Every wide-eyed artist dreams about going to New York, LA, or one of the big cultural hubs at some point in their career. But those who do it are often scolded and told horror stories about the flunked out actors and singers on skid row. However, some artists still decide to brave the storm and hop the porch.
The Sunshine State exports as many of these ambitious, young creatives as it imports the elderly. Whether it’s fashion, music, or visual art, there are countless individuals putting on for our state across the time zones. I spoke to four determined artists who have made this journey to learn about their drive, how leaving Florida has changed them, and the relationship between “place” and art.
Emily Miller: Painter
Emily Miller is a painter who was born in St. Petersburg, Florida. Currently, she lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. Emily’s artist’s statement describes her work as “energetic reactions to her experience of womanhood.”
Encapsulating the female form and abstracting it, her painting captures emotion that is just as beautiful as it is unsettling. When asked about her move to New York, Emily praised the Florida art scene but admitted that her new home had more opportunities. She also explained that physical environment has a major influence on her artistry. “Place and space” she went on, “can affect you, and you can harness that into your work if you are aware of it.”
Though St. Pete will always be rooted at her core, Emily’s immersion into the plentiful museums and booming art scene of New York City remains her biggest influence. She continues to find joy after her move as she paints in her personal studio to the tune of old Grimes albums.
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Fashion Model, “Alan,” is another Tampa Bay local who chose Brooklyn as her new creative stomping ground. Creative directing for photoshoots and collaborating with local artists, Alan claims she originally found her artistic voice in Tampa.
“Being around talented and artistic individuals with dreams and aspirations was my happy place, and still is my happy place,” she explained. But moving to New York City was no cake walk as a freelancer. Despite modeling in shoots for brands like Whatever 21 and Fatale Maison, the young creative admits that sending out a portfolio is nerveracking.
In the future, Alan sees herself shooting catalogs and prints for different clothing brands, but still chases the exhilaration of walking for shows. The model knows it will be a long road of putting herself out there and maintaining the energy she needs to succeed, but she is determined and claims that overall, Brooklyn has treated her very well.
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Jenna Summa: Visual Artist
Visual artist, Jenna, made the move from Jacksonville to Chicago in pursuit of finishing her Bachelors of Fine Art. But another huge motivation for her move was that Chicago harbors a significant art scene without the pricey, posh lifestyle of the Big Apple or LA.
Moving also introduced her to more resources for creating. Jenna was primarily a painter in Florida, but now works more in sculptural, textile based art.
“I love that I can spend more time creating and less searching for the tools create,” Jenna told me after explaining how resourceful she had to be in Florida. Though despite not having much exposure to the art world, Jenna said that her upbringing in the Sunshine State made her into the artist she is.
Today, she continues to do what she loves in the city. Painting, creating, and striving to make amazing art in a cozy studio filled with magazine clippings and posters, the artist customizes her space to suit her just as she did with the Windy City itself.
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Vinny Virgo: Music Artist
Vinny is yet another young artist who made an ambitious move, but his was to the City of Angels. The emcee moved from Tampa to Mid City, LA to see what it was like running with the big leagues.
To Vinny, Tampa gave him a feeling of homeliness and camaraderie that the big city lacks, but told me that it was time to prove himself on a larger platform. His latest album, Love is Life. Life is Love, was mainly recorded in Tampa and LA, but some portions were made during the rapper’s trip to Paris.
When I asked about how an artist’s location influences their sound Vinny told me it depends how deep you dive into that specific place. “It’s like,” He continued, “if you move to Atlanta you’ll most likely start trying Atlanta production style with Atlanta producers, but we shouldn’t let location influence us too much. Some artists that do just end up sounding like wherever they are at the moment and never have originality.”
It seems that no matter where Virgo’s promising career takes him he will refuse to let go of his musical roots that are grounded in Florida.
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Throughout these conversations, I noted that each of these young creatives were very in tune with their new environments. None of them seemed to miss a beat during their transitions. Navigating massive cities and serious moves while continuing to find their creative voices was an awe inspiring attribute that each of them had in abundance. These five artists are a small sample of many more who represent our state’s charm within other cities, but proved themselves to be some of the most important.
Do yourself a favor and check out each of these artists online to hear and see their work and to support them as they continue their journeys.