The artist who goes by the name EXIST1981 (he requested that we not use his real name) seems to be everywhere these days. Head to any trendy nightclub in town, and chances are you'll spot one of his pieces. Walk down the street in an urban area. Look around. Chances are you'll see him. But not in the ways you might think.
In fact, EXIST1981's work isn't ubiquitous on the gallery scene. His work will pop up here or there on walls, but his art, especially his “Full Tone” image of a blurred, glammed-out woman's face (that might or might not be a reinterpreted pic of Liza Minnelli or, perhaps, Tim Curry from Rocky Horror Picture Show), can be seen plastered to the corners of buildings and electrical boxes, stuck to street signs and on the chests of fashion-forward hipsters on limited-edition tees. With his mix of fine art, street art and fashion branding, it might be tempting to call him a local equivalent to someone like Shepard Fairey or Banksy, but that's just because there's not anyone locally doing all that EXIST1981 does.
“It's a subjective piece, open to interpretation,” says the El Paso native via e-mail when asked about “Gone With the Skin,” the art on this week's cover of CityBeat.
Uh, OK, anything else?
“Well, I just mean that I enjoy making subjective pieces that let the viewer take what they want. I love that it's an iconic photo that is revealed later, and I feel it's sexy.”
And speaking of sexy, EXIST1981's eponymous clothing line continues to sell out of his custom T-shirts and hoodies. He came to silk-screening clothes by way of moving from one medium to the next.
“I've always sketched, then I got really into graffiti, and that's how I learned to paint,” he says.
He often describes his collective works as a multimedia massacre. “I enjoy working with many mediums: spray paint, acrylic, enamel, one shot, silk screen. Lately I've been spending much more time on my pieces. The detailed line work is captivating me at the moment.”
And other than the detailed line, is there anything else he plans on tackling?
“I am just scratching the surface of my creative abilities.”
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