LLEW MEJIA

leopardCH.89: If you were to categorize or describe the style of your artwork, what would it be and why?

LM: I would say that my style varies depending on the effect I am looking for. I like to think that I have many styles and that each of them caters to a different audience. I try to be very inclusive and if I was to say a category it wouldn’t be one but several.
So from my perspective I would say that the styles range from a folk art/ contemporary illustration style to a much heavier line driven style which lends itself to looking similar to scientific illustration. All of my work has elements of folk art and particularly hispanic folk art. Also the work features a large amount of occult and natural world motifs. It’s a loaded question to me haha.

CH.89: Where do you draw your inspiration from?

LM: As I said before, occult symbolism and nature are huge inspirations in my work. I look at a lot of patterns ranging from contemporary surface designs to calico patterns of India, as well as scientific illustration compilations. I think it helps that I am well traveled for my age as I can draw a lot of inspiration from personal experiences. Oh yeah, I have plenty of talented real and internet friends.

CH.89: Can you talk a little bit about what your creative thought process is like when starting a new project/ piece of artwork?

LM: It starts with a lot of real messy sketches. Usually really small drawn on post its, which eventually clutter up my work space so much that it looks like a 3M factory blew up on my desk. Then I will usually take that sketch and scan it and complete the piece on the computer. But other times the sketches will go on to become larger sketches and eventually be inked into something cleaner that I can scan and then color digitally. The computer has taught me many things and helped with speeding up my process. I just started using it with my work this last year, and I feel like I am still a baby with walking legs when it comes to the computer.

CH.89: Is there anything in particular that you would want people to take from your artwork?

LM: I just want people to relate to it, whatever they take away from it, if anything at all is good by me. I have done my job then and can sleep easy.

CH.89: Can you talk a little bit about your lifestyle as an artist and what that is like?

LM: I think my life in particular is very different than other artists, and even illustrators. Mostly because I feel like since I work full time at a corporation doing art that is for a mass market audience and then go home to make work for a much smaller client with tastes similar to my own. The work/life balance is skewed slightly since I work all the time, I don’t think that’s unusual for anyone who has my lifestyle though. I also have outstanding student debt which is not unlike most people in my position. So I would say for the most part my life is similar to most career artists. I just split my life in between two worlds, and I like it that way.

CH.89: When starting out an artistic task, do you think it is better to have a particular direction/set plan guiding your way? Or, is it better to act on impulse and go from there?

LM: I used to be very impulsive when making art. I think that stopped after I realized that it’s much easier to have an idea of what or why you are making something. The task is very important to the process as well. A pattern I would make is usually made completely by impulse. An illustration or drawing on the other hand is thought about a bit more and has more time put in as far as thought.

CH.89: What is one major lesson you’ve learned as an artist thus far?

LM: Don’t be mean to people unless they deserve it.
That being said, don’t let people walk all over you.
Be yourself, it’s cheesy, but if no one likes you for you, I guess you are probably not going to make it very far anyway. Also, push yourself, and when someone gives you criticism try not to take it the wrong way. I know you think they don’t have your best interests but sometimes it can lead to a great result.

CH.89: Do you regard personal style & taste to be of highest importance?

LM: Yes and no. Like I said before, I have many styles. I think to be a successful artist sometimes you do have to brand yourself and make a stylized piece of art every single time. But it is also really important not to stagnate because you will bore people. I think style is very important if you are doing editorial illustration work especially. One thing I will say is that I have seen many a successful career made out of doing the exact same thing in different colors and compositions over and over and over….

CH.89: What do you consider to be the hardest thing about being an artist?

LM: Money and other people taking you seriously “drops the mic”.

CH.89: What is one thing you love about being an artist?

LM: Making things for people and making things that didn’t exist before you made it. Community is awesome too, so many people have your back if you are in the commercial artist industry, I think everyone relates to each other.

CH.89: Is there anyone in particular, any artist’s that inspire you in any way?

LM: Lots but I couldn’t really even start. I like Picasso even though that’s really cliche, Matisse is awesome as well.
A lot of the people who worked on ZAP Comics with R.Crumb. They were all really great. William Morris. Josef Frank, along with many other Scandinavian designers of that era. All mid century cartoonists and illustrators.

CH.89: What do you think of technology in terms of being a useful tool for artists today?
Refer to Question #3

CH.89: Do you think being an artist allows you to view the world differently from those who don’t follow creative paths?

LM: Maybe but probably not, everyone is living different lives. I will say on average creative people are more open to outside ideas, but I wouldn’t say you have to be creative to view the world differently. I think all people have a relative intelligence and may excel in one thing so they all can lend different perspectives on the world.

CH.89: Do you enjoy traveling? If so, do you have a favorite city?

LM: Melbourne, San Francisco, NYC.

CH.89: Do you have a favorite author or book?

LM: Not really. May sound dumb, but it’s true.

CH.89: Any future goals or plans for your artwork?

LM: I would just like to live more comfortably than I do now. Anything above that, well that’s good to me. Reach for the stars as they say.

CH.89:What does being an artist mean to you?

LM: Spreading my creative seed as widely in the field of art as I possibly can.

CH.89: Any last words on the aesthetic of your artwork?

LM: Not really, I would feel pompous discussing it any further than I already have.

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