We had the good fortune of connecting with Valerie Nieto and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Valerie, what makes you happy? Why?
I picked this question, I think, because it was the hardest question to answer. What makes anyone happy? That is a hard question. I will be honest, it took me like a week of thinking about it to try in put into words my answer. So here goes…..lol The knowledge we live in a world of endless possibilities makes me happy. I am one of those people who thrives in chaos. I am never content. When everything is going great and perfect, I am looking for a change. The thought of normalcy or complacency makes me depressed. I love the idea that I am ever evolving and I wont be the same person at the end of the day that I was when I woke up. I love the idea that I am perceived differently by every person I come across. I get to be a different work of art depending on the state my life is in at that moment. Love makes me happy. The idea that what really shapes us is love. Think about it, Every creative anyone that has existed in history as a painter, writer, poet ,sculptor,….etc., a large portion of their work was inspired by falling madly in love, lust or heart break, or who loved them. So knowing as long as I continually let myself fall in love with the world around me, whether it brings me butterflies or pain, I will always have the inspiration to create. That Knowledge makes me happy. Another thing that makes me happy is the control, being an artist gives me over my surroundings.. The feeling like I am the one driving the bus, so to speak. I get to decide what my world looks like when I create. The world needs more art and more love. People tend to be afraid of both. They are afraid how their deepest emotions and feelings will be perceived by others. They worry about saying or doing the wrong thing. I am guilty of that in real life. I worry about letting people know who the real me is. I am an extremely sensitive person, so emotions effect me deeper than I ever let people know. When i am happy I am this glowing ball of light but when I am sad, I feel like the world is falling down at my feet. Being an artist lets you lose that fear. You let some blind energy fuel you, That passion consumes you. You end up with this finished product, where only you know the real meaning of it. Only you know how much of your soul is in that piece. I think it is beautiful, being able to connect with others on that level. The idea that my art will effect other people differently. It is like writing a personal letter pouring my heart out to every person who views it. It will bring out different emotions in those people depending on my connection to them. I am happy that I have a way to communicate to everyone around me without ever saying a word. I am not good with talking to people. I am nervous and awkward, I ramble on when I am uncomfortable, But my art says exactly what I want it to say, how I want it to be said, to everyone who sees it The ability my art has given me to communicate with the world around me, that I wouldn’t necessarily have otherwise, makes me extremely happy. I don’t know if that properly answers the question. But those are a few gems that make me happy. 

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
What am I most proud of? The fact that I never quit. There have been times, where I lost track of who I was, and why I went down this road to begin with. I felt depressed, lost, I wanted to throw in the towel, but I did not. I just started creating more for myself. Painting is what make me happy, Creating what I want versus what people suggest I do. It made me feel free. I also started writing more poetry. Everyone knows me as a painter, but few people know I have been writing poetry since I was a teenager, I have a project I am working on, that is a compilation of my poetry and my art work. I call it “Looking at the Stars”. I hope to finally be done with in the next year. I look at the projects, I am doing now and I am so glad I did not quit. I always talked about my poetry/art book, “like oh one day I will write this book” but I was always to scared to release something that vulnerable and raw, both from an artistic standpoint and a personal one. Then I had this experience. Have you ever met someone who completely changed your outlook on your reasons for doing things? I had one of those experiences the past year. I met a person and had a conversation that shifted my whole thought process. It was not the nicest conversation at times. At times it was beautiful other times it was a painful experience, but it was necessary for me to grow as a person, artistically, mentally, professionally, emotionally. I had been making alot of excuses why I did not do the things that made me happy, and because I had a moment like that, I guess I grew a pair, decided I was going to make my “dream” a thing and threw myself into this project. I will really be excited when it is complete. What I want the world to know most about me and my story is don’t give up what you love… If you love something, and I mean really love it; “Like you cannot wake up and function, you cant not breath without that thing, Don’t let it get away from you, don’t give it up. You will regret it for all of your life. If you have something that lights a fire in you. Let that fire consume you, and burn with it. When you look back on everything, that joy, that memory, will be the one thing that brings you peace.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I love nature, and I live in Hill country so there are a million hidden gems in this area that are fun to go check out. My favorite place to eat, where I live, is this little taco cart that is only open Friday and Saturday nights. There is like a hour wait sometimes but it is delicious. I work at a tattoo shop called 20 Shades tattoo with my business partner Peter Ruiz, who is also a very talented artist. Most nights we are working to promote our business. The cool thing about our shop, is we share a corridor with a barber shop called “On point Barbershop”. It is owned by Jadran and Jason Ramirez.. Jadran let me paint a mural in the hallway outside the entrance, which is pretty cool. But the atmosphere is fun. It kind of turns into its own party every weekend. We are working, cracking jokes, laughing, It is definitely a fun place to work.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
John, my bear, without your love I wouldn’t be here. You save me from myself daily, and you are always there to tell me to keep going. You tell me its okay to be me, whichever personality it out that day lol. My brothers, my protectors, Stevie lui and Edweirdo. My mom, My father, Sofia Jose Robert, My family, Skippy watching over me. Helps me never to forget where I came from. My long list of best friends that are always my biggest cheerleaders. And a little clown’s love of a penguin that never goes away.

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