Tag Archives: Racquel Cruz

Career Snapshot: Framing Shadowman

IMG_8443-2In the not-too distant past, Artist Square’s Racquel Cruz was able to shine light on one of Orlando’s art scene icon, Richard Diaz. Through his words and works, a dominant theme of passion, trust, and eyeing beyond the overlooked define success.

The following interview exposes, in print and digital form, a non-filtered and wide-angled view as Richard Diaz, known in the world of photography as “Shadowman,” responds to:

Richard, explain to our WONO audience a bit about your alter-ego and your favorite photography styles and techniques.

I chose the name “Shadowman” because of a self-portrait I took of my own shadow. Reared from the beautiful island of Puerto Rico, my childhood was spent throughout beautiful landscape, mountains, and wildlife. It was during this time that I developed an eye to see beyond land, and I hope my style represents that vision.

When I traveled to the capital, San Juan, to visit my grandfather, I would spend hours in his dark room that he used to develop his work. I have good memories of those special days, watching my dad experimenting with new equipment and developing techniques. He also used me as a model for portraits. I believe these early childhood experiences offered me the inspiration to become a photographer.

Photography runs in my family; from my grandfather, who designed the photography curriculum for the University Of Puerto Rico, my father, a dedicated photographer, and now me. I’m studying photography in one of the oldest photography schools in America, The New York Institute of Photography. I have a passion for  photography, especially wildlife. As an outdoor guy, I love to capture nature and wildlife in its essence, as God created, so you can also enjoy it.

As for my styles, I consider myself an eclectic photographer. I love to experiment on each photo, letting my creativity loose to compose a frame. Some people say that my best photography styles are minimalist photography and portraiture. Some of my best photos are from simple things.

I find a great deal of personal satisfaction capturing those things we take for granted and overlook. I also love to photograph people, to capture their essence and allowing the soul to be exposed.

Capturing the person’s character is the most challenging task of a portraiture photographer. On another personal level, I love shooing portraits in black
and white.

I use a wide array of techniques, from black and white to HDR, falling in surrealism. I like capturing the beauty of morning dew on a leaf, a tiny speck of color on a dark background, shapes, and creating masterpieces.

What can you tell you that makes you unique from other photographers?

I am a firm believer that a good photo comes from the passion for simplicity and the composition of the frame that you create before one shoots. I always said that a good photographer is not measured by the equipment that he uses, but by the ability to compose a great picture from scratch.

As an old school photographer, I compose my pictures in my head, and then I shoot. I don’t depend on computer software to do that part, but to enhance what I just created.

I see beauty in the simplest things around me. I do not have to travel far, or visit famous places in order to create a photo worth a thousand words. In the eye of the beholder, my pictures capture the essence of the subject in my thoughts, and transfer the unimaginable to a real, visible canvas.

Thank you Richard for opening a lens into your world while offering an inspiration for those interested in pursuing photography and art.

For a closer look, you can view more of Shadowman’s artwork here:

Tracing the local art scene while encouraging individual and community involvement, I am
Racquel Cruz, Founder of Artists-Square http://www.artists-square.com.

Career Breakout: Artist Dyanne Parker Leads

Artist’s Square member and respected artist Dyanne Parker shares professional insight regarding inspiration and the process of capturing and expressing new ideas.

How does an artist stay inspired and get new ideas?”

Inspiration is a 24/7 thought process.

I’ve read many excerpts on this subject and have been amazed at how many self-proclaimed stumped artists there are in the world. Regarding a strict time table, sometimes it takes days or longer too actually come up with an idea that you think will amaze the world. That is, if amazing the world is what you are looking to do.

In all honesty, an artist never really knows what will amaze the world or even speak to a potential client. It is not uncommon to work on a project for a long period of time and think, oh yeah, this one will get attention. Unfortunately getting noticed may take a “long” time, if ever at all. Then again, there have been times where I randomly painted a subject, posted it online, and sold the creation on the same day.

New and fascinating ideas are everywhere.

My professional advice is to paint everything. I’ve also heard many professionals state than an artist should find their own style so that they are known and recognized for their own work. Problem is, the only way you find your passion of what and how to paint or create in any field is just do it, borrowing a phrase from Nike.

Discover beauty and paint everything. When you need inspiration, find a subject as small as an item you have around the house and paint it. Who knows, perhaps the crumb will evolve into a bold cake… in other words, even the tiniest seed can cultivate into a revolutionary position.

