We had the good fortune of connecting with Mel Depaz and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mel, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
I’ve been an expressive kid for as long as I can remember but I didn’t actually consider turning my art into a creative career until I got to college in 2015. I took a couple of art classes and sold some small paintings. While I was in college I felt my bliss and the vibe I really enjoyed being in and around was where creative work was being made. I want to thrive in the energy to I decided to pursue a creative career.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’m a multimedia artist, paintings and digital art are my home base. I’ve always kinda made art. My first art class was at 10 years old with my dads friend Julio. He taught me and my brother how to paint four pieces. After that I made things for fun and took a couple of more art classes from middle school – college. Once I took a break from college I really focused on doing community based projects. I was doing mostly locally inspired art, collaborating with local artist and small local organizations. I wanted to paint a positive picture of Compton. I did this for two years and I guess a sort of domino effect happened that once Foot Locker came into the city I was recommended by city locals to do some art for them. Foot Locker. was the first time I worked with a big brand. I did majority of the interior artwork at the Compton Store, got to work with Angel Once and Goopmassta on the storefront mural and I got to design some tees and hoodies for local Foot Locker stores in LA. The art and designs were based on living in Compton and LA pride. This collaboration was confirmation for me that my work is getting better and at the end of the day thats the goal. A mindset I’ve grown into is to let go of the outcome and focus my intention on doing the best I can do. Thinking this way has improved my work so much. The art becomes the focus. With that being said I’ve been trying to focus on making art thats more universal and has more reach. Something about me didn’t feel right making art outside of Compton until I felt I’ve contributed to the city first. I feel ready to pursue broader topics and to expand my horizons now. I’m excited for the places my art will take me.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
My favorite spot in the city is being at home. I just want to be at home making something really. Since I don’t want to bring just anyone into my home I’d say if you’re in Compton go check out Patria Coffee for some Central American coffee beans, Foot Locker to get some swag and to see my art, and see if you can get in touch with the Compton Cowboy’s so you can ride some horses, Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’d like to start off with thanking my family, especially my parents. They’ve been supportive of my career journey from the jump. Also shoutout to all of my art teachers from high school to college. They’ve all been great in their own way. I’ve had great art conversations after class with all of them. However, a person who has really impacted my creative career is Mr. C (Brandon Contreras). He was my geometry teacher in 10th grade. We didn’t talk much when I was his student.. Once I got to college I put some paintings for sale at the Pizza Studio in Compton. He saw one of my pieces and reached out to me through instagram. We caught up and he invited me to my first big gallery show called “Masters of Style”. He had us cut the line because he knew OG Slick (one of the artist at the show). That was the first time I had a VIP kind of experience at a show. When I quit my part time to try to make only art money, Mr. C told me he knew a place where I could get my T-Shirts printed. It was through his recommendation that I started putting my art on T-shirts. Today I still send Mr. C drafts of what I’m working on and ask for his input. He’s been a gem in my creative journey.
Headline photo shot by: @williummm