Photograph © Kate Miss
Name: William Steinman
Location: Los Angeles, California
Business: WilliamSteinman.com (filmmaker/painter)
William Steinman has two full-time jobs. He works and lives in Koreatown (Los Angeles) with his fiancé and graphic design entrepreneur, Kate. His daytime job is working as a handyman in Hollywood. Previously he was employed by Dwell studios in NYC as a production set builder. His night time job is creating art in his studio.
Will and I used to paint trains together and fill up notebooks in college. We met through a mutual friend that knew we’d get along. He was the guy who would organize a fund for paint by cutting back on a precise number of Natty Lights over the course of a week. Always working the angles.
Will is a craftsmen. He loves to work with his hands and experiment with strange substances and processes. He’s a gritty ex-street artist turned fine artist with a distinct point-of-view.
In college he worked at Campus Recycling so that his library of found objects never ran dry. He made paintings and multimedia works over the top of old artwork still in frames. He would reclaim old pieces of wood and metal and layer thick epoxy over his work. I have a few of them above my head in my office as I type.
Will refers to his stye as “the dark side of pop.” He combines comic book images of his youth with found objects, photography and experimental chemical mixtures.
By the time we met, he was a seasoned graffiti writer who had designed beautiful aerosol campaigns in Phoenix and Boston, the two cities he had spent time in growing up.
After undergraduate at Ohio University he got his MFA in painting and sculpture from Queens College, Queens, New York. During his time in Athens and New York he held several solo exhibitions and was recognized and awarded for his work.
I asked my homeboy Billy if he would answer a few questions and drop some jewels for my blog, here is what he said:
Q: What are your top 3 favorite places you have visited?
Will: Well New York City has to be the number one place I have ever lived. There is just no place like it in the United States. NYC is a European style of life; small community based neighborhoods, very much unlike Los Angeles where I live now. New York City has the best food, art and fashion around and if I made more money I would defiantly still live in NYC now. You just have to be like Donald Trump to live there and be comfortable, so I left for the sunny West Coast, which is a little cheaper.
I just took a trip to Austin. (Kate and I took the train all the way from L.A. there, which was a lot of fun.) I really liked Austin, it has as small town vibe but is a really fast growing medium-sized city. Good food, good weather, and really nice people. The only downside is that there is not much art to be seen there, and the mosquitoes are as big as basketballs.
For my third city I would say Seattle, but only to visit. It rains there too much for me to live, but it is a really beautiful place. The architecture is really rad and they have a good art scene and tons of good restaurants. I have always had a good time there.
Q: What are 3 places you haven’t been that you want to visit in your lifetime?
Will: That’s tough since I feel like I have been all around the U.S. but I have only left this country once. I definitely want to go to Japan. I love the art and street scene they have there. I would love to see Berlin; it is a good art city and has great food too. I guess the third would be Thailand, I love the food and I heard once you pay the high price for airfare, that you can live like a king there on a few American dollars.
Q: What keeps you motivated and inspires you?
Will: I guess seeing so many untalented scrubs making art and getting it shown in galleries all over the world, that just makes me feel that it is an attainable goal to continue to pursue. I would also say that there is not much of a motivation factor needed for me, I just always feel compelled to make and look at art. If the art world ceases to exist tomorrow I would still be in my studio making things, it is just the way I live my life. When I painted graffiti, nobody paid me, not many people I knew saw my work, it was a completely solo project that cost me my time and my freedoms. When I skated before that, it was the same way. Now that I make art, I approach my studio practice just like I did graffiti and skateboarding before. It’s just my studio and I, making these things in my mind, exist in real time, for my own satisfaction. If people also vibe on what I am making then great, but if not I’m going to still be there doing my thing.
Q: What is success?
Will: Success to me is just being able to make a living and lifestyle around my own work. I have a very good 9-5 job right now. It allows my to be creative, work with my hands, and is a lot of fun. With all that said, I would rather be working on my own art from 9-5 though. Owning my own house, having a studio space near by, and showing at a good gallery would be part of that success too. Money is not a real thing anyway, so that and power, really don’t fit into my equation of success. Just being able to do my own thing and make some stable money would be nice.
Q: What resources or tools do you utilize to learn and expand your skills?
Will: To expand I would say I need a computer and I need to run wild in experimentation. I recently downloaded an entire semester long class on using Final Cut Pro, which gave me a good understanding of the program. Then repeatedly using the program and trying out every button and feature is has, is how I now understand and use FCP. The same goes for my studio practice, I take one chemical, mix it together with another and throw it on some images I stole from the internet, and all of a sudden I know that liquid nails will turn a printed image green. Then I am using that info now and bringing it into a new series of paintings. I just always have to push and play with whatever I am doing to learn how to bend it to my weird needs.
Q: What’s the best (or at least a very good) piece of advice you’ve gotten or can give to young creatives and aspiring small business owners?
Will: Have a studio! Working from home will drive you crazy. Find a nice, safe, comfortable place to work, and you will be much more creative and happier. Plus a studio is a place where you can display your work, have meetings, and it can act like an office and/or creative zone for your production process. Renting another space can be pricey, but for me I have had much more success, renting a smaller apartment, so that I can afford another space. Plus with the two spaces combined, it should equal around the same square footage and price as one nice sized apartment.
Q: What measures do you take to stay healthy, mentally and/or physically?
Will: I am probably the unhealthiest person I know. I don’t smoke cigarettes so I guess that would be my advice, cause those are a real killer. But for someone else they may be an important part of their working process, so I would have to judge. I drink a lot of coffee all day, which for my studio practice seems okay, maybe not for someone else. I guess I just see it as, if a double latte is what I need to keep working that night, than why not get one. Keeping me working and in the studio is the most important thing in the long run.
Q: What personality traits do you admire in people or look for in collaborators or friends?
Will: Hard working definitely. I have always given respect to the guy who is there working before I get to the shop in the morning, and/or the woman who is still there working when I leave for the day. I feel like I work really hard, but if you work harder and longer than I do, I will be quick to admire you. It takes a real struggle to get your ideas out in this world, and I have always believed that hard work will pay off. I also feel like a little cutthroat gullyness is a good trait to have too, because this world is full of sharks and you better behave like one sometimes too, or you get left behind.
Mechanical Found Ghost (film) by William Steinman – 2010