Chuy Hartman

CHUY HARTMAN & THE EXISTENCE OF MEMORY

Catching up with the California Artist at His LA Studio

  • Text: Warner Watkins
  • Photography + Video: Warner Watkins
  • Illustrations: Chuy Hartman

 It’s a Saturday afternoon and I’m sitting with my good friend Chuy Hartman on the patio of his parent’s bbq spot, Buffalo Bruce’s Mercantile. In the years since Waverly and I have moved to LA, Chuy has become one of our closest friends and we've collaborated on a handful of projects together such as Brownstone's showroom for New York Fashion Week, our installation at Union Los Angeles, and a tote bag for Pharrell's "Something in the Water" Festival. Today, we're grabbing lunch before heading to his studio nearby to finish up a piece for our Spring collection entitled, "I Like It Here Can I Stay? : Rude Boys & Girls Club, USA". Brownstone has always seen collaboration as a community building exercise. It's an opportunity to work with the individuals whose art we admire and create something new that speaks to both of our tastes.

 

 

Chuy's work is truly unique. Shaped by family, the local punk and hardcore scene he discovered growing up in Sylmar, CA, and his interests in film and journalism. Upon arriving at the studio, a quick glance at the collection of art books, vintage cameras, and sticker covered drafting tables, the vastness of Chuy's influences fully comes into focus.

In 2015, Chuy began work on "Drawing Noise", a series of location drawings done as close to the stage as possible that would then be compiled into tiny zines and handed out after shows. He would later revive the project in 2018 in the hopes that his drawings would serve as mental postcards of the previous night's chaos. "One of the reasons I ever got into punk was because of the DIY aspect, it was something you could feel connected to on more than just a surface level, so I try to paint using that same principle" Chuy explains. "When I do a drawing i'm taking in all of the details, from the sights and sounds to the atmosphere, then finishing by the AM."

 

 

"One of the reasons I ever got into punk was the DIY aspect, it was something you could feel connected to on more than just a surface level. I try to paint using that same principle."

Chuy paints from a perspective of being entrenched in the crowd, and this vantage point allows him to draw pieces that are incredibly accurate. Additionally, through his use of lines and empty space, viewers can be transported to what it felt like right in that moment. Images are sometimes half stylized, as if a fever dream drawn. The colors and body language reminded me alot of the jazz club paintings I'd see on the walls at barbershops getting my haircut as a kid. It was as if you could see the heat radiating from the crowd, the amps, the stage, you could feel it through the drawing. The movement of bodies, the palpable sweat of a punk show almost soaked into the paper of his drawings.

So, how did Chuy discover punk rock? Like many of my friends who grew up in smaller towns without a local venue, it came from external sources; most notably the Tony Hawk Pro Skater franchise and their soundtracks. Chuy tells me, “Growing up I would play video games and draw all day after school, so that’s where I first started hearing about bands like The Dead Kennedys and stuff”. “But it really hit for me when I first heard Operation Ivy that I fell in love with punk. It was this aggressive and upbeat music with lyrics about socially conscious matters and loss I was just starting to experience firsthand myself.” After the tragic passing of Chuy’s sister to Leukemia he dove headfirst into his art, both as a participant and a performer to find a sense of inner peace.

While attending Art Center College of Design where he received his Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts in illustration and design, Chuy was touring and booking shows every weekend as the guitarist for the metallic Hardcore band Sleepwalkers, who would eventually sign to 6131 Records. By necessity, he became the artist for many Sleepwalker releases, turning that into a side gig as an artist for the label and working with acts such as Rotting Out, Cruel Hand, and Downpresser. “Working with 6131 was great because I met so many people that later on helped me advance my craft.” Chuy goes on to say, “That put me on the radar with the Epitaph people, and later I worked on the new Culture Abuse album together; I would visit them in the studio during the recording process and drew it all. I got my first thank you in an album’s credits that, I was really proud.”

"Influence" Is just a roadmap. It's up to you to be in control of where to take it, there's no guide for that."

