Tell us about yourself, who are you, where are you from, and what do you do?
My name is Samuel E Vázquez. I was born in San Juan, Puerto and grow up in New York City in the 1980s. I do abstract expressionist paintings rooted in my upbringing in the NYC subway graffiti art/writing movement. I also educate the public about the roots and history of graffiti art through lectures, presentations, historical documentary screenings, and hands-on activities.
How did you get started doing what you do?
I first started writing graffiti in 1980, but it was not until 1983 at the age of 13 that I immerse myself in the graffiti writing culture and into the newly formed hip hop culture; with its elements being, dj’ing, mc’ing, break dancing, and graffiti art). What I do know is explore the rhythm, movement, and impact of graffiti writing in an abstract expressionistic way.
What’s your inspiration?
Graffiti writing, music (funk, hip hop, soul), and urban environments (primarily New York City).
What is art to you?
Art to me, is a voice. The visual manifestation of thoughts, ideas, and cultures.
What does your typical day look like?
I am a morning person. I am usually up around 12:30 a.m., do my communications, see what’s on my schedule, read a couple of newspapers from around the world, drink a cup or two of coffee or tea, enjoy the rising of the sun, and off to painting by 5:30 a.m. By early to mid afternoon I am done. Then enjoy time with family and friends.
How do you keep motivated?
My passion for the arts keeps me going.
What do you hope to accomplish with your work?
Through my work I share the stories of a seemingly forgotten, but resilient, youth generation whose expression became a cultural phenomenon and reached the world over.
What, if anything, would you tell your younger self?
Stay focused and everything will turn out okay.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
To simply be yourself.
Any words of wisdom to aspiring artists who want to pursue a similar career?
The road is not easy but when you create art in truth it is all worth it.
What are your thoughts on art school?
It is great in terms of granting dedicated time to focus on your art.
Have any future aspirations that you’d like to share?
Continue doing what I am doing and sharing my art with diverse audiences.
What art supplies do you use?
Mainly spray enamel, acrylic and oil paint, ink, graphite.
How could the art industry become better in your opinion?
By opening up to other forms of art.