Austin Paints (Phoenix Rising)

This is the first post of a series called “Phoenix Rising” where I share stories of the people I meet here in the US, and my own as I navigate American waters.


I saw Audrey Hepburn before I saw Austin Steiner. But Austin would have been hard to miss. He’s tall. My five feet three and a half (of course, the half is important) frame struggles to reach his chest! Austin was selling his art on Roosevelt Street on First Friday when I ran into him. Audrey was his then. Five minutes into our meeting, and Audrey was mine. Austin’s Audrey is my first art purchase. Fascinated by Austin’s art, I stalked his Instagram and website.

That’s how it all began.


IMG_0643When Austin eats, he does not drink. He does not need anything to “wash that food down.” He says he’s never had that dependence on liquids. I am impressed. For many reasons. That was reason no.1. He isn’t like most twenty  year olds I know. He has great sound bites just like his favourite artist of the moment, J.Cole.


Austin quotes:   





                                                                       I don’t think Art should be competition. (This is my favourite).


Pressure keeps me motivated.


I’ve made a promise to myself that I am going to be successful!


I am even more amazed when I find out that he’s been painting for only a year! He had never picked up a paint brush before that. He tells me he was inspired by an artist called Alec Monopoly who he randomly came across on Instagram. He’s been trying to get in touch with him, but Alec has not replied. (Alec’s a busy man. He has two hundred thousand plus followers after all). Austin says he’s going to be patient. He explains that he feels Alec hasn’t replied as he is not deserving of Alec’s attention just yet. He says this lack of response motivates him to paint better.

Austin’s first tattoo was a dreamcatcher. It’s given him a great dream. And he’s living it.




Here’s a conversation between Austin and I:

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