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ARTIST JEFF SOTO talks about his favorite books – Page 5

A new exhibition...

READERSVOICE.COM: Can you describe whether there was a lot of pressure on you after leaving the Art Center College of Design? What sort of steps did you take to ensure success and how much painting and drawing would you do per day?
JEFF SOTO: I felt intense pressure and stress when I graduated. I had been surviving on my financial aid checks which would come every few months. I knew I had to work hard and try to compete for illustration jobs. So I did a few things a year before I graduated.
I put a plan in place. I started taking out the maximum amount of loans (even though I was getting lots of scholarship money). I started saving a little from each financial aid check and started budgeting money. I put some aside to pay bills, some was set aside for promos and a trip to New York.
When I graduated I had enough saved up to pay off my car and pay my bills for a few months and I had saved enough to do a postcard mailer and fly to New York for meetings. The downside of this is that I owe a crapload of money!
The other things I did were to start entering contests, compile a list of possible clients, trying to get in gallery shows, and networking with my teachers and fellow students.

Before I graduated I had been in a few shows and had done a piece for Entertainment Weekly- the art director had no idea I was still a student at the time. After doing all this preparation for a year, I still had a hard time after graduation. The jobs came in but sporadically, and they never paid very well.
I was a very stressed out dude! I had trouble sleeping, acid indigestion, big bags under my eyes. I was making just enough to scrape by. Then things started picking up after a trip to New York.
At first I didn’t do too much art. It sounds funny but illustration is a business and there was so much to take care of that drawing probably only took up 30% of my time. Things are different now that I don’t do as much self-promo.
RV: You said in another interview that you get very passionate about interests you develop. Can you talk a bit about your interests, like your cactus collecting days and other interests you’ve developed and how you’ve pursued them?
JS: I have too many interests and not enough time. I love plants, camping, all things nature.
I tend to get a bit obsessive about my hobbies, for example checking out ten books on cacti from the library. Or buying way more plastic model kits than I could ever finish. Or going through my phase of wanting to go camping every weekend (though I usually go once a year). I just get really into things and forget all my other interests.
Right now all I want to do is go hiking. No cacti, no movies, no TV, just hiking.

RV: Do you have any favorite paintings you’ve made, and if so why those in particular?
JS: I like them all for different reasons. I never put something up that I don’t like. If it’s a stinker, I paint over it or keep working on it till I’m happy.
I do like Gumivore Love, I think because I spent so much time on it and I felt “close” to it, like it was my baby.
RV: What sort of exhibitions and other projects do you have planned?
JS: I’m doing a show at the new BLK/MRKT Gallery in Culver City July 17th 2004. It’s a solo show and I’m going crazy painting for it.
After that I have more shows here and there, but I’m looking forward to doing bigger shows less frequently. I need a break!
To check out some of Jeff Soto’s paintings see:
-story by Simon Sandall