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ZOMBIE! ZOMBIE! The Living Dead: Allan Graves PAGE 5 LUV FEA PAGE 9 ERICA CAROL FRIEND PAGE 13 DAVID BOTELLO PAGE 19 DIA DE LOS MUERTOS: PHOTOGRAPHY BY GEOFFREY NICHOLSON PAGE 29

MAIN SPOTLIGHT: NINOSKE ARTE PAGE 25 MUSIC: MANIC HISPANIC PAGE 44 EATING FEAR PAGE 47 EATS: GRILL ‘EM ALL PAGE 51 ARTIST BOX: TIÑO CURTISS PAGE 53 OFLODA MONSTRO PAGE 56 STEPHANIE TAKEMOTO PAGE 59

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LUV FEA Meet Brandi Zamora, a.k.a. LUV Fea, a jewelry designer who’s pieces are anything but “fea.” From Dia de los Muertos designs using graphics that echo from the past, to trendier patterns and edgy looks, this Los Angeles artist finds inspiration in her upbringing, location, and personal history.

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So let’s get this out of the way... Why Fea? Because your looks don’t coincide with “Fea.” Growing up I was always kind of awkward, well at least that is how I felt. I’m 5’10” and I have been this height since the 7th grade. I got braces that same year and that summer got glasses. “Classic ugly duckling syndrome,” but I played sports and was a huge tomboy so being one of the “pretty girls” never crossed my mind. I was obsessed with super models and being one was just a farfetched dream I didn’t think would be possible. I was one of the tallest kids in school, I had big teeth, loved to smile, and I was very outgoing so it was almost inevitable that teasing would take place. Plus I dished it out as well. The boys used to call me a horse, because that is what I looked like to them. They would walk by make horse noises and tell me to “keep bucking.” It wasn’t only the boys. I remember we had KISS FM come to our school and I won a CD. I was so excited...was one of my favorite songs at the time (CeeCeePeniston, I love your smile). Later that night I was at my friend’s house, singing the song when she told me, “I don’t know why you like that song; you are never going to have a nice smile.” Needless to say, our friendship didn’t survive high school. I would also hear comments such as “Alpo is not hiring,” or the song from Mr. Ed. Those comments didn’t break me, I don’t remember feeling sad when I would hear them, but it did embed those doubts of “am I ugly?” Once I started high school and got my braces off, the comments stopped. Years later at the age of 22, I was working for Nextel in our Encino office there was a guy that started calling me Fea (as a joke). I would laugh and joke back. Later, in 2005 another guy started to call me “Fea” as well. I decided from that point that I was never going to get rid of that name, so I smiled and embraced it fully. I have been through so much in my life that being called a name does not even bother me. At some point you have to just laugh. So that’s why I call myself Fea, not that I feel ugly but when you hear something so much you have to have a sense of humor. I named my company LUV Fea because Art can be interpreted in many ways, and I feel this is the perfect name where two worlds may collide to create beauty. When did Luv Fea become an establishment and staple for you? At the end of 2007 I started making jewelry late at night in between completing my nightly sales report for work and studying as an undergraduate. I started out simple with earrings. My co-workers liked them and started to buy them. I was introduced to another artist/ jewelry designer who had been doing this for about 15 years. I spent a lot of time with her learning stones, the best way to assemble my pieces, and

where to find materials. It wasn’t until about 6 months later that I came up with the name LUV Fea and started doing the art walks in Long Beach. From that point I kept my business and personal expenses separate and in 2010 LUV Fea became a real company. From researching and knowing a bit about you, your work consists of artwork on canvas but also jewelry design. Which one are you more passionate about? Definitely my jewelry, I always accessorize so that is a part of my everyday life. I don’t like wearing the same piece of jewelry as someone else so I am always making new designs. There is just something beautiful about accessorizing; it opens different dimensions of who we are as individuals. Basically, you are wearing art. As for the painting, I actually started in Feb 2010. I never looked at myself as being able to paint so I paint just for fun. It was a personal release when feelings arose and I originally kept them private. I showed a few people and to my surprise, there was positive feedback. That encouraged me to continue. I will admit, painting is probably the hardest for me and some nights I just need to hide my brushes.

