I can’t say that I’ve been to too many places outside of our large country, but I have been to Peru. Many people dream of going to Peru for its rich archeology and deep-seeded culture, but I think you should get down there for the people. I find that the people I know from Peru are generous with their lives. Peruvians are even more generous with their hugs and smiles than our “midwest nice” folks are. If you don’t believe me, you should introduce yourself to the wonderful Peruvian-Americans living and loving in Sioux Falls. Or better yet, get down there!
If you can’t see yourself flying to Lima anytime soon, continue reading, as we’re going to introduce you to Hector. Hector Curriel grew up in Peru, moved to the United States in 2001, and joined our fine community in 2006. He is an illustrator, painter, author, and professional political cartoonist. But, that doesn’t really get at the meat of whom Hector is. He is a businessman, a husband, and artist who believes in community. He is quick to hug, quick to smile, and sensitive. My favorite type. ~Jess
What is the path that has led you to where you are today?
It has been a long journey since I decided to start my career as an artist, and in some way, it was like waking up something that was dormant in myself for so long. After coming to the United States, I found more opportunities to develop my artistic skills, so I went back to school in Minneapolis to get my art degree. After that, I started working in many versatile ways: as a fine artist, book illustrator, and editorial cartoonist for organizations, house publishing, newspapers, and private art commissions as well.
When did you realize you wanted to be an artist?
My passion for art began when I was a little child. One day, when I was visiting my best friend, I found some art lessons in the office of my friend’s uncle, who was a graphic designer. Those lessons called my attention, and after his uncle saw my interest in them, he decided to lend them to me, and that is how it all started.
Do you have any mentors?
I have admired some artists, but never have had the opportunity of being taught by any mentor. I know mentors are important when someone is interested in learning a specific style.
What are some projects you’re working on right now?
I’ve been working on a series of paintings related to Falls Park, which, in my opinion, is the most emblematic site in Sioux Falls. This collection is going to be part of the show that will be in September at Faini Jewelry Studio. I’m working on the second children’s book titled “Beauford Peever’s Animal Family”. This is a series written by me and published by Scurfpea Publishing.
How long does it typically take you to complete a piece?
It depends, because every project is different in the way I craft it. For example, if we are talking about illustrating a book, that could take several months to accomplish, because it requires a lot of coordination and approval from the publisher or writer during the process of creating the sketches, layout, and final illustrations. If we are talking about a single art piece, like a portrait, landscape or a cartoon, that would take a few days depending on the size, medium and complexity of the piece.
Tell us more about your creative process. What is your typical medium?
When I’m going to start a new project, first I try to visualize the main idea of the project, what kind of meaning, feelings, and outcome that I want to accomplish with this piece of art. I have the tendency of being very rational; I think it comes from my architectural background that makes me work very logically during the whole artistic process.
I can schematize my creative process into steps: I start with freehand sketches. Then I choose the best sketch and start shaping in terms of details and proportions. After completing my final sketch, I start working on values and tones. I trace the sketch on the final paper or canvas, study the colors and scheme, and finish it in color. Watercolor is my main medium, although it is quite challenging; I choose it because of its transparency.
Where can people view your work?
People can come and visit my studio— it is located at East Bank 401 E 8thSt, Ste 330F in Sioux Falls. If you want to see my artwork, please call me (605) 351-9569. We are also open from 5:00pm to 8:00pm every first Friday of each month. My website is www.hectorcurriel-artwork.com.
What future plans do you have for your work?
I started last year with my own series, a children’s book titled “Beauford Peever’s Animal Family.” My first book just came out in April 2015 and now I’m working on the second book.
What are your thoughts on the arts community?
We have a very nice art community here in Sioux Falls. This is a fantastic group of vibrant, talented people who are always fun to hang out with them.
Advice for anyone that wants to create art professionally?
This is a career that demands a lot of passion, dedication, and continuation of learning. Since it is not a very conventional career, you must have, besides talent, lot of persistence, being innovative and original, because there is always room for new forms of creation and expression.