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Daily Inspiration: Meet Jose Pardo

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jose Pardo.

Hi Jose, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I am a professional commercial artist by day, and a Fine Artist by night. I was just starting my commercial art career at the time that digital art was starting to take over commercial art. A high percentage of commercial artists put away their airbrushes and oil paints to learn Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. Some did so by choice, others had the transition forced on them, and I was in the second group. After 20+ years of working digitally, I fell back in love with oil painting a few years ago. My wife’s grandfather had recently passed away and I inherited his oil painting box of supplies. With my mom’s birthday coming up and no ideas what to get her, I decided to paint a small still life for her with my newly inherited art supplies. She absolutely loved the painting, but I knew looking at it objectively that my traditional painting skills left a lot to be desired. I was a little appalled at how much technical knowledge and practice I had lost with oil paints. I became quite obsessed with improving my skills. I purchased a few online courses by artists Tony Curunaj and Douglas Flynt, hunkered down and painted almost every night after work for a couple of years. Once I was a little more comfortable with my skill level, I started exhibiting my work at local art shows and won a few ribbons. Eventually, I got up the courage to throw my art into the ring at the National level. I was pleasantly surprised that my first submission to a National show was accepted to be exhibited, and genuinely shocked when it sold! Since then, I’ve exhibited my art at the National and regional level every year with prestigious organizations like the National Oil and Acrylic Painters Society (NOAPS) and Oil Painters of America. This year was particularly good. My painting “Stars and Stripes” won the award for Best Realism at NOAPS Best of America exhibit.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
It’s been quite the roller coaster. Social media tends to highlight only the success stories, and we seldom get to see all the hard work and years of dedication that it takes to “succeed.” Mine is a typical immigrant story. At the age of seven, I arrived here with my mom, who worked two jobs to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table. Still, my story might be very different if we didn’t have some family already here to get us through the inevitable rough patches. I don’t recall ever feeling poor or hungry, but I still remember the first meal we had at our first apartment, crackers with ketchup. The first few pieces of furniture for that apartment came from the best my grandfather could find on the curb on trash day. Yet once we were all employed, we began to prosper. My grandfather worked in a meat processing plant, my grandmother as a seamstress, and my mom in a direct mail company. I was always interested in art. From animated cartoons in my infancy to comic books in my adolescence, I took it all in with wonder and delight. In High School, I was fortunate to have an art teacher named Thomas Carcich. He was the catalyst that gave me the skills and encouragement to study art in college. I had high aspirations, and I was accepted into the School of Visual Arts in NY and the Joe Kubert school of comic book art in NJ. Still, I couldn’t afford either of them, so I wound up attending Jersey City State College for my BFA in illustration. Kudos to my mom once again for being supportive of my art studies instead of something financially “safer.” Professor Ben Jones taught me one of the most important things I learned in college, to objectively compare my work to the art done by professionals whom I admired.

When graduation was drawing near, five years into my four-year degree program, in spite of me taking every drawing and painting class the school offered, I knew I still didn’t have the artistic chops I needed to be a full-time comic book artist or freelance illustrator. As luck would have it, a designer position opened up at the advertising agency I was interning with during my senior year and I worked really hard to be offered that position upon graduation. I have been working full time as a commercial artist ever since, including companies such as Disney, Scholastic, and Universal Studios. But my oil painting is what feeds my artistic soul. My biggest challenge is finding the time to feed my artistic soul. Trying to find a healthy balance between my full-time art job, my family, and my studio time is always a struggle. I consider myself very fortunate to have a full time art job that relieves the pressure of having to sell everything I paint and a supportive and understanding family that allows me time and space to pursue my artistic dreams.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
My primary role as an artist is to create beautiful art for you to proudly display in your home and pass down to future generations of your family. At the same time I enjoy infusing my work with stories and symbolism that may comment on me or the world at large at the moment, but I try to leave enough room for the viewer to find some of their story or perspective in my art. While I would not call myself a perfectionist, I do set the bar higher for myself with every painting. I’m always looking for ways to improve my art and challenging myself to paint things better and more convincingly.

Where do you see things going in the next 5-10 years?
Traditional gallery representation for fine artists is increasingly difficult to get with fewer galleries able to keep their doors open in this economy. I think a lot of artists will continue to try and sell their art directly to patrons. But neither path is easy, and more artists have to find other means to supplement their art income. Too many incredible artists have to rely on teaching art privately or in workshops and work side jobs to make ends meet. It’s an incredibly rewarding profession, but you have to be persistent and resilient.


  • Oil paintings range from $400 up to $10,000

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