Othelo Gervacio is undoubtedly an artist to watch in 2013. Growing up, a self-education in graffiti began to satiate his creative desires and lay the foundations for his current artistic output. Continually refining his craft, the artist eventually made moves into the graphic design realm while continuing to apply a DIY element to his work. Moving to New York in 2006, Othelo began to work alongside Scott Campbell at his creative agency, Mama Tried Inc., where the experience inevitably lead to new dynamics in his personal work, adding the prominent influence of tattoo art into the mix. In October last year, Othelo’s alignment with rebels, punks and bikers and passion for customizing clothing led to him curating DILLIGAF, a group show featuring customized artifacts – namely, personalized jackets – that demonstrate an affinity with the aforementioned sub cultures. With exciting plans laid for the year ahead, we thought it was time we spent 5 Minutes With Othelo for a chat about his art and craft.
Your background is in graphic design. Would you say this has heavily influenced your natural artistic style or vice versa? Or do they co-exist as one and the same?
Long before I discovered photoshop and illustrator, I was painting and drawing. So I suppose that in the beginning, my artistic style heavily influenced the design work I was producing. In fact, within my first few years of designing, I was still hand drawing a ton of imagery and then scanning/photoshopping. Nowadays I think one lends to the other. When I’m given creative freedom with a design project, I think sometimes my artistic style shows through. And in my art, I use my knowledge of typography and balance of space learned from the technical/graphic realm.
Before that – growing up – were you the kind of kid who was always drawing band logos / tagging cubicle doors?
Growing up, I was heavily influenced by graffitti and the diy aesthetic. Most of my cousins were living in New York and involved in the graffitti community. By the time I was 12, I was hanging out with 18 year-olds, racking paint and doing throwups on freight trains on the weekends. By the time I was 17, I was kind of over it – but from then on, still applied what I learned from painting to my art and to my design.
Tattoo art also naturally plays its part in your style – something that must have been heightened by working alongside Scott Campbell. Can you expand on this practice and experience?
I was introduced into a whole new world when I started working with Scott. I already had been interested in the tattoo realm previously and at that point even had a handful of tattoos, but was totally oblivious to the process and great history that tattooing came from. Working there made me realize the power and extent of reference for any kind of graphical project. It also gave me a deeper appreciation for tattooers as craftsmen. Not many people these days can make a living by drawing! On a one-to-one with Scott, I don’t even know where to start with what I learned from that guy. I mean basically he helped me round out my creative abilities, especially in painting and drawing. But even then it was even more than that – we worked on such an array of projects I was able to get my hands dirty in numerous types of artforms.
Day to day, what can we find you doing if you’re not in the studio?
By day I work at in the creative department of ALLDAYEVERYDAY, mostly concentrated in art direction and design. We have a bunch of cool stuff in the works so keep your eyes and ears peeled!
At night and during free time, I have a small in-house studio that I’m able to work on small projects within; and a bigger, shared studio where I work on larger projects, including a Brat-Style-inspired motorcyle that i’ve been building for a few months now.
How does music influence or inspire your art?
Music highly influences my art, most of the time indirectly, but sometimes even directly. Indirectly, meaning that I can’t paint or get into the mood of painting without listening to music – it drives me and gets me into the zone. Directly, sometimes you’ll see literal references or song lyrics in the art itself.
What are you listening to at the moment?
It’s kind of weird but the music I listen to often changes with the seasons. Recently I’ve been listening to Flower Travellin’ Band, some early Erkin Koray (this psychadelic Turkish dude), Electric Wizard, and the Psychic Ills’ Early Violence album – just to name a few.
What are you currently working on? Do you have any projects lined up that you’re excited about?
Right now I’m working toward a small group show opening on May 3rd in L.A. along with some other New York/Brooklyn based artists. I’ll be showing a new and sort of evolved body of work that I’m pretty excited about and it’s also going to be my first time showing stuff on the West Coast. I also have a collaborative zine that I worked on with photographer Lele Saveri being put out by the guys at Heavy Mental pretty soon as well.