I just customize things…I believe in recycling and giving use to things that normally you would throw to waste …
That’s how Reavel describes her work, which includes breathing new life into everyday objects like clipboards and sneakers. She has a special gift for taking the ordinary and making it extraordinary. Reavel lives in Puerto Rico and says many of her country’s vibrant colors inspire her work. On her website, she free associates the following words with her thoughts and ideas about art:
Feeling creative, Sharpies, acryllic paint, graffiti, aerosol, wood, music, documentals, art books,movies, photography, history channel, moleskine notebooks, colors: blue, red, black, white.
How did you get started as an artist?
Art has always been a huge part of my life. When I was younger I discovered that my dad used to draw and loved art. I think that was the biggest motivation to keep drawing, to become good. I later on found his sketching book and I was amazed of what he could do. He always helped me out to do my school works related to drawing things. Even when I never took an actual drawing class I always loved to draw things on my notebooks and do things for school, family special events. I normally carry a notebook/sketchbook with my beloved markers.
Tell us a little about your genre.
I honestly don’t know if there is certain or specific genre of art. I just do what I feel at the moment with what I have at the moment. I would say that I just customize things. There are many people that do what I do. Many great works done by many artists but every one has their story to share. I believe in recycling and giving use to things that normally you would throw to waste or just use it the way it was meant not as a piece to display your art or your feelings. I think that is what makes my work stand out.
Some could see a simple clipboard but once you drop some ink on it, it becomes a piece of art. It is funny because sometimes I draw abstract things and people try to like guess what I felt when I did that. Sometimes they get it sometimes they don’t. Some other times they are just reflecting their state of mind on the what they see. Also I get a lot of notes or attention because of the colors I use. Seems that people forget or dont know that markers come in lots of colors too.
How would you describe your style?
I wouldn’t say that I have a style. I know it is edgy, colorful, messy, bright, simple yet complicated at the same time. People comment that some of my works look like stained glass because of the fat lines [outlines] that I always do on my art no matter what I am drawing you will notice the fat lines on the works. I remember that someone even believed it was etching and when I told them that it was just a black Sharpie marker over a canvas they were amazed. Others even request or ask if I did stained glass. It was kind of funny but good. That is what makes this a great experience; the things you can do with a simple marker and a simple color. The only thing I know for sure is that once you get used to watching it you can say: “Hey that looks just like this person art/style” but in the end it still doesn’t have a name.
How did you come to use Sharpie markers in your work?
I think that we all have a Sharpie in our house. It has become like a household item. I always had Sharpies around so it was kind of meant to be. It is a simple instrument that you can apply to almost all surfaces. It doesn’t fade and dries quick. They are not expensive and you can get them even at the pharmacy on the corner. The ink last like forever. Later on I saw the variety of amazing colors that they had and went crazy. Since then I have been using Sharpie color markers along with my glorious black Sharpie. People hardly believe that you can get amazing colors and effects with them but if you know how to deal with colors you can do wonders. I learned how to blend them with practice. It is not rocket science I say. I don’t go around wondering if this or that marker will work with this or that project because I know that Sharpie does the job.
What about Sharpie markers makes them your medium of choice? Is it the variety of tip sizes, colors, other? Please describe how you use Sharpie as an art tool.
The ink is great. Like I mentioned, it dries fast and you won’t have a mess on your work area. Since I like to do many details and experiment with objects [plastic, textile, canvas acrylic paper, etc.] I have to use different types of points or tips for every detail/effect I want to get. The ink is water resistant which is a great plus when you work with so many different type of objects. It is good to know that you can paint some made of plastic, wood, paper and that it won’t run if it gets wet. When creating you will also need something that doesn’t mess up the surface or change its color, when you use Sharpie you know that won’t happen. For example the King Size and the Fine point are great for the finishing touches of the outlines. The Extra fine point marker great for shading and defining dimensions on a drawing. When I paint on a canvas with acrylic the only thing that worked for me to paint over it was Sharpie. I also use them with the watercolors for shading too.
