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Meet Michael Chavez

Today we’d like to introduce you to Michael Chavez.

Hi Michael, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
Being raised Mexican-American in Mira Mesa, San Diego, I’ve always been exposed to cultures and subcultures in which graphics and art are very prevalent and integrated. With many relatives on my father’s side of the family being artistically gifted, it was easy to see where I got my inclination towards art and design. Inheriting this creativity and passion for arts, I was always interested in depicting my ideas through visual media.

In my senior year at Mira Mesa High School, I took a screen printing course, and it was then when I fell in love with 2D art and printing. After graduating high school and upon entering the San Diego Community College District, I gravitated towards black and white relief prints and high-contrast pen and ink drawings. These media were my first sources of inspiration for my art. This is when I began drawing seriously and produced several black and white pen drawings. Eventually, I transitioned to using a drawing tablet on my computer and creating more graphic-looking illustrations with simplified forms and limited colorways.

Over time, I began experimenting with different media and trying to use them to their unique strengths. I began using alcohol markers, crayons, linoleum prints, and I began experimenting with combining photos and illustration. Now, I try to use more of these different media simultaneously in my works. I might create a textured pattern with markers and pens on paper, then port it over into an illustration I drew in Procreate while using a manipulated photo as the backdrop. With every piece I create, I try to continuously evolve the stylization to make it distinctly me.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
I’ve struggled with finding new ideas to create works on. When I first started drawing seriously, I would create works revolving around current social issues and ideas, such as wage theft, worker rights, and strengthening community bonds. Almost all my works for the next two years would depict themes like these, reaching many people and allowing me to make connections with people around the United States and beyond.

Although I loved being able to connect with others through my art and having people from all over the world enjoy my work, I would eventually get very burnt out on depicting very explicitly political themes all the time. Lately, I have been focusing on other ideas as well, such as memories from my life, how I see the world around me, and love for my ever-changing Mira Mesa neighborhood. I try to not limit myself when it comes to creating art anymore, whether it be limiting to only a certain kind of topic, medium, or aesthetic style. I now create works that reflect what I want to see and not trying to appeal to any sort of person in particular besides myself.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
The majority of my works are illustrations featuring blobby, solid forms, simplistic color palettes, and hand-written text. Lately, I’ve been enjoying doing an illustration, then placing it on top of an image, and then layering text over it all. Like I mentioned above, I also create works that showcase my ideas on many social issues, and some of those works have seemed to resonate with a lot of people. I have also created digital prints, done screen prints, and even made linocut prints of my illustrations. I am most proud of the fact that I do everything myself, from the screen prints to the digital prints. I love being self-sufficient so I can get everything exactly the way I envision it.

We all have a different way of looking at and defining success. How do you define success?
For me with my art, success would be to keep creating works that satisfy my drive to make something new and something cool. When I am working on a new piece and I get that feeling, I know I’ve succeeded with that one.

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