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Meet Slopez

Today we’d like to introduce you to Slopez.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
I was born in East LA during the mid ’70s. When I was old enough to walk to the market with my grandparents, I would get excited by the Chicano murals of that era. My father worked in construction. He had a knack for sketching. His pencil strokes on paper felt deliberate & confident. I liked that and somehow, I was going to emulate it. I just didn’t know how yet. He was in and out of my life; eventually he chose to let my step-father take over. In the late 80s, I was enamored with graffiti which got me a couple of school suspensions and some ass-kickings at home. My parents thought my art interests was meaningless. Luckily I had a high school art teacher who took notice. He sent my portfolio to Art Center for a summer scholarship. I won it. It was my first glimpse into someone believing in me. At the end of high school, my parents forced my collegiate career to the University of Oregon architecture program. That didn’t last long. I immediately switched to fine art. I wasn’t going back to LA. I needed to explore what I wanted to do without any impediment. I gave myself permission to explore human anatomy & design while sharpening my skills with spray paint. I did well for myself but I knew there was something more.

I needed to challenge myself. This time, I was coming back home. I spent the first few years working in fashion. I quit after all debts were paid off. I focused on canvas work. It was at this point I felt that I was finally taking myself serious. I spent six years working with brushes. Yet, I felt empty- even though my work was selling. I needed a serious change to take my mind off of the grind. I don’t know if I felt defeated but I knew I wasn’t happy. I switched it up to tattooing. I spent the last four years focused on that. I did good for myself. I sacrificed my body during that time and I paid the price. The last five months have been dedicated to rehabilitation. It’s taught me a lot. I feel like I’m back to square one. But this time, I have a few mastered tools in my possession.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Hell no! it hasn’t been a smooth road. The people who love you the most will be the first to doubt you. Graffiti almost got me killed a few times. I spent many lonely nights with the paintbrush. I made enemies just because of my talent. I broke many hearts for my art. Sometimes, I wonder if I do this stuff to share with you all or if use it as a defense mechanism to protect myself.

What I do know; I need this shit like oxygen. I need it to breathe.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I’m an artist to the bone. This isn’t my 9-5 job. Drawing is essential to the program but I started with painting murals then focusing on my fine art. I recently mastered tattooing within the span of four years. But it’s taken me a lifetime to develop my artistic style. No matter what the medium is people can recognize my unique work.

What were you like growing up?
I had a lot of energy. I loved dancing. I always wanted to have someone’s attention. In elementary school, it was common for me to stay for detention. I was shy around girls but I wasn’t scared to say I like them. I would look for a place of solitude and daydream by myself. That brought me joy as a young child. Before I got into art, I liked skateboarding. My skateboard took me around the streets which exposed me to graffiti. I also loved racing R/C cars. I was good at it.

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