"When I was young I remember having images in my head but could never find them in books or magazines so I would draw them. Dinosaurs fighting SWAT teams, spaceship race cars, and dream / fantasy images were among others I envisioned. Looking back, that is why I started drawing."
"I was born and raised in West Los Angeles, California. The city’s diversity surrounded me with a range of cultures, urban imagery, and music that significantly influenced my work. From the neighborhood graffiti to the landscape to album art work I would lose myself staring at the compositions, designs and line work, absorbing it all. Looking back what I was discovering was that the culture of graphics was a reflection of the culture itself.
Like a lot of kids the skateboard was my mode of transportation. Instead of learning tricks, I was fascinated with the graphics found on the skate deck and could not stop from copying them. Wes Humpston, one of the classic skateboard graphic designers was a major influence.
While at school instead of doing my assignments I would usually be sketching in the back of the class. I would show the other artist kids what I was doing and we would share our influences and ideas. What was happening for me was that I was beginning to develop my own graphic techniques and style.
In my early teens I got into the L.A. punk scene. I was playing in bands, so I would hand draw our gig flyers, t-shirt and sticker designs, and eventually started designing for other bands. Artists like Pushead, Shawn Kerri and RxCx (Ric Clayton) who did all of the art for the band Suicidal Tendencies were a big influence. I even drew a few custom Suicidal shirts for some of the local boys back in the day.
In high school I discovered Subway Art, a groundbreaking book documenting the work of New York graffiti writers. All the bold colors, line work and movement within the letters mesmerized me. Immediately I began working on my own lettering styles and characters, and eventually progressed to putting my outlines up on walls. Soon after, I met other writers and joined WCA (West Coast Artists), one of the seminal graffiti crews in Los Angeles. I had the honor of painting along side graffiti legends Rival, P-Jay, Miner, Risk, Pyro, and Wisk to name a few. It was an exciting time as the graffiti movement was just starting in L.A. Experimentation was in the air. A lot of that early work has been documented in the book History of Los Angeles Graffiti and I am proud to say a few of my pieces are in the book.
From my early graffiti/street graphics roots I branched out into graphic design and art direction working with the music industry creating CD packaging, marketing materials and as of late designing platinum sales awards for artists Eminem, Nicki Minaj and the Foo Fighters.
Currently, I have been focusing on my personal artwork combining all the techniques and inspiration I have learned through the years. I am seeking to find a balance between graffiti and fine art, to seamlessly blend the two into a harmonious body of work.
Recently I had a piece selected for inclusion in the Getty Research Institute: Los Angeles Liber Amicorum. The book contains over 150 works on paper by leading Los Angeles graffiti and tattoo artists and resides in the Getty Museum library archives.
I still see images in my head but now-a-days I have learned to channel all that angst in more constructive and positive ways."
—Marcel "Sel" Blanco