A graffiti tagger as a teen, he now designs for Fendi and Mercedes-Benz

Asia's Tech News Daily

Strange things happen to everyday objects when Joshua Vides applies his imagination to them — something metaphysical, almost magical.

With a few deft strokes of his Sharpie pens or spritzes of spray paint, Vides blurs the line between two dimensions and three. A plain footstool jumps to life in trompe-l’oeil black and white — both a tangible artifact and an artsy abstraction. A mass-produced ’70s-vintage Chuck Taylor sneaker mutates into a unique collectible that fetches multiple Benjamins.

Inanimate stuff — a skateboard, a traffic cone and a bottle of Scotch — suddenly emits a weird energy, as if possessed by spirits.

His creations have turned the former scofflaw graffitist into an illustrator and visual artist sought after by a growing list of global brands, including Adidas, Converse, Warner Bros., Google, Red Bull, EBay, Fendi, Ballentine and Mercedes-Benz. Asked how his Pop Art brushwork yields such eye-popping effects, Vides offers a deceptively unremarkable reply:

“I think it’s the simplicity of it. Some of the most beautiful things in the world are the simplest ideas.”

A graffiti tagger as a teen, he now designs for Fendi and Mercedes-Benz
© (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times) Joshua Vides is an illustrator and visual artist who designs for major brands including Fendi and Converse, along with striking art installations. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

In a way, what Vides does to quotidian reality is what growing up in exurban Southern California enabled him to do: see the world anew.

The youngest of three children of Guatemalan immigrants, he was regarded by his parents and teachers as a troublesome kid, mischievous at school, with poor grades, no college prospects and a bad attitude.

“At that time my behavior did not show a bright future for me, did it?” says Vides, now 31.

But the guy who dropped out of design school now appears to have a blazing future ahead of him.

Jon Roy, vice president of global energy brand marketing at Converse, said his company is constantly looking for young creatives who also want to engender positive change in their communities.

“Josh is a game changer who has an uncanny knack for taking something classic, if it’s a Chuck Taylor sneaker, an Eames chair, a baseball card, or a tarp, adding a seemingly simple yet unexpected twist and creating something unique,” he says.

Yet it wasn’t so long ago that Vides felt trapped in a different kind of immersive environment, a labyrinth of depression and self-doubt. To find his way out he had to retrace his steps — back toward the simple and the beautiful.

::

The windswept city of Rialto, 50 miles east of Los Angeles, today a hub of massive distribution warehouses, was the perfect artistic backdrop for the youth with dark, alert eyes, who was introduced to skateboarding and graffiti through friends at Kolb Middle School.

During his early teens he earned money by customizing friends’ skateboards. He quickly transitioned from sketching in notebooks to tagging streets, bridges, sidewalks and traffic signs. He left his mark in squiggly letters lifted from Looney Tunes, images of men with gas masks and riffs on the Dodgers logo.

Armed with a backpack and black-and-white spray paints, he’d sneak out of his home at night, hop on his bike and graffiti the streets of downtown Rialto.

“I would add a bat to my backpack in case I got into trouble with some other graffiti artist and I would leave,” he recalls. “Getting around the authorities and my parents was exciting.”

A graffiti tagger as a teen, he now designs for Fendi and Mercedes-Benz
© (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times) As a teenager, Joshua Vides spread his illicit handiwork across the Inland Empire — Pomona, Colton, Bloomington, San Bernardino. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

His devout Evangelical parents, Oscar and Eva Vides, worked all day, leaving Joshua and his older siblings, Carlos and Melissa, at home for long stretches.

“So my maternal grandparents, Eva and Juan, took charge of taking care of us,” Vides says. “My siblings were about five years older than me, but I was the only troublemaker.”

When Vides was almost 15, his parents moved the family to Rancho Cucamonga to get their children away from their unwelcoming neighborhood. But their youngest son kept spreading his illicit handiwork across the Inland Empire — Pomona, Colton, Bloomington, San Bernardino.

He didn’t fear running afoul of the police, but he fretted over his still-generic style.

“That was a thorn that bothered me: My art was neither recognizable nor distinctive.”

At Los Osos High School in Rancho Cucamonga, Vides began selling stenciled shirts. After graduating he enrolled in a graphic design course at Chaffey College to learn how to screen-print. His efforts were in vain.

“I only went for a couple of months and ended up dropping out because it wasn’t something that appealed to me,” he says.

Under pressure from his parents to pick a career, in February 2008 he entered a San Diego firefighter academy. He was recruited by the Riverside County Fire Department, but within a year Vides resigned his post.

