joining.
My involvement is being wonderful. There's always support from Exchange Art every time I create some new NFT, either to show it on the main page in the carousel, or as a hidden gem, I cannot be more than thankful because of that.

thoughts to the future

Amalaya by michel23ortega

Q: Looking ahead, what are your aspirations and goals as an artist? How do you envision your artistic practice evolving in the future?

In a future, I want to explore as much as possible as an artist, a painter. So, I want to keep showing my work IRL and experiment more with the digital side of  creativity.
I'm looking to exhibit my paintings constantly, both in Mexico and internationally. I would love to be considered for some IRL Exchange Art show in the future, looking forward to that too ;)
I also envision my artistic practice as a constant developing and evolving creative machine. Exploring new technologies and techniques that can help me and my creations to expand. Always looking for new opportunities to grow, aiming higher every day.
I'm very optimistic about my future as an artist and I think. I love this path, the creative journey that I'm in.
Furthermore, I have a big list of my aspirations and goals, I just have to keep it real and be patience. Time will tell.

Discover more of michel23ortega art here :

michel23ortega | Exchange Art
My artistic practice is an ongoing creative process connecting the dots, ideas that maybe no one connected before. I like to create metaphors of the current times linking some of today’s symbols, concepts and images that are floating around in the zeitgeist, bringing to life contemporary mythology.
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