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REVOST: Graffiti artist, Illustrator

Can you introduce yourself and where you’re from?

My real name, my original name, is Aaron. Then my artistic name is Revost. My artistic name started through graffiti because when I started painting when I was young I had to find a tag, and it turned out to be that. Then it just stuck throughout time and I’ve never changed it. Some people change their name but mine stuck with me. I’m originally from Mexico City, I’ve always been really urban. I’ve always been here.

Where did the name come from? Does it mean anything?

It doesn’t really have a meaning. What happened was that during that time we were looking for letters that we liked visually and made a sound that we liked. It’s that, it’s not about finding the origin of the word, it’s about how it sounds to you, and since you’re going to write it all the time, you have to like the letters. That’s how it worked out for me.

Have you always been creative?

I don’t know if it’s really creative but what I’ve always liked is to do is draw. Since I was really little, since kindergarten, I’ve liked to draw. I always had it really clear that that’s what I wanted to do, and since I was young I planned on working on something related to drawing. Obviously I didn’t know much about graphic design and illustration at the time, so I just wanted to be someone who drew. But drawing has been something I’ve always loved.

How did you get into graffiti and illustration?

Well it was a process. When I was young, the most direct contact I had with drawing was cartoons, so I liked to copy those characters at the time. Looney Tunes, Garfield, all the cartoons from the 2000s I liked to draw. Around middle school I got into comics. So I started making comics and I loved all the characters in the comics. Then in high school, skateboarding got popular as well as the urban scene, and all of the people that skated also did graffiti. For me, I thought graffiti was perfect: it was making letters but in a more urban way. Everything that it involved really caught my attention, since it was like a new culture, a new movement. It’s like another world. At that age, during that time in your life, you get bored with normal life, so you want to find something like a sub-world or a sub-culture. And graffiti went hand in hand with my love of drawing, it was perfect. I was meant to do it. And that’s how I started.

How did you create your own style?

For me, the search for your own style is super important. Graffiti is a lot about that, you learn that you have to have your own style. The letters are letters and they already have a form, they’ll always be the same. But that’s when you start to discover how you can make them: how you can enjoy them, how to make them yours. You find a way to put your own style into it. So that’s how you start looking for your style. Then, when practicing, you start to have a way of doing things, a way in which you flow best and is the most fun to you. It’s in terms of colors, of lines, everything. From there you’re always on the search for your style. It’s what I like most about drawing: always putting your touch or style into everything.

How would you describe your style? What influences do you have?

Honestly, right now my influences are so many. I’m always thinking about what I’m going to answer when someone asks me that question since it’s such an extensive answer. From music to illustration. For example, I was very influenced by comics and illustrations. Illustration always caught my attention more than art and canvases and all of that. Then around 2000 a lot of artists started doing illustrations but on canvases. So for me, I would’ve never fit into art school because I wanted to do illustrations and adapt them to canvases. But at that time that wasn’t too normal, art was still too ‘purist’. It was really complicated for me to fit into a discipline, and graffiti was so free. You could do what you wanted.

So from graffiti I hopped into illustration because I didn’t want to make letters anymore, I wanted to create my own characters. I remember starting a calavera as my first character. Since I was little, I had always liked calaveras and my dad had a book about posadas. I liked the way the author drew, almost like cartoons but he didn’t overcomplicate everything trying to express himself. It was super expressive black and white cartoons, and he defined everything through lines. I noticed that that’s what I liked, that’s what worked for me. Defining everything through lines without overcomplicating it. I like to think that that’s kind of where my style comes from. But then a while after that I was really into anime, and from there I learned a lot. If you like to draw, anime can teach you how to give things volume with shading and colors, all of that stuff.

Now, I really don’t like bringing in a ton of colors. I like using a limited color palate and creating contrast with those. It’s what has worked for me and what’s more fun for me: how to resolve an illustration with three colors. That took me to my style, I started forming it.

Do you have any artists that inspire you?

I think all contemporary artists that come from graffiti, and tattoo too, have certain bases of illustrators that even subconsciously have inspired us. For example, Moebius. I think he’s one of the most important illustrators of the century and we have all taken some sort of influence from him, even subconsciously. We’ve all seen some movie or animation that has been inspired by him and we take some influence from it. Another one is José Guadalupe Posada. When murals started taking off in Mexico, many muralists took influence from a lot of his work that was engraved. And there’s a lot of illustrations from the 2000s that were made for skateboarding that were inspired by him. So him and Moebius are like a base for many contemporary illustrators. Another one in the anime world that I think a lot of us are inspired by is Katsuhiro Otomo. I think a lot of us have been inspired by that science fiction. He was a key drawer in the 80s, since it was kind of around my time and around the time of many contemporary artists.

