August 6th will be a momentous day for street art. Legendary, international badass EL MAC celebrates the opening of "Faces of Life". Working late into the night in still sweltering temperatures, El Mac puts the finishing touches on one of the pieces for his upcoming show and answers a few questions for the curious…
- I know you're a busy man these days so I'll cut to the quick, when did you first start painting?
I first remember drawing at about 3 or 4 I think... didn't start painting with spraypaint or acrylic until maybe around '94 or so...
- what led you to explore the world of aerosol?
A combination of friends in grade school that were painting graffiti, seeing the book Subway Art, and my obsession with the movie The Warriors.
- when you first started out were you aiming for photo realism or is it what came most naturally to you?
From pretty early on I kind of felt that the more realistic or representational the work was, the better, which I guess is kind of a simplistic, classical way of approaching art. I think photorealistic/representational art is especially hard to pull off well, so I'm sure I've liked the challenge of it. It's only been slowly over time that I've opened up to more abstract elements. I don't think this stuff was ever deliberately thought out though...if I liked it and it spoke to me then that was enough. You just kind of know when some art has that "extra something".
- how do you feel after a painting/piece is finished? Do you hate to look at it or are you stoked that it turned out the way it did?
I'm usually pretty happy with it. Sometimes I won't like my stuff, and it's usually when I'm rushed, but for the most part I do my best to take time & make sure I'm happy with my art. Da Vinci said "Art is never finished, only abandoned"...so even if I do have to abandon my pieces I try to hang in there and spend quality time with them whenever possible.
- What do you love about what you do?
I just really love to make art...to create...it's very satisfying. Pushing around colors to make images that communicate something to other people. It feels like I'm doing something important, like I'm fulfilling some kind of duty. I feel like making art is some way of rising above basic instincts towards survival and reproduction, and trying to connect with the spiritual. even if it's just a nice tag or a doodle of a hot chick or something. I think music, dance and literature, etc are the same way. It's about growth...trying to make life better & more enjoyable and meaningful, I guess? I'm still trying to figure this out...
Yielding a spray can as masterfully as an oil painter with his brush, El Mac kills it.
"Faces of Life" opens August 6th, 2009
Opening Reception- 7- 9:30pm
248 Fillmore St. SF