Mooyagi is an up & coming artist, originally from the Bay Area, known for his unique design aesthetic across the board. Photography, illustrations, graphic design, portraits, and more, all encompass a bit of the various facets that Mooyagi has absorbed over the years. However, what’s most rare about this young artist is his commitment to remain himself and produce organic pieces that represent his need to stay true to his art. In a frankly over-saturated generation, Moo’s art symbolizes the unsaturated and the unswayed.
Read our exclusive interview below, including images by the awesome @alfy2trill.
Evangeline: When did you begin your graphic design and illustration career?
Mooyagi: Well, I didn’t really like drawing, or anything that had to do with arts and crafts growing up. I was all about basketball and thats what all of my time went into. In high school I would always sketch out different tee shirt designs and random pieces that I wanted to make but those were all just ideas and nothing came from it. My passion for apparel I would say led me to drawing in 2010, sophomore year of college when I decided to study Graphic Design. Aside from learning the technical aspects of design I wanted to create my own style, something that could set me aside from material I was seeing and be more of a free form of expression. I seen Radiant Child, a documentary about Basquiat and his confidence and unique way of developing his own style, even when people didn’t understand, it made sense to him and at the end of the day that’s really all that should matter. From then on I just did what felt right for me and I knew as long as I had confidence in myself and what I was producing then my opportunities would be limitless.
Evangeline: How would you describe the aesthetic behind your illustrations? If you were even to label them?
Mooyagi: I really can’t put a label on it. Of course you’re able to see styles carried over in pieces, but I just like to create from whatever feeling I’m feeling at that moment. Sometimes it could be seeing or hearing something to get that that spark, or it could be a internal feeling or emotion I’m feeling at a time that gives me inspiration. I think when you place labels on things you’re stepping into boundaries and as an artist you should never feel confined to what you are doing. Every day, drawing, painting, whatever your medium may be should be a new experience.
Evangeline: What have been some of your favorite illustrations that you have completed thus far?
Mooyagi: Uhh… I would say my “Shutup” piece would have to be my favorite. There are a few others that I favor like my “Three Times Yagi®” series, but “Shutup” was my first illustration that I did and at the time I created the piece I was thinking about society, and everything negative going on in my life. I just wanted everybody and everything to shutup so I could do my thing. That’s where that came from, and since then I could say I have found my stride but always am still trying to get better.
Evangeline: Tell us a bit about Moo. What do you do in your spare time to stay grounded and refreshed as a thinker and an artist?
Mooyagi: Moo… Moo is a chiller, It don’t take too much for me to have a good time. I like going out trying different foods, viewing different galleries just being with family really. Keeping my mind refreshed would come from just living and staying active. I think when you’re comfortable and have too much time on your hands thats when you start to overthink things and loose sight of whats in front of you. The best way for me to stay progressive is to let things happen organically. We could only dictate so much, sometimes its best to just go with the flow.
Evangeline: Why do you think Black artists are so rare in the urban community? I’m not saying that more don’t exist besides yourself; however, it’s known across the board that the numbers are smaller in the creative community for African-American artists.
Mooyagi: Honestly, I feel like the black community is designed for failure. From youth you are taught that they would never amount to anything, wouldn’t be able to obtain dreams that they may have and don’t receive the resources to move in a positive direction. How could someone explore their creativity without the proper environment and support system that others may have. In most black communities art is not even a point of emphasis, we’re taught that if we want to get out we have to play sports and if not that, then there’s nothing.
As a young African American male who was brought up in a good family setting I could say I live to change the norm, by me staying focused on what I am doing I could possibly inspire someone else to seek their own creativity. I know I am not the only one to get a late start at something and still have some good come from it. The first step for anyone would have to be exploring who it is you are as a person, once you discover that the mission is second nature. You’re no longer trying to be this person or live this way, you’re simply living life and creating from the most natural form.
Evangeline: We would love if you could explain the concept behind your exhibit for Organic Roots Above the Surface exhibit you did last year with Brittsense.
Mooyagi: Well, first I could say that the exhibit was so beneficial in my growth as an artist. Brittsense is big sis and we have been best friends since high school and always molded. As we got older I started focusing more on design and she was right next to me with her camera. Wherever Yagi® was there was Sense, and its still that way today. We talk all of the time about life, love, creating, and the whole process. Organic Roots Above the surface is living above societies norms, being able to create and think from a organic perspective. The art show was both of our firsts and literally everything that went into that show was from our own hands. Like I mentioned earlier we are big on moments, me through the emotions I put out on paper and hers with what she captures with her camera, the show was a collection of work from real life experiences. Organic Roots will always be something I look back to when I need motivation, so many times people were turning us down and saying we weren’t ready to present our work on that level, it was just fuel for us to show them and ourselves what we knew we were capable of.
Evangeline: What people, concepts, or things do you draw inspiration from creatively?
Mooyagi: Life, anything could inspire me at any moment. I could look at the most random thing on the street and get inspired. I never go looking for inspiration really, I feel like when you have to look its not pure. Pure inspiration should come when its least expected and when that moment does present itself you will know why it happened and what you want to do because of that.
Evangeline: We always ask this question! Whose on your playlist right now?
Mooyagi: Well my brother Anthony Almxghty just dropped a new EP called “Ode Inglish”, which I did the artwork for and is in rotation heavy(Almxghty.com). Aside from that I’m still tapping back into my classic Kanye’s and J.Coles, not that I am not a fan of any of the new work but I just like that hunger from earlier projects. One new artist though that I have been on lately is Raury, as a young creative I think he has a good grasp on the direction he wants to go with his art and it shows.
Evangeline: Last but not least, what advice do you want to offer to an artist who was maybe in your position 3 to 4 years ago?
Mooyagi: I would just tell them to live their life and do things how they want to do at their pace. It should never be a rushed process, no one should be worried about the things that are going on outside of your art because at the end of the day if you have confidence in what you are doing and know that it’s dope you could come out at any time and still have the same impact. Exploring and experimenting has been something really important in my growth as a artist, you’re going to fail a million times but that failure will mentally prepare you to succeed. I can’t stress more to not confine your creativity to new things, do as much as possible to stay active and to keep your mind thinking different and you will continue to evolve without even realizing.
Evangeline: Where can we keep up with you on the web + social media?
Mooyagi: Mooyagi.com for all art and any additional information. Im also on Instagram and Twitter @Mooyagi if you want to keep up with the day to day.
Interview by @_vang
Photography by @alfy2trill