Thinkspace is pleased to present Mister Toledo as the 2nd artist to exhibit new works in Brek’s Dog House Gallery situated in our beautiful courtyard.
Daniel aka “Mister Toledo” is a Mexican Southern Californian artist, who now resides in Los Angeles. Before he took a leap of faith to follow his dreams, Daniel spent his 8-year artistic career in graphic artistry for several apparel companies like No Fear, Trinity Products, and Wattie ink. Daniel received his Associates degree in Graphic Design from Coleman University, and dedicates his art to his family for inspiring him to follow his journey. Volunteering with Backfence Society a non-profit art organization, Daniel helped elevate the importance of art/murals across the North San Diego area. Daniel continues to draw inspiration from his own life while deeply exploring personal and vulnerable themes regarding the human experience. Working with Artchemist Daniel learned the importance of cross-collaboration and team work. He wouldn’t have been as successful in his transition in Los Angeles if it wasn’t for that.
Our interview with Mister Toledo shares his creative rituals, his major creative influences and how he unwinds outside of work.
What themes were you exploring in this body of work? Did you have a piece that was particularly challenging?
I challenged myself to venture into new territory when creating this series. Drawing inspiration from the current social landscape, I decided to combine graffiti and street-art to explore engaging evocative themes that people can readily relate with. I would like to keep my creative gift a surprise till showcasing them to friends and art lovers, and I am very interested in observing how they perceive my works.
One of the most challenging tasks for me when painting this series is trying to paint 1-inch portrait with realism. Like the one painting of me buffing a wall I swear I repainted that face and head like 4-5 times. I usually like to hide the portraits in my personal work as way for the viewer to imagine themselves as that person in the painting.
What does a day in the studio look like for you? How do you structure your days?
A typical day at the studio begins with a struggle to arrive early, as avoiding morning traffic is high on my priority list. Once I arrive, I share the studio with another artist, Eric Michael, who loves to arrive at the ungodly hour of 4 am to paint. When I first started painting, I did so in my room or my aunt’s garage, so it’s such a luxury to have ample space and numerous art supplies at my fingertips. Painting at home was difficult because distractions were abundant.
It usually takes me a while to get in the groove, but once I start, I find myself absorbed in painting until late at night, even until 1 am. Sleeping after painting becomes a challenge. I typically spend 2-3 days at the studio due to a side job of being a painter assistant and painting murals, which can consume the rest of my time, often taking around four days to complete. Completing murals is taxing labor, so when I finish, recharging my batteries with a well-deserved break is critical. Despite the grueling nature of my job, I find solace in the fact that I can invest 8-10 hours into a long day of quality painting.
Do you have any rituals that help you tap into a creative flow?
In order to tap into my creative flow, I have a few rituals that I follow to help get the juices flowing. For example, I find that listening to music is especially helpful – particularly in the car. When I’m fully engaged in the music, my inner thoughts and feelings tend to drift alongside the melodies and lyrics – leading me to generate a plethora of random ideas. Additionally, I spend time leafing through art books and listening to podcasts that feature renowned artists, both of which serve to inspire and motivate me.
What is your most favorite and least favorite part of the creative process?
When it comes to the creative process, I have a favorite and least favorite part. My favorite part would undoubtedly be the rendering phase, where things start to take shape and appear more lifelike. At this point, I tend to lose myself in the process and simply have fun with it.
However, on the flip side, my least favorite part would be after I’ve finished the painting, as I have a tendency to nitpick and become overly critical of my work. Despite my efforts, I’m often unable to silence my inner critic completely, making this phase particularly trying and taxing.
Who are some of your creative influences? Why do they inspire you?
