Focus explores the creative talent within the climbing community.
Climber and artist Hiram Trejo takes inspiration from his roots. Currently based in NYC and often creating in public spaces, he draws on his Afro-Latino heritage to create art with a unique and recognisable style.
What led you to become an artist?
I’m not really sure where the need to create comes from. I’ve been naturally inclined to make art for as long as I can remember. But it wasn’t until after high school that I decided to take art serious. I started educating myself and refining my skills and style.
I guess the uncertainty most of us experience during that period in our lives pushed me to “become an artist”. It was all I knew and the only thing that would make me happy.
You have a very distinctive style. What process did you go through that led to you defining it?
Probably from drawing all the time. It took me a long time to realize that I enjoy drawing over any other medium or anything else. So I always try to make my paintings and digital work look like drawings.
I’m also heavily influenced by the creation process behind everything. In my work layers show my human touch and its imperfections. They create a timeline allowing the viewer to figure out how my work was created. It’s a good way to experiment and fail over and over until I’m content with the result.
When it comes to those multiple layers, what goes into the process of creating a piece, from conception to the finished product?
I normally start with a really simple sketch or idea. I never work these too much because I end up liking the small sketch more than the finished painting.
But it depends on the piece. I normally use graphite, watercolors, acrylic, spray paint, ink and pastels. Each one of those is a layer in that order. Then I repeat the process until I’m happy with the result or until I feel like I could ruin it if I continue. I don’t really know when a piece is finished. Maybe they never are.
Where do you find your inspiration for your pieces?
My overall reoccurring inspiration comes from my life experience. Specifically my Mexican upbringing and everything that comes with it. Culture, family, colors, the immigrant experience, history, iconography, etc.
I’m currently trying to unpack the complexities of the Mexican identity in a racial and cultural context. In order to understand my own identity I have to study the history of my country.
With your background and that inspiration, has the current political climate in the US had an impact on your work?
Definitely, but it always has. I'm an Afro-Latino immigrant living and working in the United States. This country was founded with a political climate that will always impact my work and life.
What advice would you give to anyone looking to follow a similar path?
I don’t feel like I’m in a position to give much advice. But all I can say is work hard. Study whatever you’re interested on. Analyze your growth once or twice a year. Be hard on yourself, but also celebrate your progress.
You can follow Hiram on Instagram here.