Rudy Duboue

3 Artists On Collaboration, Inspiration, And Why You Can Never Really Control How People Will Experience Your Work

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To most of us, art exists as finished work. Whether it's hanging in a museum, spray painted on the side of a building, or printed on the front of a t-shirt, art as we know it is, well, usually in its final form.

But it's crucial to remember that the story doesn't start when a piece is completed. The story started long before, and when you look at a finished piece of art, you're also seeing the long and often complicated journey that led to a beautiful and seemingly effortless destination.

In pursuit of exploring the significance of process as a whole, we teamed up with Teavana to go behind the scenes with three acclaimed artists as they took on a collaborative project: creating a piece inspired by the vibrant and complex flavors of Teavana teas.

Because, much like a finished work of art, every Teavana tea is crafted and perfected behind the scenes by a team of passionate tea experts who work every day to create teas that combine ancient blending traditions with the fresh flavor trends of today.

The artists — Nicole Salgar, Fiorella Podestá, and Nico — are all members of The Bushwick Collective, a community of artists that has created some of New York's and Miami's most recognizable murals. Even though they have vastly different styles, all three artists share a background in street art, an affinity for vibrant colors, and a passion for collaborating with their peers.

We asked them to come together and create a work based on the bold and complex layers that go into each flavor of Teavana tea, and to finish it live at The Art of Flavor, Bustle and Teavana's immersive art event.

In the spirit of shedding light onto their processes, we sat down with the artists at one of their studio sessions in Miami and got their take on everything from how tricky it is to define one's own style to the secret to successfully collaborating with other artists.

Here's what they had to say.

On defining who they are as artists:

Fiorella: It’s a big question to put into a few words. [I'd say my style is] Latin American-oriented, but it has a visionary aspect to it. As an artist, I'm experiential, and through my art I'm always learning about myself, growing as a person and as a mother, and trying to marry all those layers into one vision.

Nico: I use spray paint and try to make my style something that's progressive and stands out amongst the many different styles of street art that are already out there. I always just try to have a unique perspective and go with the flow as best I can, but I'm also always trying to stay true to my vision.

Nicole: I’m a figurative painter who puts a great emphasis on color, environment, and contrast.

On collaboration and the power of bringing artists together:

Fiorella: I've been painting for a long time — more than 30 years — and [the process of collaboration] is always different. It depends on the artists that you're working with and the energy of those people.

You have to open yourself to everything, leave your ego at the door, and try to meld with the other people.

It's a very interesting experience.

Nicole: As an artist I find it very important to collaborate with other visual artists because it takes you out of your comfort zone and helps you grow in more ways than one.

The best way to bring artists together is to not marginalize art and make it about who people are. If ego can be taken out of the equation, it eliminates the competitive spirit that some creatives tend to have.

Nico: I have collaborated a lot with artists in the past, so the process of collaboration is not new; I'm excited that these [artists] are really cool and talented and I'm happy to be working alongside them.

On art and gender:

Nicole: Gender, so far, has not shown itself to be a factor in my artistic life. I’ve experienced my life as a woman, so I have to assume that this has informed my work to some degree, but I don’t really think it has been directly related to what I do.

I think artists are often trivialized because people want to make an artist's work about her gender, race, or ethnicity. I feel that an artist is an artist, just as an actor is an actor, etc. The work of a creative person shouldn’t be marginalized by what they were born as.

On where they find their inspiration:

Fiorella: I work a lot with my feelings and emotions. In a way it's like yoga. You bend and stretch in order to fill a certain space.

Nicole: My inspiration comes from everywhere. Film, music, people, subcultures, fashion, architecture, travel. Creativity isn’t only informed by other forms of creativity. Every experience, whether it’s visceral, sensory, spiritual or actual will affect your mind.

On others' interpretation of their art:

Nico: My piece in particular is a close-up view of a tea plant; I always try to create unique perspectives.

My goal is always for onlookers to take a moment to figure out what they're looking at, encouraging the experience of stepping back and taking a minute to take in the piece.

Everybody moves so fast these days that they don't often stop to take art in, but if you create something that forces people to take a second to figure out what's going on, you get them to stop and use their brains.

Fiorella: We all have our own view of life. I never expect people to understand what I do or what I create. I'm very open to all interpretations of my work.

Art, in general, is very subjective.

Feeling inspired? We sure are. RSVP for Bustle and Teavana's The Art Of Flavor event to watch the artists in action, jam out to DJ Quiana Parks, taste new Teavana tea flavors, and so much more.

This post is sponsored by Teavana.