Waking up everyday doing what you love; there is no better way to make a living. Sometimes, that means figuring out how to enjoy accounting, picking up a camera, running a marathon or drawing dark twisted characters that stem from a ridiculously cool nightmare. Case in point, check out Uzi Emperado’s art. God only knows what goes on inside his brain! Actually, here’s your chance for a sneak peek. Find out how he got started, what kind of attitude he has towards his art and other tidbits (cats!).
For those who aren’t familiar with him, scroll down the page and check out his art. Scared yet?
032: How did you get started making a living drawing things that upsets moms? How did you become a freelance illustrator?
Uzi: I got introduced to freelance illustration and the art of t-shirt design when a friend and fellow artist, Nicolo of Nick Auto asked me to paint murals on the walls of his tee store (then Venom3 clothing). That was three summers ago, shortly after deciding to quit college indefinitely. I researched more on the subject, worked hard from there, and the rest is history.
It’s a lucrative industry if you know how to do it right, but I was never after the money. I fell in love with the idea that I get to do what I love, that is, to draw what I want at my own pace (even the most horrifying images) and make a living out of it as a result: Be my own boss.
Uzi: Brands and bands, but mostly musicians who play heavy music. I started out approaching the bands that I like and slowly built my portfolio from there. Shortly afterwards, people started noticing my body of work, and then several clients approached me to design for them.
One thing I’ve learned early on, and would like to stress to aspiring artists, is to never let yourself and your art be exploited, just because the client you’re working for is your favorite band. It shouldn’t be a big deal, because designing for your favorite band doesn’t make you a band member, nor nearly as popular.
032: You seem to have a very distinct style in your work, how would you describe it in words?
Uzi: I let my art speak for itself, but other people like to use the term “highly-detailed” to describe my work. I do not always aim to make “highly-detailed” drawings. Rather, it is a result of how hyperactive and manic I can get when I’m in the mood to draw.
032: You talk a lot about Godmachine, how has he helped and influenced what you do?
Uzi: Do I? Haha. I don’t know if I truly talk about him a lot, but I do talk to him almost every day because he is a great friend, possibly greater than anyone I’ve met in person.
There are similarities between his art and mine, and people have constantly pointed that out. He inspires me as a person. But his art has little influence on mine than most people think. To me, the secret to staying inspired is to look for the source of inspiration elsewhere. The similarities come as a result of both of us having the same train of thought and philosophy; liking the same things; sharing the same love for cats, cheesecake, coffee, and Joshua Belanger’s art.
Uzi: Comic books, Renaissance & Baroque art, graffiti, tattoos, and 90’s cartoons. Fantasy & fiction literature, and The Book of Revelations.
032: Considering that you do a lot of work for bands, does music have a big role in your art?
Uzi: When people see my brand of art, my waist-long hair, and my all-black getup, they immediately think I’m a straight up metalhead – I’m not. I do love Death Metal, Thrash, and heavy music a lot, but I also love laid-back hip hop and gangsta rap just as much. Music gets me in the mood to create art, but it has very little influence on the art itself.
032: Any musical recommendations?
Uzi: Danger Doom.
032: What is Black Bile?
Uzi: Black Bile is my up-and-coming independent clothing line based in Cebu featuring my work.
It is inspired by many beautiful things; expressed as iconoclastic, occult, and dark imagery through the medium of t-shirts. It celebrates the darkness in all of us.
Uzi: Cats! Haha. I have three now; Snow, and her two 3-week old kittens, Ghost and Egg.
My friends tell me I’m slowly transforming into a “cat lady.” Haha! Do I really give off that vibe? I like dogs too, you know. I grew up always having dogs, and this is the first time I’ve kept a cat as a pet. With my current lifestyle, cats are just much easier to have. I have come to admire their independence and their haughty nature. As creatures of the night, cats keep me company during the hours I like to create art the most.
032: Any tips for the aspiring artist?
Uzi: Consume large amounts coffee & cheesecake, and never cut your hair.
By that I mean; expose yourself to inspiration in all its many different forms (books, movies, music, poetry, porn, etc.), and never stop making your art even if it doesn’t benefit anything other than itself.
032: Any plans on doing an art show soon?
Uzi: Not soon, but I’m getting there. At the moment, I’m focusing all my attention on my clothing line, through which I am slowly introducing my art to Cebu and its people.
032: Anything else you want to mention or talk about?
Uzi: I owe a lot to the few Cebuano friends I have for their support, so I’m paying it back by making my art, designs, and t-shirts available in the Philippines (finally!) through my clothing line, Black Bile. It launches on June 6, so like my page to stay posted, and keep an eye out for things.