Tell us about some of your own favorite work. What seems to get the most attention or is most coveted by others? Why do you think people are drawn to your work?
What I love to do the most is draw random or abstract things. Lately I have made myself draw more conceptual/concrete things or objects. I’ve been practicing a lot to learn to what point I can get and where I have to stop - making strange color combinations in the shapes then accentuating them with the darker tones. People always pay attention to the colors. It is all about the colors and the irregular forms. People sometimes stare at them like trying to see things on my works because of the shapes I give to the drawings.
Customizing things caught the attention of some people. I am a big fan of DIY [do it yourself] projects, I like to invent and make things up. So why not make everyday things different when you can. A pair of white shoes doesn’t have to be always white. Give a little of life to them. Re-Invent them, make them look more like you. A normal clipboard has no use unless you work in an office that really uses it. Then you see a clipboard like the ones I have customized and you are proud of your clipboard. I ended up opening a shop on Etsy.com because people asked if they can have some of the drawings, work on canvas and watercolors.
Can you describe the process you go through to create your work? How many hours does it take? Is it a free-hand approach or do you create a template in advance?
Most of the time I start free-hand and it just happens, a simple line or an idea of what I am going to do. I always strart with the Fine Point black marker. That is my favorite weapon of choice, as I call it. Then I get carried away and end up making complex things full of textures and details, even when I tell myself that I won’t do it I just can’t stop drawing lines until I feel there is no space left. There are some times that if I start to do a template and try to make everything look almost perfect. I always say to myself I have to do a template. I start throwing lines and shapes and then when I remember the template issue, I am almost half way to what I think is a great piece.
Now that people share with me their ideas or tell me what they would like to have, I try to do a template of that and work around it. It is good because people get carried away with you and that feels great when you see that they want to be part of the final work. I like to finish things the same day I start them. The less hours I spend the best I think they get done. If I think way too much, I will end up putting it apart and then it doesn’t feel inspired, it feels like I have to do this now and this exact way like in a mold. No muse involved. If this are certain objects, animal or a specific thing, I then do a template or use an example to guide my free-hand drawing.
What are your inspirations?
I am from Puerto Rico and the Caribbean where we love and live by colors. So it has to show up at some point in what I do. The people in the street, music, friends, daily news, good times, bad times, everything inspires me to create. I am a very moody/emotional person. I would like to say that I wait for the muses to stop by my house and move me. I have to feel the need to make something. When they strike, I better be prepared because I don’t really know what I am about to do. It just flows and ends up on paper.
Vincent Van Gogh colors are the most amazing thing a human will ever get to see. His works explode with all this brilliant and vibrant color. That is one of my biggest influences. You can see the “deformed lines of his shapes,” the textures he made with colors. Romero Britto when you see his paintings you will know why, just Google him you will see why I like his works.
Graffiti and Urban Art have become great teachers too and opened my eyes to all these new things, types of “techniques” and mediums like stickers. Stickers are like the new run around the city gallery for me.
What statement are you trying to make, if any? What do you want people take from your art?
It is great to have an art education but I think that real art comes from the heart. Like many other things, artists are born artists they are not made into artists. Artist go to school or get a degree to shape or define their styles and learn more so in the end they have plenty of ways to express their needs and leave a mark on the face of the earth.
I hope that people get the sense that art can be messy it doesn’t have to be picture perfect or just plain boring. Art is fun to do and not just a bunch of methods or techniques told to you by a teacher, professor or trend.
Dare to express yourself, be loud. Don’t fear what you can do with a marker. Enjoy what you are doing. I know people told us when we were kids that it was wrong to write on things that were not paper but hey, if you don’t like the way something looks, grab a marker. Experiment. Change the way it looks. You might end up making it look even new and feeling way better.
Please list the types of Sharpie markers do you use to create your work:
King Size, Fine Point, Sharpie Paint Extra Fine Point, Sharpie Bold Point, Retractable Fine Point, Chisel Tip, Ultra Fine Point Store Tip Down and Rub a Dub Laundry Marker.