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What motivated you into becoming an artist and where does your inspiration stem from? I have always been a creative person and my imagination is streaming constantly. I also didn’t have the easiest childhood–I ended up getting into trouble a lot. In result, I was grounded a good portion of that time. Being alone in my room, all I had was my thoughts. I started turning what was in my head into reality by using what I had around me, like ripping apart my magazines and turning them into short stories for my friends. Or painting my walls with green ceramic paint. I had to work with what I had available. I just found that sometimes my execution did not match my vision, but it was my escape. It allowed me to get away when I felt trapped. Creating something aesthetically pleasing to the eye gives the illusion of beauty. When you start seeing beauty in the little things your perception starts to change and that pain becomes less invasive. Being an artist allows you to go to a place where you make the rules and you are the one who allows who and what to enter. Where did you grow up? Did your upbringing play a role in your creativity? I grew up in Hermosa Beach and Gardena in the “South Bay” of California. The demographics of the two cities are completely different. My upbringing played a role, but also the times. It was the early 1990’s with grunge rock and this rebellious outlook being heavily influenced on us. It was all about being “original.” I didn’t want to be like anyone else. In Hermosa Beach, there was a huge punk/alternative scene. I had this sense of freedom being next to the beach. I didn’t have money so I had to be creative. From my shoes, clothes, skin, I was always drawing or making designs on things. My friends were creative as well. I took photography, interior design, and even woodshop, and even sports! I remember being this free spirit while I was

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there. Then I moved in with my Mexican grandma in Gardena. She brought rules, structure, and culture back into my world. That’s when my creative freedom went from just trying to make a random statement to actually having meaning. Who’s your favorite artist? Is there a particular artist you would like to work with? My all time favorite artist is Frida Kahlo. My cousin introduced me to her when I was 15. A few years later I went to her home in Coyoacán, Mexico. What influenced me most was how she conveyed her pain, stories, and life through her art. Her work had meaning and told a story. I really admire and respect that. Two big influences for me are Lupe Flores and Cat Ashworth. I own pieces from both and I think they are amazing. I gained confidence to do my first painting after watching Lupe’s MySpace videos. I met Cat in December 2010 at Olvera Street. Such a sweet and down to earth woman. I showed her my paintings from my blackberry at the time. She encouraged me to keep at it. If I could ever work with either, I would feel honored. What’s next for Luv Fea? I am working on expanding my line beyond jewelry and painting. I am going to start off small with shirts, candles, and other accessories and see where it goes. I am also a full time grad-student working on my Master’s in Clinical Psychology. My plan is to incorporate and blend the two facets of my life (art & therapy). I love to open Art Therapy centers for adolescence. I want to target adolescence because that is such a crucial stage of development. The brain is restructuring and it is a real confusing time, so to be able to provide an outlet where creativity can flourish and promote positivity and independence amongst the chaos of adolescence is one of my goals. Since art is a way I deal with my issues, I want to create an avenue for others to do the same.


Where can people find your work? You can follow me on Facebook (LUV Fea). I am also on Etsy, Instagram, and you can always check out my website www.luvfea. com or email me at luvfea@gmail.com.

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ERICA

CAROL

FRIEND What inspired you to become artist? Erica: I honestly can’t say I remember when I first wanted to be one. I’ve been drawing since I can remember. Pablo Picasso said it best. “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” I just remained one when I grew up. And everything around me just seemed to be looked through a different light. So I can say that everything I do or see inspire me. Carol: It’s really hard to say. I’ve been inspired by so many people and artist in my life growing up but If I can really pinpoint it I would say that I got most of my inspiration from my Dad–growing up with art all around me. Made me want to have something to be proud of and be able to show off to my kids in the future. That if you work really hard you can achieve your goals to be what you want to be and that you had no limit to what you can create on just a piece of paper. Did art play a major role growing up? Erica: from what I can remember. Yes. My dad actually is an artist too. His work was put all around the house. At times I would sit or stand and look up at his work trying to understand it. His work is very abstract. I would touch the piece to feel the brush strokes on the canvas and wonder

