Manny Carrera, 24, was born and raised in the Dominican Republic.
Right after high school, Manny’s parents wanted him to have an American education. So after graduation, he went to upstate New York where he said he froze his butt off studying graphic design.
In his senior year at Rochester Institute of Technology, he decided to move toward web development because he felt more career opportunities would be available. Two weeks after graduating in 2014, Manny moved to Nashville for an internship.
“On the side, I do watercolor sketches,” he said. “It’s a good break from the computer screen every once in a while, and it lets my ideas flow.”
GROWING UP in the DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
For Manny growing up in the Dominican Republic was a good mix of Western and Hispanic culture. He said the atmosphere was mostly lively with beautiful beaches and friendly people, but noted there are problems with corruption. He said growing up there and moving to the U.S. opened his eyes to things like poverty and the homeless.
“It was good to be exposed to that first then move to the states and be exposed to American culture. My parents brought me up to help those in need,” he said. “The experience I had in the Dominican Republic prepared me for going and living away from my family for education.”
Since he moved to Nashville two years ago, he’s only moved back home to visit once but plans on going again soon. Manny said all of his immediate family is back in the Dominican, but he was lucky enough to have family in Nashville.
“I’ll always love the Dominican Republic. It’ll always be my home.”
NASHVILLE: a LAUNCHING PAD
Manny first picked up the sketching and drawing around the age of nine. Since then he’s used art as a creative expression and said even though neither of his parents are the best artists, they’ve always encouraged him to draw.
In high school, he had a teacher who inspired him to use watercolors in his sketches. He fell in love with it because he could sketch anything he wanted and add whatever colors he chose.
“It doesn’t have to be perfect and that’s what I like about it. Watercolors are messy and you can’t control them. The ability of not controlling the colors gives the final result a little mystery.”
Manny said what drew him to Nashville the most was his family. His cousin previously worked at the same company he does now, and he said his family here has helped him make that transition from college to the real world.
“One day when I was in college my cousin called me up and asked me if I would be interested in an internship in Nashville,” he said. “I told him yeah, that would be awesome, and I took the opportunity.”
He said finding himself and exploring his creative mind meant spending time by himself, exploring the city by himself, and making new friends. He said it’s challenging to be so far away from his immediate family but luckily has some other family members and a core group of friends close.
Discovering the city for himself, Manny takes photos of things that catch his eye in Nashville and the urban scene. From beer bottles to city parks, and coffee shops, he creates sketches and then adds watercolors.
“When I first moved here I had my tech job, but drawing has always been an outlet for me,” he said. “I did a little bit of it in college, but since I’ve been in Nashville, I’ve been trying a lot more by keeping a bunch of sketchbooks. That has helped me release certain emotions I felt during certain times, happy or sad.”
Manny said a lot of people his age, in and around the city, feel the same way.
“We’re all just trying to figure it out and in the meantime having fun, going to shows, and enjoying the live music.”
“I feel like a lot of people move to Nashville because it’s a slower pace of life and you have time to venture out and figure it all out. Nashville for a lot of people is like a launching pad. Move here for a few years, understand what you want, and then move or away or stay if you fall in love with the city.”
COMMUNITY and CONCERNS
“A community is group of people that come together for a greater cause whether it be to improve their community or work together to become a unique group of people as a whole.”
Manny said the growth of Nashville is both good and bad for the city.
He said the big changes are good because it brings a lot of much-needed attention to Nashville as a cool city, but said it’s bad because the music industry is becoming more saturated.
Slightly alarmed by the pace of growth, Manny said the infrastructure just isn’t ready for the influx of people planning to come to the city. However, he said it is a part of the growth, and he has confidence that Nashville will find its way.
“People move here to have a slower pace of life and with the amount of people moving here, it’s going to be way too congested,” he said. “But the people who are moving here, just like me, are trying to figure it out, and that’s okay because with that brings a lot of interesting stories to Nashville.
Manny said what matters to him the most right now in is change. He said it’s not good for someone to be in one place for too long without challenging themselves.
“With change comes new challenges, new experiences, and new growth.”
At the end of the month, Manny will be moving to Boulder, Colorado. After putting in his resume for a company that a friend suggested, one thing lead to another, and a great opportunity opened up for him.
“I wasn’t entirely ready to leave Nashville, but I knew that I wanted to go,” he said. “I have a great group of friends here and starting over is intimidating but I think one of the worst things people do is conform, and I didn’t want to conform in Nashville. I want to explore and experience other things so at the same time I guess I was ready for the move. I said let’s do it and let’s try it out.”
Comment below to wish Manny good luck! You can follow him on Instagram @mannysketches.
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