Fernando Barragan's mural at Plaza de la Raza. (Marvin Vasquez/Living Out Loud LA)
Red Bull’s Latagrafica project was originally created to give local artists the opportunity to display their artwork on cans of the popular energy drink.
Boyle Heights’ own David Flores won the competition in its inaugural year in 2012.
“There were no words to explain or even to think in a sense at that moment,” Flores of winning the contest. “It was such an honor to win with Red Bull, being a big name brand, that my design was going to be on thousands of cans. It was a big excitement in my life. Sharing it with my family and friends what the biggest thing, because it was such an honor to have been chosen.”
Flores says that winning gave him many job opportunities on top of it serving as inspiration.
“It helped me in the sense that as an artist, it opened up doors a lot more. It gave me that push I needed to realize that this is what I wanted to do,” he said. “I’m meant to do what I love to do, and I’m still continuing. Red Bull is the one that urges me to keep pushing forward, and show the world what I can do.”
This year, the project has been re-incarnated as Latagrafica Edicion II, which will allow 10 pre-selected artists to each paint a mural around Los Angeles. It started in January with the unveiling of Fernando Barragan’s mural at Plaza de la Raza.
“Here at Plaza de la Raza, they teach music, arts, dance, so that’s where the idea came from. It’s a community place, and if you look at the image at the top, his head is actually a house, and that indicates the community,” said Barragan when asked about his inspiration to paint the first mural. “It has a street pole. It looks like a feather but really, it’s an electrical pole. That to me, symbolizes the community where I’m from. It’s a symbol of home.”
Barragan is a native of Lincoln Heights.
“Pretty much, just the feeling of my environment. The struggle of people, the trying to invent stuff, you know? When you do art, you’re trying to stand out from everything else that’s out there,” he said of his inspiration over the years.
Latagrafica Edicion II runs through October.
Out of the 10 artists, one will be invited to create the artwork for the next Red Bull Latagrafica can, which will hit shelves in early fall.
This year’s theme will be “puedes” which translates to “you can.”
Barragan’s interpretation of “puedes” focuses on aspects of symbolism to represent rising above adversity, such as a body in the shape of a guitar to advocate becoming your own instrument.
The second mural unveiling took place on February 15 at Los Globos in Silver Lake. Artist White Buffalo painted the mural.
The other 8 murals will be completed each coming month, and will showcase the work of Chris Sanchez (March), Vyal One (April), The Date Farmers (May), Germs (June), Man One (July), Wenceslao Quiroz (August), Frank Romero (September), and Ernesto Yenera (October).
So what advise would the first winner give the muralists of this year?
“As an artist, be yourself. Don’t over-focus on a brand. If you’re doing something for Red Bull, don’t think that it just has to be about Red Bull,” said Flores. “Keep it true to who you are, because that’s what you’re putting up on a can, wall, anywhere else – who you are. Don’t do it for anyone else.”
For more information, visit www.redbull.com/latagrafica.
Edison Millan contributed to this story.