NEW YORK (1010 WINS/WCBS 880) -- At a time of increasing hate crimes and growing vandalism in New York City, muralist Andaluz The Artist aims to bring unity through his colorful collage-like imagery.
With vibrant murals all across the city, including the most notable being a Kobe Bryant piece near the Barclays Center, Andaluz attributes his success to having grown up exposed to all sorts of cultures.
“I had all types of friends from different backgrounds and I didn't think twice about race or what people look like,” Andaluz told 1010 WINS anchor Kevin Rincon.
Born in Queens, Andaluz The Artist, 37, born Efren Andaluz III, was introduced and grew up around a variety of beliefs, backgrounds and multi-cultured people.
Andaluz was drawn to the graffiti tagged walls around his neighborhood in Queens and this played a major role in his art style.
Half Dominican and half Ecuadorian, Andaluz, started sketching at a very young age. He learned different drawing techniques from his grandfather who was also an artist.
During his childhood, Andaluz explained that he got in fights a lot and this caused his parents to move out to Long Island. He had a hard time adjusting to the suburban side of New York. This led him to sketch even more.
“I was drawing a lot, “ Andaluz said. “I was inside of the house where a lot of kids were outside playing tag and stuff like that.”
His high school teacher inspired him to continue painting and drawing even when he didn't want to, Andaluz explained.
His parents later bought him an airbrush kit that changed his life. During his senior year in high school, Andaluz started taking orders from his fellow classmates and created t-shirts, sneakers and even outfits for school clubs.
He went on to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology and after college started his own business.
“As a muralist, you're painting a mural,” Andaluz said. “It's like a billboard. Just imagine how many how much people get paid for billboards.”
In 2016, Andaluz went viral for his painting of 151 pokemons on the side of a building in Huntington in Suffolk County when the Pokémon Go app was popular. This captured the attention of news outlets and social media users. After that, Andaluz mainly focused on large murals and art for galleries.
Having painted icons like Fat Joe and Bad Bunny, and showcasing his love for hip-hop, basketball, and superheroes, Andaluz aims to inspire through his art.