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how he did it. Sometimes during the holidays. When the family would decorate, for example, Easter. We’d sit at the kitchen table with paper and crayons. My dad would write “Happy Easter” in big bubble words and we’d draw the Easter rabbit underneath it, but he would write it so fast... I can say I was mesmerized when he would draw with us. Holidays were fun for us because we got to be create when we decorated. I guess you can say that’s what helped keep us artists when growing up. School too. Luckily, at our elementary school in San Fernando “Gridley Street Elementary,” we had a teacher named Mrs. Morris who happened to be an artist, too. Her class was always decorated and she had us do a lot of art projects. She even started a little after school art club. That didn’t last long, but I remember her bringing in clay and we made all these animals. She showed us how to create pots. She’d fire them at home. That’s what made me want to work on ceramics later. Carol and I loved her as a teacher. We didn’t want any other teacher. We often visited even after we didn’t go there any more. During our high school years,we found out she passed away from cancer. We were very shocked and sad. We decided to keep art in our lives partly for her. She


always pushed Carol and I to create because she saw talent within us. Carol: Yes, art did play a major role in our lifes. Ever since we were able to hold a pencil, art was there. Our motivation from my Dad to Mrs. Morris, encouraging us to try new thing and expand outside of our limits. Art was always there for us. Do you share an artistic connection being that you ladies are twins? Erica: I guess you can say yes. Being a twin is a little bit different growing up, because you always had someone to play with. So we did everything with each other. Play in the yard, catch bugs, hide and go seek–and DRAW. Everything I liked, she liked, from our favorite foods, color, animals. We almost drew the same too. We’d

create characters and draw them in little scenarios. We’d copy each others’ style-even now! We kind of still paint and draw the same things, just in a little different style. People can’t really see the difference. So when people ask, “Who painted all these paintings?” They think its done by one person but it’s really done by two people. We always give each other inputs and help each other with our work. For example, before I start painting my canvas. I usually sketch out my idea and show it to Carol. She tells me what she likes and what I need to fix. It’s like having your own critique. Carol: I’d say yes. We grew up connected to the hip but up until middle school where we were separated to different tracks, started developing our own personalities and different friends. But we were never far apart from each other. We did share a room together most of our lives, so it was kind of hard not to haha! But it was always great to have someone else interested in pretty

much everything and have an understanding of any ideas that I would come up with. Getting feedback on experiences from the past to be put on canvas is much easier when I can explain it to my sister and she can pinpoint what I’m trying to do in a piece. It’s like bouncing around ideas with yourself but getting a response back. Its great! What medium do you prefer to work with? Erica: I personally like to paint in oils because of the dry time and the blending. If I start a piece and I don’t finish it, I like to go back and work on it and it still be workable. Blending is so smooth with oil. Sometimes I hate oil because if this piece needs to be done on a deadline. I’m going to have to use the heat gun so I can paint more layers. Still, I work better under pressure. Sometimes. Carol: It’s really hard to say because I work with a lot of mediums. I just love working with watercolor, acrylic, oil base, clay, digital and others. If I had to choose one, it would probably be Digital since I’ve been working with Photoshop and Sai for about thirteen years now. Don’t get me wrong, I love traditional medium, but it’s a lot easier for me to work with digital since I’m glued to the computer screen most of the time. I do a lot of brain storming on the computer, too. Sketching out idea and editing colors to fit what I’m trying to put on paper is a lot easier to fix on the computer than with traditional medium. When I’m not on the computer, I like using watercolor and oil base paint. There are times when I use more than one medium, but I like digital more. Any medium I use always take me forever to finish because I want it to be perfect. I don’t want to have any regrets later when the piece is done. Do you have a style when it comes to creating art? Erica: I have a lot of different kind of styles. With different kinds of media I work with, it depends on what I’m working on. Maybe I have more like series of different styles that I tap into when I’m creating something. I like to keep my options open to many styles. If someone want me to paint something

