The sexy doll-like characters Sand One paints have been popping up all over the Eastside with attitude and fresh charisma. This girl knows what she wants and is doing it by painting her Sand Chicks wherever she can. I caught up with Sand One at Primera Taza in Boyle Heights to see what this native Eastsider was all about.
Read the rest after the jump………
Ok, Sand, tell us first what do you like about the Eastside?
I like that there is rolling food everywhere, like people selling corn, tamales, churros…rolling food.
What about the people and the community?
You can either just go about your day blindly and not notice people around you, or you can take the time and pay attention. Now that I am grown-up, I pay more attention and because of what I do, it is much easier to approach people. Like if I am painting a wall, I would hear, “Oh my god, I like the wall you’re painting.” Everybody in the community gets to know you and stuff or knows me because they happened to see me growing up here. I don’t know, I guess it humbles you. Do you ever take the time to talk to a person that sells corn and ask them anything like their name?
Actually I do, but most people don’t.
Yeah, people don’t care to know their name if they have kids or anything about them because they just don’t give a fuck. People just ask for their corn, pay $1.25, ask for chili, limón and that’s it. They just don’t care. Not me. I talk to most people that sell corn and some even ask me to paint their cart. And the community is good. Like if I would not [have] grown up here on the Eastside or any other ghetto neighborhood, I would not have the kind of smart I have.
You mean street-smart.
Yeah, street-smart. I feel like I am street-smart everywhere I go and I don’t get fucked over. There are people that are outsiders from different countries who come to paint and they get scared. Like when we were painting a wall, they’re like, “Oh my god, they told me not to come to East LA. They told me not to come to South Central.” And for me, that does not matter. I am like, you know it’s the way you carry yourself and if you got a bad vibe, you’re going to get fucked up, but if you’re cool, then no worries. That is what I like about the Eastside
Do you think the Eastside influenced your art?
Yes, they welcome and embrace art and they are not against it. Maybe the traditional people might be against what I paint, but most will say, “Yeah, paint,” or “pintale, pintale.” La gente really get into it, so I get into it and it’s a great combo.
Where does the name Sand come from?
Two years ago I was drawing and people would see me and ask, “What do you write?” And I would just be like, “I don’t know. I just draw.” And then I had to just come up with something. So I went through a list of like 80 names, like “Kiam” and “Shocker.” My name is Sandra, so one day I wrote my name and saw “ SAND” and “ RA” and if I take the “RA” off, it’s just “SAND.” And I was like, “Oh my god! Sand!”
The name was right in front of you without even knowing! (Laughing)
Yeah, I went through all kinds of names, putting words together, looking words up, and it was there all along. I’ve had the name since, but I did not really start using it or anything till like seven or eight months ago. Now I am really using it and pushing it.
How long have you been drawing/painting? How did you get into it?
Since I was like ten, but I would draw stupid shit. I would not paint. I would read comic books and I would try to copy what was in the comic books. About eight months ago, I picked up a brush and been painting since then. Then when I got out of high school a year ago, I asked myself, what am I going to do? I then decided, like you know, I don’t want to work for anybody or bow down to anybody, so I started painting and people started paying me to practice. I started by doing windows last year and even fucked up like three of them windows. I cross the street not to pass by those windows because it’s so embarrassing, but I was learning and I am still learning.
I have seen your work on taco carts, newspaper stands, and walls. What is your favorite surface to paint on?
Taco carts! Because I get mad tacos — especially when I am hungry. I also like painting walls that have a lot of graffiti. I just love painting over the graffiti because it looks raw.
Describe a Sand Chick and what they represent.
Sand Chicks are ghetto. People ask me if I can draw guys. I am like, yeah, if I wanted to I can. I can draw a dog, a rhinoceros. (Laughs) I can draw anything, but I choose to draw girls, because I am a girl. I also don’t wait for guys to call me and invite me to paint. I just go out there and do it on my own. I do my own walls. I do my own this, I do my own that and I don’t want to ask someone if I can paint their wall. I feel Sand Chicks are like that, their raw like fuck this shit. Let’s do it, go for it, orale!
Do the Sand Chicks have names?
Yeah there is Bows, Fo-Kokie, and Deezi-Money. Those are the main ones. We still got more to come. It is just hard to come up with names, but the main one is Bows. You’ve seen her she is on everything I paint.
How did you get connected with the graff community?
In my senior year, I met a couple of writers. I would not really chill with them but they influenced me. I also recently started kicking it with Cab LOD and because he has been doing it for such a long time and still doing it. He influenced me to get more serious about it.
So would you say Cab is your main influence?
Yeah, I linked up with CAB about five months ago and it has been a whole different thing ever since. He is very serious about his stuff. It is cool that there are people that are old school, good and willing to take you under their wing. He is real chill with me and does not force me to use spray-paint; he just lets me do what I want.