“I didn’t like my job,” he says. “I was bored and I thought I had a lot of creativity to be locked in a place. It was a risk I had to take.”

It was the second time, and not the last, that Vides would disappoint his parents, who fled Guatemala’s devastating 36-year civil war for the sake of their children.

Eva, who was 20 when she arrived stateside, found work as a supermarket cashier. Oscar, 24, who had studied to be an agronomist in Guatemala, got a foothold in his adopted country washing dishes in a restaurant.

After marrying in 1982, the couple were able to obtain their permanent residence in 1987, thanks to the immigration reform law signed by President Reagan. Eva became a nurse, Oscar a truck driver.

Two years later, Joshua was born.

“I always knew that he was a special boy, despite being a restless and funny boy,” Eva says. “In his teens, he had bad behavior at school. He faked his father’s signature and he was suspended for painting graffiti.”

But of her son’s inventiveness and tenacity there never was any doubt.

“He continues to surprise us with all he has been able to put forward,” his mother says. “It has given us tremendous pride to see him grow and improve.”

A graffiti tagger as a teen, he now designs for Fendi and Mercedes-Benz
© (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times) Joshua Vides’ technique centers on applying black-and-white accenting to everyday objects. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

In 2009, at age 20, Vides surprised his parents once again by investing $500 to start his own shirt and insole brand, CLSC, and ran the business out of the family home in Rancho Cucamonga.

Over the next five years he held a variety of jobs to immerse himself in the business of street fashion: assistant manager at a Zumiez clothing store, truck driver (earning $7 an hour) for the Hundreds, graphic designer and marketing manager for the Seventh Letter, a gallery.

“All those years I was learning about the market, how it worked,” he said.

In 2014, Vides decided to dedicate himself full-time to CLSC, which stands for Can’t Live Scared of Changes, and established a boutique on Fairfax Avenue in Los Angeles, selling shirts, hats, headwear and other items in his own designs. But the rise of Amazon swiftly spelled doom for his fledgling enterprise.

“Then I thought, maybe I don’t want to be behind the counter all my life. In short, I was no longer having fun,” Vides said.

By then he also was a father to a son, Cassius, born in 2013, and a daughter, Verona, born two years later. He and the children’s mother, Elle, married in April 2017, and Vides found his emotions rocking and tumbling like a roller coaster.

A graffiti tagger as a teen, he now designs for Fendi and Mercedes-Benz
© (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times) Joshua Vides hugs his daughter, Verona. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

“I had to do something bigger, but I didn’t know what, so I took another major risk in my life — leaving my business.”

::

Being unemployed while struggling to provide for his family plunged the artist into depression. But Vides never ceased brainstorming ideas, and he began to long for the freedom he felt tagging the streets with graffiti, unleashing ideas as they flowed through his mind.

He decided to paint an object with spray paint and a Sharpie to simulate a flat, two-dimensional sketch. He picked out a pair of Reebok Classic shoes that he never wore. When he finished, his body was shaking with excitement.

“A few days later, I went out to paint a fire hydrant and I felt that drug like when I was a teenager. That’s where the concept of reality began to the idea for which I am known now,” he says.

Experiencing a newfound euphoria, Vides asked his wife about whether he should post his art on Instagram. The couple agreed that he should paint and post a Nike Air Force 1.

To his surprise, the work went viral on Instagram, picking up 5,000 or 10,000 followers every day, along with messages from fashion-first actors and athletes requesting the magic sneakers.

“I was able to sell up to 400 pairs in a single hour,” Vides recalls. “But I was still broke.”

In February 2018, Vides decided to rent a roughly 1,000-square-foot space at the corner of Melrose Avenue and Ridgewood Place to exhibit an assortment of three-dimensional objects that appeared to be black-and-white sketches. He put $8,000 of his savings into the show.

No wine and cheese were served. No DJ spun house music. But some 3,000 people showed up for the free event.

“I just wanted people to see my work and have that optical illusion. I was not thinking about getting paid for the entrance,” Vides says.

The response persuaded Vides to invest another $8,000 and mount a second event at the Seventh Letter in Los Angeles, just a month later. Its centerpiece was a sketched-up 1995 Acura NSX, lent to him by a friend, parked in the middle of the gallery surrounded by cones and racing flags on the walls.

Vides was exhausted, but ecstatic. And most significant of all, he had found what he longed for when tagging streets as a teenager — his own style.

In just a few days Vides was contacted by Jordan Shoes to work on a project, and the floodgate opened for commissions and requests to collaborate.

