January 11, 2012
El Kamino Flies in Brooklyn
El Kamino began his painting career as a graffiti artist in the early nineties. Throughout the years he developed a signature style of painting that has become easily recognizable. Constantly travelling the country to work with other like minded wall artists, he has taken part in countless small town gallery shows. Living and working in places such as Richmond, Kansas City, Nashville and Birmingham; his work reflects a strong sense of patriotism and an admiration of everyday American life. An avid fisherman and outdoorsman, his paintings combine imagery from the rivers and railroad tracks he frequents with the flea market americana of his southern roots.
Where are you from?
I’m originally from Virginia, but I’ve been living and working on the road for the last ten years.
How long have you been doing this?
I started painting graffiti in the early nineties, and that slowly evolved into an interest in fine art and mural painting. I went to school for painting, but dropped out after a couple of years. College definitely opened my eyes to the world of fine art, but it paled in comparison to the paintings I was seeing under bridges and on freight trains. I realized I was learning more by just getting out there and doing what felt natural.
When did you first discover your interest in the arts?
I grew up in the 80’s, and skateboarding was the key to the city. Thrasher gave me a steady diet of art and music that was completely absent from my suburban wasteland. It was like a lifeline to some skate punk mother ship, giving us rug rats something to look forward to as we grew up.
Travelling, what are some of your favorite spots?
I’ve lived in some random ass small towns over the years, and did as much exploring as possible in the surrounding areas. It’s all about discovering what a town has to offer, and learning what you can from that way of life. For a long time I would simply paint a wall with my name, and try to let the town know that I had been there. Now, my goal is to paint an image that is for the people of that particular town or area, trying to incorporate icons that they can relate to. When I’m long gone, that mural is still gonna be there with them, in their back yard. I feel it’s important to create something that they can understand and enjoy. In the big cities, folks are used to seeing huge murals and fine art every where they turn. But when you bring it to places like Schuylkill County, Pa or Ketona, Alabama; locals get way more interested in it, wanting to know what it’s all about.
The Brooklyn scene, what’s it like with the music, art, etc?
Brooklyn is a trip. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the amount of talent you come across. Most folks have come here to make the most out of their particular skill. So the majority of people you meet tend to be really good at what they do. Some of the best art and music in the country is being seen and played in alleyways and hole in the wall venues in Brooklyn…..And the international art presence is strong. So many skilled European painters come to Brooklyn to paint a few murals and then bounce. There’s no denying just how much of a mecca NYC really is.
Why that wall location, what is the fun stuff around that area?
This wall is located on one of the most well travelled strips in Brooklyn. An amazing cross section of culture walks on this block every day. Artists, musicians, models ; rich and poor, tourists and locals. It’s a unique slice of life. Murals are all over the neighborhood, tons of coffee shops, restaurants and bars. Walk a few minutes in one direction and you’re in the middle of McCarren Park, walk the other way, and you’re on the East River looking at the Manhattan skyline.
How many hours a day do you spend working on your art?
When I’m working on a big mural, it’s an all consuming process. Out the door at the crack of dawn, working until the sun goes down, and then back to the shop to mix colors and prepare for the next day. The irony is that once a job is finished, I jump right into my gallery work, which tends to be just as demanding. When I’m not painting, I’m painting.
Who inspires you, and how do you keep yourself motivated?
The world is filled with worthy painters, most of whom take their trade very seriously. On a daily basis, I find myself being blown away by the work of an artist who I have never heard of before. So I try to make the most of my opportunities, and constantly push myself to improve.
This wall is located in the heart of Williamsburg, a Brooklyn neighborhood that has become synonymous with New York culture. Artists, musicians and creative minds of all sorts have made this area a great place to both work and have fun. Teaming with coffee shops, restaurants, clubs and bars; it attracts all walks of life to its charming blocks. Sitting on the bank of the East river, it is lined with beautiful views of the Manhattan skyline, and is also home to our own Converse Rubber Tracks.