name: m. tony peralta

occupation: artist

age you feel: around 32-35


GGNYC: how did you get into being an artist?

TP: i think i've been an artist all my life... i started the peralta project 10 years ago, but the start of it all was drawing. drawing is my gift, and at some point i said to myself that this was my purpose in life. so i went full steam ahead with it. i always say art saved me, because growing up in uptown (nyc) at the time that i was a kid-- art is the thing that kept me away from trouble. i knew that drawing was what made me special as i was not the best academic student. so from elementary to junior high school i took classes that helped me honed those artistic skills. i didn't finish high school, but eventually i did make it to college. art has always been the thing that kept me moving

GGNYC: did you have one defining moment that tipped the scale for you in regards to knowing that art would be your future

TP: it would probably be the complejo exhibit i did in 2011. it was in a gallery in my neighborhood of washington heights. the opening night was a full house, you saw young and old and people that don't go to art galleries. people were coming up to me telling me "i don't understand art, but i love your work"-- that was probably one of the most defining moments for me. seeing how young people react to my work is just a reminder that this is my calling. there's a lot of highs and lows in being an artist and fully pursuing your passion... so these kids, they are reminders of why i'm doing this

GGNYC: if you could collaborate with any brand which would it be

TP: a cafe bustelo would be dope, they had this pop up coffee shop and it would have been great if my art work was in there. i would love to work with presidente too because it's such a staple in dominican culture-- and by the way, it's much more mainstream now, so brands like that would be great. i'd also be up for a campaign with like say... nike {laughs}

GGNYC: how do you differentiate yourself from other artists in your field 

TP: i'm carving my own niche... and i don't want to sound like i'm full of shit, but the truth is that i am inspiring other people to do what i'm doing. before my artwork was very socially conscious, where it dealt with racism and police brutally... then i switched it up and started to do more culturally relevant work, i researched to make sure and see if the ideas that i had were already being done; and nothing came up. so, i started to carve my own lane and now i see a lot of people doing exactly what i've been doing... so to answer your question, how i differentiate myself is by offering original work that does not exist elsewhere that represents our culture... the latino and latino american culture

GGNYC: where do you draw inspiration from

TP: my experience ... my childhood. i try very hard not to do random things, i might get random here and there, but the majority of the time i think of when i was growing up. and when i was coming up as a kid i got a good dose of new york culture, of good immigrant latino culture. i have a lot of dominican and american references just from the type of tv shows i watched at home as a kid

GGNYC: obviously dominican culture is prominent in your work, how do you feel people outside of that culture relate to that

TP: well dominicans are trending, 20 years ago no one knew what a dominican was. i know that first hand. i remember people would just think you were puerto rican. so there's things about our culture that stick out that other latino cultures know what they are. things like the popularity of a romeo and aventura, those are important factors in dominicanism going mainstream-- and it helps me

GGNYC: what's next for the peralta project

TP: i just want to keep doing what i'm doing... i would love to show at art basel. have my art work sell more. the demographic that follows me doesn't really buy art, or can't afford the prices. it's a catch 22. so i want to expand more on both sides, for my current fan base and for those who do collect art. i'm very conscious of the products that i put out, some are dominican references some are not... a lot are new york centric. i just want to continue to produce things with a great aesthetic that people can relate to


GGNYC: what's one of your favorite items in your closet

TP: okay, i'll have to tell you two... at the moment is this leather jacket that i am wearing. because it's fly {laughs}... the other would be de la soul high and low dunks. de la soul is my favorite group of all time so when that dropped i had to get them, but even more so because i think design wise they are one of the best that nike has ever dropped

GGNYC: there's a fire in your apartment, what do you save

TP: my laptop! {laughs} if i'm forced to grab clothes, it would be black jeans, this leather jacket and not the de la soul dunks-- i know, surprise surprise... it would be the jordan 1s 

GGNYC: describe your style in one word

TP: uniform

GGNYC: based on fashion, which era would you have liked to be a part of in the last 100 years

TP: the 30s-40s ... if you look at fashion in new york, people of color-- especially in harlem were just ill with what they wore, they were always classy 

GGNYC: ok! lets switch up the questions... tell us about your first kiss

TP: you know what, i was a very fresh little boy so it was probably when i was five years old {laughs}

GGNYC: the last time you were crazy about a girl was because of her ____

TP:  free spirit

GGNYC: favorite thing your mom cooked growing up

TP: arroz, pollo frito con maduro {rice, fried chiken and sweet plantains}

GGNYC: what are the top 4 apps on your phone

TP: instagram, shopify - which tells me when people are buying things. my podcast app... i listen to the read, combat jack, brilliant idiots and guys we fcked... my last app would be a photo one

GGNYC: who's your favorite person to follow on social media

TP: that's a good one, i'd say swizz beatz. he's a very important person for artists right now

GGNYC: your boys are roasting you on your birthday what are some of the things they make fun of you for

TP: i'm not your typical guy, i dont watch sports... so it would be a roast on the things that i watch... like love and hip hop- which i know is crappy tv {laughs}... romantic comedies... anything to do with sensitivity and feelings

GGNYC: give us four of your favorite songs old or new

TP: i'm currently obsessed with erykah badu's new mixtape! the other three are travis scott's anecdote, justin bieber's what do you mean and a classic song by the the doobie brothers -what a fool believes


GGNYC: tell us one of your favorite memories as a kid

TP: my friends and i practicing breakdancing in the hallway of our building... or taking turns spinning records at each others houses. my brother was a dj so we had actual dj equipment. i also remember going to these parties they used to throw under the george washington bridge... or just basement parties. i have very fond memories of when i was a kid

GGNYC: tell us about the first time you were in love

TP: i was just talking about this. the first time i was in love was with a black girl who was 24 and in college, at the time i was 18. that might not seem like a large age gap but it was. spike lee had this store in fort greene and he used to do these block parties. so one time i was at this party with all my friends, i had my little curly afro and this girl comes up to me and just grabs my hair... man that girl turned me out! and no lie, when she broke up with me i listened to sade lovers deluxe and toni braxton's album for a year... i was so fucked 

GGNYC: tell us about the first time you broke a girls heart

TP: i had this girlfriend in seventh grade, we lost our virginities to each other. so the thing with this girl was that my friend was going out with her girl friend, and it was a stupid kid thing where it's like let me go out with her because my boy goes with her girl. so we lose our v-cards in the summer, school ends and she leaves to dominican republic for summer vacation. when school starts back up in september, i tell a different guy friend of mine to call her and to break up with her for me... she was devastated

GGNYC: what advice would you give your 24 year old daughter in regards to men

TP: so much advice to give... i would tell her not to take any guy seriously at that age. men are going to say whatever it takes to get into your pants at that age and hopefully i can train my daughter to be a little tough, a little stone cold about it. don't get too emotionally involved, which i know is hard to do... but really just enjoy your twenties

GGNYC: what scares the shit out of you

TP: going back to work for somebody on a 9 to 5 

GGNYC: what do you want your life legacy to be

TP: somebody who always thought of great ideas and executed on them

GGNYC: life is____

TP: a fucking trip

GGNYC: new york is _____

TP: never the same

GGNYC: the women in my life are____

TP:  awesome

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Yari BlancoComment