We got a chance to catch up with Llew Mejia, the artist behind some of our favorite Vissla collection patterns, including the Boca De Tiburon from our current Spring 2017 collection.
Hey Llew, can you introduce yourself?
Im LLEW MEJIA, i am a painter, illustrator, textile designer and part time sculptor. Basically I’m an artist haha not sure how that can’t come off douchey in any way but trust me I’m not trying to be, I just like making things. I like the idea of creating new things that didn’t exist right before that happened. I don’t know if thats enough info but thats me in a nutshell.
Where are you from and where do you live now?
Oh yeah I'm from a lot of places. When I was younger I lived in Mexico for awhile because my ma is Mexican and we moved back and forth between the southwest and Mexico for awhile. After that we moved to the midwest because my parents thought that was a good boring place to raise kids. I went to art school there and went to SF [San Francisco] for a few years and worked there as an art person textile designer. Then decided I got bored and moved to NYC recently and its been great so far a really good place to live as a creative.
How do you like living in NYC? Does it inspire you?
I used to live in SF and it was a beautiful city, but it's a different type of vibe a lot more laid back and more expensive than NYC. Living here now is a lot different there are creative people doing similar things to me everywhere and now I'm a little fish in a big pond but I really enjoy meeting others doing cool projects. I think the city is bustling with inspiration too although it sounds corny haha. All in all it's a great city in some regards but I tend to get inspiration from other things like books, travel and old textiles.
Favorite neighborhood haunts?
I move around a lot in the city. But I currently live in Ridgewood which is nice and chill. You can't really tell you’re in NYC until you walk a few blocks in the direction of Bushwick. I like to hang out in all of Brooklyn and to eat one of my favorite places is Little Mo which has the best Chicken Bahn Mi. There are also just random bars but It seems like in NYC they’re never really labeled with signage haha or I’ve had a few by the time im there…
How did you first know you were interested in art?
Haha that's a good one. So I went to school for plastic surgery for a bit, decided I hated it and started drawing from there. I didn’t really have a background in art or a family who liked art I just liked it but never really took it upon myself to actually draw. That being said I became obsessed with the idea of catching up to people who were the high school art all stars at their school because I always felt like I was way behind all of them. I think thats what has driven me to succeed that and tons of student debt I have to pay...
What inspires your work?
Lots of books like I said before. I collect all sorts of books. Lots of vintage books on print and pattern, old textiles, art shows, and traveling as much as I can. I like going to botanical gardens and zoos for some reason which my girlfriend thinks is strange.
You work ranges from illustrations to line drawings. What’s your favorite medium of art?
Yeah my style is really varied. I do a broad scope of work because I get bored very easily its a real life problem of mine. And not being satisfied with what I have or what I have made. I always think I can do more or do better. I think fave medium must be gouache or flashe I like how matte it looks and is relatively non toxic, got to look towards the future.
Favorite type of artwork to create?
I really like painting abstract figural work right now but that could change in a couple months. I always switch from one thing to the next. But I also really like working on patterns, there is something about repetition that is really visually satisfying to me. Nothing better than when you make a nice pattern with good flow. It is a constant balancing act in terms of motifs and colors which is good for me because it usually isn’t boring.
Do you create all the time? Or just when you have to for work?
Ha I’m always working. Whether its on personal work or professional work. But I do just enjoy putting things into the world. It’s hard for me not to be doing something at all times, I feel worthless when I haven’t drawn or painted something for a few days. It makes me feel really lazy, like I’m not doing what I’m supposed to.
What was your first “big break”?
I would say the job for adidas originals they were my first big client. Really great to work with and we continue having a relationship thats friendly.
What is it like working with such large companies (Adidas, Chipotle, the list goes on…) as opposed to more niche surf brand like Vissla?
It is basically the same. Its hard to actually see a difference. I think it is just clients that are different and the art director. You can get someone who is really chill or someone who is much more stringent in what they like visually. So its really the difference between people. I think that typically smaller companies have less demands visually which is great it really frees me up to do what I want to do and think is best. Having a good rapport with the people you work with really helps a lot.
What do you do when you’re not creating art?
Basically nothing. I watch TV a lot and horror movies I love horror movies. When I lived in Minnesota I biked a lot all the time I miss that but I don’t have my bike here so thats my excuse haha. I also like going to the MOMA its down the street and my girlfriend has a free pass so we go whenever and thats always refreshing.
What can we expect to see from you in the future?
Hopefully more collaborations with people like you and other clients. There are certain things I can’t talk about because i have signed an NDA but a collaboration with a coffee company and a beer company. Which both have been dreams for me haha. Love beer and coffee.
Shop Boca De Tiburon collection featuring artwork by Llew Mejia.