Willis is an Inland Empire based visual artist and photographer and has attended the Riverside Artswalk for many years as a consumer and patron, but just in the last three years he has participated as an organizer and participating artist. His background is in art direction for commercial fashion, as well as installation art, and visual display. Willis first moved to the Inland Empire with his family when he was seven years old and lived on the border of Riverside and San Bernardino County. Currently he is focusing on his own artistic practice, connecting nostalgic ideas through a mix of analog and digital means. Willis is also dedicating some quality time to his budding mural career. The ultimate goal with his art career is to be able to create and live while also helping other creatives do the same. There are many talented artists in the area that should be able to sustain a creative life with the skills and talents they have developed and honed.
Willis is inspired to create artwork by the environment around him, an old feeling, a memory, past experiences; both good and bad. He spends as much time as he can creating his artwork, but also makes sure to be mindful not to burn himself out and to make room for self. During his self-time, he gets inspired and takes in inspiration which is the balance and respite from producing art and constant creative output. Willis uses his artistic practice to pay bills, as an escape, to find inspiration for other art disciplines, and it lets him express himself. It also lets him connect and communicate with other creatives. Willis thinks that there is something inherently important about being active in community arts. He believes that whether it is connecting with other creatives, seeing art shows and exhibitions, and even buying/selling - being actively engaged in the arts helps the ecosystem and helps art and commerce thrive. I think a component of helping other creatives not only build a skill set but learn about how to sustain a creative lifestyle is very important, and Riverside Artswalk is just one of the many events that help artists connect, learn and thrive as career artists.
Willis has shown his work at the Artlands, Eastside Arthouse, Alleyes Gallery, Pain Sugar Gallery, Gramercy Gallery, the Riverside Art Museum and Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art & Culture. He is also very involved in the local art communities and organizations. He is currently on the board for the Artlands Creative, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Redlands and is also Director of Communications for Arts Connection, the Arts Council of San Bernardino County. In his spare time, if he can find any, he likes to spend it in nature and the outdoors and if he comes across a food pop up, street vendor or food truck, he’ll definitely give it a try. Willis hopes to figure out the puzzle of being able to live and sustain a creative/artist life, and wants to share his experiences with other creatives, so they too can live and sustain a creative life.