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Kensington artist: ‘To understand my pain, you have to feel my art.’

Editor’s note: The author’s full name was withheld for privacy reasons. “Paco” is the author’s nickname in the Kensington neighborhood.

My name is Paco. I’m a well-known graffiti artist in Kensington. I was born and raised here. I’ve been doing graffiti all my life up until I got inspired to paint. In 2017, I started hanging out with people who were hustling and painting. They showed me a different type of art, and I fell in love with it. 

Painting is a deeper experience for me because all my feelings, moods, and what I’m thinking go into my paintings. With graffiti, I can only express the same type of feelings. Painting makes me feel stress free. I also feel like my art is a way for me to connect with people. 

I get inspired in different ways. For example, I try to throw things I see into my art. I also try to incorporate certain things into my canvas, such as my life experiences, colors I see on buildings, or colors I haven’t used in a while that call my attention. I feel like everything I do is very passionate. I’m a very passionate person. I believe my art shows my pain.

Paco looks through some of his graffiti pieces in his home on July 7, 2022. (Photo by Solmaira Valerio)

I’m hoping when you read this essay you understand my art, as painful as it is. I never really understood art. I always looked at it like it was something people do for fun, and I never thought it would mean so much to me. Some might say it’s a hobby; some might say it’s therapy. To me, painting is a lifestyle. It’s an understanding of no expectations, just pure expression. Some pieces hurt, some bring joy, and some even bring inspiration to people’s lives. Life brings more pain than good memories where I’m from. 

To understand my pain, you have to feel my art. It’s authentic, and every piece gives me a breath of fresh air. I love the thoughts that come up when I’m working. Sometimes it can be overwhelming, but I’ll never question my art because there are no mistakes when it comes from your imagination. It’s a part of me, and I deeply love what I do. It makes me feel alive, and at times, I used to wonder why I paint and my purpose until I realized the complete peace of mind I have while working. So I don’t need a specific reason or purpose. I don’t have to answer to anyone but myself while painting. Every thought clears, and my emotions transfer onto my canvas, showing my thought process.

Editors: Solmaira Valerio, Zari Tarazona / Designer: Siani Colón, Solmaira Valerio