There are a lot of undiscovered artists out there right now, and we at The Art Elephant love unearthing these people. Sadly, some of them would rather remain private, and we totally respect that. It took quite some time for us to trace back the whereabouts of an artist we found and loved, named Adam Huerta, who at one point went by the monicker @unknown_x_artist in Instagram (the account has since been changed).

We found him once more, and we asked him a few questions in this exclusive interview. We learned that the things he makes are almost never with him anymore. “Everything I have has already been sold or no longer in my possession,” he confessed. It gives us the impression he really pours his heart into each piece that he does!

TAE: What inspired you to do art? Since when have you been doing them?

AH: I can’t really say I was “inspired” to do art, just something I stumbled upon (initially drawing) and never stopped doing. It has now been 7 years into my art pursuit.

TAE: Are there any artists you look up to or have inspired you in a major way?

AH: Two artists that instantly come to mind, and continue to study daily, are Casey Baugh and Jeremy Lipking. Constantly being influenced and inspired by their works.

TAE: Do you have any future shows, exhibits, or other cool stuff you have coming up any time soon?

AH: I have yet to participate in any show or exhibit although I would jump at the opportunity. Not until recently, in the past 6 months, have I began to show my work via Instagram. Aside from pursuing gallery representation I am always pursuing a better understanding of the fundamentals… Color, light etc that will allow a better display, through my work, of how and what I see.

TAE: Can you tell us something cool about your art and what you do? Any advice to people who want pursue art or to go in a similar direction as you?

AH: I would like to say, to those interested in pursuing the visual arts, that this is one of few things we can be judged by based purely on our abilities and not our background, etc. I myself am not what I seem at first glance, covered in tattoos, etc. Yet, coming from nothing you can achieve or pursue anything with proper knowledge. With that said, my art is purely selfish, a self-portrait if you will. Every piece is a representation of what we choose to see. I see beauty in everything, and you can too if you know where to look.

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We noticed he loves to experiment with different types of media. From charcoal to various types of paints, to mixed media art, Adam Huerta doesn’t fail to impress. The ones we enjoy the most are those from charcoal, as they give a dramatic feel to the artist’s portraits, which are already hauntingly beautiful as they are.

The thing about charcoal paintings and drawings is that you have to be quite meticulous. Depending on the type of charcoal you use (vine, compressed, etc.) the creations may produce different results.

On one hand, vine (usually created from burnt willow wood) easily spreads on your drawing surface and may easily be erased. It usually has lighter markings, and may smudge easily (which may or may not work for you, depending on your style). It comes in a round stick form.

On the other hand, compressed charcoal is darker and is held together by a gum binder. Because of the dark pigmentation, it’s harder to erase and smudge. Again, depending on your style, this may or may not be an advantage. It comes in many forms – round stick, square stick, or pencil.

It takes a lot of practice and patience, and maybe a good eraser or other tools. Kneaded erasers work especially well with charcoal, if you want to fix your mistakes, or you can just shade things darker or smudge them to create a more dramatic effect and lessen the mistake’s obviousness. Another tool you can use is a blending stump which helps smear the charcoal and, well, blend.

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If you want to learn how to do charcoal paintings, buy a few basic tools and go online. Practice, practice, and practice some more. We’re sure Adam didn’t master his art overnight 🙂 For inspiration, you can visit the artist’s Instagram account or send him an email to ask your questions and pay him to do a drawing or two.

NB: Portions of the interview answers have been edited for clarity. All images are owned by the artist.

Thanks for reading!