Leo is an ongoing volunteer and artist with Urban ArtWorks, and we love working with him. Here are some of his thoughts about art and young people:

How did you find out about Urban Artworks?

I found out about Urban Artworks when I was in high school. I knew they had painted some of the larger murals around Seattle but didn’t know how to connect with them. It wasn’t until later that I learned how many projects UA have been involved in.

Tell us about yourself, where did you grow up / how did you find yourself in Seattle?

I’m a Seattle native, I lived here all my life until moving to Olympia for College. I was heavily inspired by Seattle graffiti and street art early on and always appreciated large scale public work. I have slowly been developing my own artistic skills and within the past three years have been getting into mural painting and more serious studio work. During the day I help run a creative lab doing web and graphic design. At night I work on art out of my studio in Fremont.

Where do you get your inspiration from as an artist?

I get inspired by everything I interact with. Talking with friends, looking at the natural world, reading new books, getting outside of myself, I let Ideas inspire me. usually when I make a body of work it all centers back to an idea or concept that I’m trying to explore or communicate. Right now I’m working on a series of work under the name of “A Light in The Darkness.” I thought about exploring the idea of what keeps us going in out darkest moments and wanted to do a whole series exploring how I keep myself going as well as what keeps others up.

In your opinion, what are some ways that public art helps create a sense of community?

Public art gives the community a touchstone to relate to each other through. As a mural or public piece becomes part of a landscape it becomes familiar and something that people can all share stories about. When I paint large pieces I love to get the local community involved. It gives people something to be proud of and helps everyone discover their hidden creative potential. People need more encouragement for artistic expression in their lives. I think artistic, colorful landscapes help foster that expression.

What are your thoughts about public art as a tool to reach young people?

Urban Artworks is doing it right! By having well facilitated programs to introduce kids early to the directions you can take art it helps young people connect to their passion in a stronger way. It fosters creativity, imagination, and hard work! Art can be taken in so many directions. I think the framework that art gives you to play with is an amazing tool for personal development. You learn everything from how to bring a concept from idea to execution, to personal time management as well as learning to communicate with community members, client, and collaborators. Theres so many ways to grow yourself through art.

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