‘Thus far, all roads lead back to Glen Cove, and I wouldn’t be who I am today without it. Long Island is my home.’
“I was always an artist. In high school, my art teacher would get frustrated with me for always doing my own thing in class. I even failed one semester. Now one of my paintings hangs in the main office.
“When I was 17, there was going to be an art exhibit at this landmark mansion in Glen Cove. The mansion was 300-plus years old. It ended up containing 150-plus murals inside from renowned artists who came in from around the world.
“They were looking for kids from our local high school to make it interactive. One of my teachers asked if I’d be interested. After I got on board, I went back to school and got other kids, even teachers to join. I ended up painting one of my first murals there.
“The guy who owned the house ended up liking me and hired me to work for him. In little time, I became an art assistant and co-curator of the project. I was just a kid, but I was learning the basics of the business.
“Around that same time, I was lucky enough to assist on several murals at the World Trade Center. A project called 69th floor ‘Art4WTC.’ There, I met a ton of artists and made lifelong connections. ’Til this day, I consider it a huge milestone in my career.
“I began working on my own shortly after high school. My next job would be lead artist and creative director of a pharmaceutical company. I was able to employ my high school photography teacher, who taught me graphic design during photography class. We got to make marketing material for supplement companies. It was really cool.
“A few years ago, I ended up becoming friends with Murr from ‘Impractical Jokers.’ I bought 250 copies of his first book and donated them to my old high school. The kids ended up doing a book report on it. Murr himself had this idea of coming in as a substitute teacher to surprise the kids and grade their reports. It was amazing!
“I have never stopped building my brand. I go by the name Bel Air in the art world and have over 100K people who follow my journey on social media and YouTube. It’s not always easy, but I try to share my truth with the world even when I have to be vulnerable. Thus far, all roads lead back to Glen Cove, and I wouldn’t be who I am today without it. Long Island is my home.”
Interviewed by Maggie Melito