Interview with Chilean street artist on his journey to New York City.What was it like growing up in Chile? Where were your favorite places to paint there?
Growing up in Chile was pretty good. I remember when I was young, everything was chill, I had my family and I grew up on a farm, an hour away from the capital Santiago. That is where I started painting. I had a lot of animals on the farm, it was very natural and there were very good people around. I had the privilege to live in a very free environment.
You studied architecture at school, what was this experience like? Has this type of education influenced your work in any way?
I studied architecture at the University of Chile, it was a great experience. I love architecture. I studied there because I wanted to have a better understanding of the city, the communication on the streets, the people, the buildings, and spaces. I wanted to see how I could communicate in the streets through my paintings. Architecture has had a great influence on me and I still use in my work now.
What was your impression like of the city when you first came to New York? Do you spend a lot of time here?
My first impression of New York when I got here was that it was a very intense and aggressive city. I first came here in the middle of the winter and it was the coldest weather I have ever felt in my life. In the beginning it wasn’t that easy because of the elements but I realized that I had to fight, so I can find my place in this city. I saw that everybody was doing their own thing, working very hard to make things happen. This was very inspiring and stimulating and I fell in love with the city that way.When you painted you first mural in New York what type of feelings did you experience?
My first time painting in New York was at the train tracks. One of my good friends from a long time ago invited me to paint with him and anther person. I remember it was in February and it was very cold and I wasn’t used to painting in such environments. But it was cool to paint the train and then see the art go around New York. Some of my friends would even send me pictures of the painting when it was riding along. It was a great experience and a good way to start my painting journey in New York.
Which Hip Hop artists were you listening to when you first started painting? Have you met any of them?
When I first started painting I first used to listen to a lot of Spanish Hip Hop, people from Chile and other Latin rappers. It was cool to listen to rap in Spanish because you can learn the lyrics in your own language. Then I started to listen to a lot of English rappers like Notorious BIG, Jay Z, Slum Village, Common, Kanye West. I’ve had the opportunity to meet a couple of the artists like Immortal Technique, Dead Prez, and Slum Village. I also know a lot of Chilean musicians because it is a small community and we all know each other.
You have traveled all over the world, which cities are your favorite to paint?
My favorite place is Valparaíso in Chile because all the streets and walls are differnet. There are a lot of differnet spots where you can paint and let your imagination run wild. I also like Detroit and all the abandonded buildings. New York is pretty cool too, I feel very comfortable painting in Bushwick, Brooklyn, Bronx, and Hunts Point. In Brazil like Rio and São Paulo. Each city has its own different thing that I like about it.
I moved to New York because my girlfriend lived there. I kind of blended in quickly, I started working a lot and people started to recognize and appreciate my work. After 2 years I stared to feel very comfortable in New York, I had a better understanding of the city and the people. New Yorkers are very intense and sometimes they don’t care who you are but they respect your work.
Is it important for you to have a message behind your art or is it up to the viewer to decide?
I believe every artist puts a message in his or her work. My work is figurative and there are messages in it but I like to keep them to myself. I try to leave it open to the viewer so they can have their own conclusion about it. My life is a mix of political and spiritual education both from my mother and father’s side so you can sometimes see those ideas in my paintings.
What is your favorite place to hang out and relax in the city? What do you usually like to do when you are not painting?
Anywhere where I can be with my friends. Anywhere in Brooklyn or the Bronx. As long as I am with people that I love. I try to go to Chile whenever I get a chance and stay in my apartment where I have my baby girl and family. Anytime I have free time its family time for me including my friends.
What is the funniest thing that has ever happened to you while you were painting a mural?
I don’t really have a specific story. You never know what will happen to you when you are painting in the streets. You have to be open to all types of possibilities, elements, and people. That’s why I love panting on the street.
Which is your favorite borough in New York and why?
I like the Bronx and Brooklyn. But I am connected to the Bronx more because I paint a lot in Hunts Point. Its more Latino and I have a lot of friends there that I paint with. I really like Brooklyn too because its so stylish and cultural with museums and people.
Do you ever regret not finishing up your studies and becoming an architect?
Not at all. I think it was the best decision I ever made in my life. There are different reasons why I stopped studying architecture. In Chile artists aren’t really respected as professionals especially not graffiti artists. I had to be very brave and quit my studies and dedicate my life to painting, which is something I’m very proud of now.
How has your family and friends supported you though out your career?
My family supported me in everything I did. They came from a very poor background when they were young and I always valued the fact that they gave me so much freedom to do whatever I wanted. They let me become anything I wanted to be. I really appreciate the sense of freedom they gave me even when I quit my studies. I think my parents are very proud of me, which makes feel very happy.
If you had the perfect place to paint a mural, where would it be?
A perfect place to paint for me is a space that doesn’t have a strong identity. A space that has the dimensions where you can appreciate the mural from a distance. This will then allow the mural to become the space. A perfect place for me is a space that I can turn into a place.
You are still young and developing your style, are there any other types of mediums you want to experiment with in the future?
I have to keep developing my art but now I am looking into making sculptures. I have to find the right space, the right materials to try to explore these ideas. But definitely will be working with installations and sculptures in the future.