Artist Benjamin Alejandro has overcome many things in his life and he has used his experiences and life lessons to become a conscious artist and designer. Taking difficult moments in life and using them as the forefront in your art is not only brave, but it sets the tone for others to do the same. There is a vulnerability aspect that I enjoy about Benjamin’s art. Posting your mug shot and owning it takes the power from that situation and, in turn, creates a whole new idea behind the photo. I am so fascinated by Benjamin’s work ethic and hustle that I knew I had to capture his journey in an interview. This is the story of Benjamin Alejandro…
Most people would be afraid of airing the skeletons in their closet for the world to see due to public opinion, judgment and so on. Do you feel that using your personal mug shot in your art has freed you from having these fears?
I think it’s important to be real and open. It helps to keep a clear vision and purpose of goals or path. It has helped me to push my self, progress and pull through by owning the art, image and in the works oneself.
On your website you have this great introduction piece by G. James Daichendt. What was it like having your work showcased in his book?
It’s funny how I ended up in his book. A good friend of mine “Desire Obtain Cherish” was working on editing a video for the book’s release during one of my visits to his studio. We ended up adding footage from a recent street art installation I had recently done. We wrapped up the video edit and sent it out to James without his consent at that point. He loved the added content and pursued to carry me onto the final edit of his book. Taking some of the initial roots of graffiti can at times work for you.
How important is the relationship between the artist and the author who tries to tell the story of the artist? Do you think his book "Stay Up" captured the essentials of the
I think it’s great; I’ve read tons of his articles and I know he comes from a good place by defending street art with and what we do. It’s a real treat to have him see our side and story for what it is.
Stay up LA might be a head of its time. There is no telling what the future holds for us. I do agree that it does grasp at least my ideas of art, street art, and graffiti to the viewer and the artist.
In general, how do you feel about books that try and navigate through the street art/art/graffiti culture?
These books are great. My first encounter with this culture was through a book a school mate showed me at the age of 7-8 entitled “Subway Art”. Growing up where I grew up, it was made easy to gateway from gangs to become a "writer" or "tagger" as they were called then during that movement at that time. I do believe our times are changing with computers yet I believe it’s the same concept of documenting and sharing an interesting subject.
What can you share about your clothing line? Where did the “PRAY” hat concept derive from?
Fashion is another part of my interests. I have wanted to be a part of fashion in one way or another since I was a young child. For me it's really important to have goals, meet goals, make new ones and continue expanding my limitations. Pray is just a spin off of my message of spirituality which I continue to seek and pursue. I believe it speaks for itself.
What has the reaction been to you using celebrity mug shots in your art?
The reaction has been very well. It was a concept I was working on for over a year before their debut. I'm more than pleased with the outcome and as an artist I'm looking forward to new projects currently in the oven.
We recently had a conversation about how technology would outlive us and represent pieces of who we were in life after we have passed on. What do you hope your Tweets/Facebook statuses/Instagram posts will say about you?
Yeah, we're currently in an age where we are constantly putting out information in writing. This includes hard drives and countless digital files. My hard drives would state that I work a lot and the internet information would state that I'm focused and driven. The way people see me and how I see myself are also two different ideas. So that may differ. I do like to think that I am still very young in many ways and I am looking forward to see how all this pans out.
For More Information:
Main Website: benjaminalejandro.com
Stay Up LA Book: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FeL4e4TNmHI
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