There’s a sense of balance to the chaos of a Chuy Hartman painting that mimics his real life. Over the course of the evening we discuss everything from our favorite film directors (Orson Welles), to music acts (Have Heart) and painters (Lautrec). His observation of time and the dedication to see a small moment transcend to something larger is one of the many marks of his talented eye. It’s so easy for artists to regurgitate their influences back without bringing anything new to their medium, ultimately neutering any creativity. With Chuy though, he views his work as a constant process of reflection and refinement. He reflects, "You're a total of all your life experiences. So, I use that as my ‘influence’ in a sense, but that's just the roadmap. You've got to be in control of where to take it”. 

I would say one of the most inspiring things about Chuy is how he’s stretched himself past our niche world of indie music and totally followed his passion. Never one to become complacent, the most recent work Chuy shows me includes water color, collages, and album art. With both of us being men of color, there's an excitement I get in watching him do his thing. His editorial work to date includes both New York Magazine and The New Yorker, and the pieces all revolve around stories of identity. In today’s climate I think it’s important that we highlight those who have something to say with a perspective that is underrepresented. It’s exciting to see him in this field using his form of expression to discuss such nuanced topics as Berkeley’s Undocumented Student Program, and the trial of Abdullahai Yusuf.

This Spring, Brownstone released our second zine, featuring cover art by Chuy Hartman. Including our Spring 2019 Preview and a special “yellow page” section, complete with a Rude Boys & Girls Club, USA Membership card. The limited run release of 100 was housed in a wraparound style cover inspired by Miles Davis “On the Corner” album art and “Where’s Waldo?”. The piece includes Chuy’s depictions of Salvador Dali, Allen Iverson, Alan Vega, and Stack Bundles, among others, and is an attempt to show the scope and range of the brand’s varied influences.

As for what's to come with Chuy, with forays into digital animation and sculpture, he's staying busy preparing gallery shows and his first hardcover book will be releasing soon. By being true to himself, he's carved out a lane in a niche world. With Chuy, the medium is always evolving just like his unique story and eye for detail.

CHUY HARTMAN
AND THE
EXISTENCE OF MEMORY

Catching Up With the California Artist at His LA Studio

  • Text: Warner Watkins
  • Photography + Video: Warner Watkins
  • Illustrations: Chuy Hartman

It's a Saturday afternoon and i'm sitting with my good friend Chuy Hartman on the patio of his parents bbq spot, Buffalo Bruce’s Mercantile. In the years since Waverly & I have moved to LA, Chuy has become one of our closest friends and we’ve collaborated on a handful of projects together such as a Showroom for New York Fashion Week, our installation at Union Los Angeles, and Brownstone's first zine. Today, we’re grabbing lunch before heading to his studio nearby to finish up a piece for our Spring collection entitled, "I Like It Here Can I Stay? : Rude Boys & Girls Club, USA". For Brownstone, collaborations serve more as a community building exercise. It’s an opportunity to work with the individuals whose work we admire and create something new that speaks to both of our tastes.

Chuy’s work is truly unique. Shaped by family, the local punk and hardcore scene he discovered growing up in Sylmar, CA, and his interest in film and journalism. Once we arrive at the studio, a quick glance at the collection of art books, vintage cameras, and stickers that cover the drawing table, the vastness of Chuy’s interests seems to fully come into focus.

In 2015, Chuy began work on “Drawing Noise”, a series of location drawings? done as close to the stage as possible that would then be compiled into tiny zines and handed out after shows. He would later revive the project in 2018 in the hopes that his drawings would serve as mental postcards of the previous night’s chaos. “One of the reasons I ever got into punk was the DIY aspect, it was something you could feel connected to on more than just a surface level, so I try to paint using that same perspective” Chuy explains. “When I do a sketch at a show I'm taking in all the details, from the sights and sounds to the atmosphere, then going home to finish it by the am."

"One of the reasons I ever got into punk was the DIY aspect, it was something you could feel connected to on more than just a surface level. I try to paint using that same principle."

