By: Jason R. Latham
So much of Eric Vozzola’s artistic journey has been influenced by his work with Life Is Beautiful. As the 10th iteration of the festival draws closer, Vozzola is reflecting on how the partnership has empowered him to embrace more audacious and expansive artistic ideas, not to mention how it has granted him opportunities that “my younger self could only dream about.”
“Doing work for the festival has proven to me that I can be as weird and authentic as possible with my work, and it will be appreciated,” the artist says.
Back in the day, like other aspiring artists, Vozzola saw LIB as the ultimate stage for his work to be seen. He recalls setting a goal to become part of the festival after witnessing it firsthand in 2013 – the year LIB launched. His dream became reality, at long last, in 2015 when he landed his first project at the festival’s Art Motel.
“I couldn’t believe I was actually doing it,” he recalls. “It gave me such motivation and confidence with my work to have it extended to a festival audience.
“Every time I have the opportunity to create art for the festival, I feel like it starts a new chapter in my work and career.”
Now, eight years after his work was first exposed to the festival’s crowds, Vozzola sees the festival as an ever-evolving experience for his community, one that grants emerging artists – like he was back in 2015 – a spotlight while also showcasing the transforming nature of art itself. It’s not just a place to stage his creations, but a place to potentially sell them, interact with other artists, and share some of the wisdom he’s acquired since becoming an LIB fixture.
“All you need is that one opportunity to stick to get your foot in the door, and the connections grow from there,” he says. “Most importantly, so does your work and career resume.
“Once you get in the door and have that first opportunity, make it everything you wish it could be and create your best work possible, because that will speak volumes.”
Five LIB Questions with Eric Vozzola
OTS: What’s the best performance you’ve ever seen at Life Is Beautiful?
Eric Vozzola: This is tough, I’ve seen so many incredible performances at Life is Beautiful! **checks past lineups** I’d have to say a few honestly: The Flaming Lips in 2014, Green Day in 2021, or Gorillaz in 2022. There’ve been so many other great performances too and those only really skim the top, but definitely a few of the most memorable for me.
OTS: What’s your craziest Life Is Beautiful story?
Eric Vozzola: In 2017 at the festival, a couple friends and I were wandering around in the Art Motel, where I had collaborated on a multi-media installation in one of the rooms. Suddenly, one of my friends came running over to tell me Wayne Coyne from The Flaming Lips had just come out of the room installation I worked on and was raving about how it blew his mind. “Fanboying” a little, I searched around for Wayne until I ran into him! I was pretty starstruck, but I was able to muster up the words to have a short conversation with him. I thanked him for his art and music, and I gave him a sticker that I designed which I happened to have on me. I’m pretty sure he loved that. The funny part is, later that evening on Instagram, Wayne Coyne posted about the items he had collected in his pockets throughout the night from Life Is Beautiful and hanging around Vegas, and my sticker was in the post! I was pretty amazed at this, but then his post got flagged by Instagram because one of the items in his pocket was one of those nude woman/”girls direct to you” cards that get passed out on The Strip. Ha! So, after being so proud that my sticker ended up on Wayne’s Instagram, it was all foiled by one of those nude-y cards that anyone who’s stepped foot on The Strip has been offered at least once.
OTS: Which artist are you most excited to see this year?
Eric Vozzola: I absolutely love the headliners, all solid. Mostly excited for Odesza, because of their farewell tour. I also have to say Roosevelt – there’s always some really great, middle of the pack artists on these lineups. I’ve loved Roosevelt’s music for such a long time now but have never had the chance to see them live, so I’m really excited for that too.
OTS: Which experience are you most excited to see this year?
Eric Vozzola: I’m very curious and excited for the Meow Wolf experience. I’ve worked with Meow Wolf on many occasions, including Art Motels in 2015 and 2017 at the festival, and have experienced all but one of their immersive art exhibits; all of which are mind-blowing. So, I’m very excited to see what they do for the festival this year.
OTS: What’s your No. 1 tip for a first-time festival goer?
Eric Vozzola: Make sure you’re prepared! Especially for a festival in Vegas like Life is Beautiful, make sure that you account for all the outdoor elements (hot days, chilly nights, walking on asphalt, etc). Stay hydrated and take breaks. Discover new artists! Yes, you’re going for your faves, but you’d be surprised how amazing it is to stumble onto an artist you’ve never heard of and getting absolutely blown away by someone new. Get in as early as you can because you know, time flies when you’re having fun. It’s also a really great experience to go from day to night in the festival and seeing how it transforms. Most importantly, just enjoy yourself, live your best life, and tell yourself you did it. You have given yourself the treat of a lifetime!