Again, paint everything.

As with any passion (no matter the career you find yourself in), get out of your comfort zone and discover new techniques, colors, and effects. If, during the process of painting, you become stumped or truly frustrated, take a breather and simply walk away. I have found it helpful to put work in a different light or sometimes even put it away.

Research current trends but always stay true to your heart and definitely don’t try to be someone else.

Walk, sing, shop, or even clean and see what thoughts come to you. The time away from the chore or stress may do wonders for your psychological health (and those around you).

Here’s a proven rule: For many, inspiration comes while performing the most mundane task. As we all know, great ideas come in the shower, so take a shower. Still stumped? It’s okay, just don’t stop creating.

Finally remember, even if you don’t feel that great inspiration that makes you want to jump out of bed to start your piece of work, you know that you absolutely love to paint, sing, write music, or engage in other forms of creative endeavors. If you have the passion, you WILL create. Just do it!

For those interested in seeing more of Dyanne’s artwork on Artist’s Square, take a look at:

Submitted by Dyanne Parker, Artist
Owner/Found Canvas and Cheers, Inc.

Thank you Dyanne for your helpful insight. For the artist eyeing to network with fellow peers and professionals, check out (and become a member) http://artists-square.com.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
Got Twitter? Follow me @DannyatECS

Digital Painting: Career or Play?

Artist’s Square member Candy Buckley, “Saja” recently responded to one our reader’s inquiry dealing with graphic design. Her insight is not only informative, it is inspiring. For those interested in viewing more of Saja’s work, visit http://artists-square.com/m/photos/browse/album/Photography/owner/Saja.

What is digital painting?

Saja: Digital painting is an emerging art form and is becoming more and more popular among new and seasoned artists alike. The paintings are created through a computer using tools such as a digitizing tablet, mouse or stylus, and software.

Like traditional painting, there are various painting tools: canvases, paint type options, textures, mixing palettes, a very large variety of color options, along with different types of brushes, knives and other frequently used painting instruments. Most programs also have a feature which allows the artist to create their own brush style, which is accomplished by using a combination of textures and brush shapes. This enables you to add a personal touch and flare that is found in real life painting.

To me, one of the most appealing things about digital painting programs/software is the way that it mimics a real life painting environment while allowing the artist to create in a mess-free and more cost efficient setting.

Do you consider this true art? If so, why?

Saja: I consider digital painting a “true” art form, and I personally use this medium quite often and with very good results, they are also quite fun to work with. The reason that I do consider this true art is because, in my opinion, anything that one creates with the intension of self-expression can be considered art.

Digital painting programs are simply another “tool.” Not only are these programs being used by individual artists who work and sell their art independently, but this medium thrives in production art, and is widely used in conceptual design for films, television, and in video game production.

Thanks Saja for defining this new form of art expression. From all accounts, digital painting is an up and coming career move that allows for an eclectic creative license.

Thank you Racquel for providing one of the most organic and passionate forums for creative minds to meet: Artists-Square.com; for those interested in learning more or would like to submit questions for one of our expert panels to respond to, we are ready. For those not part of Artist’s Square, join and share your thoughts on a global stage.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
Got Twitter? Follow me @DannyatECS

Actor Jen Jarackas’ Career Straight Talk

Orlando City Beautiful is home to many actors, artists, and entertainers. Recently one of our readers requested information about breaking into the entertainment business. As a result, one of the most talented actors calling Orlando home was given the task of responding to Etta Steven’s question:

What professional advice would you give someone looking to break into the entertainment business?”

Artists Square’s member, professional actor, and teacher Jen Jarackas offers first-hand advice to those aspiring professionals looking to succeed in the entertainment business.

The first words that come to mind when asked this question are: fierce determination and tireless perseverance.

Pursuing a career in the entertainment industry is not necessarily an easy feat; though it can be a very fun and rewarding one, IF you dare to allow yourself to enjoy the journey.

First and foremost, remember you are entering the Entertainment Business. (Emphasis on business)

I witnessed a lot of actors throughout my journey put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into the creative side, the craft, but neglect the business, which involves a lot of marketing, networking, admin, etc….To a lot of creative, artistic people, it seems that business is a dirty word….nonetheless, a business it is.

