Expo aka Jorge Lopez is an artist who resides in Mexico. His work is always appealing and never dull, his use of iconic graphics and neon colors always gets our customers attention. Expo is a man shrouded in mystery and legend so we wanted to delve in and find out more about this cool artist. If you’re happy and you know it and you really want to show it give Expo a very warm welcome to the artist spotlight.
Expo’s Simple Abstract Design
Q: Hello Jorge, tell us a little about yourself. We know very little about the man behind the name ‘Expo’.
Well, Born, raised and living in Guadalajara Mexico, youngest member of a 6 brothers & one sister family, big fan of 80’s BMX & Skateboard when I was a kid/teenager, both disciplines I have taken up again these days. I spent more than half of my life as a full time musician till I discovered Photoshop around 1999, which changed my life totally. In 1985 started my first band up until 1998 when it broke apart, and then in 1999 I decided to start a new one till 2011 when we decided to put it on sleep.
Then I started to work with Photoshop around 2000, I learned from scratch with no knowledge at all, just kept myself pressing button tools and experimenting each thing in the menu bar until I learned more. It was the same thing as music in my life, started from zero with my first band knowing nothing about music and we got two record label deals with national record companies. With my second band, which was a 3 member electronic underground project with synths, drum machines and electric guitar, we signed about 30 tracks and remixes with international labels.
In 2011 I decided to be full time freelance designer and I’m very happy with that, to design and draw is something I love as much as I love to do music. It excites me a lot to start a new day with a new project, I‘m like a kid with a new toy everyday. In some ways I feel like I am really a kid again when working with new designs, that’s a big key part of whatever you do. You need to be really excited and happy to do it, it makes a big part of the success in anything you do.
Q: Tell us something about Mexico we do not know. I know you have awesome food, tasty beer and an abundance of spicy chilies but tell our community something cool about your town/city/country.
A: There’s lots of great & cool stuff around Mexico, first of all the people, beautiful woman all around the country, you also will find kind and hard worker people everywhere. Lots of craft artists who make amazing pieces of art, much of them exposed in European Museums lately, from clay & ceramics to paintings and clothes. We also have the places, like beautiful Beaches all around Mexico. I personally like Puerto Vallarta and Playa del Carmen, they have a kind of little town feel which I love. We also have Aztec & Mayans cities & ruins. South East Mexico is amazing because Mayan ruins & beaches are combined and it’s such a great experience to visit those places, north and central deserts and south jungles are great too. Chiapas it’s such and amazing and magic place you need to visit someday.
From my own state I can talk about Tequila, worldwide known drink made of the Blue Agave plant, it got the name because the plant grows in the lands of the Tequila town in Jalisco state , just 65 km from my city Guadalajara.
Q: Let’s talk about your art, when did you get into art and specifically T-shirt design?
A: I’m not sure if I can call it art but since I was a kid, first steps around 4 or 5 years old I started doodling non sense stuff on all my bedroom wall. I also remember primary school days doodling all over my books and notebooks; I’ve really never been good at drawing but always liked to do it. When I was 8 or 9 started to take oil painting classes once a week along with my dad for about 1 and half years. I did about 4 or 5 paintings after the first training and learning period, then around 13 I started painting with airbrush, stayed there for about two years painting different stuff but mainly jackets for friends. Then I quitted drawing/painting or anything related for more than 15 years to make music full time with my friends. I only drew or painted a very little on those years.
Then I discovered Photoshop around 1999 in my friend’s apple Performa computer we used to sequence music synthesizers. I started to experiment with my first computer around 2001. It was a 100% trial/error process till I learned to use the main tools, then I started making graphic design for friends and different clients for some years till I discovered the first tee shirt contest site around 2007.
I was lost trying to do things for that site and I was extremely far from being discovered or even watched by somebody out there, it was very hard for me to get my first print. I submitted designs to the first sites I knew with no good results at all, I stopped for two months to organize things in my head and start doing better things. A friend of mine told me about Design by Humans in 2008 and I started submitting. At the same time I was still trying to get printed in other tee shirt site I’d discovered. Finally I got printed around 2009 and that was the hardest part, to get a first print, the first print gives you lots of confidence about doing things right. From the time I got my first print till today things have changed for the better every day. As long as you keep doing and practicing and experimenting, good things will show up sooner or later. Patience and to stay focused on what you want to achieve are two key things. I also feel like I’m starting over each day, like a newbie/rookie that I have tons to learn and practice. That’s why I’m always excited to start a new project and apply new things learned or things I want to experiment with.
