We had the good fortune of connecting with Neal Peterson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Neal, what habits do you feel play an important role in your life?
I have two and they’re best lessons I’ve learned in life (so far): 1. Focus on the present moment. Time is so precious and constantly fleeting. When I am in the “now” I am free to focus on my work without distraction. I don’t want to waste another second dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. Wasted time adds up very quickly and pulls you away from your goals. 2. Gratitude. No matter what my circumstances, I try my best to be grateful for everything I have—big and small. When you give thanks, I believe that positive intention is reciprocated by this strange, spiritual world we exist within. Another way of saying it: when you do good, the Universe recognizes and supports it. I don’t know that I would call these “habits” because I sometimes lose sight of them throughout my day, but my goal is for them to become second-nature.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Every one of my projects is different. I believe the idea for an artwork is more important than what to make it out of. Instead of saying “I want to be a painter” and then try to figure out what to paint, I come up with my idea and decide which medium or material is best for that idea. Right now, I’m best known for my photo collages of cities called “Urban Mandalas”. I travel to iconic cities, shoot hundreds of photos, and digitally compose them into a kaleidoscope-like mosaic. On the surface, it’s a new way to look at a city. On a deeper level, it represents our connections as a people or community. Being an artist is easy to romanticize, but it’s definitely not an easy career. I believe anyone can be an artist—the challenge is finding your unique voice. Every experience you have in life contributes to your unique voice. When people ask me how long it took to create a particular piece, I always respond with my age. A new artwork is essentially the culmination of all your experiences, failures, and successes. If you want to make art, ask yourself: What will my art be about? What medium or materials will I use? What existing talents do I possess that I can integrate into my art? What makes my art different from what already exists? The Universe is designed to evolve and diversify and your art should too. There is no point in copying what already exists. Strive to contribute to the collective knowledge and creative expressive of human history. The best art inspires.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
It may be obvious, or even cliche to some, but there is something unique about Miami Beach. I can’t think of any place in the world like it—the beaches, the architecture, etc.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There are so many people who have inspired me, but there are three “gurus” who’s philosophies I always go back to: Alan Watts, Eckhart Tolle, and Terence McKenna.