A candid conversation with Alex Cargo about the precariousness of social media and about the influence of art in his life.
Alex is a 22 year old creative born in San Antonio but currently located in Moore. He identifies as queer and works daily to use his own happiness to make others happy.
j: when did you start doing art?
a: when I was younger I wanted to do more traditionally masculine subjects, you know like math and science and I completely shut myself off from anything related to art. As I got older it was kinda like hey I like this and I kept doing it. Then when I had nothing to do and I was just home all the time I started taking home cardboard boxes from Starbucks and would just paint in my garage with the super cheap shitty walmart tempura paint. It turned into my therapy and expression.
j: when did you decide that you wanted to start selling your art?
a: i was really uh, insecure about it and i didn’t think it was good enough to sell and actually, i was selling them for like ten dollars and he (John, Alex's current roommate and good friend) was like WHAT NO its worth like 100000 dollars. I finally started having a couple of pieces that people were like wow this is really good and i started getting more confident in it and i wanted to progress myself you know, I was tired of just being a fucking bartender, even though i make pretty good money as a bartender but the reason love bartending is because I'm getting paid for my abilities. If I'm a sever and being a shitty server i get shitty tips but if I'm a good server I get good tips and it was kind of like that with art, and i kind of wanted it to be something that i was getting paid for who it was. I just don’t want to be poor and i don’t want to sell my body so why wouldn’t i sell my soul? I just feel… like all i want to do is make people happy and if my art makes people happy then I WANT them to have it. i kinda am bad about selling my art too cheap but thats mostly because I want everyone to afford it. I want my art to be out there, if no one can afford it no one is going to buy it. If it's cheap then they’ll get to have it and have that love on their wall. I probably have 20-30 pieces out there in the world so far. it’s just insane to me because I went from painting in my garage on cardboard to sharpie on canvas to legitimate acrylic and watercolor.
j: so what aside from painting do you want to do,
Me and my friends do a little video, I’ve been letting people take pictures of me even though I'm super fucking awkward, and been trying to make videos of my life and who we are just trying to put a smile on peoples face. I haven’t really been too much into photography bu the sky is so beautiful so we’ve been documenting the sky a lot been doing one landscape photography I guess. I write a lot, journal a lot and i’ve always been doing poetry. OKC used do like a poetry circuit. For a second i tried my hand at stand up comedy but turns out being drunk and just being a normal guy in normal life doesn’t actually make you a stand up comedian. But I love poetry and slam poetry so much. I like to do this weird genre called slam rap. It has a cadence kind of like rap but it’s slam poetry.
j: do you think the internet changes your art
a: yeah, me and indie were talking about this photoshoot I just did in Tulsa, and people went wild over those pictures and then I posted some of my art right after that and my art didn’t get hardly any likes but the stupid barbie and ken pictures got like 500. I guess I was talking about it out loud and subconsciously I went and posted more of those photos and indie was like woah woah wait I understand needing to keep face on the internet so you can keep up your appearance but you don’t need to change who you are like that photoshoot wasn’t really me, it was just the photographers style so thats what we did, I had never met that photographer or that girl and indie was like you can get famous but you don’t need to change what you want to post.
I would say the internet does change it a little bit because you do have to consider your audience. I know that most of my audience are kids just like me that don’t have any money but I'm definitely hitting my audience I have to think about what I post, if I post too much of my art stuff people will literally unfollow me, so I have to post a ratio of art to face shit. If my face isn’t in it people don’t want it. I’m also not going to post the same thing on instagram that I'm going to post of facebook.
When I was a hardcore lesbian I had a ton more followers than what I have now (j: but isn’t that the price you pay now you feel better you feel more like yourself?) yes of course and now I know my audience is mainly trans people but that’s not really a big part of my life anymore i don’t really talk about it anymore.
j: so i already asked you when you started art, and I asked you what you want to do aside from art..
a: nothing... all I want to do it art
j: what do you want to do long term, like as a career?
a: I don't know, I'm not really like super good at anything, I'm pretty good at everything I've ever tried, except for basketball. And like, it's frustrating because I can keep up, but I can't really be the best, you know? So it's really frustrating to like, what do I want to do? Like what do I want to do? Because even with art sometimes I'm like.. Fuck this, like fuck this for real. So I don't know. But I know that I'm a happy person and people draw happiness just from me existing and not everyone is like that. I really feel like what better to do than make people happy. So whenever I figure out how to do that (as a job) I'm going to do that. I've thought about Youtube, but I'm super awkward behind a camera.
I just like it terrifies me, because I want to be authentic. But like, when I started transitioning and started going on my happiness revolution my followers like plummeted. It was like every time I would post something about being happy. I just don't know, and I'm scared to do it, so I just don't know. So I'm just floating right now.
j: do you think that people who have a lot of emotion make better art, or can make better art than people who don't have a lot of emotions
a: I think everyone has a lot of emotions. I think just over time it's about how you start reacting to facing those. If you react wrong every time you'll be numb and low frequency. When you start denying your feelings, like what I did with art when I was like no fuck that why would I even try, I wasn't creating good art because I wasn't accepting my emotions or the idea that I could make good art. I think people that can find the zen in art do make better art because that's how they're meditating and getting it all out. They're not building walls and stepping on peoples necks.
j: do you think social media is more detrimental than good?
a: yes, only because one of biggest things of why I haven't put myself out there is because whatever I might post might make someone feel great but as soon as that greatness wears off they immediately start comparing themself to me and it actually makes them feel worse. And it makes me feel really insecure because I see the way people react to me and it makes me want to hide because I don't want to make them to feel worse.
You can keep up with Alex on instagram @happyboyalexx
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