James Quintanilla's passion for art drove him to form an art club in Los Angeles after graduating from the University of California-Santa Cruz in 2006. He wanted to spend more time with artistic people and, well, create.
He formed Art Persists and, though a small group, they got together once a month and made art. Friends were invited and, slowly, the club expanded, becoming more of an art party.
"It was great, and our fuel became the bad economy," said Quintanilla. "We would strive to teach each other inexpensive ways of making great art. We made it a competition to see who would spend the least."
The club slowly faded, though its founder was still driven by its purpose. "When the club started to die off, I still wanted to create more art and since I started it, it was kind of like my baby, so I continued it," Quintanilla said.
Art Persists became his profession, not just his passion.
"It felt natural to me to make it into a company," Quintanilla said. "It felt like the next step. I also think of Art Persists as a product of the bad economy as opposed to a creation at a bad time. Funding [ the company ] myself, and recycling the profit to create better, more exciting products, makes it an inexpensive way of running a company. I also had a need to work for myself and be my own boss. Its very important to me to know what's going on and not have a third or fourth person give me contradictory stories that make it hard to do my job."
Quintanilla's Art Persists launched its first stylish T-shirt for sale earlier this year, followed by similar version in different colors. To date, Art Persists offers blue, yellow and pink shirts.
"At the moment, I'm the only one involved with Art Persists," Quintanilla said. "My brother, also artsy like myself, sometimes gives me ideas. I think he might become a great artist in the future. I'm hoping, when the company grows, I'll have an employee or a business partner to help me out.
"Although I love creating artsy T-shirts, I ultimately want Art Persists to become a graphic design and marketing company with an artsy edge and a dark sense of humor."
So what gives with the two identical people in/on your logo?
"This also helped me start Art Persists. The meaning of the logo is just: Artsy ( and a little dark ) but mostly artsy," he said. "This story is actually an amazing one. I actually know this person. She is someone very close to me and, no, she does not have two heads. When I made this picture it was a birthday present for her. However, everyone loved it so much I continued to work on it and make it better. The picture was very form fitting because I think this is what her soul actually looks like. She's not a two-faced bitch or anything [ like that ] ; she's just so incredibly smart that most people, including myself, often think she might be psychic or an eccentric genius. It made total sense for me to actually draw her like that. It also made sense for me to make her the face of Art Persists, because to me, genius follows genius."
Now 25, Quintanilla works in Los Angeles as a behavioral therapist. He lives in Long Beach, is gay and has a boyfriend.
Art Persists was well-represented this summer in Copenhagen at the 2009 World Outgames. Several participants wore the shirts, including members of Quintanilla's Long Beach Grunions Swim Team.
"I'm a firm believer in doing things differently," Quintanilla said. "I named my shirts New Skin because people relate to their skin more than their T-shirts, so to speak. I wanted to create a product that people will not only like, but also can relate to like they relate to themselves. I call it the way of the future.
"Art Persists taught me that anything is possible. It's cheesy when you hear this from your parents or teachers, but it's actually true. Anything and everything is possible."
For more information about Art Persists, or to order T-shirts, go to www.artpersists.com ( in the shop section ) or contact Quintanilla at JQ@artpersists.com . The blue shirt is $15; the other two are $40.
More James Quintanilla:
Birthday: July 6, 1984
High school: Lynwood High School ( Lynwood, Calif. )
UCSC degree: BA in psychology. "I love Santa Cruz; it's where I left my heart."
His swimming events at the 2009 World Outgames: The 200 IM, 200 Freestyle, 50 Freestyle, 4x200 Freestyle relay, 4x100 Medley relay and 4x100 Freestyle relay.
Outgames medals: "Although I did very well during the Outgames, I did not win a medal, but was very satisfied with my times."