"I often find myself doing things that are 'productive' only later to realize that I was not aware of the meaningful, little things in my life. Time flies and I lose myself in a daily cycle of numbing, pushing forward and getting more and more done. I'm hungry for instant gratification while the world around me is constantly changing but I'm never fully present to enjoy the now. I try to please others because I want them to be touched by my work but I forget that I create because I need to express myself and it's the only way to let my voice be heard. I'm determined to fight it as the love for making art keeps me from quilting."

Tomer Peretz is an LA based conceptual artist and painter. He was born in Jerusalem, Israel. Although his parents did not have any special interest in the arts and never painted, Tomer started painting in childhood, while wandering away, mostly in school while the teacher was talking. Being an athlete was much cooler than to be an artist so Tomer didn't show his work much. He stopped painting when he enlisted to the Israeli army which is mandatory. After 4 1/2 years in the army, Tomer traveled to South America for one year and then started painting again, already in his early twenties. One of the first things he did was a mural in Buenos Aires and the creative hunger didn't stop since.

LA was supposed to be just a stop for him on the way to India but he fell in love with the positive energy in Los Angeles and stayed. He was painting between jobs and started selling his work, he also started creating public art and sculptures in different areas of LA.  

Tomer's style has changed a few times over the years. He keeps evolving to this day and he believes a good artist never "settles" and keeps moving forward and redefining himself.  Tomer creates portraits of people he met throughout his creative journey, people who impacted his life and art. Tomer passionately searches for the unexplored, not often portrayed and interesting side of the persona he paints; he lives for the process and the completed painting is only the last step in the artistic method.

Tomer spends weeks at a time with his anonymous or famous subjects, photographing and emerging into their lives, getting inspired by their habits, beliefs, and family. The more time he spends with his inspirations the better the work on the canvas is. The goal is not only to create a visually pleasing and highly detailed portrait, but also to tell a story and document a moment in time that would make the viewer feel something. He utilizes oil, acrylic, photography and conceptual art to express his point of view. 

Tomer is proud and feels lucky that he has the privilege and the ability to create only what he is passionate about and interested in. He is proud that he found his "language" and medium in which he can communicate to the world. Another thing Tomer is most proud of in his career is being represented by the reputable gallerist Giancarlo Pedrazzini in 'Fabbrica Eos' gallery in Milan, Italy. The gallery represents many artists Tomer admired for years and it was a big honor and a sense of "arriving" to find out that the gallery chose Tomer to be a part of it. 

When observing and admiring Tomer’s works of art, two words become evident in his work:  raw and real.  An inevitable sincerity is felt throughout his paintings, as well as photography.  An invitation to more lays before your eyes and you can’t help but to want more of it.  Whether facing a societal issue or standing before his portraits, Tomer throws you into a rollercoaster of feelings that sometimes it is difficult to grasp what exactly has been stirred up inside of you.  But it’s there.  And it’s real.

Q. What role does the Artist/ Painter have in society?    

A. I believe the artist's role in society is to reflect it, with the raw good and the bad in it. The artist "sees" what is going on around him and feels a responsibility to make the people think and see themselves in a new and different point of view.

Q. What’s your best childhood memory?   

A. My best childhood memory is playing outside with friends. I felt really free, no parents’ supervision, no computer, no phones, no video games.  I miss the ability to be a real kid, playing soccer and hide and seek the whole day.

Q. As a child, what did you wish to become when you grew up?  

A. As a child, every week I had a different dream of who I wanted to be when I grow up. I always wanted to do something art-related like an actor or a musician, it just didn't make sense and fit in the place where I grew up, in South East Jerusalem. It is a very traditional place, not a place where artists usually come from.  

Q. Do you remember the first art you made? What was it and how old were you?  

A. The first art I remember making is a mural in my room. It was a Pegasus with a man holding a bow and arrow riding it. I was 14 years old.

Q. How and when did you first become seriously interested in art?  

A. I became seriously interested in art while traveling in South America, I was staying at a hotel in Buenos Aires and one of the managers asked if anyone knew how to make murals. It was the first time I was painting again after being in the military for 4 1/2 years. I think I didn't have the capacity for it while I was in the military; I was too busy trying to survive. 

Q. What does your art aim to express?

A. My art expresses my world; through it, I share my opinions, my ways, my fears, everything that bothers me and is hard to say in words. 

Q. What personality trait has gotten you in the most trouble?  

A. The personality trait that got me most in trouble is rashness and the inability to resist temptations. I often overcommit to things because I want to experience it all and not to miss out on anything   

Q. What have you had to sacrifice for this career?  

A. I think I sacrificed a little bit of everything; family, money, social life. I chose to follow my passion and create art, that's time-consuming and takes me away from spending time with my family. I spend my entire free time painting and that takes over my life.    

Q. Who are your biggest influences? Are you inspired by the work of your peers or anyone else in particular?  

A. My biggest influences are David LaChapelle, Rembrandt, Warhol, Dali and Gottfried Helnwein. 

Q. Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?  

A. I actually don't feel that the artist's life is lonely at all... I love what I do, I chose to do it and I feel privileged and lucky that I'm able to do what I love.

Q. Apart from art, what do you love doing?  

A. I love spending time with my family- my wife, my 3 children, and our dog. 

Q. What is your philosophy in matters of art?  

A. My philosophy is that art is a language and just like with words, I try to move people and communicate to people with thought-provoking images and ideas. 

Q. What does 'success' mean to you?  

A. I think success is a formula that consists of many factors, the more goals I reach, the more I feel that there is more and more I can do. I think the word success keeps changing and evolving it's meaning for me the more I do and grow as an artist.

Q. What are the biggest things you've learned in life thus far?  

A. I think one of the biggest things I've learned in my life so far is to really listen to my inner voice and to be real and genuine with myself in regards to where my decisions come from. I think the moment I started being painfully honest with myself regarding my art and stopped working from a place of Ego and seeking fame, I became a better and more authentic artist. 

Q. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given, and by who?  

A. The best advice I received is from my wife; she's the one that thought me to be real with myself and really see where my decisions come from. My art became better when I looked deep inside myself and asked myself what kind of art would I like to create and what kind of artist I would like to be. It wasn't an easy process to realize my actions and artistic decisions came from the wrong reasons. 

Q. What advice would you give to the next generation?  

A. The best advice I would give to the next generation is to also be real with themselves in regards to what kind of art do they really want to create and don't let money or anything else stop them. I realized that I'm the most passionate about creating portraits and it’s not the most sellable art. I'm ok with that, the joy of painting a portrait of someone dear to me is more valuable to me than money.  


Mackenzie Belcastro Interviewing The artist Tomer Peretz