Chuy paints from a perspective of being entrenched in the crowd, and this vantage point allows him to draw pieces that are incredibly accurate. Additionally, through his use of lines and empty space, viewers can be transported to what it felt like right in that moment. Images are sometimes half stylized, as if a fever dream drawn. The colors and body language reminded me a lot of Jazz club paintings I'd see on the wall of the barbershop getting a haircut as a kid. It was as if you could see the heat radiating from the crowd, the amps, the stage, you could feel it through the drawing. The movement of bodies, the palpable sweat of a punk show almost soaked into the paper of his drawings.

So, how did Chuy discover something like punk rock? Like many of my friends who grew up in smaller towns without a local venue, it came from external sources; most notably the Tony Hawk Pro Skater franchise. Chuy tells me, “Growing up I would play video games and draw all day after school, so that’s where I first started hearing about bands like The Dead Kennedys and stuff”. “But it really hit for me when I first heard Operation Ivy that I fell in love with punk. It was this aggressive and upbeat music with lyrics about socially conscious matters and loss I was just starting to experience firsthand myself.” After the tragic passing of Chuy’s sister to Leukemia he dove headfirst into his art, both as a participant and a performer to find a sense of inner peace.

While attending Art Center College of Design where he received his Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts in illustration and design, Chuy was touring and booking shows every weekend as the guitarist for the metallic Hardcore band Sleepwalkers, who would eventually sign to 6131 Records. By necessity, he became the artist for many Sleepwalker releases, turning that into a side gig as an artist for the label and working with acts such as Rotting Out, Cruel Hand, and Downpresser. “Working with 6131 was great because I met so many people that later on helped me advance my craft.” Chuy goes on to say, “That put me on the radar with the Epitaph people, and later I worked on the new Culture Abuse album; I would visit them in the studio during the recording process and drew it all. I got my first thank you in an album’s credits that, I was really proud.”

"Influence is just a roadmap. It's up to you to be in control of where to take it, theres no guide for that."

There’s a sense of balance to the chaos of a Chuy Hartman painting that mimics his real life. Over the course of the evening we discuss everything from our favorite film directors (Orson Welles), to music acts (Have Heart) and painters (Lautrec). His observation of time and the dedication to see a small moment transcend to something larger is one of the many marks of his talented eye. It’s so easy for artists to regurgitate their influences back without bringing anything new to their medium, ultimately neutering any creativity. With Chuy though, he views his work as a constant process of reflection and refinement. He reflects, "You're a total of all your life experiences. So, I use that as my ‘influence’ in a sense, but that's just the roadmap. You've got to be in control of where to take it”.

I would say one of the most inspiring things about Chuy is how he’s stretched himself past our niche world of indie music and totally followed his passion. Never one to become complacent, the most recent work Chuy shows me includes water color, collages, and album art. With both of us being men of color, there's an excitement I get in watching him do his thing. His editorial work to date includes both New York Magazine and The New Yorker, and the pieces all revolve around stories of identity. In today’s climate I think it’s important that we highlight those who have something to say with a perspective that is underrepresented. It’s exciting to see him in this field using his form of expression to discuss such nuanced topics as Berkeley’s Undocumented Student Program, and the trial of Abdullahai Yusuf.

This Spring, Brownstone released our second zine, featuring cover art by Chuy Hartman. Including our Spring 2019 Preview and a special “yellow page” section, complete with a Rude Boys & Girls Club, USA Membership card. The limited run release of 100 was housed in a wraparound style cover inspired by Miles Davis “On the Corner” album art and “Where’s Waldo?”. The piece includes Chuy’s depictions of Salvador Dali, Allen Iverson, Alan Vega, and Stack Bundles, among others, and is an attempt to show the scope and range of the brand’s varied influences. As for what's to come with Chuy, with forays into digital animation and sculpture, he's staying busy preparing gallery shows and his first hardcover book will be releasing soon. By being true to himself, he's carved out a lane in a niche world. With Chuy, the medium is always evolving just like his unique story and eye for detail.

  • Instagram: @ChuyHartman
  • Online: ChuyHartman.com
  • Email: ChuyHartman@gmail.com