Client: Private Investment Bank in Midtown NYC.
Location: New York, NY, United States
Completion date: 2021
Artwork budget: $43,000
Arantxa X. Rodriguez
I was contacted to make a piece for a private investment bank in NYC that will adorn their confidential meeting room.
In one of the worst times of the pandemic, with all my projects frozen, living off my savings…I received a call. A creative agency was looking for an artist to create artwork for an investment banker in NYC. We had a few online meetings until the owner wanted to meet me in person to get to know me, tell me about the ethos behind his company, and talk about the work. I met with him in person, and he showed me a digital drawing of his dream piece. I told him that it would be an honor to make a piece that would adorn his confidential meeting room without hesitation.
Since the owner has a huge passion for racing, he wanted a car coming out of an explosion, which also reflected a metaphor for his company.
This artwork consists of two pieces. A car with the dimensions of 12ft x 36in and an explosion of 4ft x 6ft. They are connected with strings, resembling the vehicle coming out of it with a huge burst.
When the owner gave me the piece's digital drawing (which was initially intended to be a vinyl wall sticker, not suited enough for an elegant office), I was so glad he opted for a real piece of art. I took a whole week just analyzing different possibilities of its creation. The wall is significant, but the space in the office is narrow. He definitely wanted something 3D, but I had to take care of the measurements to not obstruct the area. The original idea was to shut down that space to create the piece, but I proposed to make it in my studio instead (where I could make my own mess, play my music, and bother no one). I sent a weekly process report mentioning the accomplished milestones. I had a total of two months to create this wall installation. At some point, out of generosity, because the owner was a great guy, I made him a furniture proposal to integrate the whole space.
The first few weeks were crucial because I had to find suitable materials. Although utterly time-consuming with a very meticulous process, the car was finished before the explosion. They both have a wooden surface cut out with a CNC machine. We had to make a few trials for the explosion, and it took some adjustments until the perfect size was reached. The car was spray painted white, and afterward, the grey and red triangles were also hand-painted using different stencils. The most challenging part of this process was waiting for drying times between each layer. Once the background was done, I drilled different color “standoffs” (or crystal spacers) to connect the strings, this was originally going to be made only with nails, but this idea gave it away from the more elegant finish. The stringing part is always my favorite and requires a whole meditation state to not lose focus. For the explosion, at first, I used different foams to make an “exploiting” effect, but the blast looked too “cartoonish” or “theater” like, and nothing worked. It was until I decided to mix different materials and watch how they dried until the perfect texture was reached. Don´t miss the video below to watch the process.
This has been one of the most significant projects in my life so far. It saved me from the financial and creative death I was experiencing with the pandemic. From 0 to 100, I had to give my best for this project to work. The project was fantastic, the pay was good, and the client was kind, but this does not mean it was easy. I had to work with complicated people managing the project who didn’t understand the creative process from an artistic point of view. Art processes are very different than corporate processes, the timings are entirely different, and although I was consistently hitting my marks, the anxiety and control of the team made it extremely difficult to navigate. Towards the end, I asked for private meetings with the client because the team was messing up the work, which was extremely exhausting. Overall I am incredibly grateful and absolutely love the piece I created for this man. To read a bit more of the story, look for my article in Hyperallergic: Artists Should Never Take on a Commission Without a Contract.