Tête-à-Tête: Artist Rocio Cabrera
Rocio is one of my favorite artists right now because she is breaking all the rules. This Summer, I went to her at-home studio for a little chat...
Loya Nana: Who are you?
Rocio Cabrera: Rocio Cabrera, 24 year old artist from The Bronx.
LN: What art medium do you work with?
RC: Painting and Sculpting
LN: Where are we?
RC: We are on Pelhman Parkway in my tiny ass closet of a bedroom in my family’s apartment.
LN: I LOVE your bedroom/studio. I mean, you can’t even see your bed! It’s like a bunk but with the work space at the bottom.
RC: Well that wasn’t a swag move, I just literally had NO SPACE so my bed has to be in the ceiling. But thank you though.
LN: I have been following you a while now on social media. You started by making these really funny and very raw 15 second videos on just about anything. i think thats when i feel in love with you and your swag. How/when did it all shift to this?
RC: I mean, I don’t know, I just like talk a lot as a person in general. I am really hyper all the time, I am very talkative and I have a lot to say. But then, I feel like I grow really quickly too so like after a month, I would go back to those videos and be like “ Rocio please shut the fuck up, you aint saying nothing right now.” Know what I mean? I try my hardest not to flood the gram with my bullshit but it still all on my IG story. I talk shit on my story all day….
**CAT JUMPS ON TO TABLE**
LN: Oh, who's this?
RC: This is banana, he is mad friendly.
LN: Can you describe the time when you first realized that creating was something you absolutely had to do? Like you knew you couldn’t get through this life without making things?
RC: Damn, umm. I feel like as a little girl I tried to pay attention in class and I couldn’t pay attention without drawing at the same time. Or if there was a piece of paper like a recipe in my hand I would rip it up. Like my hands always have to be moving and I think its because I am an anxious ass bitch. And it translates to constantly having to make things. But it has always been natural for me. There has not been a time when I haven’t been creating. I just can’t help myself type of shit.
LN: You had this bio in your IG before which read “Pissed off art school reject.” Are you indeed an art school reject?
RC: Well I got into Hunter College and got a degree in Studio Art so I don’t like to call myself an art school reject anymore. But like, SVA was not having it. They weren’t trying to fuck with me. But my wallet wasn’t trying to fuck with them, so. But Hunter was the shit, I am glad I went there.
LN: Did you know Hunter actually has one of the best Painting programs in the country?
RC: I heard that! I didn’t know it until I was in there. Hunter helped me a lot.
LN:You’re still so young and I only know you as I know you now so what was your childhood like?
RC: I’ve always been a weird chick, you know? In High School, I would wear a handmade tutu over my jeans. I was THAT weird bitch. I hadn’t always been very confident about myself so I feel like drawing these girls, the girls I draw, are very confident and weird. They look like aliens and they have a lot of glitter and sparkles. They are unapologetic. These were girls I aspired to look like. I guess thats where it came from.
LN: A lot of your paintings are self portraits. Why you?
RC: When I started I took photos of myself and painted over them. I think people thought that I was full of myself but its the exact opposite. Like I don’t know how fly I was until I took a step back and painted myself. On a daily basis, it is hard to realize how fly you really are.
LN: You market and sell your own work from your handmade earrings and rings to your bongs and ash trays. How important is the aspect of “business” on “art”?
RC: I feel like I have two sides: my artist side that I got from my dad and my bad ass business woman savage side that I got from my mom because my mom is general in charge bitch all the time. I am really thankful I got that from her but the business aspect takes away from the art a bit. For example, I started making ashtrays and I was like I want to make money. I was thinking, what are people into now a days? People like Dragon Ball Z and shit so thats what I created. And I did make money too but it didn’t say shit about me as an artist. Its all about balance. I am just still figuring out the business aspect of it. In this last year.
LN: Does the business aspect of it, (which is essentially you on social media pushing your art on your followers) get in the way?
RC: I have NO SHAME. I don’t want to be a painter. I don’t want to be categorized as an artist. I just want everything. I haven’t been able to put my dreams in a sentence yet but I always share with people: you know the Hello Kitty store in Times Square? That store has EVERYTHING, even toasters! I want to make everything. I want to be a brand rather than an artist. I’m just trying to run shit.
LN: How has social media helped your art and your message?
RC: Social media is my life. My entire life. Social media is the only reason I have any money in my pocket right now. And its helped connect me with people. Those people have helped me not only in business but with mental health.
LN: You seem to have a solid core of friends and they are all men.
RC: OMG I am so glad you noticed!
LN: How hard is it to be a full time artist and maintain your friendships?
