Los Angeles

Meet Maricel Meneses, LA's Emerging Stylist Behind Your Favorite New Artists

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By Lainney Dizon

In Los Angeles, it’s more than having talent. It’s about understanding the importance of hard work and surrounding yourself with the right team. Who are you building with? How will you collectively work to bring your vision to life? With passion and strategy you can make great things happen. For Maricel Meneses, an emerging stylist behind your favorite new artists including rappers Jay IDK and SuperDuperKyle, she understands the importance of this and is just getting started. As a Los Angeles native with an extensive background in streetwear working for streetwear labels HLZBLZ and Dimepiece LA and mastering her craft with Top Dawg Entertainment, Maricel knows what that elevating your hustle is all about putting in the time and dedication. Currently working as the merchandise marketing for Top Dawg Entertainment (TDE) and a styling assistant, we spoke with Maricel to talk about her journey so far, the importance of building with the right team and her favorite spots in Los Angeles to find inspiration:  

LowLeaf for Ke7h3r. Styled by Maricel Meneses.

LowLeaf for Ke7h3r. Styled by Maricel Meneses.

LA Pulse Mag: How did you get into your current career? What words of advice would you give to those interested in getting in the same hustle as yourself?

Maricel Meneses: I was always into fashion growing up. My mom refused to buy my sisters and I toys to play with because she thought they just made the house messy (I know, weird, I think?), but always took us shopping! I hated that, but now I'm thankful for it because I probably wouldn't have gotten into this industry otherwise. In regards to streetwear, my older sister played a lot (if not only) hip-hop around the house when I was a kid. That definitely played a factor in the type of fashion I got into as an adult. My first experience in this industry was interning for women's streetwear brand HLZBLZ. I was a sales intern there and learned how to find wholesale accounts and close sales.

The next summer I actually became the wholesale coordinator for another women's streetwear brand Dimepiece LA. I wasn't even looking for a job! This is while I was going to school full time pursuing social work, which I now have my B.A in. While I was in school, I just pursued fashion for fun. I worked little retail jobs and looked for internships. I actually started off as an intern at Dimepiece too and 2 months after interning, I notified them I had to resign because that semester I had to have a mandatory internship that was related to my major, which Dimepiece obviously was not. They then offered me the wholesale coordinator position, which was great because I was able to quit my retail job and I split my time in the campus library working on homework and closing sales or would go to the office on days I got out early from class.

Two years later in my senior year of college, Top Dawg Entertainment (TDE) was looking for assistance in their merchandise department. I was a huge TDE fan and applied right away. By this time, I already had a lot of experience and knowledge in fashion and streetwear, which impressed them. I then quit Dimepiece and after graduation only had TDE on my schedule, which I hated because I'm someone who has to be busy every second of every day. I was with TDE for maybe 7 or 8 months by this time and started learning more about the team behind an artist and became interested in styling. Without a good stylist, it is hard to completely elevate an entertainers career. So I started emailing different stylist and actually only got one response. It was from Debbie Gonzales, who I now assist and who taught me literally everything. I am so grateful for her! Side note: it was perfect that we began working together because she cares about social justice just as much as I do and does tons of volunteer work. Because of her, I am able to live out both of my passions. Anyway, I interned for a couple of months, left TDE after 2 years and then became her assistant. 

Kids of Immigrants lookbook / Styled by Maricel Meneses

Kids of Immigrants lookbook / Styled by Maricel Meneses

The advice I would give to those interested in getting in the same hustle would be to work hard, have patience, don't be entitled, build genuine relationships and intern, intern, intern! I would not have had big opportunities if it wasn't for interning. Even though I had paid positions, I still took on an internship even after I graduated college. This is definitely an industry where you will have to pay your dues, multiple times. You are going to have to make a lot of sacrifices. It really depends how bad you want it!

What was the most exciting project/projects you worked on?

I just did my first VMA's! That was major for me since growing up the VMA's was a big award show for our generation. I assisted Debbie with styling Super Duper Kyle and Noah Cyrus. Both of them looked so bomb! Earlier in the summer, I was part of the styling team for Big Sean's looks for YG's "Big Bank". Those are probably the biggest projects I've done for styling so far. Also, Noah's feature in Hypebae was a significant project for me too because I've been following them for forever. At TDE, I made some mock packages for Kendrick Lamar's DAMN. merchandise. They didn't go into production or anything, but it was cool to even be in a position for that. 

Recording Artist SuperDuperKyle at the MTV VMAs. Styled by Debbie Gonzales, Daniel Buezos and Maricel Meneses.

Recording Artist SuperDuperKyle at the MTV VMAs. Styled by Debbie Gonzales, Daniel Buezos and Maricel Meneses.

What advice would you give to a younger version of yourself?

