What’s going on, introduce yourself to the people
Hello everyone, my name is Tatee Garcia aka Elloo. I am 28 years old, born and raised in Pilsen, and am an artist.
How was life growing up?
Life was just like everyone else’s as a kid. I went to school and got into some trouble. Although I tended to get into some trouble, I always managed to obtain very good grades. I always received straight A’s. I got into art, and excelled in pottery and drawing.
Lets start from the beginning. When did you first start witnessing your creative talents?
I started witnessing my talents in Highschool, that’s when I started taking my first real art classes. I say “real art classes” because all the other kids took art as a joke, but I really enjoyed them. My teachers would tell me that I have a good hand. I was in a couple different AP art classes; Paper Mache and painting were the two that really pushed me to look to take art more seriously. Unfortunately, I still kind of brushed it off. Art to me was never an option as an adult it was just a hobby. My mom always pushed me to focus on my academics, and wanted me to pursue a career as being a doctor, or a dentist.
Growing up in Pilsen, a neighborhood filled with murals and art, did that help influence you to get involved with art?
It definitely helped push me towards that direction with my art. As a young kid I always told myself it would be cool to create a mural in the neighborhood I grew up in. I’m very thankful to have been born in Pilsen, a beautiful artistic neighborhood that breeds creative individuals and brings in creative individuals.
Who are some of your favorite artists now?
Right now a lot of my favorite artists are women. I love women artists because they help me with venturing out and setting new goals for myself. My favorite artists right now though are Sand, TenHun, General Lucifer, BrainKiller, Revise, and Frida Kahlo.
As you got older, you realized you weren’t too fond of other things besides Art. Were you really drawn to art because it was something you were good at, or because you finally had a chance to express yourself?
I’d say a little bit of both, but Art was something I was just naturally good at. I sucked at Science, Math, and English. Having a pen in my hands and drawing was very natural to me. Being in Chicago also opened up so many opportunities for me with Art. I never thought I would teach art, did that, painting murals, never thought I would do that and I did. Now as I look back, I feel like Art was truly the plan for me from the beginning, it was something I just kept falling back into, even while having jobs.
You attended UIC to study Graphic Design. Was that your first introduction to graphic design?
Yes, going into UIC I actually wanted to be a dentist. As I stated earlier, Art was never an option for me. Once I started taking the basic intro classes, I realized I had to make up my mind on what I wanted to pursue. I was struggling with life at that time, and I decided to take my first college drawing course. That teacher I a ton of credit to, he motivated me the most to truly push a career in the arts. From there, I continued taking more art classes and started to really fall in love, I continued with Graphic design, but my heart was in traditional art.
How important is it to draw as a Graphic Designer?
Now-a-days I don’t think it’s as important. What I will say though is as an artist, I think it’s always important to learn the basics and the history of where it all started, and to me that’s drawing and illustration.
Over the years we have seen you painting murals. How were you able to transition from digital media to creating murals?
Once I graduated, I actually stopped doing digital media; I was tired of it and just burned out. I had a friend who I was painting with one day and she pushed me to give painting murals a try. I instantly fell in love with it, but at first it was really hard.
What was the first mural you painted?
The first mural I ever painted was in the Back Of The Yards neighborhood.
How difficult is it being a woman in the art industry?
I always feel iffy about answering this question. At times though being a woman in the art industry is a little intimidating, it’s an industry that’s mostly controlled by men. Most of the time I’m painting with guys who have much more experience and know more than I do. Sometimes as woman it’s easy to feel under appreciated as well. Luckily I have great friends who continue to push me and inspire me to just be the best I can be.
One of my favorite pieces from you is the collab project with BrainKiller at Lost Arts. Was that your concept, BrainKillern, or both of your ideas?
-How was it working with BrainKiller?
I was invited to the wall by BrainKiller and that was the first time I was able to meet him. The idea was to create a monster themed wall, due to him and I sharing similar styles, in which we both like using obnoxious colors, and monsters, it ended up being a great fit.
It was awesome being able to work with him; he’s a very talented artist and has great vision. I was honored to be able to work with him.
Lets talk about your style, what do your characters represent in your pieces?
The donut came really random. I first painted it for a low–key art show in Pilsen and people were digging it, so I continued to run with it and it just took off from there. I always wanted to incorporate sweets into my pieces, due to me having a sweet tooth. Sweets played a big part in my life growing up; my dad would always take me to buy ice cream and sweets, so I figured I should incorporate sweets into my artwork because of how important they are to me. I also think donuts are very attractive sweets.
The monsters I incorporate into my pieces don’t really have too much reasoning behind them. My monsters are always wearing costumes, disguised, and appear to always be fluffy and non-threatening. I created this concept to make the monsters look like that because things aren’t always how they appear to be, hence why they are wearing costumes. We see and judge based off exterior qualities, not what’s on the inside.
You once stated you were afraid to incorporate color into your pieces. Now your art is filled with vibrant colors.
At first, why was color something you were cautious of using?
I think it all stems back to knowing and understanding the basics, which started with Black and White. Also, I felt like I could do anything with black and white, where as with color I didn’t know if I was incorporating it into my pieces correctly. Color really plays a huge part in a piece, It can shape people’s mood or it could disrupt the whole harmony, that’s why I was hesitant to use it at first.
What made you transition into using color?
Aside from people nagging at me to start using color, I figured it was time to take the next step and grow as an artist. I first started using pastille colors, and then started transitioning into more watercolors, and acrylics. Color helped to make my creatures feel less threatening. I feel like with color I was able to attract people into my little world.
Recently you were able to paint Code of Conduct tattoo. How was that experience?
Painting Code of Conduct turned out to be one of my favorite pieces. I got in contact with Justin from the shop because he saw the piece I painted in Threadless HQ’s bathroom. I came to the shop to paint and was given full creative control; he just wanted me to incorporate the shops colors into my piece. That was the hardest part about the job because I never work in grayscale. Other than that, I was glad I was able to accomplish that piece.
As an artist, sky’s the limit as to where you could go with your career. Where do you want to see yourself headed in the next couple of years?
I’ve always wanted to make vinyl toys. I definitely see myself venturing out into creating vinyl toys, as it’s been a dream of mine since high school. I would like to make collectable pieces for my friends, family, and fans to have.
Written By: Nicholas Rud