Interview with the 2017 Poster Artist: Pixel Pancho

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Born in Turin in 1984, Pixel Pancho was introduced to color and form by his grandfather, who painted occasionally. With time, his passion for art and design led him to the Albertina Academy of Fine Arts followed by the Academy of Fine Arts in Valencia, Spain, where he obtained his degree. It was in Spain that he became familiar with the graffiti and street art scenes and began working on outdoor surfaces with spray cans and markers. Traveling between Turin and Valencia, Pixel Pancho took every opportunity to make his mark, using different media such as tiles, wall painting and sticker/poster art, eventually expanding across Europe.

Pixel Pancho’s work is drawn from several diverse influences. Traces of Joaquin Sorolla, Salvador Dali and the political painter group “El Equipo Cronica” to the more modern Ron English and Takashi Murakami can be seen in his works. Traveling extensively for graffiti jams and gallery exhibitions has allowed his style to evolve from a simple robot character to the more complex compositions in his work today. The narrative in Pixel Pancho’s art is driven by a forgotten world that sits under a blanket of dust. In it, broken and dented robots are found decaying into the ground, their iron and rusted copper bodies falling and laying as if discarded into oblivion. Although the scale of his work ranges, the surreal realm is a constant thread, piercing through contemporary and historical references that add a sense of relevance within our place and time. The strength of physical and gestural references that humanize these robots results in the artist’s unmistakable mark. Found on the walls of abandoned buildings in cities throughout Europe, the U.S. and Mexico, Pixel Pancho’s design is an interconnected structure of stories. The murals, the paintings, the sculptures in the end are only a small part of something greater, another story within the ever-growing realm.

Chicago is a city that loves its parades. St. Patrick’s Day to Thanksgiving, presidential inaugurations to baseball championships, and Helenic Heritage to Pride — there are plenty of opportunities to hit the streets and fly your freak flag. For the 2017 Lollapalooza poster, Pixel Pancho played on that tradition and imagined Lollapalooza as an old-timey street fair complete with marching band. His version gets a surrealist spin with the musicians as robots, one of his signature motifs, powered not by gears but by the greenery of Grant Park. While the execution is vintage in style, they march forward to today, when Lollapalooza will once again fill Chicago’s streets with music.

Read more about Pixel Pancho in our interview about his background and inspiration for the 2017 Official Lollapalooza poster.

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You have an inspiring story. Tell us a little about yourself and how you got started on the path of becoming a world-renowned artist.
When I was a child I used to creates things, spending time in my dad’s garage where I start[ed] assembling pieces, fixing bikes. [On] the other side there was my grandpa, a talented amateur painter, who [taught] me the way to express myself trough painting. Then followed the years of the graffiti, the studies and [graduating with] Fine Arts in Spain, [it was] the first big wall… I’ve always believed in what I’ve done, while I was doing it.

We are curious to know what inspires the themes in your work and how the use of earth tones helps convey the story you are telling.
I paint in the way I see the life surround me. Plants, nature, time get me inspired. Robots are a metaphor of life, as the skin [gets] old, the iron gets rusted. The warm tones come from there, from the rust, from the ground, the soil, the leaves, flowers and fruits. Things to which we belong, things we should be grateful [for] instead of] try[ing] to destroy them.

What was the inspiration behind your design for the 2017 Lollapalooza commemorative poster?
I’ve imagined a band who fled from a carillon, one of those [from a] old dusty music-box, feeling free to play the music that they love, with no rules, breaking down the barriers of everyday routine. That is [the] way music [is] supposed to be [for me]. A way to make you feel free, out of market rules.

As an artist, does contributing one of your works to become a part of Lollapalooza’s history have significance for you?
Yes, sure. Lollapalooza in [it’s] history has [been] promoting a lot of music since the ’90s that [has also] accompanied me through this time.

Does music regularly have an influence on your art?
Actually, there [are] no rule[s]. Sometimes I love to hear it loud [while] singing, sometimes I prefer the silence. But, yes, the truth is that some songs have been the soundtrack and the inspiration for some of my works.

Where did the name Pixel Pancho originate from?
[At first,]there was Pixel, it was me. And [also] there was Pancho, a guy from South America who started this project with me. Then one day, our roads moved on different paths, however, I decided to push forward the “cart” of pixels ahead.

Your murals are spectacular masterpieces found all over the world. Are there any special locations around the world that are meaningful to you where hope to paint a mural in the future?
Antartica, sounds weird but this is it.

Do you have any advice for a young artist just discovering their talents?
Never stop studying, keep informed, let yourself be inspired without being too influenced.

We heard you will be attending this year’s festival in Chicago. We look forward to having you there! What are you most looking forward to? Is this your first time at the festival?
Yes, it will be my first time at Lollapalooza. I’m curious as I always [am]. Nothing in particular, [and] everything. “Nothing shocking” [and] everything surprising.

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