Vides has been busy ever since.

“Josh is ambitious, he likes risk, he’s good at sales and numbers and all trades,” says Ben Shenassafar, CEO of the Hundreds streetwear brand. He met Vides when he worked with the Hundreds 15 years ago and he remembers well the hungry young man eager to prove himself. “It doesn’t surprise me to see him at the top where he is today.”

Currently, Vides’ art can be viewed through Facebook Messenger and Facebook Open Arts, a project that highlights six artists from underrepresented communities. Vides contributed to the creation of Messenger’s first black-and-white, fully immersive, 360-degree backgrounds.

“He’s interested in pushing the boundaries of where his art is shown,” says Emmett Dzieza, art director of augmented reality with Facebook Messenger,

In 2019 he and Converse worked together on ComplexCon, where he collaborated on a customizable Converse Chuck 70 sneaker that played up his unique black-and-white penmanship, but allowed for further metamorphosis via interchangeable, colored Velcro panels.

In 2020, Vides and the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago created an exhibit that challenged him to paint the longest hallway of his career in his signature style. To accompany this piece, he worked on a 40-foot canvas that was cut and transformed into 30 pairs of one-of-a-kind Converse Chuck 70s. They were auctioned, and the proceeds benefited the museum and its mission.

Vides thinks that his gift for imparting a magical-realist sheen to whatever he touches stems from his Maya heritage, his ancestral link to the Mesoamerican civilization that stretches from Mexico’s Yucatán peninsula into Central America.

“I don’t know how far it goes back in my family for me to be considered Mayan or Guatemalan,” Vides says, “But my parents were born there, and I can say that in the end I have Indigenous blood.”

He feels a deep affinity with that Indigenous culture of vast and mysterious works.

“If I think about my ancestors, we still don’t know how they achieved and created many things. I didn’t have much school, but I had creativity and passion.”

His parents, who had tried to steer their son toward college, have long since accepted that he found and followed another path.

“It’s only happens in the United States,” says Oscar Vides, “a country where the immigrant dream is possible if you are persistent, resourceful and hard-working.”

His son agrees — with, as usual, a twist all his own.

“I am living the American dream to some extent because I am a first-generation immigrant,” he says. “But I think I’d take out the ‘American’ and say I’m just living the … dream in general,” he says — adding a colorful modifier.

Not everything, after all, can be expressed in black and white.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

Internet Explorer Channel Network
Asia's Tech News Daily
News Related

OTHER NEWS

JPV nafi loji bekal ayam dari China, Thailand tak halal

© Provided by Free Malaysia Today Senarai loji pengeksport produk ayam di laman sesawang jabatan dikemas kini dari semasa ke semasa, menurut JPV. PETALING JAYA: Jabatan Perkhidmatan Veterinar (JPV) mengesahkan ... Read more »

Rising seas blamed as flooding hits Pacific islands

© Eve BURNS Flooding and debris cover the road to the airport in the Marshall Islands capital Majuro Island nations in the South Pacific were cleaning up Wednesday after storms ... Read more »

Smith, Tucker lift College of Charleston over Tulane 86-72

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Reyne Smith had 15 points to lead five College of Charleston players in double figures as the Cougars defeated Tulane 86-72 on Tuesday night. Brenden Tucker ... Read more »

This Secret Store Is Full of The Cutest Holiday Decor That'll Arrive By Christmas — & All Of Our Picks Are Less Than $50

© Courtesy of HSN. Now that we’re only a few weeks away from Christmas, it’s crunch-time. Maybe your Santa figurine has seen better days, or you just want something fresh ... Read more »

Lightning rally late, beat Canadiens 3-2 in Cup rematch

MONTREAL (AP) — Ondrej Palat scored with 38 seconds left, giving the Tampa Bay Lightning a 3-2 comeback win over the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday night. Tampa Bay’s victory came ... Read more »

Gainey scores 17 to lift Brown over Merrimack 76-56

NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. (AP) — Jaylan Gainey registered 17 points as Brown routed Merrimack 76-56 on Tuesday night. Kino Lilly Jr. had 15 points for Brown (8-4), which won its ... Read more »

(KEMASKINI) Keputusan sebulat suara, mahkamah kekalkan sabitan, hukuman Najib berhubung kes SRC International

© Provided by Free Malaysia Today Najib Razak had been found guilty of seven charges of power abuse, criminal breach of trust and money laundering in July last year. PUTRAJAYA: ... Read more »

Experience the key as Vidarbha take fresh guard under Faiz Fazal against Himachal

