Sometime after the Oscar Grant murder verdict in Oakland Ca. was rendered I saw this amazing mural being painted in downtown Oakland. I was impressed both with the skill and speed of the painting. There is something to be said for truth of hand and honestly in art. Simply put,you can not deny the emotion in the work when the artist and or artists are working from their heart. A year or more passed and I again saw this amazing group of portraits in mural form being displayed at 2930 Telegraph in Oakland Ca. There was this distinct use of subtle color and a monochromatic palette. The Trust Your Struggle Collective was making a visual impact on the city of Oakland big time. As a member of the Etsy Artists of Color Team I noticed a similar vibe to art work that was posted regularly on the team blog. I found Robert Trujillo on Facebook and liked his page and quickly realized he was partially responsible for the fresh work going up around Oakland. Robert was generous enough to share with me a little bit of himself and answer a few questions.
AJ: Lets start with a bit of background info first. Where are you from?
RT: I was born in Oakland, raised mostly there, but lived all over, including Brooklyn. I'd say I'm from the Bay.
AJ: What is your earliest memory of making art? Or drawing?
RT: Earliest was drawing futuristic cars while at my moms job. She works in a hospital and a lot of times I would'nt have anything to do while with her. So I drew.
Funny that you say that, my Mom was a nurse(retired now) and I used to pass the time waiting for her in the hospitals or clinics by drawing as well. Interestingly enough my Mom is a really creative person and always has been. I think I got my sense of visual thinking from her and my Grandmother as well.
RT: Um, my mom can sing very well and my dad used to draw (im told)?
AJ: Was there a person or teacher that inspired and or encouraged you to make art early on?
RT: My mom definitely.She saw my interest in Graffiti and pushed me further, encouraged me. There have been so many, but she's first.
AJ: What is your educational or art training background?
RT: I first trained with friends, in homes, on blackbooks, on walls, buses, whatever. Then in schools public and private. Ive learned the most from friends though.
AJ: You are part of a collective. Can you tell me a little bit more about that?
RJ: Were an arts collective. Most of the time we make our decisions together. We paint, we converse, we teach, we cry, we dance, we study, we collaborate, we get on each others nerves, we talk shit, lol. Its an art collective founded by kids who did this before there was much recognition. Although, now that were getting older we ask elders for advice and they say "love it and make a living". We have fun doing workshops, painting murals, doing gallery installations, and mural tours that include glamorous floor sleeping and long nights of paint inhalation. Its been almost 10 yrs and we still got some more stories up our sleeves.
AJ: Can you talk a little bit about the show at 2930 Telegraph? And the inspiration behind that?
RJ:The "Celebrate You" art is still up I think. The concept was to give thanks to everyday heroes, sheroes, activists, family members, artists-people who have inspired us along the way in our path. We have been blessed with the opportunity to work with a lot of people from all different walks of life and we just wanted to give them some honor. The show was proposed by Evan Bissell , a good friend of the crew and a partner in crime. It was also supported by Brett Cook-an amazing artist, brother, and mentor to us.