Today we’d like to introduce you to Trew Love.
Trew, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I was trained by my mother, an art teacher, from a young age but I didn’t believe that being an artist was a viable career until my late 20s. I journeyed through the typical pathway of going to a four year college with ambitions to become an Orthodontist. After three years as a Chem major/Bio minor, I decided another ten years of that was not for me.
I took time off to travel the world and discover myself. I moved to New Zealand for eight months for the snowboard season then to Australia for five months. I then moved to LA to go to school to be on the corporate side of the beauty industry (packaging and marketing) but I learned quickly that an office job simply isn’t for me.
After spending bookoo bucks on school, I was back being a makeup artist, only with more a lot more debt. During this time however, I was hired at NARS cosmetics. At NARS, I was greatly blessed to receive the Artist of the Year Award and was hand selected by Mr. NARS himself to be on his teams for New York Fashion Week for Marc Jacobs, Alexander Wang and Philip Lim.
Although my career in the makeup industry was going well, I decided to leave the cosmetics industry all together in search of something more fulfilling. I met my best friend, Daniela, and we started a company together called SoundStrokes where we would take the unique waveform of any audio file and turn it into a custom hand-made painting so you could have a custom painting of your favorite song or sound.
After two years, we had to dissolve the company because I began to see that my best friend and business partner was suffering from alcoholism. In loving honesty, we parted ways. She moved back to Seattle to get sober and I found myself in a relationship with someone who opened my eyes to the pop art world that was having an underground resurgence at that time in 2014. This opened my creative doors. I created my first collection, “Pop Life” with the creative assistance of my ex. That collection has since been shown all across the nation and in exhibits with Blek le Rat, Sheperd Fairey, Plastic Jesus, and Gregory Siff.
In 2015, I split with my boyfriend and I realized how much I was depending on him for creative inspiration. It became my determination to find out what inspired ME and what I felt I needed to say in the world. In late 2016, that moment arrived. I started watching Democracy Now, an independent news source that broke the story about Standing Rock and the battle over the Dakota Access Pipeline.
My life has never been the same.
I was deeply appalled by what was happening. I posted about it on facebook and a friend of mine referred me to a group called Revolution LA. At the first meeting I attended, they had just started organizing a community of activists to put pressure on the City of Los Angeles to pull ALL of the city’s funds from Wells Fargo for funding the pipeline (and for many other atrocious crimes). We lobbied and made public comment at every Budget and Finance meeting and after seven months, received a unanimous vote of support to move the city’s $8Billion in funds from Wells Fargo.
The question then was where to put it. The only other banks large enough to hold that amount of money are other wall street banks that fund the same projects. So, Divest LA morphed into Public Bank LA- a movement to create a brand new financial institution that has a socially and ethically responsible charter that mandates that all investments by the bank must be proven by a third party to be improving the community in which it serves.
We had incredible momentum. Herb Wesson, the city council president, put us on the ballot and with NO MONEY (a typical campaign of this nature usually costs millions) we were able to get 44% of the vote.
Since then, the movement has gone state wide. PBLA formed an alliance with eight other cities across the state and have jointly lobbied in Sacramento. Right now the Public Banking legislation has, as of two weeks ago, passed the state Senate and is on to appropriations in August. California is on its way to be the first state in modern era to allow their municipalities to create their own financial institutions and become one step FARTHER from wall street- a move that’s essential for our communities to thrive in the future.
Getting involved in activism changed my life and changed my art. I learned so much about what’s going on in communities… The goings-on that lie beneath the surface of the comfortable privilege I’ve known my whole life.
Today, I’m using this awareness as inspiration for my new exhibit called “Sugar Coated” which will be opening this fall.
“Sugar Coated” uses candy and sugar imagery to spotlight social and political truths of our time that mainstream society is either ignoring or is unaware of. The goal is to shock the viewer with painful truths but then also provide the resources to get involved.
We have moved into a time where discussion is not enough. We have to become participants in creating the future we all deserve. It is my goal to use the arts as a mechanism to draw people in and demonstrate the rewards of stepping outside of our comfort zones, and into a place of caring in action.
To promote the event, I’m organizing a 21-day street art scavenger hunt and I have pulled some highly recognized street artists to collaborate on the project. This will be a series of street works that you will certainly not want to miss!
The “Sugar Coated” exhibit will travel to five cities across the nation, landing at Art Basel in 2020.
The foundation of all of my art projects moving forward is building community. I have seen the benefits of coming together to work for a goal that’s bigger than our selves and I see how lacking real connection is in our society today.
