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PIERRE LUCERO | THE MURALIST. For painter Pierre Lucero, open public spaces are the city canvas.

PIERRE LUCERO, 29, GREW UP thinking that art was a form of magic. Lucero is an Aurora-based muralist where his art is displayed in many neighborhoods. His parents are both from Mexico, but he was born in Aurora, Ill. He describes himself as a Mexican American artist and says Mexico’s rich culture defines his personality and his artwork.

What inspired you to become an artist?

As a little kid, I always looked up to artists. It was always like a superhero or magic. When I was a little kid, I thought ‘Oh, is that magic?’ You know? I was like how is that possible? How did people just create that, just using their hands and their minds? It is something I always looked up to. I know it’s different, I did not want to become like an office worker, no offense to office workers, but it is something I love doing and I’ve always loved doing. The inspiration was always there.

When did you realize you wanted to be an artist?

At an early age, maybe when I was 5, but seriously considered it after high school. I would say I seriously wanted to be an artist when I was like 19 or 20.

What medium do you work in? 

I work with acrylic paints, but I am flexible. I am able to work with anything such as spray paint, graphite, watercolors and inks. If I had to choose one, it would be a tie between spray paint and acrylic painting.

How do you describe yourself and your culture?

I can be shy sometimes. I am a little outgoing and I reflect myself in my artwork. I can be a little out there, but sometimes I can be weird but in a good way. I’d say I am unique and original. As for my culture, it’s about being Mexican. My culture is very enriched with cultural traditions with food and music. We have a lot of originality with that. That ties in with me and my originality and where my personality stems from.

How has your identity as a Latino influenced your art and passions? 

In the last four years or so I started adding more cultural symbols from Mexico into my artwork. I find that it gets well processed by audiences. It started off as a commission, when someone wanted me to do more Mexican-themed art, like this mural (pictured above). Doing more Mexican-themed objects and symbols inside my artwork reflects who I am as a person, and it creates lot of positive feedback.

Print made of 40+ originals Lucero has created in the past three years with Tonatiuh in the center, like a modern Aztec calendar. | Photo courtesy Pierre Lucero.

How has your family influenced what you do?

They’ve given me a lot of support. None of my family except my brother really does artwork. So, it’s hard being the first person in my family to go out and just do art on my own without any real help. But they’ve always been there as my support system.

What’s your inspiration or motivation?

To influence people, I think that’s been from day one. I, myself love being influenced. I’ve always thought if I can influence one person, I will achieve my goal. If I influence one person that could cause a ripple effect and influence hundreds of thousands of artists. I’ve surprised myself with how far I’ve progressed since I started. So, I feel like I’m on the right path. I’m doing a decent job achieving what I set out to do. I’m inspiring people, not even just creatively; if someone wanted to become an artist, the work ethic that comes with it, just apply that with whatever you do in life. If you wish to become an office worker, just make sure you do your best to become an office worker.

What is it like being a Latinx artist in Chicago, and how has it shaped you as an individual?

It’s been great. I mean, a lot of diversity here [Aurora] is Latina and Latino, so it’s worked out well for me. There’s also demand in the market that has been increasing. People want to see more culture and diversity in public art. Personally, I feel like it’s like a booming time for Latino artists like me. I think it’s going to continue to keep working out well.

How do you make your art accessible to an audience?

I use public spaces like outdoor murals; they’re accessible to anyone. Public spaces also bring in revenue to the city. It’s free aside from paying the commission for the artists. Anything that’s personal is reasonably priced.

What is missing from the art world and what does your art provide?

Nowadays there are a lot of things that are missing. More than ever is being original. I feel like a lot of people like copy paste artists. If you’re going to paint a flower, paint it different, make it yours. If you’re going to be a portrait artist, again, make it different. I feel like my art does that. My art gives people an outlet to be creative and shows that you can be a creative and do whatever you want and make a career out of it.

“It’s hard being the first person in my family to go out and just do art on my own without any real help.”

How does it fill that space or gap? 

Originality, because again, a lot of people try too hard to be someone else. Originality has always been key to me.

What are the challenges that you face? 

I’ve been doing pretty good locally, but I want to move on to cities around the world. It’s baby steps, but I’ve been progressing from the local scene, and now I’m trying to branch out to the neighboring cities. Eventually I want to move to neighboring states, and even further across the country, and then neighboring countries, and eventually just do murals around the world. That’s one of my dreams, traveling as an artist doing murals all over the world. So, I feel like I’m on the right path and just, little by little.

What do you think of the term Latinx to identify people of Latin American or Spanish background?

I know that a lot of Latinos don’t like the word because it’s an American made-up word. I know it’s supposed to signify both Latina and Latinos. I have no problem with it, maybe because I’m a Mexican American—I didn’t grow up in Mexico. I don’t really have that passion to have hatred toward the word. But I’m okay with it, it doesn’t bother me so much. I’m not stressed out about it.

Who is your target audience? How do you want it to be received?

Everyone. I’d like to have the whole Latino community behind me, and I feel like I am on that path. Again, my art is a little bit of everything. I want a little bit of everyone to be influenced. I’d want to branch out outside of Latino artwork and have a little bit of everything for everyone. I want it to be perceived as welcoming. I want people’s minds to ignite and inspire people to do what they want to do. Be unique, original, and just making their own art. Be yourself.

How do you build your platform as an artist? 

There’s no set path for being an artist. There’s no like, you need to do this and this and this. I often get people asking me, ‘How are you getting those commissions, you know, or mural commissions?’ Luckily for me, 90 percent of the murals I’ve gotten are because people reached out to me. 

It’s hard. The best advice is to create work every day. Put yourself out there. Make yourself available. Sometimes you might have to do a commission you don’t want to do but hate to say it, like a lot of people say they’ll pay you an exposure, and sometimes you got to take that. In the initial stages of your career, you’re going to have to pay your dues to open a door of opportunities. From there, you can slowly start making the profit you want to make.

Do you use social media?

For artists today, social media is helpful. I know back then in the early 2000s and ‘90s and anything before that, putting yourself out there was always in the hands of someone else in the media. So, it’s extremely helpful as an artist to be able to control what you want to put out for people to see. I use social media, it’s a balance. You don’t want to be on there too often or have it taken away too much from being an artist. Social media is key in this day and age.

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