Meet Steve Cortes: a versatile and talented contemporary artist from Hawaii, who’s work has been described as both striking and unconventional. Steve’s work, no matter what medium he chooses, can only be described as nothing short of sheer originality and authenticity. Rare is the artist who can pierce the veil between art and life, yet maintain a connectedness to those around him. His art is all about the constant strive for originality, creativity, and expression. He is a transformational artist who does not fear exploration and innovation. He constantly is mixing up her style and experimenting with his craft: from paint to spray paint, to mixed media collage or printing out his photographs, which he captures with his Iphone Five. Steve’s exceptional approach to art, with his interesting choice of materials and style, is a pleasure to observe. He is an artist who does not fear change or modernism. He understands how to pay great attention to detail when it comes to creating art, including its underlying meanings and purpose. He has a full mind of ideas and self-expressions, which is inspiring and up-lifting. He is an artist in every sense of the word and is extremely driven and motivated to push limits and boundaries in the fine-art field.

For the past few years, Cortes was working in for SprATX, a collective of over 20 established artists in Austin, Texas. As a family of street artists, muralists and creative energies, they dedicate their talents to increasing awareness of the positive power of street art and generating economic opportunities for artists. Since 2013, SprATX has become the go-to resource that connects art enthusiast and organizations that need professional and experienced talent to artists within the street art scene both locally and abroad. Steve Cortez did the marketing and development for the art collective and in doing so, became an expert in the graffiti and street art world, where he learned how to manage and market other artists. Steve represents the acclaimed fine-artist, Eddy Bogaert, among other great artists and musicians. 

Now, Steve has also added on to the mix by focusing on his own fine-art career by participating in major shows in Florida, including Art Basel and Art Palm Beach International, which just celebrated its twentieth year. Cortes described the experience as being both humbling and thrilling. There he was in Miami, first as an artist manager and then realizing that he wanted to do more than just the “behind the scenes” stuff, which he was getting over quickly. He soon realized that he wanted to be the artist, himself and have his own creativity to be showcased. Hearing people react to his art gave him a confidence booster because otherwise he felt like a ‘nobody,’ just taking some pictures in Hawaii. Being behind the scenes for all these years though, was how he started learning the business and the industry but all of the sudden he realized that he wanted to be a fine-artist, himself. Steve explained this realization of wanting to take his art seriously and compared it to playing guitar: he just does it for fun, whether other people think he’s good at it or not, it doesn’t matter. He doesn’t do things to be popular, it’s not a popularity contest for him.

“My art is mainly about the ocean: it’s my biggest inspiration. This is why I moved to Hawaii, because I am an avid surfer. While I was there, I took countless pictures of its nature and its beauty. Now I am printing out those images and painting over them with different mediums and creating things that are true to me. My first love is the sea and I express that through my art. My inspirations for my art come from Hawaii, the ocean, surfing and street art: all of these things are influences, even my friend, Eddy Bogaert is an influence. I want people to experience my vision of the world in Hawaii. I remember it was 1998, I was in middle school and it was the first time I had ever opened up a surfing magazine: I was hooked, I just thought it was the coolest thing. I didn’t even know what surfing was at the time, but I saw these photos of famous surfers and I was just like ‘wow’. I grew up inland of a country town in Florida, where there were mostly just cow fields but I had a passion for surfing so I ended up moving to Hawaii. I remember in high school I would sneak out of my house during hurricane season to go surfing and my mom would just freak out on me, just because I would drive to the east coast, which were producing waves from the hurricanes. It was really scary, actually. I remember the first time I did it, I ended up getting rescued by a lifeguard because I had no idea about how to surf riptides. Just five years later, I would end up being an ocean lifeguard, myself and end up saving countless lives.” 

-Steve Cortes

His most recent accomplishment and mile-stone as an artist so far, was selling out his show at Art Palm Beach International, where art enthusiast and major curators were taking his art super seriously. There was also a realization for Steve about his price-points that he never in a million years ever thought he would sell his art for. His photos that he had casually taken in Hawaii were now selling for thousands of dollars and being spread all over social media. At the same time though, he made sure to learn from the experience in terms of how to curate and how to sell in a gallery. Steve’s past work was specializing in murals and street art, which was almost a completely different animal than the fine-art world, which he now has been thrown in and had to learn about.  

Steve’s work over the years has been exhibited in major shows like Art Basel and Art Palm Beach International, among others: and this is just the beginning for the young artist. The contemporary art world is vibrant and booming like never before and it’s a twenty-first-century phenomenon, a global industry in its own right. Contemporary artists seek the power to astonish, satisfy and challenge: the legend of Steve’s artwork achieves all of these things. He showcases art that the public may not ordinarily have access to outside of a large urban environment within a welcoming, creative, and inspirational platform. He is a real artist of not only painting but of innovation, lifestyle and artistic interpretation. As time goes on, Steve will continue to delve deeper into the world of art by utilizing a wide range of mediums and taking an intimate approach to art direction and design, building her brand and developing more designs and artwork. He now resides in Hawaii, once again, for his love of surfing and to take more photos to create into more artwork. We will all be looking forward to seeing what he accomplishes next with his limitless style and creativity!

For more info, follow him on social media:

  • @SFloresCortes(Twitter)

About The Author

Sara Nardea is no stranger to the art world, selling her own paintings and curating exhibitions -- from pop art to abstraction and now to art journalism, she is bringing her New York success to the up-and-coming Miami scene. Sara is now a contributing writer and editor at L'Etage Magazine.

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