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Interview with Richard Castor

Richard Castor AKA Rich West Koast is a graphic artist at FAMOUS STARS AND STRAPS, creative director at WESTKOAST GRAPHICS, and was the recent art director/editor at the legendary  TEEN ANGELS MAGAZINE. You can check out his Instagram and his Etsy for more art, or see his solo show in person. It opens November 14th at Shadowbox Gallery. See the flyer near the end of this interview for more details.

What's your favorite taco spot?
Haha, Thats easy. #1 is Guisados, even though it's a chain now, all the veggie and meat tacos still delicious and way different from your traditional tacos. #2 The Taco stand outside of the Roller Derby on Temple, in Echo Park. They cook all the meat together in like in a meat broth, super juicy and good. #3 Best Fish Taco in Ensenada, in Silver lake. The salsas can be a little hot sometimes, but still the best fish and shrimp tacos in LA.

Where did you grow up and how did that shape who you are?
I grew up in La Puente till I was 10, then Riverside till 18. In La Puente you grow up fast, when I moved to Riverside I was into lowriders, lowrider bikes, model cars, girls, oldies and gangster rap. The kids in Riverside were into pogs and pop music. I think I was lucky to move because in La Puente we saw a lot of drug dealing and gang banging (Puente 13 vs Neighborhood Crips) but fortunately nothing too crazy. Moving and getting to see it from an outside perspective, I was able to pick and choose from my own culture the negatives and positives.

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When did you realize you were an artist?
I've alway been an artist, probably since I was born. My brother and I always drew, uncles (on my mom's side) always drew, and my mom and dad used to draw but had stopped by the time i was born. So there was no point when I said, hey i'm an artist. It just always was that way.

How did you get involved with Teen Angel?
At 18 I moved to San Bernardino, CA. My brother and I did screen printing and graphic design, so we eventually came across Payaso, one of the sons of TEEN ANGEL. When I found out him and his brother ran TEEN ANGELS MAGAZINE, I asked them if we could help. Payaso said his brother Smiley was the one who was in charge, but we didn't actually meet him till a few years later. But I always asked to help. Even though we didn't we always did other projects, CD covers Shirts, etc. Up until 2012 Smiley realized he wouldn't have much time for the magazine, and let the Homie Travieso take over, Travieso told Smiley that I was gonna help him, but eventually Travieso didn't have time either, so I ended up making the issue myself, the first issue in a long time. Unfortunately I never got a chance to meet their dad, TEEN ANGEL before he past.

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What inspires you in your daily life?
That's a little harder question. Everything, lol. ...Most average people are quick to judge and don't know a thing about anything. They see all these sub-cultures: cholos, punks, goths, whatever and believe they're up to no good, which some are, but the bulk is smarter, more driven, more creative than your average person. So thats part of whats inspires me to be, and to create. I want to show people what were about, what I'm about. Show people that there is a lot of things that are kool. Just because it isn't part of main stream culture doesn't exclude it from being good.

What keeps you in Los Angeles? If you had to move, where would you go?
Recently I just moved out of LA to San Bernardino temporarily, but I'll probably be back by the end of the year.  ...Everything is in LA and everything comes from LA. LA isn't the only city were things come from, but in my opinion it's the place with the most style, culture and it's where creativity happens. But LA is so underrated. For example we have the fashion district, most LA natives just see it as a swap meet. But hidden within are original designers being directly influenced by whats around them. They even sell their stuff to mainstream stores. You then get all copy-cats and bootleggers and even big brands copying or being influenced by these small LA designers. The same way LA is influencing the fashion design community, its the same in custom cars, music, and art.

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What's your dream car?
My dream car would be a 61 impala, I would take with a convertible or wagon, of course juiced up and custom candy painted, on 520s and spokes. Growing up my family had an all original 64 impala wagon, so I have a thing for wagons.

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We're living in the golden age of ______________.
SOCIAL MEDIA. Most people see the more negatives, But It all depends on how you use it. Growing up, especially through college, there weren't many people who had the same interests as myself. Through IG and FB, I am able to find other artist and people that later became friends. Friends which I probably wouldn't have met otherwise.

How has your art changed through the years and where is it going?
It's changed a lot, in High school and early college it was a lot of colored pencil scenes. Now it almost entirely strictly black and white, pen and ink. Not always a scene, but might be more of a designs or images based on chicano, cholo, or tattoo imagery. Where I'm trying to make it go, is keep the old lowrider or cholo culture of the 70s, 80s and 90s and bring it into todays world, having relevancy of today's things that are going on. I don't want kids to say that's art from the old days, I want them to simply say that is kool! and the art might have inspiration from those days.

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Tell us about your latest art show?
My latest Art show is a collection of art from this past year. Theres not necessarily a direct theme, but just the theme of cholo or lowrider art influenced from the old school days, there's even a few punk / riot grrrl themed pieces. I was in a lot of group art show this past year and theres a lot of art that people have not seen. And there will be a few new pieces and even a few collaborations with other artists.

What are your influences?
I have a lot of influences. Obviously the art in TEEN ANGELS MAGAZINE growing up. Through the magazine I also saw the artwork of TEEN ANGEL, who is a big influence in my art. When in Riverside I came across the artwork of MAXX 242, who's art has also influenced my art. of course, music, lowriders, tattoos, other subcultures beside cholo and lowrider cultures, such as: rockabilly, beatnik, pin-up, punk, riot grrrl, hip hop, and graffiti all play a part in influencing my work.

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Any shoutouts?
Yeah shot outs to my brother MIKE (WESTKOAST GRAPHICS), PAYASO, SMILEY, JACOB, TRAVIESO, MADS (SOULEROS BALL), LEANNE 'ELROD' RODRIGUEZ, and everybody who helped with TEEN ANGELS MAGAZINE or supported the magazine. UNIC, LOSER, DEBO (FUNKFREAKS), ROBBY (BEAT SWAP MEET), NOELLE and everybody (MI VIDA), CYNDI and STEVE at (LOWDOWN IN UPTOWN), and everybody who's supported my art through the years. THANKS, and SEE YOU AT THE SHOW.

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