Updated - December 2015
Ever since I interviewed Mariella last July, we have become good friends. It's been a blessing to see how much she's grown so much in the last 2 years, both as an artist and a human. Her dream had always been to have her own solo art show, so I did everything I could to help her make that a reality and curate it for her in April. It was beautiful.
Read her interview:
My favorite community will always be the hiphopheads. We are those who respect the classics and are open to the underground. Whether it’s by our willingness to bake under the hot sun to headbop at Rock the Bells or by our dedication of standing in line on Record Store Day to cop an exclusive vinyl – we’re always there for our favorite rappers, because their music is always there for us. Dope souls who spread peace + goodvibes; you’ll love us too, just listen. I recently got a chance to sit down and speak with a fellow hiphophead who shows her appreciation to our community with her insanely dope portraits of our favs, all done in oil paint. The soulful, talented, and self-taught, Mariella Angela.
It all started last February with a birthday gift for the OddFuture LAlien, Tyler the Creator. Digging up some leftover oil paints from high school, a small canvas and a single brush Mariella’s story begins,
I was thinking, “Alright, for shits and giggles lemme just paint him something.” I painted and it took me weeks, I would update it and post pictures of my progress and everyone kept saying, “Oh my god, it’s so good!” I started thinking, “Oh wow, it actually is coming out good.” Once I finished the painting I gave it to [Tyler] and he was just like, “WTF! this is an oil painting, that’s crazy!” He posted it on his Instagram and all the OddFuture kids were coming to my Instagram. I ended up gaining a bunch of followers and everyone kept asking me, “When are you gonna do your next painting, when are you gonna do this one, when are you gonna do that one..” So I think it was just the fact that I had so many people looking at me I thought to myself, “Alright, lemme do another painting.” -M.A., 20
It all started with the Tyler painting, what made you want to continue painting hiphop portraits?
Everyone thinks because you’re a painter you can paint anything, (laughs) I can only paint portraits.. I didn’t want to be one of those people who just paints someone because I know that other people like them.. I wanted to paint people I actually like. I do this thing when I paint, where with whoever I’m painting, I listen to their music.. I think each artist has their own personal vibe, so listening to them reflects on the canvas. My early Tyler paintings are super “666 devil-ish” because all of that time I was listening to Goblin, a lot of my newer paintings of him are super colorful because I started listening to Wolf.
The foundation of my blog and the entire concept of “WestCoastSoul” is based around the legendary Tupac Shakur, so I have to ask, have you painted him yet?
I fxck with Tupac on the actual context of what he stands for. I like reading his stuff more than listening to it. I still like listening to it, but I like reading it because I feel I get more of the deeper meaning. As a person, his views on life are crazy. If you see my work, you’ll see I grew as an artist. I have a few big canvases and since the beginning I would always say, “I’m gonna do a Tupac painting, I’m gonna do it one day,” but I’m always at a point where I think, “No, I don’t think I can do enough justice to it, I’ll wait until I get better.” I think before the summer ends I’ll do a huge Tupac piece. I just feel like someone who’s inspired me that much should have a dope ass painting, I don’t wanna halfass it. I feel like he deserves more.
Tupac aside, which rapper inspires you the most, both as an artist and as a human?
Music-wise Blu. Personality-wise Tyler.
Blu because I think his music made a huge impact on me when I was younger, especially Below the Heavens. When I’m down I’ll turn it on. He has songs where he’s talking about people who are dealing with all this shit, like being addicted to drugs, their parents died, they went into prostitution, slanging, etc. and I feel like I’m lucky because I have it easy. I’m in an environment where I’m safe and my mom is super-hands on. So whenever I’m feeling sad for myself I’m like, “yo there’s some people who have it worse than me.” I think Below the Heavens always reminds me that there are people who have it worse and they’re dealing with it, so just be thankful and pray to God.
Tyler was one of the first people who fxcked with my work. He was the first person who believed in my art and was like, “You’re gonna make it somewhere.” You know his whole thing where he’s like “Do what you love!”? When he was talking to me, he was telling me to believe in myself and even if you read his tweets, forget all the dumb shit he posts, you’ll notice he’s always saying – you don’t have to always follow the whole “go to college, become a doctor” path, just do what you love and it’ll work out in the end. I tell that to everyone too.
What’s your advice for upcoming artists?
Everyone always asks me what’s your advice on being a painter. My advice to everyone who wants to do what they love is to just fxcking do it and honestly, that’s the only way you can do it. There’s no process, you just do it. Even if you’re bad at it you have to keep in mind you’re gonna be 5 times better in a few months and you’re gonna be 10 times better in a few more months. Just don’t quit. Thats what I realized. If I were to quit a long time ago when I thought my paintings sucked, I would have never gotten here. Every [time], I have a shitty painting, I think, “Okay you know what, next month I’m gonna look back at this and laugh at it because I’m gonna keep getting better.” So I think anything you do, painting, drawing, writing, dancing, singing, rapping, it’s all trial and error. You have to suck to get better, as bad as it sounds. If you really love it and the intentions are right and you’re not paper-chasing – it’ll work out in the end. People who are truly passionate about it, it’ll work out in the end.