Not to be scared, not to quit when something is hard and that being assertive is not being mean. Tons of experiences have taught me those same lessons over and over again. I am someone who always had to do everything perfect the first time doing it. Being scared of not being perfect has stopped me from doing so many things in the past and I absolutely regret it. It's a gift and a curse because it makes me perform as an overachiever because I make sure there's no room for any criticism, but it definitely is not always that serious.

My first day of college was a full day (literally it was like a 8 hour class because we only met once a week and it was 4 hours of learning and 4 hours of "lab") of a sewing class. I am someone who is not gifted with anything that requires physical coordination. In 8th grade, our teacher was really into knitting and required all of us to buy supplies to knit and I hated it because it would stress me out that I wasn't perfect or familiar with it. I used to get intimidated really easily. We did like 7 hours of learning that day and 1 hour of playing with the sewing machine and I was STRESSED. I literally dropped that class the same night. I am so mad at myself for that because now that I'm in styling that is such a valuable skill that I'm currently learning. And it was all because of fear! Definitely don't quit because you're scared or because it is hard. All experiences are useful! Overtime you'll learn, so these things won't be "hard" in like a week or a month honestly.

You will be taken advantage of in this industry if you aren't assertive. You will be walked all over and never paid. That's all I can really say. It's super straight forward. Oh also, set boundaries. I was just an "Ok, ok, ok" person for the longest time because I did not want to ruin opportunities. No. Lol.

Describe a normal day working on your craft.

Most people think styling is so glamorous and just putting an outfit together. There is so much more to it than that! You one, have to be really organized. Sometimes you'll have 8 showroom appointments and a few store pulls in one day and in order to stay on top of it, you have to have time management, plan your day geographically and keep in mind the wardrobe budget. It's a lot of driving, answering emails in between driving and visiting showrooms for incoming pieces and making sure you meet deadlines with brands/showrooms to ship on time for the event, keeping up to date with tracking. Honestly, it's a perfect work day for someone like me who has be stressed 24/7 lol just kidding.

On brainstorming days, it's much more chill. It's a lot of reading up on the Vogues, Hypebeasts, Highsnobiety sites to learn about upcoming collections or just browsing the web for hours looking for new cool brands. Styling is a 24/7 hour job, which I love! Also, styling is the most physically demanding job I've EVER had! I think that aspect surprises a lot of people. Sometimes you have to carry 5 full garment bags over your shoulders and walk 2 big blocks in Downtown Los Angeles because there's no parking. I'm 5'1" and do not work out at all, so I don't necessarily have muscles built for this but you gotta get it done!

Maricel getting ready behind the scenes. “Most people think styling is so glamorous and just putting an outfit together. There is so much more to it than that! You one, have to be really organized.” Photo courtesy of Maricel.

Maricel getting ready behind the scenes. “Most people think styling is so glamorous and just putting an outfit together. There is so much more to it than that! You one, have to be really organized.” Photo courtesy of Maricel.

Did you have any mentors growing up?

Mentors in fashion growing up, no not really. Mentors in my work ethic, yes. My mom has been a single mom since I was in the 4th grade and even before then, always worked multiple jobs. From when I was in grade school to my earlier college years she worked from 8am-11pm, took my sisters and I to school every morning and picked us up from school between jobs, would drop us off then go to a new shift. Maybe that's where I get my "I have to work 24/7" mentality from now that I think of it. She mentored me without even knowing, I guess. But my oldest sister, Michelle, definitely made sure I worked hard and went for what I wanted but in a smart way. 

I do have mentors now though that guide me through all the craziness of this industry. Obviously, Debbie who I previously mentioned. She's the greatest! But I do give credit to my boss at TDE, Matt Genius and an old coworker of mine at Dimepiece, Janelle Hethcoat. The three of them make sure I do what is best for my personal wellness and professional life too. Janelle is the definition of a real boss and is someone I aspire to be as I continue to grow. She's so fearless and just always know what to do! I can be really indecisive and she will snap me back into my senses. Matt talked me through a lot of my growing pains. Like I mentioned a couple times, this industry can be a tough one. Without Matt reminding me that everything happens for a reason and that I should always look out for myself, I would not have surpassed a lot of my fears.

What's your next hustle?

I've covered a lot of departments in fashion: buying, wholesale, merchandise marketing, e-commerce and obviously of course now styling. As of now, styling is where I really want to grow. I do want to continue my own personal client list and make history somehow in streetwear. I'm still figuring that out and growing. I can't even think of the future because I'm so focused on succeeding here. Designing would be cool.

Any favorite underrated spots in Los Angeles for shooting or finding fashion inspiration?