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or draw something, I can do it because I venture out into different kinds of media. I get bored with sticking to one style. Where did you get the idea of working in jewelry design? Carol: It was Erica that got me interested in making Jewelry. When my sister went off to an art show, meeting, or trips to Mexico, she would always bring me back gifts that you normally wouldn’t see at a store at the mall. She would bring me jewelry from different artist that were handmade. So I began studying different type of jewelry that people made and slowly started getting my own materials together. First it was just making jewelry for myself and close friend but more people started getting interested in what I was making. Soon enough, I started getting requests to make necklaces and earrings. I started just making jewelry for the fun of it and later started selling them at art shows. So its all thanks to Erica for getting me into jewelry making. How long have you been designing jewelry, and do you ever collaborate with each other? Erica: Carol has barely started doing jewelry for almost two years. We haven’t really collaborated. I sometimes give her ideas of what beads to use or patterns to put them in. But she mostly does the creating on her own. Carol: Yeah I mostly just come up with a design from the top of my head and just go from there. My jewelry is one of a kind. She has given me a lot of ideas of different material to incorporate. It’s always good to get feedback from her on what other type of jewelry that people might like to wear. Do you ladies ever get competitive with one another? Erica: All of our lives! Since I could remember. We always try to draw better then one another. Or try something new the other hasn’t tried. But we

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eventually started to work more side by side then against each other. We work better that way. Carol: I don’t think we ever were competitive with each other when it came to art. We always had our own styles, but it would always evolve. We’d find new material to use, and we would learn from one another on how to use it. If anything, it just opened our minds more on different ideas. I can say we were not equal when it came to what media we use. I know more about digital media than she does and she knows more about working with oils than I do. We help each other rather than rubbing our talents in each others’ faces because it doesn’t get us anywhere to argue. We’re both shooting for the same thing. What is the name of your jewelry line? How did you come up with that name? Carol: It’s Called “Leachy Peachy.” This is a nickname that was giving to me from a dear friend of mine that passed away recently My nickname started off as just Leachy not to be confused with Lacha. It’s kind of pronounced like Leeche, the fruit, but since my friend Freddy had bad spelling, he wrote it out as Leachy. I decided to keep it that way in memory of him. Later, “Leachy Peachy” was added to my nickname because of my love for peaches and peach flavor. What made you ladies get into face painting? Erica: Face painting just came up as a one time a year thing that later started becoming a side hobby. Since we naturally painted already, it was easy to paint on faces. What started as


painting our faces for Day of the Dead once a year, became a few times a month. People liked the way we did the faces, because it wasn’t the typical designs. People started asking us to face paint for Day of the Dead photoshoots. We like the faces people make when they see their face for the first time in the mirror. I am really slow at face painting, which is why Carol usually does it for events. I take charge of the booth. What kinds of things have you done to help your community? We’ve done and have been a part of many community events, from fund raisers to volunteer work. We’ve helped set up art shows, donated art, etc. From small community art shows in cafes to fund raisers for events like El Velorio and the art walk, I’d have to sit down and create a list! The highlighted ones would have to be the Marcello fund raiser a couple of years back. It was a very successful event that a lot of artist donate art. I made a lot of friends thru that. I’m grateful that we were able to do something with our skills as artists to help a family of strangers with something so tragic. I gained life long friends with that. And then there’s the Buen Pastor mural project.

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Full (dot but

Specializing in Employment   and Labor Law Litigation  Wrongful Termination  Workplace Discrimination  Sexual Harassment  Disability Discrimination  Pregnancy Discrimination  National Origin   Sexual Orientation  Racial Discrimination  Overtime Pay  Rest & Meal Breaks  Tip Pooling  Commission Wages  Employee Status  Vacation Pay 

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Arbitration  225 Arizona Avenue, Suite 400  Santa Monica, California 90401  www.shegerianlaw.com  Telephone:   (310) 860‐0770  Facsimile:   (310) 860‐0771


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Photography by Geoffrey Nicholson 29


Day 1: Day of the innocence is dedicated to commemorating deceased in a formal way. Day 2: Dia de los Difuntos is a festival with feasts, dancing, and singing.