© Provided by The Times of India NAGPUR: Cometh the longer format, cometh the experience — this has been the mantra for teams around the globe. Vidarbha will be no ... Read more »

IND vs SA: 'Their batting is pretty vulnerable' - Karthik predicts Test series winner, says he'd place his money on them

© Provided by Hindustan Times Dinesh Karthik has predicted the winner of the series against India. (AP/Twitter) Indian cricketer Dinesh Karthik expects India to beat South Africa comfortably in their ... Read more »

Bangladesh vs Pakistan, 2nd Test, Day 5 in Dhaka, Live Cricket Score and Updates

© Provided by News18 Bangladesh vs Pakistan, 2nd Test, Day 5 in Dhaka, Live Cricket Score and Updates Bangladesh will put all their efforts to avoid follow-on when they walk ... Read more »

Live Score AUS vs ENG, 1st Test, Day 1, Ashes 2021-22: Buttler, Pope Anchor Steady England After Early Jolts

© Provided by News18 Live Score AUS vs ENG, 1st Test, Day 1, Ashes 2021-22: Buttler, Pope Anchor Steady England After Early Jolts AUS vs ENG, Ashes 2021-22 1st Test, ... Read more »

Malaysia: Ex-Prime Minister Najib Razak's graft conviction upheld

© Provided by dw.com Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak’s has been out on bail pending appeal A Malaysian appeals court ruled to uphold the graft conviction of the country’s ... Read more »

Jussie Smollett trial: Actor also fighting battle in the court of public opinion

Outside the courtroom where former “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett is fighting charges accusing him of lying to Chicago police about being the victim of an anti-gay, racist attack, his publicist ... Read more »

Jussie Smollett asks white prosecutor not to say N-word ‘out of respect for every African American'

He used the slur while quoting messages the actor sent to the Osundairo brothers Empire actor Jussie Smollett took the stand in his own defense for a second time on ... Read more »

Another Pakistan shocker! Four women stripped, thrashed on allegations of shoplifting

© Provided by Zee News Lahore: A group of people in Pakistan stripped four women, including a teenager, dragged and beat them up after accusing them of ‘shoplifting’ in the ... Read more »

PHOTOS: Rana Daggubati keeps it comfy and casual as he gets spotted at the airport

Rana Daggubati was spotted today in the early morning at the airport. The actor kept his look comfy and casual in hues of black and white. One can see, he ... Read more »

Delhi's air quality improves slightly form 'very poor' to 'poor', AQI at 235

© Provided by Zee News New Delhi: Delhi’s air quality improved marginally on Wednesday morning as it slipped to ‘poor’ category from the ‘very poor’ category. The Air Quality Index ... Read more »

Indian scientists planned nuclear test in 1997. But PM Deve Gowda gave 3 reasons to say no

© Provided by The Print New Delhi: Indian scientists had “fixed a date” — a Sunday — to conduct nuclear tests in early 1997, but then Prime Minister H.D. Deve ... Read more »

Ahan Shetty' girlfriend Tania Shroff sits on his lap in mushy photos, Sara Tendulkar reacts

© Provided by Zee News New Delhi: Actor Ahan Shetty, who has made his acting debut opposite Tara Sutaria in Milan Luthria’s ‘Tadap’ has been garnering praises for his debut ... Read more »

Katrina Kaif and Vicky Kaushal wedding: Not shehnai, but music from these Rajasthani instruments will echo through the venue [Exclusive]

© Provided by BollywoodLife.com At any outdoor wedding venue, it is very common for the sound of Shehnai to be played to add to the shaadi vibes. However, Vicky Kaushal ... Read more »

Suu Kyi's imprisonment ushers in new era of democracy in Myanmar

In sentencing Myanmar’s iconic democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi to prison, the country’s generals have effectively exiled her from electoral politics. But that doesn’t mean the Southeast Asian nation ... Read more »

Happy Birthday Dharmendra: Sunny Deol and Bobby Deol share heartfelt wishes with 'He-Man'-styled pics for their legendary father – view posts

© Provided by BollywoodLife.com The legendary Dharmendra turns a ripe 86 today, still full of life, a bundle of energy and exuberance. The positivity Dharam paaji exudes is seldom found ... Read more »

Samantha on split with Naga Chaitanya: Thought I would crumble and die

Samantha and Naga Chaitanya announced their separation on October 2. Samantha recently opened up about her ongoing divorce with Naga Chaitanya. In an interview with an entertainment portal, she revealed ... Read more »