I do know overrated spots: those painted pink walls with wings. Half kidding.. To be honest, I really think for fashion photos the simpler the better for backgrounds. You want the outfit to be the main focus, not really where you are. Find some cool, clean and simple walls and let your outfit define the photo! As far as fashion inspiration, I go back in time a lot. I look at old magazines, watch old music videos and just google a lot. Inspiration can come from anywhere though if you really are present in the moment.

Check out more of Maricel Meneses’ work on her website: MaricelMeneses.com

What Does Los Angeles Really Look Like?

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By Elise Gray 

Ah, Los Angeles, California, where do we begin? We're all used to seeing The City of Angels in the movies. For many people, this is the Promised Land. Most Americans have a general idea of what it looks like, as it is the breeding grounds for the rich and famous. A lot of outside assumptions about LA are accurate. Yes, perfect people are running around with designer footwear, and dogs are allowed everywhere. Trimmed palm trees and luxury vehicles do line the streets with well-groomed lawns in a uniformed fashion. The first time you step foot in LA, it's sort of like a surreal #instastory coming alive. How can one place be so beautiful? Contrary to popular belief, Los Angeles also offers more than conventional beauty. Rodeo Drive isn't the only place that native Los Angelenos see every day. In fact, unless you're a well-paid individual, you might not ever step foot on Rodeo Drive – that's where Matthew Grant Anson comes in. He uses Lightroom to edit this still-life portraits of LA's backstreets and staples, like Santee Alley and the Metro. His work presents a depiction of LA that is free from designer boutiques and high-end cafes. Matthew's work offers a more honest and raw look at the city of Los Angeles, in all its urban glory.

LA Pulse had the opportunity to talk with the rising LA-based photographer. Read on to meet Matthew Grant Anson and how he brings LA to life with his photography: 

What do you want people to take away from your photography?

 I want them to come away thinking "Huh, this is some real shit." 

Your work is different. You don't capture the glamorous side of LA or the slim physiques of IG models. In my opinion, your work portrays the side of Los Angeles that people do not usually see. What made you want to shoot this way? Please elaborate on your style.

 I am shooting what interests me, and I have pretty much no interest in shooting models or any moments that don't feel authentic and candid to me. When I was a kid being driven around LA by my parents, I was always interested in the sides of freeways and alleys in the city...when I became an adult, I just started going to the places I used to stare at from the car. I have a photojournalism mindset to what I'm doing, and my goal is to document the city as frequently, as long, and as well as I can. I like going through old work and seeing the skyline change, and the tags get painted over and redone and, unfortunately, the city becoming gentrified block by block.

How exactly did you first get started with photography and was it something you always wanted to do or did you stumble into it?

I became interested in photography about seven years ago. I was doing primarily music photography for my college newspaper, and I would shoot a lot of backyard punk shows around LA. After a few years, I lost interest in the shows and was more interested in capturing the environments that the shows were held in. I transitioned to street photography, and for the last five years, I've been exploring the parts of LA that appeal to me most. 

What camera or device(s) do you use to capture your work? 

I use a Sony a7sii and have been for the last few months. I like it because it has a silent shutter option. I also keep a few disposable cameras in my backpack and car, but I don't share the results of those efforts anywhere because they’ve sucked so far.

Where do you prefer to shoot? 

My favorite spots are Santee Alley, MacArthur Park, the LA River, the 110 Freeway above the tunnels, and the top of the Bendix building. 

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What advice would you give to anyone looking to pursue photography?

Photography has been nothing but a positive in my life so I'd encourage anyone to pursue it. If someone wanted to get into street photography in particular, I'd advise them to take stock of who they are and how they present to the world and operate with that in mind. If you're a person of color, female, disabled, etc., my impression is that you are more likely to encounter conflict, depending on how upfront you are with your photography. If you're white, or especially if you're a white male or white-passing male like me, you can basically drift through the world with people at the least treading lightly around you, or at most thinking you're a cop. If that's the case, I think it's required you be aware of that advantage and try to contribute to your community in some way, by filming police you encounter and speaking up when you see something that's not right. 

How do you feel the digital age has contributed to your success as a photographer? Has the community been welcoming and supportive?

I think the digital age supplied the inspiration I needed to get started, and without it, I don't think I would have stuck to this as long as I have. 

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What influences your work?

Mostly other photographers on Instagram and Tumblr. 

Where do you see yourself going with your photography?

Nowhere – this is a hobby. I have a career that has nothing to do with photography, and I like it that way. If I could shoot streets for money, I'd do that, but I don't think that's a realistic goal, and the reality is that I'm not interested in shooting anything but streets.  

Can we expect any meetups or collaborations in the future?

I'll be meeting up with my cats to collaborate on editing pictures I took two months ago, which is the size of my backlog right now. 

All photography by Matthew Grant Anson. Check out MatthewGrantAnson.com for his latest work or follow him on social @MatthewGrantAnson

 

Carrying Baggage Isn't Cute: Meet The LA Entrepreneur Who Wants You To Explore Unanchored

Lightr founder Mischa Armada during a trip in Franschhoek, South Africa.