Alters are used as representation celebrating the life and death of loved ones. Using yellow marigolds, the official flower to honor the dead are often used to decorate along with favorite foods, liquor, rice and beans, photography, and other personal items. 30


Make up by Judith Bautista for Kahlovera, Carol Friend, Netta Acuna, and Raul Herrera

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Despite its confusion with Halloween and All Saints Day, dating back to the time of the Aztecs, Dia de los Muertos originated as a month long celebration in tribute to the Lady of the Dead Micteclacihuatly.

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“I am deeply offended and dismayed that a family oriented company like Disney would seek to win the right to something that is the rightful heritage of the people of Mexico.�

-Grace Sesma-Curanderismo

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Dia de los Muertos has lost its roots due to heavy influence of media commercialization and the influence of the United States celebrated holiday, Halloween.

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Front man “Philthy” of Santa Barbara based Extreme Metal trio Eating FEAR is charging territory in the music scene, whether it’s recording two brand new records, booking tours, or sharing the stage with internationally known rock stars. Philthy and his colossal rhythm section are here to shred and give you an aural shock to the senses that awakens your inner fire and strengthens you like a suit of armor. On a beautiful, grim and majestic gray day in Santa Barbara, CA, Philthy gives Art! The Magazine the full run down on the band’s triumphant rise in the Underground Music Scene, future plans, and the true meaning of EATING FEAR.

WHEN DID YOU START? HOW DID EATING FEAR COME TO BE? Eating Fear started as a solo project in 2009 when I was part owner/manager of BOD Recording Studios based in Goleta, CA. 2010 I met Fabian Guerrero (Drums) and Marlon Jeffers who was our first guitar player. We started taking what we had live, playing some awesome shows sans a bass player! In 2011, we added Jon Eisenhart (Bass) and started taking off! We played with a good amount of bands we looked up to. I’ve been booking shows since 16, so with my know how was able to get some of the top acts in the Extreme Metal scene, highlights being sharing the stage with Decrepit Birth,

Fleshgod Apocalypse, Rings of Saturn, Abigail Williams, Pathology & Inherit Disease, legends in our eyes. 2012-2013 consisted on non stop shows gaining a great underground following in our hometown (Santa Barbara, CA) packing over 200 people at one event, which is great because as far as the live music scene goes, SB is known as Sleepy Town! 2014 we will be releasing a new record and are preparing for a massive fun of short tours from LA to The Bay! Eating Fear started as one man’s creative vision and drive, which came to be a band of brothers who aspire to create a massive music experience of technicality, fury and beauty.

I LOVE READING THIS ON FACEBOOK: “SPREADING A POSITIVE MESSAGE AND VIBE THROUGH CREATIVE AGGRESSIVE MUSIC.” WHAT ARE THE MAIN THEMES AND MESSAGES YOU’RE SHARING? Strength, dedication and perserverence are our main themes with a strong focus on personal awareness. How many people do you know suffer from not realizing their potential? Eating Fear is a wake up call. It screams, “You are alive! Stand tall and be the master of your universe! Let nothing stand in your way, not even yourself.”


essentially shoved down your throat. This gave us the opportunity to explore what we like and want to see more of. In addition to that, I think all the beauty we’re surrounded by has definitely played a big part in our imagery, a gray day in Santa Barbara is my most favorite thing in the world. That is what we create with our sound: a beautiful gray day in Santa Barbara. Majestic, dark and beautiful! WHAT’S BEEN YOUR FAVORITE EXPERIENCE SO FAR? WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO IN THE FUTURE? The best experience of all is sharing this with my brothers in the band and fans who I consider our close friends. At our shows there is a sea of faces. Some are people who’ve been there from the first show, some are family, some are brand new to us. All are there for the same reason, to be a part of the family this creates. Seeing all these people having a great time and being a part is the best and we will see a lot more in the future.