RC: Squad has been squad since the 4th grade. These are people that I don’t even call my friends anymore, they are much more. I can go a month without talking to these niggas and all they would think is “Rocio is in the zone.” Art or business in general is going to interfere with your friendships and you just have to take that L sometimes. The people who fuck with you will be there. My friends are very understanding. Weather I am painting or having a mental breakdown, they understand that I don’t want to talk tho them right now. So thats cool.
LN: What I love about your friends is that they come here, to your workspace/studio/apt and hang out. So you get to work and see your friends and they seem to get that.
RC: They just let me work. I have been in a trace this last year where I just can’t stop working. It’s freaking me out. It’s awesome but it’s freaking me out and my friends are there to take me out of that sometimes. Even if its just by having another body in my studio. It helps.
LN: You seem to be getting attention on your art, more followers on online and money from your own productions. How has it been seeing some progress and rewards with your art at this point in time?
RC: It’s awesome and then it gives me anxiety. I am now buying really weird shit online. I bought a barbie today, bitch. Like a barbie that I loved as a little girl. I just want to keep making money right now but money in my pocket makes me anxious and stresses me out. I am happier as a broke person.
LN: Something you spoke about on your IG story a while back was about your frustrations with random online folks that wanted to know how you did your work and where you bought your materials. Why does people asking you these things bother you?
RC: Ugh. It is still happening. I am a dick and I try my hardest to not come off as an asshole. When I was younger, I wish I would have had someone to ask these questions to, but I didn’t and I have spent so much time and money looking for the cheapest route, finding my style as an artist and when people who don’t even know me have the balls to DM me and its not even like, “Whats’ up?” its just cut and dry like “Where do you get your prints done? Where do you do this or how do you think is?” and its like I didn’t start my art and business to help anyone else’s hustle.
LN: But you are helping others in a way. For example, the “cute shorties” as you call them, that buy your earrings are always loving themselves and posting selfies on social media with your stuff on. You are affecting your clients and fans in a positive way.
RC: I know but I just want it to be me first. You know? Let me make my first million and then I might go back and like teach a class. WHO *CLAPS* KNOWS *CLAPS* BITCH*?! I might even be an inspirational speaker one day but right now, I am trying to figure it out. I don’t have time to answer DMs about other people trying to figure it out.
LN: I respect that and I feel like that is where your unapologetic nature comes from. Its hard for other people to put themselves first.
LN: Which creative medium would you love to pursue next?
RC: I want to make dolls, yo. I want a manufacturing company and to make the next poppin’ barbie. If BRATZ and Tim Burton had a baby, that baby would be my doll.
LN: What’s your favorite thing you’ve ever created?
RC: DAMN. I don’t knoooooow. I become obsessed with things. First I was obsessed with painting, then I thought I wanted to make jewelry for the rest of my life. I am making bongs right now too and they got me so fucked up because I just love making them. My favorite piece, I don’t have it right now, but it was a pastel piece I made with a smiley face that says “Ima be aight”. That piece has got me through so much.
LN: What are you hoping to communicate with your art?
RC: I just want people to do it. You can’t be afraid to starve a little bit. Don’t get it twisted though, I live with my parents and its not like I’m ever really starving but like a bitch can’t even get on the train sometimes and I can’t eat what I want to eat sometimes but it is worth it. To see yourself grow is worth it. I get high off of people buying my shit. And it a really good feeling to believe in yourself and follow your dreams. People have got to stop playing games because we are getting older every second.
LN: You live with your parents and your art is quite provocative. How do you make it work?
RC: I used to keep my nude self portraits hidden from them and one time I had an art show and invited them out. My pieces were HUGE and in this particular one, I was tied up with a rosary on and fully naked. My dad just said, “This is dope”. I was like WTF? I been keeping this from you guys forever and you love it? My parents are the bomb. My dad is an artist and started painting 6 months ago. He is my hero. I don’t know if he is still here. I don’t want him to hear all this shit. *laughs*
LN: Who are the top 3 artists that influence your work?
RC: I try my hardest not to look at other people’s art. I mean, a bitch doesn’t even go to the museum. And I know it’s important to know what’s going on but I am afraid of influences. But, I would have to say, Tim Burton, My Little Pony and BRATZ dolls.
LN: What's a day in the life like?
RC; I worked 14 hours yesterday so I don’t know what my schedule is really like but, I wake up at 11am which sounds like some bum shit but I do it every day and then I work until about 8pm, then I eat an edible and continue to work until 2am then I go to sleep. My boyfriend comes in and out for dinner sometimes too. I work all day.
LN: Life advice to young emerging artists?
RC: Copyright your shit. All my shit is copyrighted. I’ve been sitting here for months just waiting for someone to play me. Copyrights are the way to go.
LN: Whats on your playlist when you work?
RC: Kanye, Kid Cudi, Travis Scott. OH, and I was at this market the other day and I met this artist his name is Tokumbo. His music made me cry! Please go find him on iCloud.