By: Abby Duncan
This year, Luis Acosta is co-editor of The Catalyst. We sat down to talk about his perspectives on art, his creative process, inspirations, and his plans for the Catalyst.
We began our conversation with his perspective on art in general– how he defines it, expresses it, and it’s impacted on his life. Luis, a first generation Mexican American, defined art as “pure expression.” His take on art is a free-form style, based on the intention behind creating rather than a pre-defined constrict. As far as his production of art, he says, “anything I do can be art. It’s what I feel needs to be done in the moment in order for me to feel accomplished.” Luis expressed an urge to produce in order to feel accomplished. However, this isn’t to say he doesn’t appreciate the process of getting there– he says, “I like the idea of seeing something that I had in my head presented in front of me in a way that was either expected, or not at all; it’s exciting to see a piece turn into something totally different.”
Luis has been featured in the Catalyst in the past, contributing mostly fiction pieces. Creative writing has been the focus of his contributions to the journal, but he practices a number of other creative modes as well, from music to comedy to sculpting. When it comes to his writing, he aims to practice his craft regularly by writing daily and gaining inspiration from a wide array of authors. Luis cites many authors such as Pablo Neruda, George Saunders, Joan Didion, David Foster Wallace, Arthur Miller, and Mary Karr as sources of inspiration. For Saunders, he says, “his writing is so natural. He is such a good communicator. His short stories have so many styles playing off of each other in one paragraph, but somehow it’s still easy to understand.” In his own writing, Luis aims to find the simplest way to say something while still capturing the idea’s beauty. “It’s important for me to be communicative while being as creative as possible; no one likes to read a story written in a way that only for the author is able to understand.”
Musically, Luis has been heavily impacted by his father, who introduced him to the drums when he was just six years old. As a drummer, Luis’s musical viewpoint is intriguing– he sees things a bit more structurally than other musicians might. He says, “drummers kind of structure out everything you need in a song. If I’m playing a song, I need to know what time signature all the instruments are in while playing the correct rhythm for the rest of the band to play along accordingly.” He connects his structuring ability to how he organizes his writing: “I need to make sure that my paragraphs are organized and that there’s some kind of pace, similar to how effective playing rhythms in certain sections in a song give it it’s ‘pop.” Luis has been inspired by musicians like Manu Katché (who is a favorite of his dad’s), the simplistic chaos of The Beatles and The Beach Boys, Jazz drummers Buddy Rich and Art Blakley, and contemporary drummers like Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Matt Helders of the Arctic Monkeys.
Luis’s artistic perspective is sure to make him an asset in creating the Catalyst. He says, “I’ve always been interested in creating beautiful things,” which is certainly a goal many aspiring artists. He values a product that has a sense of ease, one that “readers can enjoy the beauty of without seeing all of the trouble that went in to make it beautiful.” He expects to enjoy this process of creation, and anticipates that this experience will help give him a better idea of what UWL’s creative body looks like. He says, “I just like to see what people have to say. When I read people’s work that I know from around campus, I’m surprised. A lot of times people think differently than I thought they did before.” He enjoys being able to put an idea to a face that he recognizes, and points out the uniqueness of this way of interacting with people around campus. “It’s just completely different,” he says. “It’s like they’re giving me their brain and saying ‘this is for you.”
Luis’s perspective as a writer, drummer, editor, and artist in general is unique and interesting. It’s always so valuable to be able to gain some insight into how others perceive their own process of creation, especially in relation to others, so it was fascinating to learn about how Luis has developed his own process and how he plans to apply that to his work on the Catalyst. He has a clear passion for what he does, and he sums it up best, simply stating “I just really love art.”