Christian Cortes Interview

cortes portrait

Let’s start by who are you and what do you do?

My name is Christian Cortes aka WaqsA3, but you can find me online as CortesNYC. I’m a NY based Visual Artist.

How long have you been an illustrator and painter?

I started my artistic career in 1990, straight out of Art and Design High School. I was already doing graffiti and I had some illustration skills so I started doing logo work for rap groups and record covers. I also began painting graffiti styled canvasses for art loft parties.

cortes graffiti

What was your influence to become an artist?

I was first inspired by graffiti art along the 7train in Queens during the early 80’s. I saw the full pieces on rooftops and trains and I wanted to try that. Then once I was in high school I started buying records and I started to take notice of the artwork in the record stores in college I learned more about fine artists and commercial illustrators. That’s when I took notice of works by Simon Bisley, Frazetta, Dali and Michelangelo.

cortes game of thrones

How would you describe your style of work?

I’m definitely a graffiti artist at heart. But since I’ve evolved my techniques and done so many different kinds of projects, I’ve kind of outgrown that description. I now consider myself an urban illustrator. I’m very versatile and I work in many mediums, but I still love rocking blackbooks and walls.

cortes 2012 skull turntables drawing

Does your style change when you’re painting or doing illustrations?

For 10years now, all of my illustration work has been digital. So now I enjoy taking a break to use paint or markers for my own sketches in blackbooks. My work on a computer is very measured and technical. My work on canvas or a wall is free and spontaneous.

cortes graffiti nyc

You’ve done commercial work over the years. What kind of work do you typically do?

I mostly have done music promotional art, or web site art. I’m known for my animated music video for Jeru The damaga and also my covers of Strictly The Best reggae compilations 31, 32, 33 & 34. I also spent many years designing for clothing brands. I currently do graphics and video work for Sprayground Bag company.

cortes leprichaun graffiti

Who’s art do you find inspirational?

I’m inspired by all kinds of art. There are too many artists to mention. I like the graffiti art I’ve seen in Europe. Back in the 90’s I used to admire Mode2’s artwork.

cortes gandalf sketch

Have you done any traveling with your art?

Since 2006 I’ve been doing graffiti painting trips around the world. I started a youtube series documenting my trips called “GraffTours”. I’ve painted in Japan, Germany, France, Spain, Ecuador and Puerto Rico. Also locally I’ve painted in miami, New Jersey and Seattle.

Where would you like to visit in the future?

I’d like to go to Africa, Italy, Colombia, Peru and Brazil.

cortes graffiti skulls

Do you have a favourite project you’ve worked on over the years?

My Favorite project was a graffiti wall at 5pointz called “UpHigh3″ it’s a Cortes piece blended with skulls that runs up the side of the building facing Manhattan. That was a big challenge and a personal achievement to complete in 3nights. I definitely left a piece of myself up on that building, and I see it every time I ride to and from work.

cortes girl and dragon sketch

What can we expect to see from you in the future?

I have a lot of new BlackBook art videos to make, and I have two webcomic series that I’ve been meaning to get back on and complete.

Do you have any last words for the Senses Lost readers?

I hope everyone keeps graff art close to their hearts, keep evolving ideas, and I hope to paint with some of you all soon. -C

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