Q: Your design style is simple but it has mass appeal, do you watch trends and try to keep up with what’s cool right now or are you just making awesome t shirt design your own way?
A: Trends are out there and you want it or not sometimes you got influenced but never been my thing to follow trends, I like to design different kind of things as long as they look good to me, sometimes with a message and meaning and sometimes just because it looks good and cool to me.
Q: What is a typical Expo day?
A: Since I became full time designer there is no typical day, I can take one, two or more days to go skate, to ride my bike or my Vespa scooter or just to do a totally different thing of what I usually do. We could say a day includes at least 8 hours of sleep, wake around 8 or 9, breakfast and start checking undone or new projects. I always check my ideas list in my phone and decide what to work on. Sometimes randomly and sometimes targeted. I also check client work deadlines. Sometimes, no matter if I have to deliver work for a client soon I sometimes start a new personal tee project. I always follow my personal feelings; sometimes no matter what you try there is no room for new ideas. Then you just need to change the channel and do a different thing like client work and then you come back and there it is, a great idea!
I have learned to work with my friend “The Inspiration” since my musician days. It is always better to work following your inside feelings. Usually we have lunch time which is a little later that you US people as we have only three meals, breakfast, lunch/meal around 2 to 3 pm and then after we have dinner. As earlier and lighter the better, I try to incorporate at least 1 hour of bike or skate a day, sometimes I cant but I try. In the afternoons I sometimes design but not always, sometimes I do a totally different thing, like to play video games with my nephew or just use that time to create other kind of things. I have lots of hobbies and I hardly find myself doing nothing, I’m always doing or creating or inventing something. I also try to get reunited with all my family at least once a week, my mother, brothers, sister, nieces and nephews and all the family together. My family is the most important thing in my life, then we have friends, who can appear at any time any day, I used to party a lot but not anymore that often.
Q: When you begin a new graphic shirt what are you thinking?
A: I don’t think much when I start, I usually think a lot before starting. It can be hours or even days and weeks before I start something after I get an idea. Only a few times I have thought stuff when I‘m in front of the Photoshop file. It has happened and it flows ok but I like to plan a lot for tee shirt designs. After thinking sometimes I do simple doodles in my sketchbook to help me flesh out the idea fully. Then I start, usually the idea is born and half of the time it remains intact, but by the time I start working on things they can change a lot. Sometimes my work turns into a totally different thing, which leaves the original idea with the possibility to be worked and reworked in the future. It might be in the original form or a different one again, but I can say I think of things I am attracted to, it can be for the message or meaning or for the aesthetic of the matter.
Q: Space and animals seem to feature heavily in your work. Are these themes you enjoy or just themes you know appeal to T-shirt wearers?
A: I love both. They are fascinating to me! Space and Nature are amazing in their own way but very similar, very deep and attractive in many ways. Years ago I heard someone said ,“in any living matter no matter how small or big there’s a whole universe inside”, I felt that was very true and fascinating so I recorded that in my mind forever.
Q: What do you draw inspiration from?
A: There are no rules for that, but mainly I do design and create images to music in my head. It works the other way when I create music; I create music for images in my head. Anything everywhere also inspires me, from a word or sentence in a song to an action of a person or animal in real life. Sometimes movies or TV shows, sometimes inspiration does not come from any kind of image but a felling inside of me, an outside word quote or a real or fictional fact, everything is inspiration for me.
Q: If you could sum up your art in 3 simple words what would they be?
A: Simple, Direct & Attractive
Q: Finally, you are trapped in a basement with three movie villains, who would they be and why?
1-Darth Vader, to make him my friend, to hear his vocoder voice live and make him say stuff. I would like to record his voice, to get into his ship and get a ride around the space, a little driving cant hurt.
2-David of Lost Boys, kind a cool guy who knows how to throw good parties at night, apart from being a vampire! He can fly to get out and get help to get released from the basement.
3-Iast but not least I would say Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer), I guess there’s no good party without a girl invited.