Contrast Magazine
HomeFeautresBlogContrast TVShopAbout
Aaron De La Cruz

Mark: Where do you call home?
Aaron De La Cruz: San Francisco is where I consider home now. I have recently forced myself to consider SF my home since I have grown up here over the past 10 years, built a foundation with creative individuals and have also watched the city physically change as well. I say forced because I don’t own a home here so I feel that I could just get up and leave at any time, but it’s not looking that way. I love The Bay and see myself here for a long time. A little bit about me? Well, I’m Mexican American, born in Los Angeles and raised in Fresno. I grew up doing everything a (bad ass) kid wanted to do—at least in my point of view—and got away with it. I had an awesome older brother who took me along wherever he went (not by choice) which was great because I was hanging out with kids more then twice my age and it was awesome. At times I feel I grew up too fast by acting like a 12-year-old at the age of five, but it is what it is and has contributed to who I am today.

Traveling, having shows and gaining life experiences through art are all things that young developing artists dream about. What do you attribute your success to?
I attribute my success to not getting comfortable with anything I do and surrounding myself with positive people. Traveling is something that I and just about everyone dreamt about doing growing up in Fresno. When I was a child my parents took us camping a few hours out of Fresno and that was about as much traveling we did. As kids, I remember my brother and I would take a globe in the house and spin it, close our eyes and stop it with our finger. Wherever our finger landed was a place we wanted to move to or travel to one day. But doing it in real life is a blast and being able to allow my artwork to take me to these places has been amazing. Having someone to travel with makes it even better. My wife is my co-pilot and usually knows more about where I’m going next and when. I just try and draw everywhere I go and on anything I see.

You’ve said that your designs are derived from letterforms. How did the abstraction begin?
It started around the time [’99-2000] when I was forcing myself to stop doing graffiti and started to get into psychology. At the time, I had no idea what I was going to do in terms of a career or school. I was tired of writing the same name over and over so I decided to start deconstructing letters and putting them back together in ways that looked or felt right. I would combine different styles of letters with each other and at that time I had tons of different letterforms to play with so the possibilities were endless. Throughout the years, I’ve just kept pushing it, trying harder and harder to simplify my work and keep it as least subjective as possible.

Could you explain the statement on your website, “His work finds strengths in the reduction of his interests in life to minimal information?”

My design work is made up of very little in terms of the mediums I use, which I think allows the viewer to be very comfortable with what they are looking at. There is no curiosity behind my technique in terms of the application process. Most of my work is simply applied ink on any given surface, which seems very simple. By doing so, it allows the viewer to say, “Hey I can do that.” It’s kind of like a Pollock painting when people say, “Oh I see how he does that. It’s just splattered paint.”


Aaron De La Cruz

Words: Mark Kushimi
Artwork: Aaron De La Cruz

The balance between positive and negative space can be a frustrating battle for many artists, but not for San Francisco-based Aaron De La Cruz. De La Cruz instinctively lays contrasting lines on “white” like water filling a network of straws. His fluid technique is inspirational to witness and the process itself helped to bring recognition to his work.

“I noticed the most amount of people contacted me about my work after I put out my West Oakland video,” remembers De La Cruz.

The video, shot and edited by Rick Symonds in 2011, lets the viewer ride shotgun with De La Cruz and experience his workflow as he paints a 40-by-8 foot mural on a white cider block wall on a street in California. Though there are no words from the artist, the short speaks volumes and fits perfectly with De La Cruz’s ideals of simplicity.

03 04
01 06
Aaron Del La Cruz

I’ve watched the short films documenting your process…starting from one spot and spreading your designs throughout the given space. Never erasing. How much of your work is predetermined?
None of my work is predetermined. I have a very large vocabulary of different designs that I work with and they are always changing. When working on a project I sometimes have a general idea of what type of line I may use depending on the size of the space or texture of the wall, but nothing is set in stone before starting. I don’t erase or go over when working with ink, as I like to keep the mistakes. It forces me to make it all work together. I also find it very frustrating to produce the same thing twice as I personally feel that there is no desire (for me) to do so since I have already been in that situation before.

What do you find more challenging: working on a commissioned project like painting the side of a building, or creating your own piece from scratch where you have total control?
I have been very fortunate that all of my work commissioned or my own allows me to be in full creative control. That was the only reason why I agreed to the Toyota Prius project because they came to me and said that they wanted me to have 100% control of the art direction, which I thought was unheard of when working with a large company. I’m not opposed to taking direction from a client if needed, but as of now I have only done so when working on a collaborative project with another artist and we are both sharing the same responsibilities when making it work.

What does your art mean to you?

My artwork throughout the years has now become a responsibility. I have noticed that my work has caused me to stress out more than anything in life, but has also showed me how to deal with life’s situations. I don’t take for granted what has been given to me from my family in terms of support because that is the best thing a person can receive with anything they do. Oh yeah, and last but not least, support your favorite artist by sharing their work with others.


Contrast TV


© 2013 Contrast Magazine LLC