I guess going way back, as a child, I loved to draw and would stage my toys to practice illustrating them. I had a vivid imagination and created my own comics as a kid. After high school, I started publishing my own underground comics. I also had a penchant for film and would put on live weird theater acts and made home splatter movies during my teens. I was an early advocate to the worlds of splatter films and B-level gore.
In the late ’90s when I started to push my fine art, I used to make these packages of my work and mail them out everywhere. A breakthrough for me was when out of the blue, I sent one of these packages to H.R. Giger’s agent Les Barany and as a result, called me and responded! This led to my first real exhibition. I was invited to be part of a group show with H.R. Giger and many of my favorite artists.
This group show opened my eyes and opened doors to further opportunities. This made the pursuit of a fine art career seem like something feasible and within reach.
At that time though it was still a struggle for me – I was trying to find my true identity and voice as an artist. I kept asking myself what would make something a signature Viveros? What was “me”? My early works in 1997 were not even paintings, the Dirtyland world you know now wasn’t fully formed. I was just using ink, charcoal, and airbrush as my medium. The content was more like twisted surreal erotica, a little more hardcore and underground. The characters were still smoking but it wasn’t really me yet. I was young and still searching.
It wasn’t until 2006 when I painted my first Dirtyland painting that I found my true direction. I started painting the things I really knew and loved like the helmets, boxing, Lucha Libre Wrestling, bullfighting, and bullets. I re-imagined the female figure wearing all of these elements, and everything just started to unfold, the Dirtyland universe was born.
What piece of work best represents you and why?
I’d have to say it would be an older piece, one of my most iconic paintings, my first Viva La Muerte from 2008 – the pose, the rose and the skull helmet are very signature to my style. Her pose is simple and powerful. This portrait is one I’d always drawn before, but in this particular painting it feels more surreal. It’s a throwback to my older works, maybe that’s why I’m so down for it. It also represents my Hispanic culture and upbringing. The Day of the Dead, Dia De Los Muertos, is also the day I was born. There’s just something about this painting that feels right and represents who I am.
What are you up to these days?
Right now I’m currently into patterns and working with charcoal in different ways, also getting back into film. I’m hoping I can start production with a new short film this year. I’ll keep ya posted on that!
What are three things you’ve learned that young creatives should know?
I always say, “stay focused and push yourself hard, eventually things will unfold and start to happen.” Try not to worry so much about what’s going on in the outside world. Create your own world, pursue it unrelentingly, and most importantly, believe in it!
Describe your create process – from how you select the imagery to your final brush stroke.
The inspiration just comes, it’s pretty organic. I think about my headgear collection, helmets that I find visually interesting, and I start visualizing a new character based on these external props. Sometimes it’s more topical, like if a big fight is coming up, I may want to do a new boxer. I love going to old flea markets, there’s a lot of inspiration and energy there.
Other times, it’s just seeing something strange, or even hearing a few words. Something someone says can trigger an idea, or a song, a rhythm, or a beat can push me in a certain direction. Even a specific scene from a film can lead to a new DirtyLand character.
I try to find inspiration in everything, and will write ideas down or do a quick doodle. Then it’s all about getting the sketch right, perfecting the pose. As a result, I will take that final sketch and tight pencil that I transfer onto maple board. After the pencil is on the board, it’s all about laying in the oils and finalizing the details with airbrush.