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The Roots of Art

Name: Perry

Favorite Book: 1984

Favorite Artists: Mark Rothko and Felix Gonzoles Tores

Pronouns: he/him

Age: 20




Bio: Perry is a first-generation Mexican American artist, studying at UCLA. His parents both immigrated from Mexico, and they now live in southern California. He has grown increasingly popular on social media for his shop where you can purchase his truly stunning work.


K: What started your journey with art?

P: I started in high school. I'd always been, like, a very artistic kid but I never really did anything much with art. It was just, you know, like a go to school, come back and do work and chores and stuff. And then I remember in high school, I did take some art classes just to, like, fill the elective requirement.

I was like, well, I'm not gonna do football and I'm not gonna do band so I guess I'm gonna do art. There weren't many options, you know.

So when I did that, and then, like, I started, you know, getting more into it, and my teacher was like, yo, you should try painting then instead of drawing. And then like, I instantly just fell in love. And I was like, Oh, yeah, I need to do this.

K: That's awesome

P: Yeah. And I think during that time, I also found artists like Felix Gonzalez Torres, and hearing his story about his work, I was like, wow, I want to do something like that but with painting.

K: When did you make the decision to, you know, more or less pursue it full time and go to art school?

P: I want to say senior year I had the idea of going to art school. But at the time, I was still thinking that I was gonna be an architect cause I'm really good at math. And so it was like, I love, I love math. I love calculus. And I was like, art is also really fucking dope. So I was like, this is like a perfect marriage.

And so I applied everywhere in college for architecture, except for UCLA, because UCLA doesn't offer architecture until junior year.

So the plan was, if I get into UCLA, go for art, and in junior year, I'll apply for architecture and then do the architecture program the last two years. So I got in everywhere, and I was like Berkeley for architecture? Or I could go to UCLA and do art. And then you know, decide later on if I want to do architecture. And I went with that option. And once I was there, I was like, yeah, architecture, no, I'm sorry.

K: How did you figure that out?

P: Once I accepted their application, I told my parents I was going for architecture. So they didn't know that it was just art. So I remember I think during the summer, I started painting a lot more. And when I got there, then I was like, okay yeah, I'm really not really in the mood of doing architecture anymore. My sophomore year, I was like, Yeah, I didn't take the required classes anymore, so it doesn't matter.

K: How did your parents handle you saying that you're going to school for art?

P: We were sitting at the dinner table on Thanksgiving and then they were like, oh, are you taking like, what class are you taking for your architecture major, something like that.

I looked at them, and I was like, architecture major? I was like, I'm not doing architecture. And then they all like stopped and looked at me and they're like,

What do you mean, you're not doing architecture anymore? What happened to that?

And I was like, oh, I missed the deadline. I'm sorry.

K: That's really great. I love that.

So, your social media has taken off. How is that been going?

P: It's been going well, I think Instagram was one of the reasons why I started art. Cause when I was doing it in high school, I remember seeing people post their art. And so then I started doing that, and like, over time, I was like, oh, this is fun. And I was like, I want to keep a consistent thing and like that motivated me to be more consistent with it.

And then lately, with Tick tock, once I understood it, I was like, this is so fun. I was just, like, having so much fun with it by trying to promote my work on there

K: In your art is you referenced being inspired by Gonzalez, and he is a very story-driven artist. Do you feel like you're a story-driven artist as well?

P: Yes. I believe his work is allegory, it's a story. So when I first started, it was a bit story-driven, but it wasn't as much. And so then, like, once I started seeing something like that, I found that I had a love for telling my story and telling, like, what was going on during that time of my life.

K: What are the stories that you've told through your art.

P: So this piece is like march at the same beat, but one of them is stabbed. If I'm not mistaken, gay marriage was legal when I made this, but it was still like a very, like, heated topic.

A lot of time, like, queer love can’t exist because, you know, but there's still flowers blooming through it. I was like, even though there are scars, they still find ways to force through it.

Also when I was in college, I did a lot of work about my anxiety and my panic attacks about living out there on my own. But when you look at them you're like, look at these pretty little sunflowers. And then you hear the story and realize it’s kind of eerie

K: It's so gorgeous

P: So that one was inspired by Michael when I went out there in LA. It was always like a dream of mine to live out in LA, so it looks like a beautiful dreamscape. But then, like, the more you look at it, it starts getting really weird and creepy, like the figures face is covered up, and he's bleeding and, like yeah, but it's still like very beautiful at the same time.

So it's one of those eerie beautiful surreal dreams I can't really make out what is good and what isn't.

K: What inspired the painting of the two men in the water?

P: That one was, I believe, like, a month after I came out and I was like, I really want to do like, queer love. I was like, I really want to draw gay men, like now that I'm out I can finally do this

K: That's awesome

P: So the was the main driving force behind it. Yeah, you know, and so I wanted that one to be a much more like, peaceful – like just two people enjoying themselves in the pool water. But then the water is also still kind of rocky in some way. So it's beautiful, but there's some tension in there that they just kind of like, you know, they're literally floating over it.

K: So what about your story feels lost.

P: I want to say there's something that I've recently realized that has a lot to do with everything going on, is coming out in a Hispanic Latino community does – like coming out on its own is very hard – but coming out in a Mexican culture in which machismo was like very heavy. Like, homophobia is deeply rooted in these cultures. And so like, as a result of that, when I came out, I left my culture essentially, and like, tried to distance myself as far as possible and go to like a lot gay American white culture. So I think that is definitely a voice that is not heard.

K: Have you been trying to kind of reconcile these two cultures? Or has that been too difficult?

P: For the past two years, I've just left it under the rug because it was just like, too uncomfortable to come to terms with, you know. But recently with everything going on, I think this past two months, I've been trying to incorporate my culture more with my work. But it's so you know, it's so slow progress. It's in the works. I have some pieces that I'm making right now that include more like, Hispanic queer love, but yeah, it's been something that I never, I guess considered.

K: Why do you think it's something that you hadn't considered before?

P: So I want to say it has to do with colorism. Also white is often seen as the default or like, the normative. And so because of that, and I steered so far from my culture, I essentially, like, locked it out and went to that. And I didn't realize what I was doing with that. For a while I was like, I don't ever want to be recognized as like a gay artist or like a Mexican artist. I just want to be seen as an artist.

But then I was like, that's kind of damaging because like, you're ignoring a big part of your culture. And so I was always like, oh, but I'm drawing a Latino, but they were always very light-skinned. And like once I realized that I slowly started doing different cultures and wanting to specifically reference mine.

K: How do you feel like you've been incorporating that into your newer art right now?

P: For starters, I know that now I've been painting more black folx. And then like, when I first came out, I made this piece, but I never finished it. They're all white men, so now that I'm back home I'm gonna be painting over them trying to do you know like I guess repair the damages.

K: To me that that's such a beautiful image of that. Of coming back, learning more, painting over.

How has it been trying to come back to your own culture? How has that been met with your friends and family?

P: It's been a pretty positive response. Like a lot of them are very happy, like, oh, you're finally painting us and representing us.

I'm like, wow, how did I not realize this sooner, you know. It reminds me of like when queer people asked for, like, queer representation. The response was like, what do you mean, we have a gay person over there? They're in like, you know, they're in that one episode for like, five seconds. So yeah, like once I realized that I'm trying to come back and make reparations and move forward. I also address it and encourage my other followers to also, you know, realize that.

K: So for you, what feels like the most important thing for you to share about your story right now?.

P: Go back to your roots instead of trying to distance or deny them.


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