THE NAME EATING FEAR ITSELF IS VERY POSITIVE. HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE BAND NAME? In life there are many trials and tribulations. In moments of crisis, we can either succumb to the crippling poison known as fear, or devour it, letting it fuel the fury within our souls to accomplish every goal we’ve ever desired. YOUR SOUND IS DEFINITELY METAL, BUT I HEAR OTHER INFLUENCES AS WELL. THERE’S AN EPIC SOUND WITH MULTIPLE LAYERS OF EMOTION AND EXPRESSION. WHAT ARE YOUR BIGGEST INFLUENCES? Thank you first of all, we love to hear what people take from our music. Music with a heart and soul is timeless, and the ambiance it creates isn’t something that happens by chance. It takes work, a motive, a burning drive to have people understand what you have to say. Our biggest influences in music are those who make the effort to create an experience with their art. The list of influences is endless but a few of the bands would be: War, The Mars Volta, Obituary, Brenton Wood, Behemoth, Slayer, Maná, and many more! DO YOU THINK YOUR LOCATION HAS AFFECTED THE BAND AND SOUND? We’re very much away from the bigger cities where mainstream music is

WHERE CAN WE SEE YOU NEXT? You’ll be able to see us in the Greater LA area, Santa Barbara and The Bay (SF, Oakland) at least once a month in 2014. PROJECTS YOU’RE WORKING ON? We’ll have one record and an EP released this year under our own label, Death’s Head Recordings. I’m also currently working on a solo project in addition to a new project that has a heavy focus on the visual experience that accompanies the music. MUSIC YOU LISTENED TO GROWING UP? My mom was and still is a big fan of music that influenced the music that EF creates. Prince, Rick James, War, and a ton of old school R&B in the catalog of music that I grew up listening to.

EATING FEAR.COM Facebook.com/EATING FEAR


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OFLODA MONSTRO

written BY NAOMI VALDIVIA

Ofloda Monstro is a Los Angeles based artist who’s style is full of whimsy and mischief. There’s a playful boldness to his work. He reminds us of that part of our souls that refuses to fully grow up. WHEN DID YOU START DRAWING? OM: I’ve been drawing since I was very young. As a kid I remember always drawing Popeye and Garfield.

WHO AND WHAT ARE YOUR BIGGEST INFLUENCES? OM: Wow! Too many to list but I’d have to say right now the art community in general really pushes me to be better. I’ve met so many people involved or into the arts and they have been nothing but kind and helpful. I just want to share and give back to that community.

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I LOVE YOUR STYLE. THERE’S SUCH WHIMSY AND HUMOR. WHERE DO YOU COME UP WITH THIS STUFF? OM: Thank you. It’s just a matter of drawing and drawing until I find something I like. I keep a sketchbook on me most of the time so if I get an idea I can put it to paper. I have several sketchbooks with tons of doodles and drawings that I always refer back to. A lot of my inspiration comes from old ideas and everyday life. Sometimes it takes me a bit more time to figure out what I am going to do with those ideas. FAVORITE COMICS? OM: I really love reading pretty much anything from Osamu Tezuka. His work always amazes me. Black Jack and Ode To Kirihito are terrific. The Maxx and Four Women by Sam Keith are also some of my all time favorites. FAVORITE MUSIC? ofloda - I love all kinds of music but lately I’ve been on a chiptune kick. On heavy rotation right now are Disasterpeace, An0va, Monomer to name a few. FAVORITE MOVIES/TVSHOWS/BOOKS? I love watching sci-fi, horror, and silent films. Some of my favorites are Haus, Metropolis, and District 9. I don’t really watch new TV shows. I watch Star Trek The Next Generation a lot on Hulu and Netflix. I do love watching the new Ninja Turtles cartoon with my daughter. My favorite books would have to be 1984, The Graveyard book and so many more that I cant decide which ones to choose. I’VE HAD THE PLEASURE OF MEETING YOUR AWESOME FAMILY. HOW DO YOU JUGGLE BEING AN ARTIST AND BEING A FAMILY MAN? OM: It’s tough. I have to be fluid, things can and will happen at any given moment. I’d love to have a schedule but that’s not always possible so I just try and do what I can when I can. For me being flexible has helped me a lot. It also helps to have a very supportive wife and kids who constantly inspire me. I always use them as my sounding board and somehow it comes together, in the end it’s worth it.