Additionally, I have been working on an animated adult cartoon series called Rhyme and Reeson which is about two alien best friends- one a raver, one an activist- and their journeys to overthrow and evil mantis regime in the city of Cyberg on Planet Zinus. It’s my first experience in scriptwriting and character animation and will subliminally address many of our current political issues such as mass migration, corruption, abuse of power, and the importance of resistance and community organizing.
My list of projects is extensive to say the least, but each expresses a piece of my heart in its own way. I am only at the beginning of my journey but I will never lose focus on the core value of my work which is to empower the individual to get involved, be the change, and rediscover the love and connection that has been largely lost in our culture today.
Has it been a smooth road?
When I think of struggles, I think of two separate types. There are the struggles of dealing with everyday life such as making enough money to pay your bills and then there are soul struggles such as finding the answers to questions like Why am I here?, and What’s the point of my existence?
Most of my ‘struggles’ have been in regards to the soul. Starting around the age of 12, I became a very angry person. I still to this day am not entirely sure where it came from, but it was a livid hatred of most people around me, but primarily it was a hatred of myself. My real struggle in life has been learning to love myself. We live in a society that seems hell-bent on making us feel that we’re not enough, that we can’t do anything, and that life is nothing but an attempt to be something or someone else and then you die.
Unplugging myself from this narrative has been a life long process but when I discovered shadow work, my life changed completely. Shadow work consists of using meditation to drop beneath the surface of the active mind into the place where we store all of our memories and traumas and asking specific questions that will allow you to see where the traumas/programming began. I started this process convinced I had “no issues” and came out with a wealth of information about things including where my self worth issues originated, when I adopted emotional eating habits, and where in my body the still-traumatized parts of me reside.
The recovery journey has many ups and downs, but all of these experiences allow me now to have a more genuine empathy towards those still amidst these mindsets. Instagram still reminds me that there are people more beautiful and rich than I, and Facebook still reminds me that the world is full of evil (AKA severely traumatized people) but I’ve reached a place where I accept everyone as they are, for everyone is only expressing themselves to the highest level they can… including myself.
We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
Trew Love LLC- The ‘umbrella’ organization of all of my projects- uses art to foster a community of service. “Sugar Coated” will be my first effort in creating this type of platform but will most certainly not be the last.
Future projects include:
The LA City Angels Project (LACAP)
A concept to create 14 building-sized angel murals across the city of LA. Each angel will be designed in a way so that the community members can help paint the angel. When the angel is done, we will host a grand reveal party to create a fun atmosphere for the city council members to join their constituents, host musical guests, and food trucks to celebrate the newest member to their community- an LA City Angel.
When all 14 angels are complete, a GPS self-guided Los Angeles historical tour app will be released that will allow tourists and the LA community to learn about the angel, the community members that helped paint it, and the rich history that spans across this great city.
I will be pitching this to the city as a tourist experience to have done by the 2028 Olympics.
What Would Love Say
A concept to create open-air sanctuary structures in public parks for those who seek refuge from home but are not inclined to go to a religious establishment. As a member of the generation that largely claims to be spiritual but not religious, it is important that we have a physical place to go when we seek refuge.
Each structure will used recycled materials to create a stained-glass looking structure. Each of the glass panels will have a healing mantra from different languages across humanity to emphasize that while our symbols and sounds may be different, we all love and heal the same.
Trew Basics is an illustrated makeup tutorial book that uses pop-art illustrations to explain basic makeup application techniques. After 14 years in the makeup industry, I know the most commonly asked questions and the most commonly correctable techniques to make getting beautiful more enjoyable.
What sets me apart as an artist is the Why’s behind my projects. I sincerely believe that we can use the tools we have today to inspire people to do more. Care more. Get more involved. It is my goal in life to shift culture into a community of service.
Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Yes! No other city in the world (at least to my knowledge) has the environment of endless opportunity the way Los Angeles does. New York may, but in ways that are not as closely aligned with my visions.
My best advice would be to set boundaries for yourself. But truthfully, if someone told me that when I first moved here I wouldn’t have listened so who am I to think people will listen to me! 😛
As far as improving the city… I believe it always is improving. I’d like to see more citizen engagement in keeping an eye on our local government. It is in our municipalities that we have the most opportunity for influence, but no influence will be made if no effort is made by the citizens to ensure it.
- Website: www.trew.love
- Phone: 3233888438
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo of me in front of Glitter Girl – the largest glitter sequin portrait in the world. The image of me was found by the artist on shutterstock.