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Meet Vladimir Noel of WhosVlad in Long Beach

Today we’d like to introduce you to Vladimir Noel.

Vladimir, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I believe my earliest memory of “art” took place at my grandma’s house in Queens, NY. She has these old drawings my father made in every room of the house, the one of Martin Luther King specifically comes to mind. Honestly, behind all the schooling, mentors, and demos, my father taught me how to draw before anyone. My mom would be up late with me making snacks and making sure I don’t fall asleep at the table working on art projects. There’s no way to explain how grateful I am for having parents that have supported my need for art since a young age.

I went into the art magnet program in the third grade after switching to Perrine Elementary. I then went on to Arthur & Polly Mays for their art program and then to Design and Architecture Senior High to study product and transportation design. After graduating, I went to LCAD for game design to later realize that games was not where I wanted to be. I attended Red Engine School and took as many courses as I could. With the support of my family, I was able to do the same at Gnomon which was a great experience. I am lucky to have been taught by a lot of great artists and to have been in classes with talented individuals that have been good friends to this day.

Finding consistent work as a new artist is difficult. There’s plenty of competition and relatively not a lot of options. I eventually fell into having jobs that had nothing to do with art for years. I feel that any artist could tell you how taxing that can be on the soul. I decided I couldn’t do that anymore after I did my first mural in Long beach. At the time, I wasn’t focused on doing murals, the opportunity presented itself and something just wouldn’t allow me to turn it down. That what woke me up and reminded me that I am an artist. Once I got on that wall, I was hooked. I was still new on the block so this gave me a chance to meet the community and show them what I got. The response was beautiful. From people coming out their cars in traffic to a young girl in a wheelchair and her mother making me some cookies.

Long Beach as shown me love since that day. Since then, I’ve done multiple murals in the downtown area. After the site of the first mural was torn down on Lime/Broadway, I went on to make murals for businesses like The Feline Good Social Club, Your Hair N More, 5th Ave Bagelry and more to come in 2020. The community is made of artists and creatives of all kinds. The art walks and private events provide enough space for artist to get out and show/sell their work to the public. The fact that you could actually walk around and meet so many active creative people is a huge motivation in itself.

People started to notice me as an artist in LB because I would be walking back and forth to Graphaids on 4th street with these huge paintings and blank sheets of oversized wc paper. See my cousin and I had an art show on Haitian flag day in Los Angeles so I had a short time to produce a large amount of work. Ultimately the event was a great time and I was happy with the pieces, which has shaped the style I take on now. I decided I liked being out in the community so I started live painting at events while selling prints of the original work. To my surprise, I found that people were not only buying the prints but my original paintings were selling and more opportunities were coming my way. I got where I am today by locking in and being consistent. I was out everyday talking to business owners, event organizers, hosts, artists, musicians, bar regulars, whoever could give a little more knowledge to get where I want to be. By staying consistent, I am able to have a momentum, which is important if you’re freelancing in any field. My goal is to be a traveling muralist that leaves an impact on every community I touch down in.

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?
I can’ t say that it was a smooth ride. I also can’t say it wasn’t worth it. There were huge blows every step of the way, my mother getting diagnosed with cancer was a major one. Recently, I lost my uncle Just…and it hit me ways that will never be the same. The struggles he went through and overcame were always something to look up to. that always kept me going when I felt like things weren’t working out. I still watch my mom blow past my expectations and show me that there really isn’t such a thing as excuses. Not only is she winning her fight with cancer but she went to school, graduated with honors, and is now a respected Exec. Chef. There will always be struggles. What’s important is what you take from it. My struggles growing up as a young black man is widely shared with the stories of other brown brothers in communities all over. Being “talented” doesn’t get past the eyes of a lot of people. My name alone has put me in situations where they would expect someone who doesn’t look like me to show up. It hits you when you see the immediate change in their faces. All it did was force me to do better so it doesn’t matter how they see me.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with WhosVlad – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of and what sets you apart from others.
WhosVlad started when I was going through a major battle in my life and I felt like I needed to get back to art. It was supposed to just be a platform where I can share my sketches with the public, giving them a chance to know me while I would talk about my experiences and give them a space to come and talk about what they’re going through. What makes it different is that the business came from the people. WhosVlad went from me sharing my work and posting stories to people wanting commissions and prints. People who supported me from the beginning have stayed with me to build what I have now. I’m proud that my art is able to speak to so many people, however what I’m most proud of is the network that was built in the process. My main focus as an artist is murals. I enjoy doing commissions when I can, logos, illustrations, album covers, etc. but ultimately, I want to make my career as a traveling muralist.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
I have big plans for 2020 and forward! Like I said before, you got to keep a momentum. I want to expand and do some murals on the east coast, as well as go back home to Miami and get put up a wall where it all started. I also want to step overseas and be a part of different art scenes around the world. I always hope for big changes to happen as those are the best chances to grow.

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