Lightr founder Mischa Armada during a trip in Franschhoek, South Africa.

You’ve been in the situation before: You landed fresh from the plane ready to explore the city and head to the Airbnb. Check-in is at 2 PM and you’re left waiting and dragging around your luggage until the room is ready. With travelling, every hour is valuable, so why should you waste time sitting around waiting for check-in and drop off your luggage when you're ready to have fun? Mischa Armada, founder of Lightr, knows your struggle: carrying baggage sucks. Lightr is focused on helping you travel lighter by assisting you in finding, booking and safely storing your luggage in centrally located hotels so you can get your vacation started. We spoke with the native Angeleno to talk about the concept behind Lightr, her favorite hidden gems in LA and why she can’t imagine building Lightr in any city other than Los Angeles:

Lightr just launched! Tell about us about the concept.

Carrying baggage isn’t cute. Its weighed down the day tripper, layover explorer, and the Airbnb guest with hours between check-in, check-out and departure for far too long. What do you do with your luggage with hours to kill?

Luggage storage exists, but not enough of them and most operate at inconvenient times and locations. There’s also few ways to find them. You end up being stuck in a rabbit hole digging through old forums on TripAdvisor. Colossal waste of time and energy. 

Lightr is a platform for travelers with gaps in their journey to easily find, book, and safely store luggage at centrally located hotels in their destination, for hours to days at a time. We help travelers gain their day back and explore unanchored.

Who is Lightr for?

Lightr is for people who don’t want to be burdened with carrying around baggage - and have gaps in between their next destination. Lightr is for those who want to do more, discover more, and do their own thing without having to be weighed down. 

We’ve found the most common use case are visitors who have an early arrival but a later check-in time, in addition to travelers with late departure times. Lots of red eyes. 

Hosts are also our customers, since we provide an answer for guests seeking short-term luggage storage, which adds value to their experience and positive impact for host ratings. On the hotel side, we’re bringing business to their property and capturing back a portion of market share that was taken by the alternative accommodations of the world.

More importantly though, Lightr provides an opportunity for hotels to be part of the customer journey, starting with luggage storage.

We’re optimizing an unused, excess asset of an existing consumer behavior. Essentially, that’s what Space-as-a-Service’ is -- rethinking and maximizing how space can be used.

You guys are all about #ExploringUnanchored. What are your favorite hidden gems in LA to explore when you're looking for inspiration?

I won’t reveal all my secrets, but I love getting lost and discovering KTown. Ktown is the underbelly of L.A. and sprawling with hidden gems. You could be from L.A., but never experience all of something. That’s the beautiful and unique part of this city --  It constantly surprises and stimulates you. People need that.

Downtown is great too, but the downtown heading east off the 10- towards where all the cool warehouse parties used to be. Lots of lowkey, but amazing things growing there. Recently went to this awesome space called Navel, where my friend Era Noble had a show. Their whole mantra is searching alternative economic models nurturing a community in collaborative experimentation, among other things.

I always find inspiration in places doing something different or something that challenges your original thought. I feel the same way about people. Anything that shifts your perspective, along with the narrative. 

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Why is it important to you to be an LA-based company?

L.A. is my home. Having traveled all over and the last three years of my life living and working abroad (i.e., My digital nomad chapter) - from Asia to NYC- there are certainly benefits to establishing companies elsewhere. Whether it’s tax incentives, cost of living, whatever.

But culture is created in L.A. We set the tone and there’s no other place I’d consider ever building and growing Lightr from. That’s why tourism has always thrived here. Our goal with Lightr is to make that experience better, and scale it. The weather isn't too bad either.

What's next?

Turning 32 in July, Bali in August, opening our first locations in the fall, and continually shipping in between.

Learn more and get early access to Lightr here or follow them on social here to stay tuned for the latest updates.

 

 

Erick Gonzales, Street Photographer Providing a Transformative Touch to Los Angeles Life

Photo of Erick Gonzales in his element via  Dagaman .

Photo of Erick Gonzales in his element via Dagaman.

By Elise Gray

With today's modern photography, you can be in Milan in a second. Every inch of the buildings will captivate you with crisp details outlined. Social media makes you feel like you are there. We have wonderful applications like Instagram to thank for this. This new age of information has created a whole new era for digital photography. If you want to reside inside someone else's mind, take a look at their photos. In an age where visual social media platforms like Instagram have taken precedence over the traditional photo albums and portfolios we used to know, it's easier to understand a person's mind — or at least feel like you do. Capturing moments in real-time has been a fascination that predates the millennial generation. At certain points in history we were merely scribbling on the walls of caves to indicate what we were doing. Then in 1816, the first satisfactory camera image made its way into existence, and our curiosity with each other continued to thrive. There are those of us who check the Instagram daily and stalk our ex-partners to no end. And then there are others like Erick Gonzales, who have chosen to turn the platform into something else — something revolutionary. 