I draw inspiration from a vast array of individuals, but there are certain notable figures who have had an especially profound impact on me. The golden age illustrators such as Norman Rockwell and JC Leyendecker stand out among the rest. Not only were they exceptionally talented painters, but they were also masters of storytelling. Their art has the power to elicit a range of emotions within me – I can’t help but smile or become introspective upon viewing their works. I relate to their pieces on a personal level, as they’re reminiscent of my childhood experiences and the challenges we face as adults. Considering the sheer volume of paintings they produced over the years, it seems impossible for me to even dream of reaching their level of artistic prolificacy.
A common theme in your artistic journey is community and putting yourself out there in creative spaces that allow for dialogue with fellow artists; what advice would you give to someone who feels anxious about putting themselves out there in social situations? How did you find the spaces that were meant for you?
For fellow artists looking to participate in social events, my advice would be to take the leap and put yourself out there. There are numerous art events and shows to choose from, so simply select those that align with your interests. Conduct research in your area to locate venues that offer art workshops or classes – this can be a great way to meet local artists. If large crowds and strangers are not your typical comfort zone, I recommend starting small and working your way towards more populous events. It can take time to get comfortable socializing with new people, but pushing yourself to do so can be incredibly rewarding. Painting murals is another excellent opportunity for interaction, given the many individuals who will stop to chat about your work as they pass by.
You have a rich background in mural work. Is there a particular mural that is your favorite or a location that has stood out as exceptionally memorable? What is the biggest learning you’ve gained as an artist from the first mural to your most recent one?
Five years ago, upon relocating to Los Angeles, I began exploring my passion for murals. For two years, I worked alongside several artists, eager to refine my skills and improve my artistry – eventually arriving at a point where I desired to start creating my own luscious works of art. After much preparation and seeking out opportunities, I was accepted to attend Paint Memphis. This was a significant moment in my career, as I had never previously visited Memphis and traveled there alone. The festival was absolutely insane – featuring up to 150-200 artists working on murals across a specific area. While I recognized a few familiar faces, I was fortunate enough to connect with a multitude of fellow creatives, many of whom I am now proud to call friends. This festival provided an incredible platform for the development of my ‘Rain Jacket Man’ series, beginning with the first ever ‘Rain Jacket Man’ painting which was a full-length portrait of myself, tumbling down whilst birds flew out of my head. The piece was an expression of challenging times, symbolizing the power of reaching out to loved ones and the importance of connection in arduous situations. The mural helped me open up further and share some extremely personal emotions and feelings to the public.
The ability to create freely without restriction was liberating. I felt the community of artists and locals embraced not only their own craft, but also fostered greater camaraderie among each other, sparkling friendships that crossed geographical boundaries and led to collaborations in various future mural events that I would attend with them too.
If you could have any skill or topic downloaded into your brain, what would you want to be able to do/ be an expert at?
One skill that I wish I had expertise in is the art of color-mixing. Being able to accurately replicate the colors of my references would be a huge asset to my art. While I tend to do a lot of paintings and murals using grayscale or limited color palettes, I very much appreciate colorful works. I am aware that mastering color mixing requires significant time and effort, but I am determined to consistently hone my skillset and gradually improve my ability to mix colors.
What do you hope viewers take away or experience while viewing your work?
My sincere hope is that those who view my work during the show will take a moment to pause and truly immerse themselves into the depths of the pieces.
How do you like to enjoy your time outside of the studio? Do you celebrate the completion of a body of work? —
Upon completing body of work, whether that is a mural or a series of paintings, it is essential for me to take some time to relax and recharge for my next project. Despite my eagerness to dive into my next work of art, I understand that constantly pushing myself without taking a breather only leads to an inevitable burn-out, hampering my productivity further. Nature is my solace; I usually prefer to unwind in quiet and peaceful surroundings like the mountain ranges in San Gabriel as I feel my body and my mind relax with every active second spent amidst the natural surroundings. I find it a profound mental and physical release, helping me to let go of any nervousness or anxiety I have kept within.
Exhibition on view June 3 – June 24, 2023 at:
4207 W. Jefferson Blvd.
Los Angeles, California 90016