On January 1st, 2020 Antonio Garcia set out to Union Square with some of this artwork and made a video saying, “This is the first day of the rest of my life.” He remembers “I was cold, but even more I was scared and unsure about myself.”
Born in Tuxtla Gutiérrez Chiapas, Mexico, at 3 years old Antonio crossed the border with his mother and brother. They took a Greyhound bus, moved to the Bronx, where they lived in a shelter. After going to Brooklyn High School of the Arts and attending Kingsborough Community College for a semester, he decided to pursue his passion. “I thought about my mother bringing us here... I didn’t come here to be a regular person. I came here to be something big.”
Antonio went from selling 3 pieces that first day to almost 2,000 pieces 10 months later. His unique and already easily recognizable style of detailed and intricate line drawings form colorful shapes and pictures using ballpoint pen, acrylic marker, acrylic paint, and most recently pastels.
Much of Antonio’s work is inspired by conversations. That’s why you’ll often see words and phrases handwritten through the patterned images. He remarks, “Words are jumbling around when we talk. But certain phrases stick to me.”
When audiences pick up a piece, Antonio will often ask them what stands out and connects to them as a viewer. He does this to better understand what state of mind the individual is in. After hundreds of conversations he recalls, “I’ve noticed people lack self-motivation. They have a lot of self-doubts.” Antonio tries to channel this through his art and relationships with others, allowing emotions to transform into something positive and help people to let go. He believes that resentment stops us from growing. “Sometimes all you need is another person, a stranger, to be like ‘You got this!’”
In this way, Antonio’s art is talked about before it even exists.
Like the piece, Stay Hungry, a portrait of a Doberman dog, which reflects on a conversation about silence; scribbled are the words “Never underestimate me.” He explains, “A dog is calm but if you touch it, it reacts.”
Antonio never has a plan when drawing, he simply begins putting his thoughts into pages. Doodling faces and expressions. Whether feeling goofy, or bored, or sad, directing his emotions into this artistic process has revealed many life lessons.
“I make art for myself, because I’m the only one who is going to do what I do.”
Along with that, Antonio tells how he makes art for others to express and connect with emotionally. And thirdly, he makes art for love.
Over the summer, Anotnio’s cousin was shot 3 times, thankfully recovered. This heartwrenching experience made Anotonio think about life and how quickly it can be taken away. “It was a wake-up call. It motivated me to continue.”
Now, at 23, Antonio sells original canvas work and prints online and daily in Washington Square Park.
He has begun expanding his brand by printing his art on hoodies, hats, bags, and more merchandise. He is currently focusing on obtaining an art space in Sunset Park, where he resides and looks to fill a lack of creative spaces in the neighborhood.
“I’m proud of myself and excited to see what the future brings. But most importantly, I’m very thankful for the energy out there. It’s immense.”
on Instagram @antoniogarcia274
for merchandise and original prints.