Today we’d like to introduce you to Freddy Ruvalcaba.
Freddy, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
As a native Angeleno, there’s never been a lack of visual stimulation. From the massive billboards and flashing lights on the Sunset Strip to the street art that dresses every corner. With that being said, that was the extent of my relationship with art, all visual. I honestly feel that I only stumbled onto painting several years ago. It was my immediate outlet to release pent up energy.
After over a decade of constantly babysitting my ego, I found myself at a crossroads looking to shake off what I had grown accustomed to, the LA nightlife and toxic behavior that comes along with it. I wasn’t in a bad place per se, but I was also not in a place of peace. After I abruptly stopped feeding that lifestyle, I found myself yearning for discovery of self.
After sharing how I felt with a very close friend and fellow artist, he suggested that I give art a shot as a vehicle to channel my emotions. So off I went one random Saturday afternoon, on my search for peace, well actually on my way to Blicks, with no fair idea or knowledge of art supplies. Once there, I sort of ghosted myself through the aisles, intimidated but yet excited, picking out what looked and felt right.
I walked out of there that night with a couple of plastic pallets and some bright acrylic tubes of paint with no real plan. Shit did I know at that moment that painting was going to be instant love, raw energy, AND a peaceful place. It wasn’t until I met my wife Kathy however, did I truly see painting as a means to much more. During one of our initial dates, she commented on how dope she thought my pieces were and asked if I had ever shown them to anyone.
The same pieces that had been collecting dust and that I contemplated tossing out to make room for more. Cut to a few weeks later and out she walks wearing one of my scribbles on a t-shirt! I’d written ‘I love U’ with my finger on her phone a few days prior. She took the design, flipped it on its side and had it printed on a shirt.
Now its one of our biggest sellers! It was at that moment, seeing her sport wearable art that I started to look beyond just painting and the vision for Skins LA and all it could entail was created. If someone would have said to me a few years ago that I’d be selling my art or my designs transferred onto mugs, t-shirts, etc.
I would have undoubtedly replied ‘go kick rocks with that mess.’ I still don’t believe it at times. I feel very fortunate and blessed to have been shown love from the very beginning.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Like any small business that is just starting out, finances are usually the biggest hurdle to get over. Art supplies aren’t always cheap, and obviously, the clothing aspect of the company means inventory, working with print shops, minimum orders, etc. Another obstacle is time. I’m a banker in Beverly Hills. I clock long hours, so my time is spread thin. Let’s just say that without my wife’s support, it really wouldn’t be possible.
We are lucky, however, to live in a city like Los Angeles. Our amazing weather allows for year-round open-air markets such as Melrose Trading Post, the Rose Bowl and Artist, and Fleas. Events like these keep giving us a great platform to get in front of customers and be seen without having to take on any huge financial risk.
We’d love to hear more about your business.
Skins LA covers my original art, prints, printed and hand-painted clothing… basically anything I can use to share my art. ‘Skins’ is a nickname I got many moons ago, and it stuck!
I guess what sets Skins LA apart is everything starts from my original art. I do hand painted 1 of 1, and in a world full of fast fashion, it gives people a chance to own something special and unique. That’s what I want people to feel, and I hope it transfers. Nothing is mass-produced, so even the printed clothing is limited edition.
I’m most proud of is simply doing it, taking a chance, a leap of faith I guess. I’ve been blessed that most of my clients have been extremely supportive. There really is no better advertising than recommendations.
What were you like growing up?
Growing up in Los Angeles has been a blast but not always easy. I grew up in the Westlake District adjacent Downtown. The neighborhood was not the prettiest or safest by any means, especially during the mid-eighties.
Crack had just hit the scene and joining a gang was sort of a right of passage for young kids. I witnessed some dirty down harmful shit as a kid and was forced to grow up quick. But the neighborhood was also full of fun-loving, honest, hardworking families. Mine was no exception.
My beautiful mother instilled in me all that is good in this world. She led by example. I was taught to give rather than take. To listen rather than talk first. Lessons that I still practice to this day. Spending my childhood summers and Christmas holidays at our family farm in Mexico also played a major role in my upbringing. It was a completely different world.
The food, music, art and overall splash of bright, vibrant colors everywhere you turned was absolute magic. I was also fortunate to have been part of the first wave of inner city kids to attend school in Brentwood and the Palisades. It opened up my eyes to a different side of the city. Quite the contrast to all the noise and sometimes heavy energy of inner Los Angeles.
Being raised and living in the inner city also had its amazing qualities though. With some of the largest ethnic communities outside of their respective countries, growing up exploring Eastlos, Koreatown, Thai Town, Little Armenia, and the eastern European section of West Hollywood exposed me to different cultures and their culinary traditions.
All of my early interactions with members of said communities defined and shaped my understanding that we are all the same when stripped to the core. My love for this city is infinite. I’ve experienced her through some battered times and also at my highest peaks. She’s forever evolving, constantly reinventing herself. She’s an imperfect paradise. I’m truly honored to be a small part of her story.
- Printed T-Shirts Starting at $45
- Featured Hand Painted Sweater $90
- Website: www.skinsla.com
- Phone: 310 729 0759
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @skinsla