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Q&A with my Creative Hero

Is it just me or has April flown by? In any case, with one more week left to celebrate creativity, I wanted to introduce you to someone who is not only a legit artist, but more importantly, a true embodiment of what I call creative living. He also happens to be my bro-in-law and one of my favorite people on the planet.

From a professional standpoint, Leonardo Diaz is a badass. He is the National Director of Design at one of the largest Architecture firms in the country and has worked on hundreds of cool buildings (including the practice facility for the 76ers in Philly). But let me be clear, it’s not his impressive resume I find inspiring, it’s his unyielding commitment to living a rich, colorful, experience-full and savory life that draws so many people (including me) to him.

Leo, or as my mom who loves the diminutive form of everything has nicknamed him, Leito, has the most infectious laugh…which comically gets more high-pitched by the minute. He makes travel and delight a top priority (no weekend is too short for a quick trip to Paris, right?), feels as comfortable on a horseback as he does in a tuxedo (the man loves his shiny shoes), speaks completely unfiltered at all times regardless of his audience, and wholeheartedly believes that at 50, his adventures in life are just beginning. I have had both the deepest and silliest conversations with Leo, who gets as excited about a new exhibit at the MOMA as to play a round of Cards Against Humanity (you have no idea how high-pitched the laugh got the first time I introduced him to this game!) Oh, and he also creates really beautiful art in his spare time, nbd.

I sat down with my quirky friend last week and asked him a little bit about his creative process hoping some of his creative pixie dust might land on me, and here’s what he had to say:

1. What inspires your work?

I am inspired by light, form, and color in nature. I believe that the simplest forms, those forms that we see gain and again, are themselves manifestations of something much bigger than us. These objects fascinate our eyes and our minds, and inspire us to create.

2. What is your creative process like?
My creative process is always incomplete. It has multiple paths, somewhat like a labyrinth. it is peppered with discovery and continual search, and I venture to discover what has not existed before and what it could be…,. it is the search to discover the intangible in that which is tangible. 
I rely in my intuitive power, which derives its force from memories, imagery and collages of emotion. 
3. What is your favorite medium (pastel, watercolor, pencil, etc) 
For thinking –  pen and ink; for expression – water color and oil pastels .
4. When did you start drawing? 
I have been drawing with ink since I was a teenager. I started to work with pastels when I lost my pen, traveling in Italy.
5. Who are your artistic role models?
Isamu Noguchi , Richard Diebenkorn, Paul Klee
6. Why do you create? What do you want to share with the world through your art?
I see the act of drawing as a direct link to our desire to understand the universe and find meaning to our existence. It is through the process of drawings that we can begin to understand how each of us sees the world which defines our life experiences. Drawing is an act of creating, a way to express oneself, ones personality, and most importantly a way to carve memories in space.
7. Do you ever feel blocked creatively, and how do you get out of that funk?
Pencils down, go enjoy life, come back to it fresh.
8. Do you consider art to be therapeutic? How has it helped you in your personal life? 
For me, art is more than therapeutic. It is essential. 
9. How would you define creative living? 
As is the feeling of being alive. 
10. Which of your pieces is your favorite and why?
See below. It captures the essence of the moment rather than an attempt to capture a reality.
Leo art

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