So, the best thing to do is jump on in, become the CEO of your own business, YOU! Find ways to make it fun! Get creative!

Yes, find agent representation; yes, work with a personal manager, keeping in mind that you are also interviewing them. Know something about them and what type of clients they are presently representing… perhaps they already have enough of “you” in their database…

Career Tip: Be an active participant in your career.

My main career advice is of the spiritual vein:

Never Give Up! Trust your intuition. Listen to your gut. Be willing to make mistakes. Be willing to go the extra mile. Ask questions. Find your own path – and follow it. Follow your own uniquely paved yellow brick road.

Ways to Improve Your Skills…

  • Study, study, study! As an actor you have 3 components to explore, strengthen, and nurture: physical, vocal, and emotional.
  • Take as many classes and workshops as you can. You are simultaneously learning      and networking.
  • Read plays, film and television scripts, actors’ biographies – research anything and everything on acting!
  • Watch movies, new and old, especially the old. There is an element and style to filmmaking and acting from the “ole” days” that cannot be touched…and usually isn’t nowadays. I have learned so much by simply watching Marlon Brando and Humphrey Bogart!
  • Audition for local plays, volunteer at local playhouses and the Fringe Festival, etc. Again, it’s another way to get involved and network.
  • Practice Discipline. Feed Your Passion. And remember to balance it all with some      time for you, whether that be family, beach, a day at the spa, etc. A rested and recharged you makes for a more productive and successful actor!

Career Tip: There’s a lot of rejection along the way. It’s good and important to develop your support circle(s).

Thank you, Jen, for your practical insight. For those unfamiliar with Jen’s work, here’s a quick summary:


  • Emotional Freedom and Monologue Workout Workshops ~ Art’s Sake Studio/Instructor
  • Advanced Auxiliary ~ Art’s Sake Studio/Instructor


  • “Just Left of the Drama” ~ Jen ~ Hnarakis Prod./Dir. Demetrius Hnarakis
  • “The Paper Route” ~ Hostage ~ Stars North Prod./Dir. Todd Thompson
  • “As It Is” ~ Femme” ~ AFI Prod./Dir. Ka Ramuu Kush


  • “Angel of Death: Aileen Wuornos” ~ UFTProd./Dir. Simon Kerfoot
  • “Mad Men” Seasons 1-3 ~ Sterling Cooper Secretary (recurring) ~ LionsGate Television/Dir. Alan Taylor, et al.


  • “Our Lady of 121st St” ~ Marcia ~ Hollywood fight Club/Dir. David Danino
  • “The Crucible” ~ Elizabeth Proctor ~ VCC/Dir. John DiDonna
  • “The Battle” ~ Crazy Anne ~ ATW Theatre Co. NYC/Dir. Jim Bonney

For additional information and to view Jen’s headshot, connect with the following link:

Wishing to connect with fellow actors, entertainers, artists, and creative minds, become an Artist’s Square member at http://www.artists-square.com.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
Got Twitter? Follow me @DannyatECS

Career Breakout: Artistic Representation and the Sell

Though on the surface the resemblance may be unclear, the connection tying the selling of art is directly related to career management. Professional relationships between buyer and seller or employer and employee, involves a great number of factors. What happens when disconnects occur, morphing positives into negatives?

Artists Square’s member Rhonda Newhook expands on the concept of undesirable persuasion in artistic transactions by responding to the following questions asked by a member of our audience.

“As an artist, is it easy to deter someone from buying a painting that they love by your actions or words? If so, how do you think an artist should represent themselves or their work?”

Persuasion in Transactions

As an artist who paints not just for herself, but to share her inner visions with the world, the necessity of actually selling my work has become an experience which brings a commingled sense of joy and tension.

On the one hand, I find myself thrilled that this person whom I have never met is interested in actually paying money for the privilege of owning the fruits of my brush. On the other, I have come to realize that I cannot help but ponder upon the reasons why they are desirous of the purchase in the first place, and by extension, wrestle mentally with the possibility that I might not approve of their intentions towards my work once it becomes their property.

Career Tip: Accepting a job offer means accepting the corporate culture, attitudes, ethics, and intentions. In other words, make sure you don’t join a team that goes against your moral and ethical principles.

Perhaps I am not being too clear upon my meaning here. You may be wondering ‘how does one have undesirable intentions towards a piece of art?’ It would seem a valid question, and it comes with an answer which is only fully understandable when it is your own creation to which the price tag is attached.

