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Life & Work with Brian Viamontes

Today we’d like to introduce you to Brian Viamontes.

Hi Brian, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
I am a born and bred St. Louis artist. My Fathers side of the family escaped communist Cuba in the 60s for a better life in the USA. My Cuban Grandfather was a psychiatrist and one of his patients was Siegfried Reinhardt a prominent St. Louis artist. My Grandfather had an extensive collection of Siegfried Reinhardt paintings and I decided that is what I wanted to do. At age nine, I received my first art set for Christmas. My parents took note of my abilities and enrolled me in private art lessons. In 1997, I graduated from St. Charles West High School. I continued to study and create art while working full-time jobs. In 2010, I created a small body of charcoal drawings and people liked them. In fact, people wanted to buy them! A light bulb clicked and in 2011 Draw – U was created. Armed with a table and my drawings my wife and I rented a space at a high school craft show. We sold almost all of the drawings! The table soon turned into display walls and tents and we set out on a journey that continues today. After a few years of hard work, I was able cut back on my day job and focus more on the business. The business grew and in 2019, I was able to dedicate myself to art full time. I participate in over 20 art shows and festivals annually. My passion has always been portraits. My goal as an artist is to capture the heart and soul of the subject matter whether it be a person, animal, or landscape. I use pastel papers, White and black charcoal, pastel, and colored pencil. The toned paper allows me to draw light and dark details which make my work appear three dimensional. I love being a full-time artist and is looking forward to the future of Draw-U.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
I have had to overcome many challenges along the way. In the beginning, I worked a full-time job, came home and worked on my art for another four or five hours then had shows most weekends. It was hard on my family, my son was eight at the time. After a few years, I was able to go down to part-time until 2019. In 2019, I took a leap of faith and went full-time with my art. Everything was going great, sales were great and I was juried into some fantastic shows for 2020. Then Covid hit and almost everything for 2020 was canceled. Everything I worked for seemed to go down the drain. It was honestly the most depressing year of my life. Fortunately, I was able to get a ppp loan to keep my business afloat. I did small farmer’s markets to scrape by. 2021 rolled around and it was looking bleak. I booked all my shows for 2021 hoping they would not cancel and invested my stimulus money in a professional display. January to March, I hunkered down and created a bunch of new art. My season started with farmer’s markets and sales were great! May came around and I broke sales records at every show! It seems I am back in business

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I am a 2d artist that specializes in portraits. I love music and sports and those are often the subject matter for my art. I am also known for custom portraits especially pets. I believe that everyone should be able to afford art and am proud to offer a wide range of price points for my work. My style is unique, I don’t like to just draw something exactly how the photo looks. My goal is to put the “Soul” of the subject matter in my art and sets me apart from other artists.

What’s next?
I am looking forward to events coming back and my ultimate goal is for my wife and I to travel the country doing art festivals.

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