Some may argue that people are born with natural artistic talents while others may say that the talents are later acquired. For Jose Lopez of Santa Ana, California, the circumstances that he was put in forced him to learn, practice and become one of the best artists living today.

Born in Mexico, Jose came to California at the age of 12 with his family. Their intentions were to live the "American dream," but unfortunately an incident occurred just a few years later, putting Jose permanently in a wheelchair. For many people who become disabled, a time of misery and depression takes a hold of their life where they ask themselves, "Why me?"

Jose, no longer able to walk, was confined to a sitting position and was no longer able to perform his usual physical activities. Instead of sulking in his newfound extra time, Jose picked up a pencil and began doing sketches. As more time went on, he would learn to perfect his artwork, getting better and better at it with each piece of work. Jose was also getting into tattoo art and was actually doing tattoo work on people's skin while still a teenager living at his mother's house!

Over the next eight years, Jose's reputation as a reputable tattoo artist quickly began to spread throughout the Orange County area, and he became so busy that he just didn't have time to think about his new physically challenged world. Just four years ago, the demand for Jose's work was so great that he moved to the next level and opened up his own tattoo shop called Lowrider Tattoo. Today, the shop has won countless awards at tattoo conventions and now employs four other talented artists besides Jose. A second location is to be opened soon in Riverside, California.

Jose cites his parents, wife, daughter and close friends who have supported him emotionally and physically. "Every action causes a reaction," says Jose, "and if it weren't for them, I wouldn't be as successful as I am today, and ironically, if it weren't for me being in a wheelchair, I probably would have gone down a different avenue, not involving art."

Jose says that the other half of what got him where he's at was the large amount of time and effort that he invested into becoming the artist that he is now. Practicing and learning techniques from other artists and then applying his own twist to those techniques are what led him to where he's at now as an artist. With that said, Jose says that he's not afraid of competition because we can all learn from each other. "Competition is what drives us to do better anyways, but it's best to always remain open-minded because that will bring out your creativity."

By the looks of it, Jose mastered it! His oil paintings have become very popular among art lovers and many people have asked him to sell various pieces of art. Jose says that it really is hard to name a price when you consider the amounts of time that he's invested, much of which was away from his family, not only on the particular artwork itself, but getting to where he's at now as an artist.

Admiringly, other plans are in the work for Jose, like a website for his shop and a clothing line featuring his artwork. The clothing line, called LRW, will be available soon and has already stirred up attention in Japan. Believe it or not, Jose has already begun building a fan base in Japan, where they just love his tattoos and oil paintings!Jose says that he "wants the world," but he knows that it's going to take a lot more time and work to get that. He says humbly, "I hope for the best and expect nothing."

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