I started Dissolve as a creative outlet for myself. I find it easier to create designs, illustrations and ideas for an existing project whether it's a brand, zine, or series. I started off with the intention of having Dissolve be a loose sort of brand (but not really a brand) to release designs under revolving around themes of community and our collective society. As I started creating for Dissolve, I found the direction I was taking the project as a bit dissatisfying and began thinking of ways to navigate this project in a way that I would truly enjoy. Then I came up with the idea of creating designs and illustrations, and then compiling them all into a periodical zine every so often, while creating small runs of other prints on the side. Here you can see the process and branding behind this project.
This piece was created as my way of communicating what I think could be. Creating a world where we seek to give back as much as we take from the Earth, from one another, and from ourselves. Creating a world where power structures are obsolete, allowing everyone to take back the time, growth, and love that was stolen from them. I think what could be is a world created not by the reimagining of the established, but rather by the strengthened relations formed from its rejection.
Originally, I made this drawing as a submission for an art show (it wasn't accepted). Once I decided I was going to use this piece for my Dissolve design project, I brought the illustration into Photoshop and changed the colors to the color palette I use for Dissolve, and I added imagery to the background. The background is actually two images taken around Downtown San Diego spliced together. I then took the project into Procreate to add type.
This laser engraving piece is 5 x 6.5" on 6061 aluminum. I had several of this size rectangles cut, and instead of passing the material through a line grain machine or bead blasting the material, I placed the pieces under the laser engraving machine and etched the entire surface front and back to achieve a cool, finished look. Then I etched the image of my illustration with no text. It took some trial and error but I love how it came out. 
I used to see every new building added to my neighborhood and every new trendy restaurant and boba shop that popped up as a force that disrupted the way of life of the area and something that in itself would bring change to displace those already here. But I noticed this isn’t just a thing that’s happening only here, it seemed to be happening in virtually every other city in the state, if not the country. These new developments seem to just be accommodations for a process that’s already been unfolding. As this city fills up with higher paying tech, medical, defense, etc. jobs, and edge cities form to accommodate these booming industries, areas that once housed the white/wealthy, then transitioned into lower income areas populated by more people of color, are once again transitioning back to being areas for the wealthy, while those who cannot afford to stay are pushed to suburbs, exurbs, and beyond. My neighborhood has never been just one image. It and its demographics have always been changing since its founding, and it is not going to stop changing just because I want it to remain as the image I have for it in my head. So imma just go with the flow and document what I can of what this place means to me before it becomes unrecognizable. And if I gotta end up leaving one day, then it is what it is. At least I’ll have my memories.
Seeing my neighborhood in constant change reminds me that no one place can stay the same forever. It would be nice to be able to keep the communities we grew up with in tact just as they were when we were younger, however sometimes that possibility is just out of our hands. As what-once-was gets phased out, and what-will-be gets phased in, sometimes all we can do is try to enjoy our surroundings for what they are, and appreciate them for what they have been.
For these pieces, I used a lot of new techniques to get a new look and feel compared to past digital illustrations of mine. I wanted them to look a bit more worn and have a bit more urgency or tension, so I layered on a bunch of textures over everything, along with the blocks of texture within the person's clothing and in the house. I then used gradient maps on the texture blocks as well as the background images to get a nice way to add color while also adding visual interest, and to also add a bit more feeling of anxiousness to the background images. I also wanted to play more with the figure ground relation of the compositions, so instead of having solidly drawn and colored houses, I decided to just have them be outlines, with a few filled spots. Having the houses partially as outlines also adds to the feeling of not wanting to deal with this rapid change and its consequences. I also overlayed a bit of text, basically just a condensed version of the previous paragraphs, over the pieces to add more texture and movement, but also to kinda explain more of my thoughts if anyone looks close enough to read them.
This series features several photos I had taken while going around my neighborhood. I took all these photos near the beginning of the COVID lockdown when I wasn't working and had time to walk or bike around whenever. Then a few weeks ago I decided to do something with these photos, then I got the idea of creating a series for Dissolve where I'd draw people hanging out over these photos. As I was illustrating these, I then got the idea of also having the people be doing some kind of graffiti, and have their graffiti have community based messages. 
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