So we all grew up influenced by those three artists. When you look at my art and you compare it to theirs they don’t have much in common, since I try to put my own style into it. But those three are from what I’ve taken the most inspiration from.

What’s your creative process like?

I have a lot of themes and colors already thought out that I want to do. I have seasons of distinct color palates. Right now for example I have a very specific gamma of color palates that I’m working with. When I start working, I start thinking about how I can combine them, and that’s how I find out how to use the same colors but in different ways.

If I have a free wall to paint, I use drawings that I already have planned. For example, I’ll be thinking about an image I want to do, so I sketch it out in a small mockup and put it away. So when I see a free wall I think ‘oh this particular drawing would fit perfectly there’. It also depends on if it’s for a job, since they always give you a theme. But when there’s no theme, I already have all of these drawings put away that I can just continue to develop. I’ll redraw it, I’ll plan out the colors, I’ll make a more complete sketch, and then I can just go make it, whether it be on a wall or a digital sketch.

How did you get to the point of living from your art?

From around age 13 to 20 I was making graffiti, and graffiti is very much contrary to selling your art. You do graffiti for other reasons. Then around when I was 20, there were Mexican artists and illustrators that had already studied art and design that were swept up the urban art movement. Suddenly, urban graffiti artists started taking over galleries, magazines, and brand work. It was no longer just graffiti, you could illustrations and paint a canvas out in the street if you wanted. That’s when people began to give more value to graffiti, when they began to see those amazing things. So a lot of people that passed through graffiti were now doing illustration, design, and painting and started to live off of that. I remember galleries where you could exhibit and brands would show up and ask you for a mural, and people started working from that. And I’ve always wanted that, I wanted to convert what I do into a lifestyle you could live from. So from there I started to change my graphics and make more illustrations and murals.

I used to like digital art a lot and friend gave me a computer so I had to teach myself how to do that using tutorials. Then they began asking me to make digital designs for brands. I was liking the process, it was fun for me, and when I saw that they paid me I knew it was what I wanted to do. It’s been a long process. From my first job it’s been like eight years. In the beginning you don’t have a lot of work, nobody knows you and you’re just starting off. So I always had another job, but slowly I began having more and more work. But it’s definitely a long process.

What’s your favorite medium?

I think murals are my favorite. Interacting with the street is what I most enjoy, I would do it even if nobody paid me. I would work doing something else just to be able to do that. I love the experience of it. And when people find you and tell you they like your work I want a mural and let you do whatever you want, that’s my favorite.

Does being Hispanic influence your art at all?

Right now I’m really into that. At one point I had a lot of Japanese influence, but now everything Mexican is what calls to me. I feel connected to a lot of things. You go outside and see the city, the archeological sites, the artesanias, the traditions, everything your family has, and you feel connected to it. You feel connected to your roots, your culture, your family, and that’s very easy to do here. We’re very into tradition and family. It feeds your soul, your past and your culture. And that’s what I enjoy and what I try to make people feel when they look at my art. Whether they’re from other cultures, and even from here, I want them to feel that. Here in Mexico, we’re super familiar with some of this stuff. The coins have ancient graphics, but to us they’re monotonous. So how can I take this ancient stuff that we take for granted and make people notice them again through what I do? So yes, I’m very influenced by Mexican culture right now.

What have you done that you’re most proud of? What’s your favorite piece?

I have pieces that have become key pieces. There are digital illustrations that are my favorite and I’ll go back and look at them to remember how to make something well. A lot of the time those pieces aren’t planned. I have murals that I didn’t plan and came from nowhere, that I just got there and had leftover paint from other work and the mural ends up being everyone’s favorite. Murals and illustrations are very personal, and you do them just for yourself, but people can influence you. If you make a mural, people will see it. Especially with social media. So sometimes what people like most or what they remember best are my key pieces.

What are your goals for the future?

I would like to have a really definite style that could be done in something else, like a sculpture. Or I’d like to make something decorative in 3D. Maybe some toys, like collection pieces. Now there’s a lot of tools to do that. Or I’d like to make characters for something, like a video game. I like that my works ends up as one image, since people will see it and know what it is, but I’d like to make something that can be something else in and of itself.

Any words of wisdom for young graffiti artists or illustrators?

For anyone really, not just artists, try to always be yourself so you can get to something that’s yours. Try and clear your head of what others think of you and just feel good about yourself. When you feel good with yourself then you reflect that, and people like that. Then you don’t have to worry about people liking you or you being a certain way, you’ll always be yourself. That’s super important for me in anything you do, whether it be work or anything else. It’s also important to always be consistent. Always see everything as a challenge and as training, just because things go wrong at a certain point doesn’t mean it’ll always be like that. I have a belief that it’ll always start off bad but end well as long as you’re consistent. It’s what motivates me the most. I try and always do the things I like, even though they’ve never been the best experiences or results, but I’m passionate about them and I’m consistent.

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