Villa Guerrero Part 1

Matt recently took me to one of his favorite taco shops, Villa Guerrero in Gangnam and introduced me to the owner Jung Su, who is an incredibly nice guy and one heck of a taquero. He makes some of the best tacos in Seoul, having actually spent time learning his craft in Mexico.

While eating some of his delicious tacos we got to talking and I mentioned that I'm an artist and looking to showcase work with local restaurants and shops while I'm in Korea. Surprisingly, he became quite excited and told me he was actually looking to redo his shop and wanted to get some artwork done. Long story short, he commissioned a very personal artwork that I was happy to work on for him. His concept was a taquero (Mexican taco chef) surfing away from things that overwhelm him. Within the waves are words of things he's struggled with and moved past, a very empowering sort of image. Jung Su also wanted to represent a fusion of Korean and Mexican details all throughout the piece. On the arm he wanted to add tattoos, because in Korea taboos are still illegal and taboo, so because his parents would not approve of him getting actual tattoos he said that his artwork would be the tattoos for him.
If you're familiar with my work, you know I don't draw men very often, so this was a new challenge to me in a few different ways. Most of my pieces showcase a singular image with a muted background, but this piece had to incorporate the entire space using different elements painted with acrylic on canvas. Like any other piece, this starts with a sketch, which was then edited by Jung Su and became the final sketch which you see below. I started with the background, filling it in with the waves and then moved on to the figure of the taquero.
Once the image is pieced together, its time to get into the details and build out the shading and personality. Jung Su wanted the surfing taquero to look determined and have a smirk on his face as he surfed away from the words in the water behind him. While my piece is in no way the Mona Lisa, I think I repainted the eyes and mouth over and over and over until I found something he was happy with. Even though I have some experience with painting and drawing, this process always reminds me how much more I have to learn about developing my skills. I stuck to the blue and yellow colors that they use in their Villa Guerrero logo.
In the end, he was really happy with how the image came out and ended up paying more than the initial quote, (when does that every happen?). I feel really proud to have my work up in his shop. I think it fits the style of his decor and it has a really personal meaning for him and that's what matters. Sorry for the lackluster photos, this piece looks much better in person, but I just snapped a quick pic of the final before sending it over to him. I hope to go back in person once the store is remodeled and see it on the wall. Also, I can't stress enough how good his tacos are. So if you get the chance, make sure to stop by Villa Guerrero in Gangnam!

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