Carlos Nieto III finds beauty in Day of the Dead celebrations.
As the fall arrives, chances are good that you will see Dia de los Muertos celebrations popping up around your community. From dancing to face painting to sugar skull candies, the tradition has its roots in ancient Aztec rituals and starts on the first of November corresponding with All Saints Day. This is the time of year when the boundary between the world of the living and the realm of the dead are believed to intersect. It is a chance to celebrate life and honor loved ones who have died.
Day of the Dead has also become a cultural crossover experience and artist Carlos Nieto III embraces this in his art characterized by images of skulls and skeletons. As he says, Day of the Dead “celebrates the time we have here on earth.” When he’s not making art, Carlos is also an educator and musician and plays bass and does back up vocals in a pop punk band called Harmful if Swallowed.
1. Tell us about yourself
I was born in and raised in Silver Lake a neighborhood in Los Angeles, CA. I started getting into art in high school, I joined a punk rock band while in school and a few years out of school I landed a job working on the Simpsons. After 3 years I was let go and used what I had learned to do free lance work. I found later on that I loved teaching how to draw so I began teaching library workshops, also around the same time, I started working at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles as a visual artist where I do art with kids to this day, I also still play in my band, and do library workshops AND I am writing a “How to Draw Anime” book as well as a graphic novel.
3. What is the job you wish you had for just one week?
Herding horses in Mongolia.
4. What is the most important thing you learned in school?
How to sketch.
5. What do you wish that you had learned in school?
How to schmooze, how to think outside the box.
6. Favorite Style of Pizza? Dessert? Choice of caffeine?
The works without Olives. Ice cream over a hot cookie. Iced coffee.
8. What is the best advice you ever gave?
Never compare your artistic journey to another artist’s journey.
9. When did the arts enter your life in a significant way?
At two points in my life, in high school when I decided I wanted to be an artist and in 2011 when I started painting my current style of art.
10. What do you do when you fail?
I believe that failure is just one perception of reality. I don’t see failure as a bad thing, I use it as a learning tool. In art, I use failure to better my skills as an artist and in life, I use failure to better my actions as a person. Failure is a very personal thing. Chances are, no one will notice if you have “failed” in your art, in fact I have sold many works of art that I considered to be a failure, but someone else thought I painted well enough to buy it!
11. Tell us a secret.
I buy canvases that I find a thrift stores and paint over them saving myself lots of money.