In an age where literally anyone can capture anything at any given time and call it art, it's hard to distinguish pure talent from the fragmented pixels you'll find sprawled out on your Instagram feed. You need a natural eye like that of Erick Gonzales to hone in on the on the architectural buildings that line our Los Angeles streets. Seeing through his lens is like taking a walk through a modern museum. Every angle depicts a different variation of how alive the city of Los Angeles still is. You can dive into the depths of Venice Skate Park or take a stroll through the Santa Monica Pier. Get lost with Mr. Gonzales as he takes you on a stroll through Ricamar, Mexico. His style is sleek and abrupt. Every picture tells a story, but his minimalistic edge tells a different story. This is what sets his work apart. 

Erick uses his unique eye to transform every photo into something more polished and pristine than what the naked eye can see. He has participated in several visual shows and various meet-ups with the Instagram community. With his current 10.2K following, Erick continues to be a driving force in the city. His overall artistic vision is to create work that is visually stimulating while still keeping the contemporary feel of whatever he's depicting. He does a great job of mixing modern images with a simple aesthetic. When we got the opportunity to talk to Erick about his work, his answer was concise:

"These are the places I've witnessed. I enjoy translating my imagination into every photo."

Erick is expecting to debut his most recent work in an upcoming art show. However, it is still in the works. While it remains in progress at this time, there is no doubt that LA Pulse and the rest of Los Angeles cannot wait to see what this emerging artist creates next. An expected collaboration between Erick and other emerging street photographers could be hitting a gallery near you, so stay tuned and check out his work on Instagram @freetransfer

LA's WRDSMTH Opens Up About His Work, His Message, and His First Solo Art Show

Photography courtesy of  Facebook - WRDSMTH

Photography courtesy of Facebook - WRDSMTH

By Keldine Hull 

If you live in Los Angeles, then you’re no stranger to the street art that has become a staple of what makes this city so unique. With the city as his canvas, WRDSMTH’s words of inspiration perfectly capture the essence of Los Angeles. They speak to the dreamer in all of us and have become as synonymous with the beauty of LA as the palm trees and beaches. From Runyon Canyon to the streets of Hollywood, WRDSMTH’s words appear in the most unlikely of places with the most positive messages of hope. With a vastly growing fan base all over the world, WRDSMTH will be hosting his first solo art show smartly titled, “I’d Like To Have a WRD With You.” And luckily for us, LA Pulse was able to have a few words with the wordsmith himself.

What inspired you to get involved in street art?

I’m a writer first and foremost. I love to write in a lot of different mediums that include screenplays, short stories, short films. I’m a published author. I used to work in advertising. In 2013 I had a really good year creatively. I was working on several different projects. But I had a realization towards the end of the year that I was spending way too much time in front of the computer. And even though I was doing what I love, I knew I needed something that got me out of the chair for mental and physical health. I’ve always loved street art. I’ve always been inspired by it. As a kid, I used to see scrawlings on the wall where I grew up, and I’ll never forget those scrawlings where “Tony Hawk is God.” And I remember thinking, who wrote that? When did they write that? Why did they write that? I was just fascinated with it. And when I moved from Chicago to Los Angeles, I was blown away by the street art. I always found it very inspiring, and I thought superheroes did it.

At first I was like, “Maybe I’ll try to do some street art.” I had seen some word- based street art. I was like, “Maybe people will read if I put stuff up on the wall.” If I was doing word- based street art, I’d still be writing. That would satisfy my love and desire to write. I kind of started toiling with that idea even though I still thought superheroes did this.

At first I thought I’d put up little stickers or something of that nature. But when I started pondering ideas, I immediately saw an image of a typewriter. To me that's just like a classic, indelible image and it harkens back to the writers of old, the people that were pecking away on typewriters writing novels, people like Hemingway. When I thought of the image of the typewriter, I saw a page coming out of it, and I also kind came across the word wordsmith. Wordsmith was taken on social media, so I removed the vowels from it. And the moment I removed the vowels, there was this domino effect. I thought it looked really cool. There’s basically two mediums in the world of street art, and that’s painting and pasting. My idea combined both of them in a very simple manner. I had to Google if anybody had done it before. And the moment I saw that nobody had done it, I just was like, “I have to put this out there. I have to do this.” And in that excitement, I also forgot all about my fear that superheroes did it and that I couldn’t do it or I wasn’t that type of artist. When I get excited about something, I just throw myself into it.

