Inside a long, narrow North Park studio plastered with hundreds of DIY stickers and stencils, Gerardo Yepiz sits in front of his computer, photographing images from archived boxes of photocopies while simultaneously checking MySpace and responding to the constant alerts of multiple IM chats beeping away like a digital bird's mating song. Yepiz sips a black, iced double espresso and listens to loud, thumping electronic music pouring from his computer speakers. Bright white dots, whose collective form takes the shape of combination of a computer and a tank, are spray-painted just outside the studio--it's one of the latest examples of Yepiz's stenciling experiments.
The Mexico-born artist has been switching up his technique and approach to stencil art since the days of Alf and Rubik's Cubes. Known to the art world as Acamonchi, his work cross-references pop culture and politics while serving up a healthy dose of social commentary and humor.
It's funny, though--Yepiz's love for the art form is somewhat cloaked in his disdain for the bulk of contemporary stencil-art work.
'I'm sick of them,' he says. 'The whole movement has already been established and I don't want to be a part of it.
'Don't get me wrong,' he adds, 'I'm not discouraging anyone's personal exploration.'
Making a stencil can be done in dozens of ways, but Acamonchi's got it down to an economical science--he's figured out how to do it quickly and cheaply without sacrificing the quality of the finished product.
Interested in a bit of personal exploration myself, I show Yepiz some photos I think would look good in stencil form. He jumps into action, immediately selecting an image of me laughing, citing the creases of my devilish grin as perfect negative space for stencil fodder.
Yepiz scans the image, imports it into Photoshop, crops it, converts it to grayscale and, by adjusting the light levels, reduces the image to its barest elements.
Printing out the newly stripped-down black-and-white image, he squirts a few bursts of his spray adhesive on a piece of cardboard and looks for his X-ACTO knife. He sticks the image to the cardboard and gets ready to hack away the excess.
I am suddenly concerned Yepiz will cut himself as he clears a small space on a desk crowded with various sketches, stickers, paint cans and photos. But when he sits down, he calmly focuses on his task.
'I do this well, but this isn't the end of it,' Yepiz boasts as he effortlessly slices through the cardboard with the precision of a surgeon.
My gaze is on his hands. Lost in the moment, allegories fly through my head like butterflies from a Neruda poem before I realize that I may be experiencing the side effects of using spray adhesive in a poorly ventilated space.
Finishing the last cut, Yepiz pops out the cardboard and holds the finished product to the light and smiles, yelling, 'Hey, it looks just like you!'
He then checks his e-mail and IMs. His work is done. The image is ready to be spread around the world via its indispensable sidekick, spray paint.