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You know a Van Saro piece when you see one. Combining traditional elements of graffiti with photo-realism and traditional portraiture, his pieces comprise a totally original aesthetic, while also telling a story about Los Angeles and the world. Were so excited that Van Saro will be painting live at Taco Madness 2014!

Favorite taco spot and favorite taco?

Peñas Tacos y Marisco -- the asada is my favorite.

What’s a typical day like, food-wise?

I try to eat as healthy as possible. Organic food, nothing processed. We make our meals at home, for the most part. We stick to the basics: good meats, vegetables, and grains.

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When did you begin creating art?

Since I was little, I would draw. It was an escape from the problems of life.

Who were your early inspirations?

My earliest influences were graffiti artists, comic book artists, and rappers like Esham, Tupac, and Ghetto Boys.

What brought you to Los Angeles, and what keeps you here?

The answer to why I’m here is way too hard to sum, but I stay here ‘cause it is more than home. I think I’d be lost without LA.

LA has been described both as the most beautiful city in the world, and a “slowly unfolding apocalypse” -- is it one or the other?

It is both, and that is one of the reasons I love it so much. I couldn't exist in a place that doesn't feel like it could explode at any moment.

When you begin a project, what’s your process? For a wall mural, to what extent does the site influence the piece?

The site is critical. The environment is as much a part of the art as the mural is.

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How much do you plan beforehand versus creating in the moment?

I like to have most of the painting planned out before I start painting. I figure things out with sketches beforehand.

Your work has been described with terms like “incendiary” and “politically challenging.” Do those terms fit? How would you describe it?

I guess those terms fit. However, all I’m doing is painting the thoughts that are running around in my head…

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What’s your next challenge as an artist?

Tattooing

You’re donating the proceeds from your piece to Homeboy Industries. How did you pick this cause?

People trying to better themselves is the most worthwhile cause.

Visit Van Saro on the web: http://www.vansaro.com/

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