It was late 2013. I started creating those messages, and I packed up a backpack one night. I went a few blocks from my house, and I put up my first piece. And the adrenaline rush, the feeling, the satisfaction was just off the charts, and I was absolutely hooked. I don’t wanna use the cliché that the rest is history, but I was just all in. I needed to get away from the computer, and I was doing that. I came back charged and energized.

The amazing thing about this whole thing is even though I started doing this for me, it started resonating with people, and now I’m doing this full time. I’m getting read on a daily basis all over the world and for any writer, that’s living the dream. It’s just been an amazing ride.  

What was that message you wrote the very first night you went out and put up your first piece?

I ventured a couple blocks away from my house, and I put on a utility box, “There’s nothing sadder in the world than a pawnshop in Hollywood.” And I actually put it across the street from a pawnshop. That WRD right there is actually one of my favorites because it was my first. It doesn’t sound very positive, but it actually is. All it was to me was a creative way of saying don’t give up on your dreams. I really look fondly back on that. I think my style has kind of changed where it’s blatantly positive. But I find a lot of positivity in that first WRD that I put up.

I love that all your pieces are centered on going after your dreams. My favorite message you wrote was, “Do something every day to remind the city why the hell you’re here.” How do you come up with such positive messages?

I quit my advertising job. I was good at it. I was getting paid a lot of money, but I had that realization that I wasn’t doing the creative writing that I wanted to be doing. All my friends thought I was crazy. And my family. I packed my car and said I was moving to Los Angeles. Even when I was struggling, Los Angeles was good to me. I felt so much happier even when I was struggling. I knew I made the right move. The words come from so many different things. I’m just creatively looking for ways to say don’t give up your dreams, everything’s gonna be alright. Everything is rooted in something in my life. It needs to resonate with me, whether it’s romantic or inspirational, before I put it out there on a wall to the world. Sometimes I’m like, “Hmm I wonder if people are gonna get this. I wonder if they’re going to embrace it.” And some of those are the most popular words I’ve ever done. I’m just always so shocked at that because they are personal thoughts. But those thoughts are universal. Everybody’s thinking the same thing, and that’s amazing and very comforting at the same time.

Comforting is the perfect way to describe a lot of your WRDs.

We’re all in this together. We’ve been talking about Los Angeles versus the world. I thought I was speaking just to Los Angeles with these things, but people all over the world feel the same way. And it’s insane in a very good way. All walks of life, all ages, people are all in this together. And everybody’s looking for positivity. There’s so much negativity in the world. From the get go I was like, I wanna be positive. I wanna kinda go against the grain, especially here in Los Angeles, and say positive things to people. It’s so easy for people to say it’s too hard or it’s impossible. Who wants to hear that? It is possible. It’s possible on many levels. There wouldn’t be success stories if things weren’t possible. You don’t know what’s gonna happen, but while you’re here chasing your dreams, you better fucking chase your dreams. Go at it a hundred and ten percent. When you’re older and sitting on your porch, nobody’s gonna say, “God, I shouldn’t have moved to Los Angeles to chase my dreams.” If you don’t chase your dreams or you don’t give it a hundred percent, you’re gonna be sitting on your porch going, “Damn I should’ve tried harder.” If you give it a go, there’s no way that you’re ever gonna look back and regret that time. You’re chasing your dreams. It is a uniting thing.

Los Angeles is a city built by people who chased after their dreams.

I think this city has such an energy. I think it’s such a creative capitol of the world. I love being here and there’s some people that are tired of it or jaded. I tell those people get out cause this city can kill you. If you’re not enjoying the struggle, something’s wrong because you should be enjoying the struggle. I hear actors talk about their frustrations not getting cast, and I go to them and say, “But you’re getting in the room! You’re getting in the room to act in front of people. That should be thrilling. If it’s not thrilling, something’s wrong.” There’s people that never make that move or never get in that room. You have to enjoy the struggle or anything will eat you up.

Being that your artwork has become a staple in Los Angeles, is there much need for anonymity anymore?

That’s a fantastic question. No. But also yeah. When I first began, I think like any street artist, you’re afraid of getting caught. You are dancing this line of legality and also using a paint can. In Los Angeles, they made it a crime a long time ago because they looked at it as a gateway to gangs. The anonymity I embraced cause I just didn’t want people to know that I was doing it. But over time, and especially when the city started hiring me to do projects and corporations wanted me to do pieces on walls, I started caring less about the anonymity. I feel that I’m beautifying; I’m putting positive messages out there. If I still am doing renegade pieces and a cop rolls up on me, I’ll let him do his job. I’m not gonna run away. I’m gonna tell him I’m trying to do something positive, I’m trying to put messages out there. I’m also technically not doing it on private property. I’m not gonna do somebody’s fence in front of their house. I’ll do dilapidated buildings or abandoned buildings or walls that are just kinda there, or utility boxes. I’ve had cops roll up on me, and they still ran my name and saw if I had any warrants or priors, and I don’t. And the first time that happened, I remember I was really nervous. But the cops a couple minutes in said, “Hey, don’t be nervous. We actually like what you’re doing.” They still had to do their job, which was fine, and I respect that. They just told me to be careful out there. But I’ll continue doing what I do.