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WHAT COMICS DO YOU HAVE CURRENTLY AND WHERE CAN WE FIND THEM? OM: Currently I have some of my comics on my blog at oflodadraw.blogspot.com they are mostly autobiographical and one pagers. I also have some comics for sale at oflodadraw.bigcartel.com. There’s not a lot of dialogue, I have been told the stories are pretty weird, it wasn’t intentional but it kind of just evolved that way. I am not sure how to describe those two other than they were alot of fun to make.

WHAT CAN WE EXPECT FROM OFLODA MONSTRO IN THE FUTURE? OM: I plan on painting more in 2014. Bring some of those long forgotten ideas and drawings that I have had hidden away in sketchbooks to life. I am also working on a new comic. For the last two years I have made a comic for myself annually. I’d like to continue that tradition and maybe up the ante by doing more than one. Last year I did my first event at Nostalgic Books and Comics for free Comic Book Day. I was then fortunate enough to be asked to participate at the Latino Comics Expo and Eastside Zine Market. I hope to do more events like those this year and just put my work out there. ART! The Magazine will be following Ofloda Monstro and can’t wait to see what he comes up with next!

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Stephanie Takemoto is a Los Angeles artist to look out for. Her female figures are provocative and strong yet the same time, vulnerable and fleeting. She creates a surreal sense of nostalgia that comes from a time and world that only exists in the subconscious mind. Taking from her upbringing and cultural diversity, she creates beautiful creatures that stare into your soul. How does your mixed heritage influence your art? What ethnicities are you exactly? I’m half Japanese and half African American. I’m completely fascinated with popular culture, particularly Japanese pop culture and fashion. You can definitely see its influence on my style. Themes of inner reflectiveness and aspects of my cultural identity also emerge in my works.

When did you know you wanted to be an artist? Even when I was very young, creating art just came naturally to me. As I grew older, all the practicalities of life seemed to push me away from the very thing I truly enjoyed. It has only been in the last couple years, that I decided to truly be an “artist” by dedicating my time and efforts toward building a cohesive body of work. When did you start drawing/painting/ creating? I received a lot of encouragement growing up to be creative. I remember my aunt and uncle, who are also artists, always giving me different art materials to work with as a child. It started with an amazing set of prismacolor colored pencils and then I gradually moved toward working with

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watercolor inks. As an adult, I experimented with oils and acrylics and found that painting was the right medium for me. On your website it says you were self taught. Can you describe some of the different parts of that process? What were the greatest lesson(s)? It’s true I’ve had no formal training. If I could go back in time, I probably would have talked myself into going to art school. Luckily, I’ve been able to pick up techniques and explore different mediums here and there. Most of what I know comes from trial and error. I think like most artists, I’ve found my style through exploration. I’ve always been inspired by the art of visual storytelling. The thriving pop surrealism scene has also made me realize that my heart is in illustration where I am freer to explore more expressive themes. I used to work out the composition of a piece as I went along. Now I’ve learned to have a plan before I start painting. It’s saved me from a lot of frustration. I’ve also learned that you can’t force things. Sometimes I have to step away from a piece and come back to it days later with new eyes. I love the flowy signature style of your work. What does the hair in your paintings represent? Hair is such an important part of one’s personal and social identity. How we choose to style, tame, conform and accessorize it is so deeply tied to one’s inner psyche. In my illustrations, you can see the complexities of personal thought all wrapped up in an endless interwoven maze. I find that even the process of painting spiraled hair on each one of my girls becomes a very zen-like experience. Where can we find your work? Website :http://www.stephanietakemotoart.com/ FB Art Page:www.facebook.com/stephanietakemotoart Most exciting experience you’ve had to date? Most difficult? So far, the overall positive reaction to my work has been the most gratifying and exciting part of this journey. I think there’s nothing more difficult than the moment you decide to actually put yourself and work out there to be judged with the possibility of failure or rejection. What can we expect in the future for Stephanie Takemoto’s art? More themes explored.. more growth in technique... Hopefully, something more than even I can imagine.

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Issue 4