We had the good fortune of connecting with Mauricio Abril and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mauricio, what is the most important factor behind your success?
I believe the biggest factor behind my own success is the fact that I’ve kept my brand true to itself and didn’t try to change it to mimic something that I saw as being more popular or easier to create. As an artist, it did take me a while to find my voice but once I did, I made sure that the artwork I created never strayed too far from that voice, which can be described as visual storytelling centering around childhood imagination, whimsy and pop culture-related humor. And even within that singular voice, there is a lot of diversity and versatility that while great for the individual artist isn’t always a positive when trying to build a brand based on a streamlined visual style. While I might imagine I could’ve grown my following much more rapidly or even perhaps doubled or tripled it by creating content that was more in-line with the most popular Instagram artist accounts, I believe that the success I did create is because the work I do is different and offers unexpected surprises that are not easily found elsewhere.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I actually got into art later in life after college and it was because of this delayed start that I believe I am the artist I am today. I was originally a science student with a degree in Molecular Biology from UCLA and years of undergraduate research experience poised and ready to go to grad school and earn a PhD. Thankfully an aching gut feeling kept me from pursuing that path and the forthcoming free time allowed me to develop my childhood curiosity of art into a more serious endeavor. After attending and graduating from art school, I eventually realized that I couldn’t help but combine both sides of myself – the analytical and the creative – as a concept artist working in the entertainment industry. Since concept art is all about problem solving using creative visual means, it was a perfect fit for me and the best starting platform to develop my skills. From then it was only a matter of time that I found and honed my voice which is centered around visual storytelling featuring characters engaged in story-driven moments be they funny, serious or poignant. What I believe to be the most important lesson for myself, and hopefully for others, about my personal journey is that your personal pasts and experiences can be your greatest assets in developing your brand. There are so many people going through art school every year, and they’re all learning essentially the same skills, so the differentiating factor will be what about themselves as an individual they choose to bring to the table. It’s my analytical background and personality traits that I embraced that I believe have made my art more distinct and true to myself. And in my career as an illustration instructor, I believe it’s also made me the teacher I am today as I can see different ways to understand my students’ struggles and break down complicated concepts for them.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
The funny thing about Los Angeles is that it’s a city spread out all over different municipalities and suburbs, which means A LOT of driving but also a lot of variety. I’d definitely take them to the beach, Venice up to Santa Monica, as I believe everyone who visits LA needs to see that in person at least once. After doing that, it would then be a mishmash of all of the extremities one can only find in LA. Tito’s Tacos in Culver City for some awesome food, LACMA and the Getty for some great art, Disneyland of course, and then for some comedy maybe a show at the Laugh Factory or the Upright Citizen’s Brigade theater. Oh, and the Griffith Observatory for the awesome view.
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?
I’d have to give credit and thanks to my mom, who gave me the childhood that enabled me to create the art and tell the stories that all of my fans today enjoy. Without her and the loving environment she fostered, I might have still acquired the same physical skills I do now, but I definitely don’t think I would’ve developed the same ideas or seen the world in nearly the same way.