My name’s Slvstr©, I’m an artist and designer from Oakland, CA. I now live and work out of NY.
Tell us about “Sly” – the character that makes a cameo in most of your work.
The character Sly I use in the majority of my works is a small blue panther. Being from Oakland where the Black Panthers originated, I chose to create a character based off an animal that’s been used as a powerful symbol. The Black Panthers used black as a colour to empower as well. I’ve always felt like the cyan tone of blue gave off great energy. I wanted to use it as a colour to brand an empower my art. Sly’s overall mission is to protect the youth and through him I would have an iconic character or symbol that people to grow and love, even look up to.
What do your signature thunderbolts mean to you?
Thunderbolts have been great symbols through streetwear culture and even in design. I love the shape, it’s an interesting shape. For me, my bolts mean creation, power, energy, speed. It’s a still shape that has movement. I change the form of the bolt a lot in my works, from showing it as an iconic symbol to even creating them as clouds to form a captivating pattern.
Where does your inspiration come from?
A lot of my inspiration comes from many different things and people, mainly artists and figures I look up to. Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, Milton Glaser, KAWS and Takashi Murakami have always been legends who inspire my art. Hiroshi Fujiwara, NIGO® and SK8THING have always been great inspirations to me as well through streetwear culture.
You’ve been sketching since the age of 3, when do you think you really found your style?
I feel I’ve yet to have found my “true” style. As an artist, visually I have so many different ways to convey my art, but for me one has yet to be “the” style. It’s a journey that I’ve been on all my life. I feel like I’m getting closer to finding it but my art changes and evolves so much that I’ve yet to personally identify with just one style. None the less, when I hand-draw something people have been able to identify, so maybe I have already found it.
How would you say your work has changed over the years?
Over the years it’s changed a whole lot. I’ve danced the line of illustration and design and have always used the two to better what I create. I’ve drawn all my life but didn’t start graphic design until I majored in it in college. When you can illustrate and then use the knowledge of computers as more of a tool than a crutch, it’s a powerful combo. Overall it’s matured if anything while still remaining nostalgic, clean and playful. I’m painting now so that’s a whole new realm for more evolution and change.
You’ve done graphics including Kreayshawn’s album art but it seems as though you’re painting more lately. Do you have a preference?
Painting is everything now. I plan to create the majority of my works in fairly large scale paintings. I’ll still always do design work and use my knowledge of the computer to turn my paintings or drawings into vector art.
This is an extract from the Spring Issue of Viper Magazine. Read more from the magazine here. Buy physical and digital copies here.
Words by Ashley Outrageous