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Wenarto at home. Photo by Colin Grigson.

I first met Wenarto at our gym last summer and it quickly became apparent that he was a “one man wrecking crew” of creativity. He paints, sings opera on YouTube, cooks, drinks and does Crossfit – and then he gets up and does it all over again. Where most artists have fear their creative output relative to their creative possibilities, or become discouraged by their failure to reach their own artistic goals, Wenarto plows right on through. Wenarto has sold more than 400 paintings in his life. He’s had art work hung all over the world and has become a YouTube opera phenomenon, gathering support from all the corners of the globe. I wanted to find out what made him tick and what makes him so insanely prolific.

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Hi Wenarto. Thank you for taking the time to talk to me about your creative life.

Thank you for trying to capture a glimpse of my life. I would like to also thank my friends and family who have been very supportive, for dancing or singing on my youtube, helping me film, and providing inspiration. They all know that the key point is to have fun while creating art that will make the public feel happy. We never create any depressing paintings or music.

Wenarto walking me through his old picture books. Photo by Colin Grigson.

You are a bit of a “renaissance man” – accomplished in painting, opera, Crossfit, cooking and multiple languages. Did I leave anything out? Where did you get this multi-faceted nature? How did it all begin?

Oh yes, you left out aeronautical/astronautical engineering and international business. I was at Boeing Sales and am now at Boeing engineering. My career at Boeing, however, is low key; obviously very important to my income but, as an artist, I’d rather not let anyone know about this…

Ha, I think you just did!

As far as where I got the nature, I’ve liked trains since I was 3 and started making paper airplanes when I was 5. I’m still making them.

Music came at age 9 and painting started in 1991.

Wenarto's artistic statement. Photo by Colin Grigson.

Was anyone in your family also artistic? Did you have a lot of support for what you were doing?

My parents were teachers: father taught engineering and mom taught art. Later on in their lives they moved to business and manufacturing. My mom pioneered the dry fruits manufacturing process in Indonesia and my dad had a cigarette distribution business. I lived in the island of Bali, where painting, music, dance, and many other art forms are a part of our daily lives. I, however, chose western opera music… just because it’s more dramatic and more intense – like crossfit.

You certainly seem to have an amazing support structure now. Following your facebook stream is like watching someone live a pretty incredible life. How important are your friends to your creative work?

Friends and family are very important to me, even on facebook when I have never met someone in person, they provide virtual support for my art. I have friends from age 15 – 80 on facebook, and I pay attention to all of their works and comments. People say that I am addicted to facebook but I spend my time paying attention to my friends, not because I’m addicted. OK, well maybe 30% is addiction but most of it is dedication to my friends.

How has becoming a YouTube sensation changed your life?

I spend a lot more time studying music and making music at home. I no longer go out spending money to drink. I spend my time at home creating.

Well that much is pretty obvious. When we came over the other night, you had just returned from a trip to Venice and mentioned that you were going to do a painting to commemorate the trip. 2 days later, I look at youtube and you’re singing in front of a brand new painting of Venice, which is gorgeous by the way… Why did you choose to commemorate your trip this way? Are you happy with the results?

Yes. I actually did crossfit at Piazza San Marco. It’s a special place to me, and as you probably saw, my crossfit at that piazza was on Crossfit Seattle’s news section. I put 4 dots on my painting to represents us. I am happy with the results….places I visit inspired me. I also made 24 YouTubes while I was there.

Wenarto's most recent painting - Venice. Photo courtesy of Wenarto.

What drives you to produce the quantity of creative work that you’ve put out there?

When I get creative no one can stop me. I go to crossfit 5 days a week and I used to paint 2 paintings per week. I’m not painting as much but I’m making 3 to 5 music videos a week.

What advice would you give to an artist that has a lot of ideas but not a lot of follow-through in capturing them? What advice can you give somebody looking to get more done creatively?

Just do it. Pour your idea into the canvas or video or any of your media. Do not hold your ideas in and procrastinate. When you feel the right moment, it is the right moment! The challenge is when do you stop putting color on your paintings? When do you stop making video where every notes has to be correct? This is the hard part, you must let it go, finish at the right moment. When? You decide….however, the more you procrastinate, the worse your results will be.

What was the most rewarding creative endeavor you’ve ever been a part of?

Most rewarding? With painting, I’ve been able to get work hung all over the world. In music, many opera lovers and singers can take a break from their serious work and relax to watch my funny creations.

Fish detail by Wenarto. Photo by Colin Grigson.

I guess I was trying to ask, if you had to pick one creative work that you’ve done, whether musical, cooking, artistic or whatever, which one would it be and why? What single artistic breakthrough has brought you the most joy?

So far, for now, my single largest artistic breakthrough for me was to paint “Venice.” I poured my heart, my experience, and feelings into millions of colors in the painting. It is my first big painting, I’ve never painted that big, and I am so proud of it. Looking at it makes me happy that I have captured my music experience, my crossfit experience, and every bit of time I have spent in Venice, into that single painting.

Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me. I really appreciate it…

Oh no, thank YOU…..I am honored to be interviewed by you. I hope I can contribute and inspire others.

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For more Wenarto inspiration, check the following links:

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