Juan…it’s hard to describe this guy. He’s fierce, a kind of larger-than-life graffiti artist from East Los Angeles. Standing at a stature twice my size, he seemed a bit intimidating to approach. Petite and full of gumption, I walked up to him with a brave smile and meekly asked, “Will you help me airbrush cookies?” On the inside, I was already mentally preparing for a “no.” I mean, here I was asking this tough dude to help me…decorate cookies? Seriously, what was I thinking?!?
“Fo sho,” he said. From then on, all preconceived assumptions went out the window. As luck would have it, Juan is a big ole’ teddy-bear – a real closet sweetheart.
He looks perplexed as I tell him I run a blog. “A what?”
“A what?” So he’s not the most blog-savvy, but he’s a wizard when it comes to tech design. Watching him with an illustrator pen and a massive Mac tablet is inspiring; he whips up designs, logos, and sketches with ease.
Owner of a graphic design company (Crownhill Design Web), Juan specializes in print and fashion design. He also doubles as a tattoo artist, his work deeply influenced by his east side world.
Awed by his work, I asked him to ‘train me’ in the art of airbrush and graff writing. He took me on as his intern (yeah, the older kind of intern). Every Tuesday I would show up at his work studio in an effort to learn a new technique: the basics of airbrushing, the pressure points of the trigger, and even how to take apart the airbrush itself. It was so hard! Juan was patient with me, but I would always find a way or two to have airbrush sputter and tweak out. (Just so you know, I can load a mean pastry bag though, so there you have it).
By the last day of the internship, we had graduated to massive sizes of work, like these masterpieces. Graffiti art on this scale, the highlighting versus composition inside block letters, was damn near impossible. I have come to terms with the fact that the artist is the artist, and the baker is the baker.
Don’t get me wrong – this ended up working out really well, and working with Juan was a total blast. If you ever get the chance to give (legal) graffiti art a shot, I highly recommend it.
Credits: Thanks Juan, Crownhill Designs
Photos by: Maria Hedrick Photography