WCCE 2021: Unctad urges establishment of more global creative cities

© Provided by The National Hala Badri, director general of Dubai Culture, at the World Conference on Creative Economy at Expo 2020 Dubai. Pawan Singh / The National The leader ... Read more »

Global gas demand is robust and will continue to grow amid energy transition efforts

© Andrey Rudakov Pipework showing flow direction at the Kasimovskoye underground gas storage facility, operated by Gazprom in Kasimov, Russia. Global gas demand is expected to continue to rise as ... Read more »

American Airlines' New Boss Will Mostly Look Like the Old Boss

© Bloomberg American Airlines’ New Boss Will Mostly Look Like the Old Boss (Bloomberg) — American Airlines Group Inc.’s strategy is almost certain to remain the same when Robert Isom ... Read more »

UAE private sector will opt for new working week, experts say

© Provided by The National Visitors looking watches at the Dubai Watch Week 2021 held at DIFC Gate in Dubai on 24th November, 2021. Pawan Singh/The National. Story by Janice ... Read more »

Chelsea transfer round-up: Blues 'resigned' to losing Antonio Rudiger as winger 'wish' revealed

Chelsea could lose three of their key defensive players next summer when their contracts expire. Cesar Azpilicueta, Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rudiger could all be available for free when their ... Read more »

HAIM Announces 2022 One More Haim Tour With Hilarious ‘Lizzie McGuire'-Inspired Video

Haim in Chanel HAIM released their critically acclaimed third album Women in Music Pt. III in 2020, but were unable to tour it due to the coronavirus pandemic. But after ... Read more »

WBC orders Tyson Fury to defend heavyweight title against Dillian Whyte

Tyson Fury has been ordered to defend his heavyweight title against Dillian Whyte. © Provided by Sporting News The WBC on Tuesday ordered Fury (31-0-1, 22 KOs) to begin a ... Read more »

Djogo leads Northeastern over UMass 82-76

BOSTON (AP) — Nikola Djogo posted 15 points and eight rebounds as Northeastern topped UMass 82-76 on Tuesday night. Shaquille Walters had 16 points for Northeastern (6-4), which earned its ... Read more »

Niecy Nash Has Best Reaction to Wife Jessica Betts Admiring Her on Red Carpet (Exclusive)

© Robin L Marshall/WireImage Niecy Nash and Jessica Betts still have that newlywed glow. The actress had the best reaction to her wife admiring her at the Celebration of Black ... Read more »

BlazBlue: Centralfiction sees a 700 percent increase in players just one day after receiving its rollback netcode beta

© Provided by Dot Esports Just one day after receiving a beta version of its new rollback netcode update, BlazBlue: Centralfiction blew past its previous peak player count by more ... Read more »

Australien schliesst sich diplomatischem Boykott an

Die Liste der Meinungsverschiedenheiten zwischen China und Australien ist lang. «Deshalb schicken wir keine australischen Beamten an diese Spiele», sagte Premierminister Scott Morrison. © AFP/William West Verärgert China mit dem ... Read more »

Facebook sued by Rohingya refugees for $150 bln

Rohingya refugees from Myanmar are suing Meta Platforms, formerly known as Facebook, for $150 billion. The social media giant is accused of not taking action against hate speech that contributed ... Read more »

Texas Tech, Shannon topples No. 13 Tennessee in OT

NEW YORK (AP) — Texas Tech might want to petition to play in the Jimmy V Classic every season. The unranked Red Raiders make a habit of rankling the ranked ... Read more »

Sarah Ferguson says she may have been the ‘most persecuted woman in royal history'

How the 11 September terrorist attacks impacted Sarah Ferguson (Getty Images) Sarah Ferguson has said she was perhaps “the most persecuted woman in the history of the royal family” due ... Read more »

Judge dismisses Rose McGowan's lawsuit against Harvey Weinstein over missed deadline

A California judge has dismissed Rose McGowan’s lawsuit against Harvey Weinstein after she missed a court-imposed deadline to file paperwork supporting her case. McGowan, who starred in the television show ... Read more »

Rachel Alejandro relives childhood memories with dad in new album

© STAR/ File Rachel Alejandro relives childhood memories with dad in new album After 11 years of absence from the recording scene, Rachel Alejandro came back stronger with the release ... Read more »

Bihar Panchayat Elections: 10th Phase of Polling in 34 Districts to be Held Today

© Sumaila Zaman | India.com News Desk Vote IANS pic Patna: Voting for the 10th phase of the ongoing Bihar Panchayat elections will be held on Wednesday across 34 districts ... Read more »
On free-english-test.com you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic