Time and Space is a journal series exploring creation, human connection, and intimate spaces.
This week we’re chatting with Los Angeles based artist, Terry Urban, about his journey from DJ to painter, and the way music still influences his work. If you’re on Tik Tok incessantly like we are, you’ve probably come across Terry’s work and his wildly popular process videos.
Becoming an artist isn't always a linear path. How would you describe your own journey? What moments of adversity stand out in your mind?
Definitely some ups and downs. I realized in my 20s that I didn’t want to work for anyone else except myself. I was a dj for many years and art was put in the back burner. After about 15 years of djing I couldn’t take it anymore. I needed another creative outlet in life. So I picked up painting again about 6 years ago and I haven’t looked back since.
What sources of joy, strength, or pleasure do you draw from? What inspires you to create?
Theres a happy side to Terry and then there’s also a dark side to me. I love being in love and I also love being heartbroken. They both make for great influences in my paintings. But I would say music is by far the biggest influence on my work.
What advice or words of encouragement would you give to your younger self during challenging times?
Be patient!!!!! It takes a lot of time to master the craft. I’m still learning and getting better each day myself.
COVID has caused many of us to get creative with our workspaces. What does yours look like in 2021?
I just moved to LA right before covid hit. I’m very thankful I’m able to have a studio and also be able to get into nature a lot mire than I was able to in NYC.
How has social media (Instagram/TikTok) impacted your career as an artist?
Reels and TikTok has changed my life. I would say 90% of my sales are from social media. It’s absolutely mind blowing that I make a living off painting. I was told my whole life you don’t make money as an artist. Social media has made it so much easier to spread my art across the world. I’m very grateful for it, the people who follow me and give me amazing comments each post.
Your pieces incorporate multiple different layers and steps. Take us through your creative process - from concepting ideas and themes, to transforming that into a physical piece.
It’s a battle. Especially the collage ones I’ve been doing lately. Placement is everything. I may take a whole day trying to figure out how to incorporate one image into the painting. Also, I have a tough time figuring out when the painting is actually finished to my liking. I envy artists who are able to paint minimal works. I love them so much but it’s hard for me to make minimal work. I always want more. Hopefully one day I can make a series of minimal works.