LA local artist Mister Toledo paints realistic scenes blended into fantasy storylines which leads the viewer to draw their own conclusions of what his images' deeper meanings are.
You are curating and showing in our latest exhibition "Sueños," what's your inspiration for the theme of the show and how did you go about curating the artists that will be exhibiting?
The inspiration for the show? Oh I really want to save that story for the day of the show, but I'm willing to share a bit about why I picked this theme. This theme comes from a dream I had when I was 15/16 I was going through a hard time with my family ever since my parents divorced. In 2001 I lost my dad at a job accident, and when I received the news of what happened I just felt hollow. I was shocked, and I couldn’t believe it. The only thing that kept going in my mind was that I never got a chance to say goodbye, and tell him how much I loved him. I deeply regretted the last physical contact is when he tried to hug me, and I got embarrassed and pushed him away. I really regret that I did that, and it’s not something my dad would always do. Moving on later that summer I went away to stay with my aunt up in Washington. There was this one night I had a dream that I would never forget. I was in a dark place all alone, and out of nowhere a white glowing person showed up and gave me a hug. I knew that was my dad visiting me basically saying “It’s okay son and goodbye for now”. That's the first time I woke up crying, and it felt like a release that I was holding on ever since his death. Sorry I unloaded a lot I usually keep those stories of the past to myself, but I'm trying to get better at opening up. That dream stayed with me forever, and I always wanted to paint it. The thing was I was like I’m waiting till I’m a better artist to paint it, but you know it's been 19 years I cant keep waiting. When I saw that post about Flatline Gallery looking for proposals for shows in 2022 I was like “this is that time I should do that Sueños show. I thought it would be
a great group show to have. I can’t wait to see what my art friends painted for this show. Picking process is tough because I want to invite everyone to participate, but this is my first curated show. I didn’t want to overwhelm myself, and this is a learning experience. I would love to do another one next year with more and new artists.
I’m so excited for this Saturday I just imagine everyone sharing stories of dreams and nightmares its going to awesome.
You have the ongoing motif of a figure in a yellow coat, can you elaborate on that?
Ah the jacket man that’s from back in my graffiti days. When me and my friends go out painting we would dress up all black wearing respirators. It felt like we were ninjas blending in the shadows. I would also draw like graffiti characters in jackets and hoodies, so that’s how it first started. Later on when I made my move to LA I started to paint more full figures like in wrinkled jackets. I just find it interesting and fun painting clothes, especially wrinkled ones. Then I painted my first yellow jacket in Paint Memphis, and that was more when I was focused on doing my own personal murals. I wanted
the character to stand out from the darkness. That's why he's wearing a bright yellow rain jacket. He wears it as well to protect him from outside elements while focusing on inner growth that's why he has flowers/insects/animals/plants coming out of his chest.
Does your artistic process change between your mural work and paintings?
Well for murals I mostly use spray paint, but I do want to do more brush murals they just take longer to finish though. I do see myself relying on technology when painting walls and canvases. By that I mean using my phone, computers, ipad, and photoshop. I would use those things to take pictures, and try to figure out my composition and colors before I start painting.
Do you remember the first mural you made?
Hmmm first mural..... well first I started off doing graffiti in my teens. That’s what got me into painting walls in the first place. After I started my career in my early 20’s I stopped doing graffiti and so did my friends. Later on I moved out of my hometown Ramona, and was trying to find an art community. Luckily I found Backfence Society a non profit art organization run by the amazing Sarah Spinks. I would go to some of the art shows she would make at old buildings that were going to get demolished. Then she had another building that they were going to do a halloween show. I went to help out and she gave me walls to paint whatever I wanted. Oh boy that lit the spark and it brought memories when I did graffiti. I painted this huge skull with sharp teeth, and another wall I did this person from Evil Dead, and then a bunch of portraits from the movie The Mask. Sarah is awesome if it wasn’t for her I wouldn’t be doing murals. She also helped me get my first city mural in Vista.
What motivated you to become a full time artist?
I would always come to LA to visit family and check out art shows. Part of me always knew that I should move to LA and become a full time artist, but I was afraid to take that big step. Before I became a full time artist I was doing graphic design for apparel companies, and during that time I wanted to reconnect with art. On the side I worked
at Art Beat gallery in Vista, took art classes, and volunteered at Backfence Society. The last apparel company I was pretty unhappy, and I just felt stuck. While working there I got a phone call to be accepted to check out this art show in LA. I ended up going and had an amazing experience that motivated me to believe that I was a great artist. That show motivated me to quit my job, and move to LA. I didn’t know what I was going to do, but knew I was going to let art lead the way. So yeah it’s been like 5 years? Still doing it I wish I did it sooner, but it’s better late than never.
What is your vision for the development of your career?
My vision would be having my own private place, and an art studio where I can focus on my paintings. I do want to keep teaching on the side and I want to be a mentor to the younger artists that would want to learn. I had mentors and art friends that helped a lot, and I want to pass down what they taught me and what I learned along the way. At longest I keep making art as a living and be able to pay the bills with it I’m happy.
Any advice for aspiring muralists?
My advice would be to keep painting, experimenting, and learning. The only way of getting better is always practicing. It took me many years to get where I’m at, and I still feel like there's a lot that I need to improve on. Murals are fun, but they can be very challenging and it's very physical work. Also wear a respirator. You have to take care of your health. You might not feel it now, but you will feel it later.
Any upcoming projects?
Working on my first ever solo show in October at Ewkuks I’m pretty excited about that. When I first moved into LA Ewkuks was the first LA gallery I showed art at. I do have some murals throughout the year, but gallery work is what I want this year to be more focused on.
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