Winner of New Era Introducing, Marconi Calindas, is a San Francisco-based artist who “is not afraid of colors,” and creates artwork that fosters ” kindness, equality and peace.” He recently displayed these qualities in his piece that took the top prize in 2012′s “New Era Introducing” – a contest where artists are given a blank cap to use as a canvas to make a statement of self-expression. The winner receives a $10,000 bursary to put towards furthering their artistic career.Calindas used his unique rendering style of black lines and colorful hues to create a piece that raises awareness about the issue of teen bullying, and the tragic loss of life due to suicide that often results from it. His artwork subject matter ranges from “pop icons to triumphs of the human spirit,” and has been on display in places such as San Francisco City Hall. NecTalk caught up with Calindas for an interview to see what’s on his mind.
How did it feel to win “New Era Introducing”?
It was an amazing, no actually it still is amazing, to think about it - that I won and bested other amazing and equally talented artists from North America. It still is overwhelming to know that my art piece made a mark in this prestigious competition.
What doors or opportunities have opened to you since winning the competition?
Winning this competition definitely has opened a lot of doors. One of which – I received a Certificate of Honor from the San Francisco Office of the Board of Supervisors for bringing honor in the art scene to the city of San Francisco and for bringing the message out there to a wider audience. Looming collaborations among other artists, mural art in Hawaii etc.
Would you like to work with New Era in the future?
It would be such an honor to work with New Era in the future. I can see a limited edition of Anti-Bullying and Pride Collection caps, catering to select buyers and supporters for such a cause. I remember when Old Navy did the limited edition Pride Tees – They sold so fast! Even I didn’t have the chance to grab one. And there are a lot of us that wear caps and hats too!
What other brands or companies would you like to work with?
So far I can’t think of any other company. Uniqlo or H&M maybe? I wish right? (laughs) Honestly it hasn’t crossed my mind yet.
Do you consider yourself a cap collector or enthusiast? If so, what are some of your favorite caps?
I am a collector of hats and a few caps. I have a New Era black fedora and Goorin Bros. newsies caps. I am more into those styles.
What made you decide to pursue a career in art?
I used to be a full-time reporter for a daily newspaper back in Northern Mariana Islands until my partner saw my paintings I created on the side. Then his business sense tingled and suggested we print them on shirts and we started joining art festivals and bazaars. Then we noticed we almost sold them all and tourists kept on asking for more. Hence, apart from creating paintings on canvas, I focused on creating painting and designs particular to the islands for a destination shirt. Hence, a premier mall there saw them and decided to buy some designs and as far as I know they still sell some shirts there despite the decline of tourism.
Who are some of your artistic influences?
My artistic influences include the creativity of my father. He’s not a painter but an architect. For paintings, Filipino National artists like Hernando Ocampo and Manuel Baldemor. Vincent Van Gogh is one major influence to my passion. Reading his art pieces convinced me to create art that comes from my heart and mind. Andy Warhol and Keith Haring are also my inspiration in my pursuit to this style of art and to further improve myself. Locally, an amazing SF artist and mentor Frost Newton has helped motivate. He has inspired me to create more art and be more responsible about it.
What do you define as your artistic style? How is it a reflection of you as a person?
I would consider my art to fall under surrealism, cubism and abstractionism. Well, obviously a hodge-podge from the styles of every artist I’ve studied on my own in the past. I like colors maybe because I am such a colorful person and I am originally from the islands. I like to make people laugh and smile. Hence, the colors I make despite some tragic themes can hopefully still bring a smile to their faces.
Your piece that won “Introducing” was meant to raise awareness about teen suicide. Does all of your art work reflect on serious issues in society?
Back when I was in college I would create, together with my visual art group Pintados Umalohokan, paintings that tackled social issues. I’d like to say that it was part of my training and education back in college. Back in the islands, I created pieces about the beauty and the historical landmarks of the islands. My sunflower-themed paintings were such a hit not only in the islands but also here in the mainland.
Where has your art been featured or displayed? What companies and or brands have you worked with?
My art has been showcased in several venues including: San Francisco City Hall Office of the Supervisors, Hotel Triton, Aspect Gallery SF, Magnet SF, Cantina Lounge Gallery SF, Artists Alley SF, A-Forest Gallery NYC, Intermedia Arts Gallery MN, Billy De Frank LGBT Center SJ, Newpark Mall Cultural Corner CA, Menlo College, and at the Children’s Creativity Museum in San Francisco, where it was the children’s museum’s first Pride-Themed workshop and exhibition in 2012, and so many others. It has been featured also on Outlook Video, a monthly cable magazine show for the LGBT community in 2012, and recently in a new full-length documentary feature “What’s the T?” that’s still hitting the film festival circuits in the US. My art also has been featured as cover art for the Organization for Refuge, Asylum and Migration International’s 2012 and 2013 publication and website for its South Africa office. The publication was not only distributed in the US but also in Africa, Middle East and Europe.
What projects do you have coming up?
I am due to release a children’s book I co-wrote with Adam Cafege. I am finishing the illustrations now for the children’s book. The book is about bullying and being different. It’s about a yellow flower that’s being bullied and teased by regular red flowers and how this different flower found friends and understanding from his community. We are looking at releasing the book in two months. We also aim at distributing copies of books to schools, hopefully for free if we gather more funds and sponsors. I am also creating a new collection about bullying and teen suicide that could complement the winning cap I made for New Era Introducing for an exhibition perhaps starting here in San Francisco then to other cities. Moreover, I am still collaborating with ORAM International to work on their 2013 publications, posters and websites.
How can someone get in contact with you if they are looking to purchase some of your art or work with you on future projects?
I can be reached best through my phone, email or facebook page: (415-418-9546, email@example.com or www.facebook.com/marconicalindasart) You can also visit my website: http://www.marconicalindas.com/ for more info.
CAP ASSOCIATION: What These New Era Caps Mean to Marconi Calindas
San Francisco Giants 59Fifty Fitted Cap
It’s one beautiful cap. Why? Because it’s a Giants’ cap! Proud to be from this beautiful city of champions. (smiles)
Filipino 59Fifty Fitted Cap
It means a lot because to have this from a prestigious American cap company is huge! It totally connects me back.
New Era Introducing Blank Cap
This means a lot to me because this blank canvas paved the way to bringing my art out there not only in the US but in Canada if not the world. This is a special blank canvas for me that became an instrument to share and spread my message of tolerance, understanding and compassion.
New Era Introducing Winning Cap
It has been an honor to have been chosen among hundreds of amazing art pieces and yet this victory is not only mine to cherish but is for every single soul tortured by indifference and intolerance. This piece signifies that people now listen and people do care. Thank you, New Era.