Leaving my country at the age of 19 was nothing short of a rebirth. Things in Caracas back then were not moving, and there was no future in sight… My school was on a nine-month-long strike. I used to wake up every morning, not knowing where things were going…and by “things” I mean both in my personal situation and in my country. There was something really heavy in the air in those days. You could sense that a storm was coming. In addition, Venezuelan society is very traditional and I was experiencing some friction with that as well. The “accepted” career paths for “boys” were usually an engineer or a doctor. But I grew up drawing, creating, playing music… I realized that if I stayed in the country, I was not going to achieve what I wanted to do in my life. A couple of years later, I had an opportunity to go to New York. It hit me at the time when I was finishing a taco near Washington Square, that I wanted to live in a place that was conductive rather than restrictive. I wanted to see the world, to do what I like. I wanted to have this conversation with a receptive audience; because art is a conversation, and I felt that Caracas was not going to listen to what I had to say.
Two years after my Taco epiphany in New York, the opportunity presented itself. The night before I left the country, I packed up my guitar, a few clothes and my CD collection. I set up my very first email account ever that evening! My evil plan was that I would go study architecture, but then I was going to do arts and music as soon as it became viable. I had to get serious about my studies, or otherwise I would lose my student Visa. I never forget that on the day when I arrived to Madison, on my way to the supermarket, I ended up facing this open field, with railroad tracks that meandered into the horizon. It was the beginning of a great adventure.
After finishing my studies in the US, I decided to move to London. London is a place full of ups and downs – you cry, you laugh, but you never get bored. In 2008, because of the financial crisis, I got made redundant from my company, and I decided to reconnect with my true passion. I found myself drawing everyday everywhere, on the buses, on the streets…I was filling up my sketchbooks with nonsense, images, poetry, dreams, whatever came to me… Later on I got a new job in a company where they did a competition to raise funds for WWF. I painted this expressionistic gorilla close up with bulging yellow eyes in watercolour, and it got selected and auctioned. At that point, I said to myself “I can do this! Let’s turn this up to eleven!” I’ve been non-stop since then. I participated in all kinds of competitions, most of which I lost, some I got in, and I keep going.
When I was a teen, my mum used to tell me: you are just scared of crossing the line, of giving yourself fully to your artistic pursuit… unless you do, you will always be standing at the threshold. I think she is right. You can become a doctor or an engineer and have an easy comfortable life, but there is a difference between doing a good work and doing a great one. What you need to ask yourself is what you really want to do with your time. It is like going on a trip, if you want to go to Edinburgh, it is useless to be in a car going to Bath.
Miguel Galue Piqueras