Xavi first caught our eye when he painted the most amazing colorful flowers and Ganesha on a fence in the Mission District. His use of stencil work is a technique of layering the likes of which I have not seen done by any other artist. His visionary street art embues an inner joy with it wherever it can be spotted. We caught up to find out about his techniques and inspiration when he took on painting one of the quintessential landmarks of the Haight District.
When did you start making street art? What got you started?
I started doing graffiti art in 1989- 90. This is Washington DC area here. As soon as I encountered it in the wild while out skateboarding i became instantly obsessed. I mean really obsessed in a profound way. I felt like it was taking me to the Godhead. I was in a delirious altered state, and could focus on nothing else really for years. It was a psycho-emotional gateway to a higher dimension beyond this world, and it really got the DMT in my brain flowing at a young age. I was captivated by the colors and shapes and letter and characters. The style was obviously from an advanced dimension beyond the third dimension. When I closed my eyes I would see dimensions of graffiti art where the energy was free from being confined to letters. I got a lot of the raw energetic content or spirit of it.
Do you have an art and design background? If so can you elaborate a bit?
I had an amazing High School art teacher. She was president of the National high school art teachers association and was pretty dialed in with all the big art Schools. She pushed me hard. I was really into going to Parsons School of Design in NYC but it was ultimately just too expensive. Beyond that I am self taught. I looked at what older artists and designers were doing and I got it. I didn’t need anyone telling me what to do. I was fine on my own.
Where do you get your inspiration?
I get my inspiration mainly from my imagination, and whats going on inside my head. The living visions have an emotional component located in my heart. In my dreams I see art that is beyond anything we have here on earth. Amazing art that would blow anyones mind. I get excited by those dreams. I look through big books with page after page of art from other worlds and it is like mind sex. On a surface level, i’m inspired by Nature. All the mysteries and answers of art and design are right there in ultimate master form. Its not hidden. Also these days Women inspire me. Their feminine essence is such a powerful force of creation, its like some kind of divine fuel that inspires to work hard.
Is there a specific message you are trying to get across with your art? Your work looks very much like visionary art. There seems to be a deeper meaning and story to it in a more spiritual sense than we typically get to see on the street. Is there a larger meaning or guiding force behind what you do?
The message I hope to convey is one of joy and love. Without going too deep into it, I just want to make people happy by creating celebratory images and forms of beauty to uplift peoples hearts and minds. The world is sick, and people are traumatized and hurting. I know I am. My family and every person I know is hurting. Art is medicine and Light is medicine. I am of service to bringing light for healing.
You just recently did a landmark building that is one of the cornerstones of the Upper Haight district at Masonic and Haight. Can you tell us about that project. How it came about?
Yes, I was contacted by the owners of the newly opened ‘Jammin on Haight’ store, and they asked if I would re-paint their building in a visionary psychedelic way to represent the psychedelic culture and history of the area, as well as define the vibe for their store which sells mainly world class tie-dye apparel by Ben Jammin, and other master tie-dye artists.
Can you tell us what goes into planning a project of this size.
For this project I stitched together photos of the main wall and spent about a week in photoshop trying different approaches, designs and color ways. The final design represents several evolutions of drafting. As far as execution, I break down the building into bite size chunks and go from least fun to most fun, saving the best for last.
What was the inspiration for the design?
The inspiration for the design was the people of the world. That intersection has thousands of tourists walking by and passing by on tour buses every day of the year. We are representing psychedelic culture here, so its important for the piece to feel safe, bright and modern. People have stagnant ideas about psychedelic culture so I wanted to clean that old energy out. My goal was to speak a visual language that any person from around the world would understand and feel comfortable with. The goal is to include everyone here, so I utilized the most primary building blocks of design. We wanted to steer away from illustrative imagery that would inevitable alienate some people. My personal goal is always to bring joy and excitement to children who see it, so a simple colorful design works. Doing this project taught me that adults are big toddlers and using basic shapes and colors can make people really happy.
What type of methods did you use to paint the building? (Spray, Stencil, paint)
I used nova color mural paint on the tiles and columns, spray paint and stencils on the window trim, and good old free hand spray paint on the upper section. I did a lot of hard edge taping on the tiles. Interns had to learn to paint a straight line, and cut a clean edge. Also, it was extremely uncomfortable dealing with the upside down and inner window areas. Painful.
What was the most trying aspect of painting the building?
Often the freezing cold weather and short working hours due to it getting dark so early. New rule: No massive outdoor projects in the middle of winter! The intersection is loud and crazy and it can be very draining after awhile. To cope with the overstimulation I stopped making eye contact with hundreds of people a day that I don’t know. That saved me a lot of energy.
Were there any funny moments or happening that occurred on the street while you were working that you want to share?
Occasionally old people would walk by and say “well that’s just lovely”, or “it looks really nice”. It’s always fun when old people give you props. Also it was funny when drunk dudes would come up to me and be like “this painting sucks”!!!!!!
Do you have any upcoming shows you want people know about?
Yeah my art show in Denver at Knew Conscious Gallery is up and running for the next two months. I will be painting at Open Mind Festival in Montreal in late july, and hopefully a few nasty wild graff pieces on the street when I’m traveling. I will be teaching a workshop and painting a mural at visionary artist Alex Grey’s place: COSM (Chapel of sacred mirrors) in NY this September.
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