Tattoo Culture Behind Bars | Angel Bonilla
July 4, 2019
This week we spoke to the hermano @angel.jrbonilla all the way from Rivers Correctional Institute in North Carolina.
On April 3rd, 2008, Angel found himself having to answer for his past life. With one foot in on his passion and one foot in on his grind, it was a life that many know and one that leads to a similar ending. Originally from Zacatecas, Angel moved to Riverside when he was 12. As a kid, he would see some of the older kids, (including his brother) tattooing themselves with the “Pick and pick method.” Not knowing any English as a kid, Angel would draw and practice his handwriting nonstop. This would be the foundation for his love for art and tattoo culture. At only the age of 14 he got one of the older kids to give him his first placaso.
He fell in love with the culture and started tattooing just after 15 years old. The thought of providing something that would last forever was not only challenging but rewarding. Unfortunately, bills had to be paid and money wasn’t consistent so he had to seek outside sources. In 2005, Angel went to his first tattoo convention and it re-sparked his passion for tattooing. Around that time he also met #JoseLopezTattoos and set a goal to go all in within a couple years. In 2008, he had purchased enough equipment to open up shop when the door was kicked in and his dreams put on hold. @angel.jrbonilla is currently 11 years into his 16 year bid but is holding on to his passion for art! When asked what he does to maintain faith he said, “Stay positive and keep my mind busy.”
When asked why it’s important to maintain a connection with our Cultura he said, “So we don’t forget where we come from or the sacrifices others made for us.” “It’s unfortunate that we make the wrong choices by the illusion of easy money.” @angel.jrbonilla takes full responsibility for where he is and plans on doing what he can to amend the relationships he has affected. Gracias hermano for not only telling us your honest story but for your continued support! Your goal to open up your own shop and travel the world is inspiring. We will stay in touch and be ready to help with what we can.
Capturing Tradition and Culture | Gus Mejia
July 13, 2019
This week we spoke to our hermano Gus Mejia from Los Angeles, CA
Three years ago, Gus went to his first photo-meet. Battling with depression at the time and riddled with anxiety, he decided to grab his camera and head to the event. The anxiety slowly faded away when he got behind the lens and all he could focus on was getting the best angles! Dia De Los Muertos, with all its vibrant colors, rich history and culture, provided inspiration for Gus’s work! The tradition is one that he takes great pride in and loves to let others experience it through his work.
When asked what advise he’d offer to our youth who want to photograph, he said, “Work hard, never give up and have fun with it!” A few months ago #OriginalsMagazine reposted one of his photos and reached out to see if they could use one of his original pieces for their latest magazine cover! @gu5_09 Is currently working on his 2nd Dia De Los Muertos exhibition and is always looking for new ways to get involved with the community! Gracias for your work hermano and we look forward to your future endeavors!
The Art That Connects Us | Emilia Cruz
October 11, 2018
This week we spoke to @cruzemilia about her work and why she is so heavily involved in her local community. Emilia is originally from San Diego but currently resides in Simi Valley, CA and truly understands the importance of identifying with art. Her work consistently shows what women of color go through and promotes a strong message of self love. Her work not only forces us to think but allows us the opportunity to gain a little more understanding. Gracias for everything you do!
“I would like people to feel some type of comfort or connection when looking at my work. Especially womxn of color, I want them to see my work and think, hey she looks familiar.” - Emilia
See Mi Cultura Through My Lens | Santi 360 Photography
January 3, 2019
This week we spoke to our hermano @iamsanti360 from LA/OC, Califas! Understanding the importance of appropriate representation, Santi felt compelled to show our entire way of life and not allow the negative stereotypes to be the only images produced. The first image is from the 2006 Immigration March in Downtown, LA. This was the driving force behind Santi’s passion for capturing not only his hermano’s y hermana’s but also their raw emotions. Santi hopes his images help people see the rich cultura that binds us together and defines our familias. When asked what advice he has for the next generation of photographers he said, “You need to have compassion and respect for what you photograph. It’s an honor to photograph and you need to be careful not to misrepresent people.”
@iamsanti360 plans on having a huge year getting into short film and more documentary photography. Gracias hermano for your time and for the work you do!
Cultural Resilience & Longevity | Mi Vida Boutique
November 1, 2018
This week we spoke to Noelle from Shop Mi Vida located in Los Angeles, CA! “Mi Vida” started as a Chicana folk art collective under the alias, “Mi Prima” selling products at community festivals and marches. After 2 years they decided they needed a home and wanted the new location to represent the community. Mi Vida offers its space to local artists and monthly pop ups promoting cultural resilience and longevity! From handmade products/apparel to local events, the shop has created something that is truly beautiful with no end in sight! Congrats on the recent 11 year anniversary and we can’t wait to see what comes next!
“Art can be a catalyst for so much healing, connection and growth.” - Noelle
The Right Mindset | Skilly Waves
December 13, 2018
This week we vibed out with our hermano Skilly Waves all the way from the 208! Originally from Morelia, Michoacán, Skilly Waves found himself in Idaho. By the age of 16, he found it undeniably hard to avoid his love for music and began rapping on a professional level. Skilly draws his persistent passion from his father who provided a road map to success with his hard work and dedication! The hope is for people to close their eyes and really experience where the music can take you. His music is a fresh take on rap and the flow is flawless. When asked what advice he would give the next generation he said, “Brace yourself for more downs than ups but ask yourself how bad do you really want it?” Too many people give up before the break-through moment happens and that’s tragic.
Gracias hermano for your time and for your contribution to the cultura! The fact that you have enough insight to know you are currently evolving is exciting to see. To keep up with updates follow Skilly Waves CLICK HERE!
Educate & Manifest | Yvette Montoya
December 6, 2018
This week we spoke to Yvette Montoya from Southern California! Yvette is an artist who models and has written for the likes of TeenVogue, Hip Latina, and WeareMitu. She is also on the board of advisers for an amazing youth run organization called, Lets.Give! Due to the lack of Latina perspective in the media, Yvette felt inspired to utilize her voice. Her written work tell the stories of the countless powerful mujeres who do incredible things! Yvette is currently working towards becoming a political commentator, writing more mainstream publications and launching her own website! Not everyone has the same experience in this life and we can always use a different perspective in a "traditional" political landscape. When asked what advice she has for the next generation she said, "Don't let anyone tell you that you don't have a voice or that it's not important! Educate yourself before forming opinions."
Gracias for all the work you've put in and we are excited to see what you manifest due to your hard work and relentless mindset!! For more information on what Yvette has coming up CLICK HERE!
The Chicano Heat | WrisperArte
August 16, 2018
This week we spoke to Pedro "Wrisperarte" Garcia all the way from Wilmington, CA! Pedro consistently spoke on the need to have respect for the ones who came before us. He understands the value of hard work and mentioned how he represents perseverance. Pedro has been involved in the art community for roughly 3 years now but has surrounded himself with art his entire life. Pedro's intention when creating art is to build something that is always evolving like us. He wants people to experience something new every time they look at his work. Pedro understands that his work is a representation of him which means as he evolves, so does his work.
The hermano is constantly putting out new work and his journey is great to watch! To see more of his work CLICK HERE!