Another influence is Atomik 28 from Miami; he came here last month. When he saw me painting he was talking shit to me and pushed me to use spray-paint. He would say shit like, “What kind of girl brings a brush to a wall?” And I am like, “ Hmmm…me.” So for the past month, I been using spray-paint. Cale K2S also influenced me because he draws girls and they are fuckin’ sick! We painted a graff shop together and that day he told me all kinds of different things. He told me to get out of my comfort zone. My comfort zone is drawing the girls to the right so now I draw them to the left, looking different directions. Not all the time, but I do. He also told me to give the hands and the body more movement. Cab brought me more in, Atomik made me use spray cans, and Cale made me change my girls.
As a female artist, do you feel you get the same respect as maybe a male graff artist would?
No I don’t. People think you are doing shit because you’re a girl, but its not because I am a girl. They give me credit, but they give me a lot of heat, like, “Oh, you use brushes?” Or, “You’re only doing it because you’re a girl,” but it’s not even like that because there are so many girls doing it. It is also hard for me because I am always by myself. I don’t normally kick it with any girls. Everywhere I go, I always go alone. I like it like that because nobody bugs me. (Laughs)
The thing also with graffiti girls, no matter what, if I hit a guy up on my painting who is standing there or whatever or I think he is cool, it’s like, that’s it, you’re boning him. And it’s like, NO! Also if you are painting a wall with a guy, you are a whore. That is the automatic stereotype; that we are graff whores. That is the hardest thing people thinking you are a graffiti whore because you are a girl.
Are you from any crews and does that aspect of graffiti matter to you?
No, [I] am not from any crews and for the moment I refuse to be in crews. I’ve been asked, don’t get me wrong, and [by] real good crews and I am like, “Wow.” But no thanks. I mean, what I am going to push? It doesn’t mean anything to me. Why am I going to push somebody’s crew when I really don’t have the history they have? I didn’t start with them. I am not going to have the whole pride thing behind it. So I chose to do it alone. And then you know all that beef and stuff. I just stick to myself call me a loner.
Has anything interesting ever happened while you have been painting?
I got this man [so that] whenever he see’s me, he gives me flan (Mexican gelatin). He rolls around East LA with his homemade flan. He thinks he is seducing me with flan. (Laughing)
Aside Sand Chicks, what other types of art have you done?
When it comes to businesses, I painted for stores, shops, restaurants, but the main thing is the Sand Chicks.
I know you ventured your art into the fashion world with bags and accessories. How did you get started doing that?
At the same time I started doing this whole thing last year, I started painting on purses. I went [into] the store with like five purses, like this really gangster, urban store, and I asked the man if I could sell my purses there. The man looked at me and I guess he thought he could help me out or something and he let me. When the purses sold, that gave me a push. It was like a boost like, “Wow, I can sell purses!” From then on, I just been doing them and putting them in different stores. I don’t know who buys them or ever see the people, but it is a really good feeling that someone is willing to spend money to buy what you make.
What do you see yourself doing in the future with your art?
I don’t even know what I am doing tomorrow. (Laughing). I don’t know. I just don’t want to paint to paint, but also hope it can be profitable. I make a living off art right now, but I know there is bigger stuff. It’s just like, how am I going to get there? Who will I call? Who do I contact? I don’t want to lose my drive that I have right now because once it is gone, that’s it. I am going to Guatemala and never coming back to LA if I lose my drive.
Do you see a clothing line in the future?
I am not doing a whole clothing line, but I am starting with these t-shirts for Charlotte Russe. I want to see socks with Sand Chicks on them [or] even shoes, but that requires a whole different level of concentration to focus on. I have a record label coming up, perfume, make-up. (Laughing) I am kidding.
What other doors have opened up to you since you have been getting your work out there more?
I did a series of 15 purses for a designer who works with famous people. Each purse was customized to be like the famous person. There was Heather Chadwell from Rock of Love, Kiya from Pussycat Dolls and other people I don’t even know who they are. I just did them. I am also doing a graffiti show in Miami in January. It’s real good, but it’s like, what the fuck am I doing in Miami? I am bringing the ghetto to Miami — gangsta meets buorica. There will be two shows: one is going to be a solo and the other a collaboration. It will be me painting a wall, but also canvases, purses, and t-shirts. In March, I am going to have a fashion show where I will be painting purses. So whoever wants a purse and [hasn’t had] a chance to get one, you can get one on the spot.
My most recent thing is going to Puerto Rico. I am going to be over there a min, painting and running around representing East LA.
I do have a plan that I am doing, but the main thing is Miami, Puerto Rico, Atlanta, Georgia then New York and then I come back to East LA.
Thank you for all that! Would you like to do any shout-outs?
Ghetto Shout-Outs: Timoi, Cab, Atomik, Biser K4P, my mom, pupusas.
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Photos provided by Sand One