Jaime Reyes, also known as Vyal One, is a Chicano artist from East LA. (Taylor Wong/Living Out Loud LA)
Red Bull is a company known for stretching the limits, redefining gravity, and taking over the sports industry by storm. They’re not only doing so to give you wings, but to inspire and build a community of artists who create, excite, and redefine what it means to be living in the 21st century.
Amongst many of Red Bull’s community outreach programs is Latagrafica, a contest designed to celebrate Dia De Los Muertos and the Latino art community. In other words, Red Bull is giving artists, particularly graffiti and mural artists, an opportunity to compete for the best mural in LA. I got a chance to catch up with one of Red Bull’s finalists in Jaime Reyes, artistically known as Vyal One, who was showcasing his latest mural in Echo Park.
Free drinks, a house full of artists, music, and live tagging is unbeatable, but what was truly amazing was my one-on-one interview with the artist himself. Typically, when you hear “street artist,” “graffiti,” or “illegal spray-painting art,” you think rebel, criminal, low life, up to no good, but that is the complete opposite of who Vyal One truly is.
Vyal One, who was born and raised in East LA, began his artistic journey in the late 80’s but got really serious about his craft in the 90’s. Colorful Chicano murals that represented life, death, and the hardships of the people are what inspired him.
“This sort of art really resonated with me,” he said. “I started using spray paint to tag because it was the most random material I could find to make art.”
Vyal One does not consider himself a vandal within his community; on the contrary, he gives back as much as he can. When he is not enhancing the look of exterior walls, you can find him in Boyle Heights teaching community art classes to aspiring kids who want to learn the art of painting. His specialty is aerosol technique, of course.
What’s really interesting about Vyal One is his signature in all his paintings. Every artist has one, and Vyal One is certainly no exception. His last name is Reyes. If you were to eliminate the first and last letter of his last name you get EYE, which is a reccurring theme in all his paintings.
“I’ve always been into eyes since a little kid,” he said. “I’d always draw eyes and get bored with the rest of it.”
An interesting aspect to murals is to be different and unique in each and every piece, but Vyal One says that that is his signature touch.
“I realized you can paint an eye in Thailand, in Gaza, in Mexico, and nobody is going to get offended,” he explained. “It’s a symbol and for the most part a positive symbol.”
Come mid-May, Vyal One is heading to New York to do a custom mural painting for the Institute For The Blind. He will be implementing a new technique on this piece that he is not going to share with the public just yet, but I was grateful enough to be let in on his secret, and all I have to say is STAY TUNED!!!
A Native American, Spanish, and French artist living in LA is doing some remarkable things for the community. His mission is to continue doing what he’s truly passionate about and shining light at the beauty of his work and riding the stigma that graffiti and murals are a nuisance to society.
Art is everywhere. Enjoy and be inspired!