February 3, 2015
Artist Interview: Luis
A product of the 1970’s raised in the Bronx on a public school educational system, I have been artistically inclined since early on. In first grade I would create custom colored crayons by melting boxed crayons on the classroom radiator and smearing the collected droplets on paper, much to my teacher’s chagrin. An early appreciation of the decorative arts perhaps? Fast forward thirty years, I came across an advertisement for The Alpha Workshops. Intrigued at first, it takes two years to make up my mind. Uncertain of where Alpha would lead and unwilling to risk a salary and a full-time job in search of a dream, I left anyway. Glad I did too, that was almost ten years ago! I have been employed at Alpha ever since. During this time, I have mastered the art of surface design. My faux finishes have been called fabulous by leading industry professionals and colleagues alike. Some of my finest work at Alpha has been my Venetian plaster applications. One of my proudest was the restoration of an Art Deco masterpiece in a Park Avenue lobby.
In addition to working at Alpha, I am also currently pursuing a career in interior design. Deciding to go back to school at 40 was not easy, especially when I didn’t have my high school diploma. An independent individual since the age of sixteen, I have worked since then, never finishing high school. Without enrolling in GED classes, I decided to just take the New York State Regents exam. My first try was successful, I aced the test with a 98 percent! I took this to mean something positive.
In the winter of 2007 I enrolled at the Fashion Institute of Technology as an evening student. I toyed with this idea of returning to school full-time around my work schedule and approached Ken Wampler for his blessing. The rest is history. I have achieved my Associate Degree, am in the last semester of my Bachelors Degree program, while looking forward to a Masters Degree in Sustainable Design.
Being at Alpha hasn’t only opened up the world of decorative arts, it has also shown me how to become aware of the details. I have learned to create beautiful work that other people appreciate and that I’m extremely proud of. Creativity is never stifled at Alpha. Everyone is given the opportunity to try, to practice and to learn. This is what Alpha does; they give people skills that they can take with them, wherever their endeavors may lead. Today I have a greater appreciation for delicate hand-made objects of beauty, a greater appreciation for design and an even greater appreciation for higher education, artistic or otherwise. A few of my goals today are obtaining my degree and looking for ways to pay it forward, to Alpha. I feel strongly about this. I think I am lucky to have found Alpha, but it has taken hard work and dedication to endure and grow with Alpha. Living in New York City, I have worked in various fields, none of which have been half as fulfilling as my time at Alpha Workshops.