We had the good fortune of connecting with Justin Robinson and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Justin, what makes you happy? Why?
What makes me happy is being able to create every day. I have a live-work studio and what I’ve been able to do is live in a creative atmosphere – literally LIVE in my ART. I love that I can pause for the night and wake up in the morning and walk right back to where I left off and not miss a beat. Being in this space has birthed so many ideas, some I have executed — others that are still in the works, and some that are written down on my to-do list. I firmly believe that you must put yourself in the right space to create, and luckily for me, I get to live and breathe that space every day. Another reason for my happiness is being able to mentor and also be a mentee. In the creative field, I often feel that mentorships get lost or shot down because of ego. It just does not make sense for me to have this wealth of creative knowledge and to not pass it on to the next generation. On the flip side, it is disheartening for me to have an idea and when I seek direction on how to start no one wants to help or even give advice. This is a sure way to stop creativity from growing. As creatives, we all have been influenced by something we saw or someone we saw, and when we saw what we liked we went home and wanted to figure out how to put our own spin on it. Now imagine if you could sit down and talk to that person to see what influenced them to create. We would have a surplus of creative sources that would help the next person coming behind you make something outstanding. Lastly, what makes me happy is the work I’ve done on my mental health. It is so imperative that your mental health is in check because what is in your mind can either hinder or uplift your creativity. A lot of creative blocks I feel come from us living in our head with unresolved issues, and that can negatively impact a lot of creativity. All I know is once you have all that crap out of your system, it’s like the blinders have been torn off and you can see everything around you.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
By utilizing rap lyrics as a found object, I camouflage and re-contextualize these signifiers in plain sight. By changing the aesthetics of hip hop culture into one we interpret as institutional or conventional, they now have the appearance of a common street sign. These seemingly average street poles that direct our everyday lives are transformed into a larger dialogue that is applicable to a wider population. Viewers in the street may initially read these lines as poetry because of their location and because they are void of the cultural stereotypes associated with the sub-culture. In the end, I hope to engage in deeper racial and cultural issues through an accessible medium and context. I really appreciate the engagement with my artwork in public. Whether they take a picture with the sign or even take the sign home, I love it! I intentionally put it out in the public, for the public. It is free art for everyone’s consumption. How I got to where I am professionally was being consistent. I stayed up on all things art and design. That means going to everything from art galleries to experience the works, to going to artist talks to hear the story of their work. Reaching out to different artists and designers to have a conversation about what they are doing and what things are inspiring them to create is also very helpful. I have read many different books on creativity and researched different artists and designers that I liked and even reached out to them. I immersed myself in the culture of art and design, so when I was presented with a professional position I had the portfolio and skill-set to back up whatever they were looking for. Now I am not going to say it was all easy, it is work but since it is art and design and they are my passion I do not look at it as such. I have heard many NOs, I have had many unreturned messages, and even been brushed off, but I keep going after it. The way I looked at it was like this: the ones that did answer and the ones who said yes, they were the ones I needed and was meant to talk to. The world has a way of placing people on your path that will help benefit your journey. What I would like the world to know about my story is that I always remained authentic and I always kept after it. Everything takes work, and only through the ups and downs of the journey, you’ll be able to become better and develop your own unique style.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
The first place to hit is Howlin Rays in Chinatown, then head over to Dodger Stadium and Elysian Park go up in the hills to see some beautiful sights of the city. Then head over to the arts district in Little Tokyo check out some good spots for drinks and treats along with some beautiful murals and shops. The next place would be Grand Central Market in the heart of DTLA, I would bring a camera because this is a great place to start walking and see many different things. From the Last Bookstore, Grand Park to The Broad and the Moca and Walt Disney Concert Hall. Then I would head down Wilshire Blvd through K-Town find a nice place to eat there. Continue along Wilshire till you hit the La Brea Tarpits and LACMA (Don’t forget the Urban Lights, so maybe come back to see this at night.) Head up Fairfax to see what happing from shoes to fashion. Then Check out Melrose Ave to see more of the culture. Definitely checking out The Getty and the Hammer Museum and grabbing a sandwich at Fat Sals and some cookies at Diddy Riese. Move on down to Santa Monica spend the whole day here from the beach to the promenade. I wouldn’t advise this as a one-day trip but this will definitely be a nice week-long trip. The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
There are two people I would like to shout out starting with Dr. Jim Daichendt. He was my mentor during my MFA program. He helped me look at street art differently, and approach it with a more conceptual point of view. He helped me to create a conversation with my work, by getting people to interact with my art in public. This taught me to be open to feedback whether it was positive or negative. He also helped me express and develop my artistic language. It was also pretty cool that he featured my work in one of his books: The Urban Canvas: Street Art Around the World. He is an all-around great mentor and solid guy with a plethora of information on Art and inspiration when it comes to tapping into your creative channels. Next is my brother Chris. He was the person to get me into photography. When we were roommates, we would spend our weekends immersed in photography, trying to outdo each other with the best shots and coolest tricks. We would spend most of our time in DTLA, but we would also pick up and drive to the middle of nowhere just to practice and sharpen our skills. We spent countless nights grabbing some hot chicken and donuts and then hit the streets. From the Arts District to Fairfax and Wilshire to Santa Monica, Griffith Observatory to Crenshaw, all through LA we went! I can honestly say without that practice I would not be where I am skill-wise with a camera. The progression in both of our skill sets all stems from those years and hours of practice and shooting everything. You only get better with practice, and I have Chris to thank for that!

Website: http://www.camolords.com

Instagram: @Camolords

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