This is something that I believe in so much, and I’m trying to do something inspiring, and that’s what’s behind it. I know the words are affecting people. I get messages on a daily basis. I’ve gotten messages from people like, “I’m with my significant other because of your words. We shared them in the beginning, and you’re part of the courtship. We got engaged in front of them.” Messages like that. And also messages that are like, “I was having a grave time and kind of leaned on your words and got through it.”

I will risk the legality. I know that I could be doing a piece somewhere in any city and the cops could arrest me and put me in jail. But I forget that. I get a large of percentage of opportunity to put words up on buildings that are sanctioned, and that’s amazing. A lot of artists don’t get that opportunity, so I’m very thankful for that. But that doesn’t mean I’m gonna stop doing renegade pieces. That’s what a street artist does, giving art to the people. I don't care what happens in my career, I will always do that. I will always wanna put pieces for people to turn the corner and see them and stumble on them and hopefully smile. And it changes your moment or your day, or you share it with somebody, and it affects them and has this butterfly effect.

Your art is recognizable throughout the world, especially right here in Los Angeles. Did you ever expect to attain this level of popularity?

I absolutely, positively did not expect this to happen. I am blown away on a daily basis. Like I said, I wanted to say things to people in Los Angeles that I wished they would’ve said to me when I first came. I hoped that people would stumble across it. I never expected to make a dime. I never expected to have this kind of following. And that’s just thrilling. Everything that I put out there comes from something in me, and it’s amazing that it’s resonating with so many people just all over the world. It’s just crazy. And I love that. It fuels the creative fire.

I moved here like so many other people to kind of make a splash. People move here to become actors, to become writers, to become directors, dancers, singers. And this city…it’s so hard to make your mark. So much of Los Angeles knows my work and knows my name, and that is amazing to me. I actually kinda took a step back and said, “I can’t believe this happened in a city that is so easy to just disappear in and not get noticed.” A filmmaker said it best when he said talent plus perseverance equals luck. And I think that’s the secret to Hollywood; it’s the secret to WRDSMTH. I just kept writing and doing what I love, and it’s amazing that this endeavor is what is making my mark, not only in Los Angeles, but all over the world.

Your first solo show begins on November 4th through November 12th. What do you have in store?

I’ve been thinking about a solo show for many years. I did not want to do my first solo show in the gallery setting. I wanted to be free of that and do some really fun stuff. Anybody buying a ticket, walking through that door will be, I think, wildly entertained. I’m a storyteller. With all my pieces, I’m telling stories that will add depth to those WRDs in those pieces on the wall. The show is about saying thank you to the people that have followed me, have supported me, and continue to share my words. I wanna go out of my way to meet people, to shake their hands, to give them hugs, to say thank you. And it’s thrilling that they wanna meet me.

I did thirty brand new original pieces, and those will be the bulk of the show. All of them will be for sale and all of them have a title card. But on those title cards I decided to tell stories. There’s some fiction stories that relate to the art. And then there’s a lot of nonfiction stories, just anecdotes about WRDSMTHing over the last three years. I tell stories with my art I think, but I wanted to add depth to those words.

I’m always frustrated that a lot of the time the people that my words are affecting the most are the people that can’t afford my art. And that’s hard because I would love to give pieces to everybody, but I also have to pay the bills. So what I did with this Greatest Hits Wall is I’ve created one hundred 11X14 canvases that are priced to sell, priced much lower.

I always look for ways to pay it forward, to pay it back. What I’m doing with the Greatest Hits Wall is if you choose to buy one of those 11X14 canvases, that’s when you’ll be able to pull it off the wall. Nine out of those will be one hundred percent free. Nine people will walk away with a free WRDSMTH piece of art. For one of the thirty pieces, if somebody agrees to buy it, one hundred percent of the proceeds will go to a charity. So there will be ten pay it forwards at my show, and that’s very important to me. That was part of the vision over the years. I want people to get excited. But regardless I really want to entertain people, and I think you will be entertained if you walk through the door on any night.

Follow @wrdsmth on Instagram and purchase tickets for his first solo show, 'I'd Like To Have A WRD With you' here.  

