For spring, we worked with artist Lenin Solano on a new suite of colors across our best-selling Trash Collection styles. Lenin mixed all five new hues by hand, and they were brought to life by our wonderful dye house in Los Angeles. He also created a large scale collage to go alongside the spring color set.
We spoke to Lenin about his artistry and artistic vision, the influence of Salvador Dali and Cy Twombly, having paint come to life as garments, and the process behind creating colorful abstract compositions.
What's been the best part of your day so far?
Drinking my first cup of coffee.
What three words would you use to define your aesthetic?
Weird, organic, dreamy.
Tell us about your background: Were you always interested in being an artist? Did you grow up in a creative environment? Did you study art?
I always loved to draw as a kid as a way to beat boredom, but I never really thought I wanted to be an artist until I saw a Salvador Dali's exhibition in 2008. It blew my mind seeing his work up close. I think that was the moment I knew I wanted to make little weird drawings and paintings. During college I studied history but I have always gravitated back towards art. Whenever I had to do research for a class at the library I would always allow myself to pick out two or three art books as a reward for finishing my class work. I had another realization that art was something I wanted to do when I found Cy Twombly in the school library. I checked out practically every Twombly book I could get my hands on.
What type of work do you create and what kind of mediums do you use?
My work is mostly abstract compositions, but they almost always start as a figurative drawing or image. Sometimes I use mythological imagery as a starting point. I primarily work with oil on canvas and once in while I use acrylics, watercolors or oil sticks. Lately I've been doing a lot more collages, which involves a lot more materials, but are really fun to do.
Do you have a preferred Rock, Paper, Scissors strategy?Oh yeah! My strategy is to always look into my opponents eyes intensely so I can read them... then I plead to play the best of two out of three if I lose.
What's your routine when you work in your studio?
I start by changing into my studio clothes, putting on some tunes, and I then stare off for a bit. I have a little chair that I sit in and think about what I am going to do for that day. Depending on the mood I'll have a beer or some wine after I get going and gradually turn up the music the later it gets.
What's the most meaningful item that you keep in your studio?My old sketchbooks for sure. Growing up I didn't keep any diaries so they are the closest thing I have to that. They are filled with drawings, quotes, little messages, and random stains. I can open one up and remember what was going through my head (or heart) by looking at those pages.
Art and color are both very atmospheric. What do you like to listen to while you work?It really depends on my mood. I usually listen to old chill electronic music, old county, dance and sometimes when I am feeling it corridos and cumbias.
I always enjoy anything that has a slide guitar or a good synth sound.
What are you up to when you're not working?Running a lot, playing soccer and trying to finish my Bukowski novel!
You hand mixed our spring colors. How did it feel to see those colors as garments?My sister got a shirt and it's pretty cool to see these colors come to life and for people to be able to wear something that I was involved in.
You also made a larger work to go alongside the new spring color palette. What's the story behind that collage? Can you walk me through your process for creating a piece of that scale?I have been making collages on cards for friends and family for a while. I usually give them as birthday cards or on other special occasions, but this was the first time I made a large scale version on canvas. Since I had a general color palette to work with, I started by painting large sheets of paper in each color and then added several complementary colors. It was a bit of a challenge to keep everything clean while the large painted papers dried but once those were done I started to do some sketches and a couple of small compositions. The real fun was preparing the canvas and starting to cut and edit the composition. I spent a week or two just playing with how to arrange everything, it felt like I was trying to figure out a puzzle that had no final form. It took a lot of sitting around and thinking about how every little piece of paper should be placed, if it should be torn or cut. Once I had the general composition set I had to mount the paper which was also a challenge at this scale. It took me like 30-40 minutes to mount most pieces. It was challenging but very fun and fulfilling to do. I'm already inspired to start working on my next large scale collage!
Images by Sydney Yatco taken at Lenin's studio