We had the good fortune of connecting with eric breish and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi eric, how do you think about risk?
As human beings, we are naturally risk averse. From the beginning of time, most people try to find that comfortable pattern to settle into. We are taught at an early age to make sound decisions like go to school, get a steady job, marry the girl who your family approves of and save for retirement. While that may be good advice for some, and I have certainly tried the majority of them, life without risk wasn’t fulfilling to me. It was only when I was pushing boundaries when I felt most alive. When I was 17, I joined the Marine Corps with my parents approval and never looked back. I traveled and moved all around the country trying my hand at different jobs and careers like music engineering, clothing design for surf/skate brands and eventually found myself in corporate America. Somewhere along the line, I felt that I had stopped taking risks. It wasn’t until I discovered painting in my late twenties that I felt that excitement of a blank canvas and all of the possibilities that could unfold. For years, I spend all of my extra time in the studio honing my craft and learning how the art gallery scene worked. During that time I met my very well known mentor after a I took a risk and wrote him an overly enthusiastic letter that ultimately cemented a long and fruitful relationship that is still going strong. This was one of my first lessons in asking for what you want regardless of how absurd or far fetched it may seem. As I learned from him and saw what a magical life being a full time artist was, I knew that’s what I wanted to do. It was naive of me at the time to think that being a full time artist was magical, but it was also naive to think that I could just decide to be one. I met my wife in 2013 during a time of creative uncertainty. I had a very lucrative job that seemed to be as secure as you could get. I was on a good path financially and most people would kill to be in that position. The problem was, I wasn’t happy. I’d been with the company for almost 10 years but I longed for the studio every day. During a trip to my mentor’s house in CA with my wife, she asked me what I wanted to do. I said that I wanted to create art full time. She said ok, we are in August of 2014 and you will leave your job by the end of 2015. It was amazing. No one had ever given me permission to leave my career and all of the comfort that came with it. Most spouses don’t like the idea of risking a salary, health insurance and any other illusion that ties them to a flimsy reality. Not my wife, she held me to it even when I tried to back out on several occasions. Art is a scary venture. I don’t care how good you are, it goes well beyond talent and I knew that. There are so many “what ifs” that can derail you before you even put a brush to canvas, or in my case a grinder to metal. The night before I was supposed to quit, I didn’t get a wink of sleep. I showed up to a 9 A.M. meeting with my boss and some clients visibly dragging. Sometime during the presentation my boss looked over and saw me yawning. He asked if they were keeping me up and something triggered in my mind at that second. I was going to walk out of the meeting and into my boss’s office and quit. That’s exactly what happened and he couldn’t believe that I was risking everything on such a crazy pursuit even though he owned some of my artwork. In fact, most people I told thought I was nuts. Fast forward almost 6 years and I’ve been a full time artist since the beginning of 2016 and replaced my salary after gaining gallery representation across the US. The moral to all of this is risk is the key to life. Its what pushes us from our comfort zones and makes us achieve great things. It fuels our creativity, allows for tremendous growth, pushes our work beyond what we thought was possibly and ultimately can lead to a life we never thought possible. If I was to give any advice to a young creative, I would say take the risk. Believe in it and yourself. It has to become your mantra. When all of that risk taking and preparation meet opportunity, you will find success. The next lesson is repeating it all over again…..time and time again.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I don’t have a degree in art. My degrees are in music engineering and business. I haven’t attended many art classes, but I do have a well known mentor named Andreas Nottebohm that not only developed this unique style but its a style that isn’t taught anywhere in the world. I’m the only person he has showed during his 50 year career. As I look back at my path, I realize how lucky I am to have this mentorship but how it uniquely shaped my career as an artist. There are too many lessons that I’ve learned to speak of in this article, but one of them is that talent will only get you so far. As an artist, you have to treat it as a business. You have to be organized, know about taxes, network relentlessly, continuously learn products and techniques, develop a very thick skin, take a lot of risks and push through all of the obstacles that will get in your way. I’m extremely dedicated and driven when it comes to succeeding as an artist. When I chose to give up my “old” life, I wasn’t going to let it be in vain. There were many times where I wanted to hang it up as an artist. That little voice that’s always on your shoulder whispering that you aren’t good enough, that nobody cares about the work and that its easier to just be “normal”. You have to fight that voice every single day. You have to get in the studio and make the work. Some days are going to be bad. In fact, more days will be bad or average than great. This is a marathon, not a sprint. I want the world to stand in front of my work and get lost in the movement and illusion. To forget the space around them and to allow themselves to transport to an almost meditative state. I want my medium to be different than anything they’ve experienced previously.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’d take them to some local art galleries and museums, maybe a trip over to Houston to see the Menil or Cy Twombly museum. I’d prefer to travel by motorcycle so we could cruise through the hill country and make an adventure out of it. I’d then take them to some of my favorite restaurants like Cured in San Antonio and show them what fine dining is all about. If we weren’t in Covid times, I would finish the night off at one of my favorite spots in Austin for live music called Hotel Vegas and check out a live show. I would repeat that daily and mix in some hiking to get some exercise.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My wife Luly and my mentor Andreas Nottebohm
Studio shot of my in black and white is by photographer Zack Marks