EXTRA recently talked to Joseph “SentRock” Perez, winner of Red Bull’s cooler contest. His art will travel to SCOPE at Miami Beach from Dec. 2-7.
Can you tell us a little bit about your art influences?
Yeah, I am influenced by everybody and everyday life. My art is a product of my environment, what I see and what’s around me. What I experienced through life and growing up shaped my art. I want to create art like it’s a message. My art is my message—my voice—and I use it as a tool, a tool to give messages of inspiration to people. I was influenced and introduced to art through a visiting guest muralist as an elementary school kid. He gave me my first exposure to art and we created a mural at our school. I was in the 3rd grade. I grew up in West Phoenix, Ariz. That’s where a lot of my art was shaped. I got into graffiti writing in high school. Later on, turned my art into murals and a full on passion.
How would you describe your style?
My style is a cross of my cultural upbringings and my art upbringing. My style comes from graffiti foundation, Chicano upbringings and folk art. If I were to relate it to artists, it would be two points of inspiration: Martin Moreno, a Mexican muralist, and Chris Silva, a local artist based in Chicago. I took so much from them, the storytelling but also the aesthetics.
How did you hear about the Red Bull cooler contest?
I was sent an email about the project, and thought how dope would that be to show more people my art. So of course, I responded saying I was down and wanting to be apart of it. There was a whole process, a selection pool first. When we got chosen, we were given a day to complete the cooler. The artists met up at a studio and we were given our coolers to paint. I gave it my all and waited till the judging event.
How did it feel to know you won?
Well, the opening night of the event was when there were about 20 artists and hundreds of people. There were judges that were to choose two artists, the judges chose TUBS and Sam Kirk (respect to those artists). So at first, I didn’t win. I was told the next day that I was chosen as People’s Choice, which means the judges didn’t choose me, but by votes of the crowd there and online I won. At first, I was pretty discouraged. I felt like one of the biggest opportunities for me slipped away, but hearing I still had a chance meant everything to me. Now that I won nationally, it’s even a bigger deal. I am extremely happy and proud to know there are people that love my work. Whether this Miami Scope art show takes my art to the next career level or not, I still have learned so much.
I understand it’s just your art that’s going to SCOPE Miami Beach Dec. 2-7. Are there any plans to fundraise for yourself to head out there?
Well, unfortunately this time the organizations don’t cover flight or board. I am having a pop-up show at the Elephant Room gallery downtown Chicago to hopefully raise enough to get out there. My pop-up show is for one weekend and I have about 40 pieces of work on display for purchase.
Finally, where can we see your work in Chicago?
I have a bunch of murals throughout [Chicago], in Little Village, Pilsen and Logan Square. Also, I have an upcoming show in February at Maxwell Collette Gallery. Also, follow me on Twitter or Instagram for updates @sentrock.