On Sunday, January 26 from 1 to three p.m., SAAM’s Luce Foundation Center will host one other installment of Beyond the Studio, a lecture and workshop sequence the place contributors get to listen to from native inventive professionals and full a hands-on exercise associated to the speaker’s experience. Each workshop is introduced in collaboration with a unique native arts collective. Jessica McFadden, program specialist within the Luce Foundation Center, reached out to the illustrator behind the DC is my City weekly postcard sequence, Carlos Carmonamedina.

A drawing of a carousel with a building behind it.

Carousel on the National Mall and Smithsonian Arts and Industries Building. Illustration courtesy of Carlos Carmonamedina.

Can you inform us a bit in regards to the DC is My City sequence? How did the undertaking get began, and what’s it been like to look at it develop?

When I moved to DC from France, I started making weekly illustrations of DC and posting them on Reddit. I’m a giant fan of non-public challenges, and this common dedication was an ideal alternative for me to find the town and to apply my artwork.

The DC neighborhood quickly received excited in regards to the sequence and that motivated me to proceed partaking. I by no means anticipated this might turn into a business enterprise. After three years, the undertaking retains rising robust (150+ postcards so far) and DC retains inspiring me with stunning vistas and shocking particulars value documenting.

In a 2018 Washingtonian article, you’re quoted saying “I’m always up for revisiting the concept of what makes a city, and how the community can be involved in decision making…So it’s—not my duty, but part of my interest—to show what’s behind this building or what’s behind that area. All these voices need to be represented somehow. I try to bring that into my illustrations.”

Can you discuss a bit extra about “what makes a city” and the way neighborhood might be concerned in choice making? 

People make the town. The interactions they’ve with their constructed setting and one another decide the destiny of a home, a neighborhood, a complete metropolis. DC is fortunate to be stuffed with public areas, free museums, a nonstop roster of outside actions and neighborhood occasions, the place denizens can collect, mirror, share, and create. 

What’s your expertise within the DC inventive neighborhood been like?

I can solely communicate positively of individuals right here. I stumbled into an excellent spirit of collaboration and help that I haven’t discovered elsewhere. I used to be additionally very fortunate to have landed on the Shop Made in DC neighborhood from the start. Stacey Price has been an unimaginable mentor and the individuals I’ve met there are at all times form and beneficiant with their time and knowledge.

A drawing inside the Smithsonian American Art Museum courtyard.

Kogod Courtyard on the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery. Illustration courtesy of Carlos Carmonamedina.

Is there anybody that you simply’ve had the chance to work or collaborate with in DC that you simply’re enthusiastic about?

I’m excited for this workshop with the Luce Foundation Center on the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Anyone who is aware of me is aware of I’m a sucker for museums, so having the ability to take part is really an honor and I actually hope It received’t be the one time! 

Similarly, I’m delighted to be working with DC Public Library. Last yr I drew the illustrations for his or her STAR (Sing, Talk, and Read) early literacy program e book, Sing with Me D.C. I redesigned their mascots (a pair of owls) hanging out in several DC areas. All DC mother and father get a duplicate after they register their newborns within the Books from Birth program. And this chance got here concurrently my daughter’s beginning, in order that made it tremendous particular. This yr I’ll be making further illustrations and I can’t wait to point out all of them!

In what methods would you wish to see DC change, shifting ahead?

I’d like for this metropolis to usher in extra international artists for residencies, and to domesticate exchanges for native artists overseas. DC has a really strong community of museums and cultural areas, to not point out all of the chanceries. Instead of at all times taking a look at New York City, DC ought to battle for its place as a hub of tradition. It has already arrived with its meals scene, however it’s nonetheless defining its visible character past the monuments.

At the identical time, with all of those adjustments, DC must do higher listening and telling tales extra prominently. Rapid gentrification alerts not only a shift in temper, however crucially the fabric life probabilities of already precarious populations as properly. Among them, artists are a susceptible group. If we don’t handle our creatives, we danger all of the wonderful issues the town has to supply changing into an increasing number of out of attain for almost all.

Are there any challenges you’ve confronted as an artist in DC, or usually? If so, how have you ever confronted mentioned problem?

Once somebody requested me how lengthy I’d be capable to keep within the metropolis earlier than being priced out. It’s arduous to think about myself beginning once more some place else, however the way in which the town is rising poses an existential menace to native artists. These days I would like to consider how I’ll be capable to help my daughter too. It’s clear that I’ll work (creatively) till the day I die, however so much can occur earlier than then. I suppose similar to DC, I’m experiencing the tugs and pulls of demographic transition.

Beyond the Studio with Carlos Carmonamedina

Luce Unplugged efficiency within the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Luce Foundation Center. Illustration courtesy of Carlos Carmonamedina.

What recommendation would you give to somebody that wished to pursue a inventive profession?

Be positive to equip your self with an infinite provide of persistence and a strong help community of family and friends. As lengthy as meals is on the desk, cash isn’t as vital as having a imaginative and prescient and the dedication to get you the place you wish to be. Oh, and evaluating your self and your work to others by no means helps – you might be your worst enemy.

A drawing of the American Indian Museum with a curved building facade.

National Museum of the American Indian. Illustration courtesy of Carlos Carmonamedina.

Your workshop highlights the artwork of travel-journaling. How do you suppose travel-journaling has been helpful to you, how lengthy have you ever been doing it, and do you may have any suggestions for individuals getting began with it, that wish to doc their experiences in a significant approach?

Journaling brings collectively my inventive apply in a approach that solely actually is sensible over time. Projects that come and go, human interactions, areas I inhabit and locations I transfer by means of, comics I really like, classical references…they’re all compiled loosely into my notebooks. It is play. In that sense it has at all times been with me. Sometimes I’m glad with a tough sketch, and different instances my repeated returns to a picture or an concept is a deep, nearly meditative engagement. My travelogues are metaphors for the advanced, work-in-progress particular person I’m, a composition of experiences and aspirations. So I’d inform others that sustaining documentation of their inventive course of is artwork itself. Travel journaling merely makes the connection between the artwork and the journey apparent.

To study extra in regards to the artist’s work, try Carlos Carmonamedina’s web site or comply with him on Instagram at @carmonamedinastudio.  Carlos’ workshop is offered out, however do not miss the remainder of our Beyond the Studio Workshops that includes artists from Shop Made in DC, Capitol Hill Arts Workshop, and the National Cherry Blossom Festival.