Imagine pouring your heart and soul upon a canvas to create a vision of which you are proud to offer for sale, and when a serious buyer offers up the desired amount you are told the painting was intended to serve as an art-class example of what a painting ‘should not be’. Or worse yet, they want to add their own “finishing touches” to your completed work. I have seen both happen, but not to me personally.

Insulting to think of, is it not? What would you do in such a situation? I know what I do. I call it negative persuasion.

Career Tip
: Working environment plays a huge factor in your psychological state; in order to increase job satisfaction, ensure mutual respect is part of the environment.

Negative persuasion is a technique I use in order to talk a potential buyer out of a potential purchase of my art.  I do this when I do not feel right about letting that particular person obtain a small shard of my soul in the form of my art. Maybe I feel uncomfortable about their intentions toward the piece, (as aforementioned), or sometimes even when I just get a negative vibe from their personality and judge that they are not worthy of my work, regardless of any offered remuneration.  Negative persuasion is my saving grace when their money cannot purchase my peace of mind.

Career Tip: If you feel an intense sense of negativism during interviews, you may want to reconsider the desire to be part of the company; after all, rough estimates claim that over 75% of all employees are not satisfied with their current job… if possible, prevent yourself from being in that number.

When it comes to selling art, the process of not accepting the offer is both simple and difficult to teach and employ. In essence, you are changing their mind, or ‘talking them out of it’. How you do this, though, will by necessity be different in each arising case. Sometimes it is easy, sometimes it is very difficult.

The trick is to not make your desire to change their mind too obvious. To do it well, you must make them think that it was they themselves, and not you, who changed their minds about the purchase. I guess that the easiest way to explain it is that negative persuasion is an art unto itself, and like any incarnation of art, it must be practiced to be mastered.

Career Tip: Don’t burn potential bridges by being rude or discourteous. If offered a position you don’t want to accept, reply with a professional letter informing the hiring manager of your decision. Doing nothing at all or ignoring an offer may come back to haunt during your job search.

Submitted by: Artist’s Square Member Rhonda Newhook. View her work at:

Thank you Rhonda for your helpful insight.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
Got Twitter? Follow me @DannyatECS

Career Breakout: Artist Agora

Throughout our Career Breakout series, career professionals from across the country offered to take the reins now and then, sharing their career expertise and diverse background for your benefit.

As today’s question comes from a fellow artist, I asked the founder and CEO of Artist’s Square (www.artists-square.com), Racquel Cruz, to frame a response onto this canvas for everyone’s benefit.

“Being an artist, I am finding it difficult to secure employment. Is there a virtual gathering site for artists to share and explore in the Greater Central Florida area?”

Yes, there is a virtual gathering site for artists to share and explore artwork in the Greater Central Florida area.  In fact, Central Florida is the native location of an online social networking site for artists, called Artist’s Square.

The site was based on the idea of online technology, mixed with the concept of creating an ancient Greek agora, known as a “meeting place” or “marketplace.” Just as the ancient Greek agora, it is a gathering place for artists and people who love art.

Not only does the site provide local tools and resources for artists, but, Like WONO, its heart and purpose is connection, affording artists career opportunities as well as career guidance designed specifically for this unique group. Thinking Artist’s Square is just for the locals? Think again. The site extends its services for artists and art lovers internationally and globally.

Career tip 1: Artists looking for opportunities can take advantage of a social/career network.

As an artist you will have the opportunity to create a free profile, submit ARTicles, add your own blog, and this is just the beginning. Even physical art galleries can add their locations (tied with Google maps) and update images for exposure.

The site certainly cannot make an individual dedicate themselves to their dreams, but with its available resources and technology, it can create better opportunity for an individual. It can also change negative statistics for employment, hobby, and artwork all around the world.

Take a look at the site and let us know your thoughts. I know how difficult and struggling finding work is, especially for an artist. Artist’s Square is dedicated to encouraging, assisting, and partnering with you as your journey blazes new trails. Together, with West Orlando News, we will give fellow artists the tools they need to succeed.

Career tip 2: Passion and dedication will take your dreams as far you want to go.

Thanks Racquel, the road to artistic freedom and expression is becoming more accessible. Being a fellow artist, I am also an artist’s square member.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
Got Twitter? Follow me @DannyatECS