One of our fellow creative entrepreneurs put the name SentRock in via a social media in our ear. Luckily he did because we had no idea how much talent we were missing right under our nose. SentRock has been recently in the grind putting together works for many a show, so we finally were given an audience to be the early birds to get the worm of insight from this Chicago artist.
SentRock: A Birds Eye View
Chicago Hustles: Being from Phoenix what initially brought you to Chicago how has the city influenced your artwork, style and ideas on urban expression?
SR: I moved out to Chicago a little over a year ago for school. I wanted to go to a dope city for art and a good art school, plus I already had friends that lived in the city. It made the move easy for me, I already knew I wanted change, so once my friends gave me the invite to come out, I took as an open door of opportunity. As soon as I arrived i connected with a couple writers, hit a couple spots and started adapting to my new home. The biggest influence I have had, was the reflection of my art in a whole new city/ art scene that didn’t know me. I had to really define who I was artistically. Either I gotta come with it, step my game up or fall through the cracks. The city has so much rich culture but also remains pretty gritty, which I love, best of both worlds to me. I allowed that to show through in my work, beautiful, gritty and full of authentic culture.
Chicago Hustles: Your name in the art world is SentRock where does the history of the name derive from? And what’s with the obsession with birds?
SR: Yeah man, that’s my alter ego lol. I was given the nickname by my friend, as a new alternate name to start hitting up, since I was busted for writing another name. This was back in high school, originally it was just “SENT”, but as I got more into B-boying, I added the “ROCK”, and it stuck. I wouldn’t say I’m obsessed with painting birds, I just love painting them all the time! Ha-ha it’s more that, I find, the characteristics of birds super fascinating. To me they represent freedom & escapism. The first time i was intrigued was when a dead bird was laying in my front yard. I was kid, 8 or 9ish, I remember being just being in awe of a creature that once was flying amongst the clouds to now, lying dead in front of me, it tripped me out. My hometown is Phoenix aka Bird City, I use that term quite often, it’s a double entendre and the synchronicity works for my art.
Chicago Hustles: So is it safe to say that’s where bird saints came from?
SR: Bird City Saints is seen as a crew, but it’s just a phrase I came up with to immortalize / empower people that come from that hood’ background. I grew up in the “hood”, and I just wanted to get a message across that not everyone from a certain social demographic is negative, we have our saints too. Whether they are seen as good people for the things we do, that’s subjective, we all have to live our life and make our choices.
Chicago Hustles: What has it been like shifting from graffiti styles to murals? How does it feel painting legally and making a living from it versus looking over ones should hoping for the best?
SR: It was pretty easy for me to shift more into the “street art” and mural game. I was introduced to art through a mural program at my elementary school so for me it was always about the expression, didn’t matter legal or illegal for me. Even writing for me, was just about the art. I don’t really ever do letters anymore, just feel for my art, I have a lot to express or say, more than what writing my name can do for me.
Chicago Hustles: Your artwork seems to reflect a very vivid color full style with an aggravated tone via some of the styles of lines used to accent hands, wings and expressions. Where does this come into play in the design work? Is it an attitude or feel when expressing your mental views on the world, life & society or is it just a nature thing?
SR: Referring back to my statement about Chicago, it’s a beautiful with the gritty aspect. I feel my art is the same way, beautiful but raw, organic.
Chicago Hustles: Your stay fly piece is rather interesting, a human being with a monsters hands with a bird mask. Can you explain the revelation behind this particular piece?
SR: That mural is the character of a child with a mask of a bird. The child is a representation of naive, youthful and full of life. The mask is showing the characters desire for flying, escape, freedom. The young child is holding a dead bird in hand, in a savior like pose. The hands are beastly, like in a way this young child, has that inner beast, in other words mad potential to do a lot with those hands.
Chicago Hustles: As an artist converted into a muralist how do you go about maintaining the street style with the more acceptable desired graffiti edge? In your shows do you find this to be a challenge at all if so how or why?
SR: I don’t really label myself or keep to one direction. If one day I want to paint a mural with brushes and the next I’ll do a very graffiti style character or theme. I’m currently working on a new show with light boxes that are out of found objects. It can be challenging at time, trying to figure out my voice but I’m learning to speak in the different languages or mediums and channel my ideas fitting.
Chicago Hustles: Do you feel as an artist locally that your artworks beauty & style can affect & inspire the youth who see it? Do you run into people going over your murals or do they run for some time?
SR: I would hope! I feel so much of my art is theme based or messaged driven. I strive to give back to community through my art. That same feeling I get listening to some dope music, feeling like dang, I really feel this artist and I’m not the only one with these feelings/ thoughts. I don’t think I have had any of my murals hit on **knocks on wood**. So much of my art is for the community I put it in, not to impress anybody but to authentic. I have murals in Little Village, Lawndale, and Logan Square that have been left clean. Those are very hood environments and artistic environments. Glad they are well received by the natives of those locations specifically and not so much the passer by or on the internet.
Chicago Hustles: Speaking of inspiration in a city as beautiful & yet often devastated via the media as Chicago what words can you leave the readers who look up to you, your artwork & your message? How would you want them as well as future artist to change the system of how street art is viewed from a community standpoint?
SR: It’s why I love this city; it has that grandiose vibe but also keeps you on your toes. That’s how I was raised with the most beautiful things in life but sometimes out of the negative situations or seemingly negative. Any time a younger artist hits me up for advice all I keep telling them, is persistence. Get out there in the world and let the world know you’re not going anywhere. I feel by doing that you have to remain true to who you are, genuine in the expression. Learning to grow off whatever foundation you have been given and flourish. I’m not sure about a change, but if artists of any type remain true to them, and their background it’s going to change the game. It’s not the easiest, but it’s necessary.
Chicago Hustles: What inspires you the most about Chicago living and how do you use that to create, stay passionate & hustle your talents to the masses?
SR: It’s the good, the bad, and the polar opposites of the city’s demographics. The dynamics are incredible. I know I have a lot to say and Chicago has been gracious enough to listen. This is a city that grinds and is on top of the hustle, so much of my messages in my art reflect that. My art fits right in here.
Make Sure to Follow SentRock as he continues to beautify & inspire the city we all love so much.