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The Arts in Folsom: Erick Ortega; A League of His Own

Realism artist Erick Ortega grew up playing sports and admiring moments of competition—moments he now captures in his vibrant paintings. Using mainly oils, his biggest influences include historical greats like Salvador Dali, Michelangelo, and Stanley Kubrick. As a member of the Folsom Arts Association, Ortega finds much of his inspiration being around other creatives and viewing their work. ”Every day is focused on being better than the next. As I finish more [pieces], I plan to spread my work out to more galleries and shows,” he says. Currently featured at the Sutter Street Artists Gallery, Ortega is also working on still life pieces and recently had the opportunity to collaborate with a Mexican eatery in Rocklin—where he got to develop a specific and unique theme.

HLB: What have been your biggest influences? 

EO: I drew inspiration for my art as a child, while watching my father doodle cartoon characters for my brothers and me. Sometimes he would draw characters of us, which we would use to make fun of each other. Art then became the perfect tool to lampoon someone. Growing up, I played trumpet in the school band and [was the kid] in the back of class always doodling. I later studied music, video, and audio recording. The urge to create has been with me since childhood.  

HLB: What are some common themes that show up in your work? 

EO: I like to paint sports, movie scenes, and still life with a focus on realism. Since I grew up playing football and basketball and doing martial arts, I’ve always admired the hard work and dedication athletes put into their training. Because of this, I’ve learned to never give up on your passions and dreams. I also grew up watching a lot of movies and studied film in college. 

HLB: Why is art so meaningful? 

EO: I believe art can show people how to see the world in a different perspective. It can also be used as a tool to teach. Being able to send a message without words leaves me speechless.  

HLB: At what point did you begin considering yourself a professional artist? 

EO: When I left my job to pursue art full-time. I learned a lot about myself and what it means to sacrifice everything for something you love so much. Having a family that depended on me was the biggest challenge, but having faith to push through the noise of doubt was the hardest. I surrounded myself with positive people and trained in jujitsu with friends to help push through tough times. 

HLB: Do you have any advice for aspiring artists? 

EO: Never give up. Learn to block out all doubts and do your best. With faith and hard work, things will always work out, as long as you don’t give up.

By Heather Becker