Art is the purest form of human expression. It gives us the outlet we need to truly express our feelings. Whether it’s through fashion, dance, music, or visual arts, art helps us project the creativity that all of us possess, out into the world.
The true beauty of art lies in the story behind the creation. For Angel, co-owner of Trap Artist, he is proving through his art brand that no matter how gangster you are, you can still show your emotions.
“I’m building something that’s bigger than myself to help others that feel how I feel. You can change your mind, you can change the way you think to become who you really want to be.”
Growing up, Angel was a lonely soul. Little Village, one of Chicago, Illinois’ more prominent neighborhoods was his stomping grounds. Known for its strong Mexican Heritage, and for being a low-income neighborhood, there was not much opportunity for Angel growing up.
When Angel turned five-years-old, his life changed forever when his father abandoned him and his mother. This sent him spiraling down a road of depression.
“I didn’t have a father figure to look up to. In my family, there’s a lot of gang members so, those are my inspirations are my motivations you know? So I always had the wrong idea of who to follow or who to choose to be my leader because I never had one.”
Angel’s picture was looking grim. Coming from a long history of gang culture Angel knows he could end up dead or jail if he chose that route. Many of Angel’s family members, including his father, are Latin Kings.
“I just glorified that lifestyle. I use to think that would get me the girls, that would get me the money, that would get me anything. I lost a lot of friends growing up. It made me realize that I gotta start thinking with my head and find the motivation to do something. I wasn’t very in-tune with school, so I felt like I never had a purpose in life.”
Although Chicago’s south-side is riddled with crime, art still cuts through the landscape. As a youth, Angel was captivated by the graffiti he’d see while roaming the streets.
“I got into art the wrong way. I was into drawing little crowns on my notebook, doing the wrong stuff. I thought that was cool. I never had my own voice. You can still be gangster you can still be hard and still show your emotion and that’s what I want to represent.”
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In Angel’s freshman year of high school, he took an art class. His teacher pushed him to be different after expressing to Angel that it’s easier to express yourself through art would be easier to express yourself through words.
“She always let me do my own thing and still push me. She always told me to try something different. So instead of drawing graffiti letters, she’d tell me to try painting. She pushed me to be different and that’s what helped develop my style.”
The only way to have success is by staying positive, is the TrapArtist motto. Angel is becoming the change that he wants to see in this world. Art helped deliver Angel from his long battle with depression.
“I live for art. I live for every single thing you see on that page. Like I can’t sleep at night. I need to share my message. I feel like I can use my art to help others and talk about problems that need to be said. We don’t do anything about people who feel depressed or anxious and that doesn’t help them accomplish their dreams or help them follow their actual course of action.”
Since taking his art seriously, Angel has been using his creativity to spread his message. It’s been a little over a year and there’s been some change since Angel’s Trap Artist Instagram opened up shop. It now has amassed over 9k followers.
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His “Sensitive Thugs” movement is giving people an outlet to communicate their emotions, even through the darkest of times. Now, Angel is trying to give back.
“I want to figure out a way to do charity events, where I sell my artwork and I want to give half the proceeds to get charities for school supplies and artwork supplies. It’s not even about me anymore. When I was 16, 17. I wanted to be a thug. I dead-ass didn’t see myself doing anything like this. Now I wake up trying to strive to be a better person and figure out how to change lives even if its one person at a time.”
Life is art. Every day, we often forget that we are living in someone else’s creation or living out someone’s expression. We forget that the parks, shopping centers, and schools we attend were all constructed in someone’s mind first. Then it manifests into something life-changing that we use, visit or see every day.