Briefly describe the work you do.
I mostly make sculpture out of paper and found objects. I consider myself an interdisciplinary artist that is naturally drawn to expressing ideas three dimensionally.
Tell us a little about your background and how that influences you as an artist.
I was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada. This city is always reinventing itself, which can be difficult for someone as nostalgic and afraid of change as myself. I always find myself longing for the ”good ol’ days” that never really happened. When I think back, my fondest memories are of watching television everyday for hours at a time and listening to stories told at family gatherings. Pop culture and my Guatemalan/Mexican heritage are big influences on my work.
The concept of the “artist studio” has a broad range of meanings, especially in contemporary practice. The idea of the artist toiling away alone in a room may not necessarily reflect what many artists do from day to day anymore. Describe your studio practice and how it differs from (or is the same as) traditional notions of “being in the studio.”
I think I have a fairly average studio practice. I work a day job from 9 to 5 and then head to my studio most days. I try to break that up with “research projects” like ‘Taco Takeover’, where I document myself eating tacos at restaurants and also the hours of what I like to call ‘Youtube observations’ are now a part of my practice.
What unique roles do you see yourself as the artist playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?
I have recently been thinking a lot about my identity as an artist. I was just described as “Las Vegas’ one-man Chicano movement.” That made me a little nervous, not because I don’t identify as Chicano but because I feel like now I am seen as representative for local Chicanos and I don’t want to let them down. I just want everyone to like me… is that too much to ask?
5. When do you find is the best time of day to make art? Do you have time set aside every day, every week or do you just work whenever you can?
I try to work whenever I can. I am most productive from 5pm to 10pm, especially if there is a food break involved.
How has your work changed in the last five years? How is it the same?
My work has been slowly evolving in last 5 years. I have noticed that I am making a lot more large scale piñatas nowadays. I am giving the people what they want.
Are there people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers or even pop icons that have had an impact on the work you do?
My family and circle of extremely supportive friends are a huge influence on my work. My best friend/artist, Thomas Willis, has also been very important in my life. He’s wicked smart, wicked funny and an amazing artist. Art historian, Emmanuel Ortega, has recently become a dear friend that keeps me in check with his knowledge and is making me less ignorant by the minute. As for pop icons, there are so many that impact my work! Here a few that I have been thinking about recently, in no particular order: Paul Mooney, Joan Rivers, Beyoncé, John Goodman, Sarah Silverman, Alyssa Edwards, Whoopi Goldberg, Selena Quintanilla, Lena Dunham, Maria Bamford, Liberace, Don Rickles, and Donny and Marie.
If you had an occupation outside of being an artist, what would that be and why?
I have been daydreaming of being a stand-up comedian lately. Making people laugh is very important. Stand-up comedy is an escape and a reality check wrapped up into a nice little package, like a 5 dollar foot long sandwich from Subway. I also wanted to be a firefighter when I was kid. Saving lives and cashing checks!
Justin Favela is a Las Vegas native working in the mediums of sculpture, painting and performance. He has participated in numerous group exhibitions in Nevada and nationally. His Las Vegas exhibition venues include the Contemporary Arts Center, Trifecta Gallery, and Gamma Gamma Gallery. Favela‘s work is currently exhibited at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art as part of the exhibition, “State of the Art: Discovering American Art Now.” He works at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas and earned a B.F.A. in Studio Arts at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in 2010.
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.