 

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Artist To Watch: Singer-Songwriter Carl Gershon

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By Lainney Dizon 
All Photos Courtesy of Big Machine Agency 

When people do what they are truly passionate about, you can tell it in their work. From rocking the stage as a solo artist to creating songs for films and touring with T-Pain across North America, Carl Gershon showcases that creating music is what he’s meant to do. As a multi-talented artist, Carl is a skilled musician, honest songwriter and electo-pop inspired producer and approaches his music with dedication and enthusiasm. LA Pulse Mag spoke with Carl Gershon after his recent Los Angeles performance debut opening for T-Pain’s Acoustic Tour to talk about what it takes to create music you love, working as a solo artist and his advice for upcoming other artists dedicated to their craft:

LA PULSE MAG: How would you describe your style/vibe? How do you stay inspired in creating music?

CARL GERSHON: Definitely a mix of 80’s funk and rock influence. I like to combine instrumentals and modern production. I stay inspired with new instrumentals and vintage synthesizers. I prefer to use hardware to software as far as instruments. Writing, arranging and researching also is a labor of love, it’s definitely a process.

LAPM: You recently rocked the stage in LA, opening the stage for T-Pain’s acoustic tour. Do you have any gems  in LA you have to visit when you’re out here?

CG: I would say my favorite spot is the Sunset strip. The history of the strip is the source of  music I love like Van Halen and Motley Crue. Their music is how I first was inspired to get started on playing the guitar, there’s a magic to that area. The first time I went to Los Angeles I walked up to the strip and knowing what came from that area seemed mystical. When I played at the strip for the first time, I put more of my heart on that stage.. I threw in a lil more shredding and really made it that moment extra special. I had to do it for the culture of that place.

LAPM: What was your most challenging obstacle and how did you overcome it?

CG: The decision to go off myself. As a solo artist,  I’m doing all the instruments and singing. I was always the guitar player in the band and I wasn’t finding the right chemistry and it never really felt truly satisfied. I realized the way to do it was do it myself. I taught myself how to sing. The focus is on me the whole time. I don’t hangout, I don’t drink. It requires a lot more focus and you have to censor yourself and walk away for a moment. It can be challenging, but it’s also very rewarding.

LAPM: What tips do you have for upcoming artists who are inspired by your music and hustle?

CG: Figure out what you’re willing to sacrifice for your art. Look at yourself. Ask yourself, “What portion of my life am I willing to give up to get this?”  Early on, you have a check on how much you need it and want it. If you don’t need it, don’t do it. The business of it is too difficult to just do it any less than 110%. You need to make your dedication and music the ultimate priority.

Check out Carl Gershon's latest track, "Like Paradise" below:

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Event Recap: Gunnar Peterson Gym at Dream Hollywood Grand Opening

In the bustling corner of Selma Avenue and Cahuenga Blvd in Hollywood, the highly-anticipated Dream Hollywood stands high above the Los Angeles scenes as a fun and relaxing getaway. From the open-air lobby to the bar welcoming you as you walk in, every detail of Dream Hollywood ensures that you're living the good life. 

We had the pleasure to attend the grand opening of the Gunnar Peterson Gym inside Dream Hollywood. Now, I know what you’re thinking. “It’s only a gym! What’s the big deal?” This gym isn't any ordinary gym. Like everything with Dream Hotel brand, it's the best. First of all, this gym’s design and equipment was personally curated by celebrity trainer, Gunnar Peterson. Gunnar Peterson is known as one of the leading fitness gurus in Los Angeles with clients including Jennifer Lopez, the Kardashians and the Lakers. So basically, Gunnar doesn't play any games. Gunnar takes exercise seriously but makes it fun, which you can tell by the variety of the equipment in the gym. There’s even monkey bars to help you get into the action!

Gunnar walked us through a workout rotation involving kickboxing, chest presses, lunges, squats and ball tosses. No pain, no gain! He admits, “So many hotel gyms are an afterthought. Dream Hollywood grabbed it by the horns and put fitness first! It’s about time. While no one will ever stop the Hollywood nightlife, you can certainly balance it out with a conscious approach to health and wellness. From the gym to the rooftop to the menu you can stay on track when you stay here. I loved designing this gym and keeping the spirit of Hollywood alive and well and fit! You will not be disappointed.” To add his personal touch, Gunnar is also hand-selecting and training an elite staff which will offer, one-on-one sessions, as well as a curriculum of innovative group workouts. 

Photo by  @DreamHotelsLA .

Photo by @DreamHotelsLA.

After our intense but invigorating workout, we concluded the high-energy afternoon with refreshments at the gorgeous open-air Dream Hollywood rooftop, The Highlight Room. The 360 views of Hollywood will have you in awe! From daytime fun to exciting nightlife events, The Highlight Room has you covered. Thanks Dream Hotel and Gunnar for making workouts fun again! 

Find the Dream Hotel LA at 6417 Selma Ave, Hollywood, CA 90028, 24 Hour Front Desk & Security. For More Information, or to Book a Room Go Here. Keep Up By Following @DreamHotelsLA.

Dream Hollywood Photo Credit Photography by Emily Andrews Unless Stated Otherwise.