Author: Michelene Cherie
Maybe you've seen the Kobe Bryant mural at the house on the Northeast Corner of Ripple and Rosanna Streets in Frogtown. We saw it while it was being painted and it was also brought to our attention by a few locals, so we thought we'd track down the artist and find out more about the wonderful homage to the late Laker great Kobe Bryant. It was pretty easy to find out who created the mural, as it was signed with the artist's Instagram handle - @Surgeartworx. We'd like to introduce Frogtown native and artist Sergio Zepeda.
Tell us a little about yourself, your background and what kind of art you create. Are you an art student?
My name is Sergio Zepeda, I am 31 years old, an L.A. native and an artist that enjoys painting and drawing, specifically sports themed pieces, cartoons and portraits. I am an art graduate from California State University Northridge, with a degree in Animation. Over the years I began to have an interest in painting on canvases. That's where it became known that I wanted to paint more and more and begin to intermix my love for sports and cartoons onto mixed media.
How long have you and/or your family lived in Frogtown? Were you born and raised here?
I was born and raised in Los Angeles, Elysian Valley. I grew up going to Dodger games and playing basketball at the local park and recs. Elysian Valley, which many of you may know as Frogtown has seen many changes throughout the years. Once a place of being unsafe to be out at night, it has become more of an artsy area. With that I looked to use my art background to create a mural that not only memorialized a sports legend in Kobe, but have a staple in the community to influence more art and love.
What inspired you to create the mural? What did Kobe Bryant mean to you?
I wanted to create the Kobe mural to bring to light the love we all have for L.A. and what he meant to the city as well as Gianna Bryant, John, Keri & Alyssa Altobelli, Payton & Sarah Chester, Christina Mauser and Ara Zobayan. The mural brings happiness to the community where there was sadness and a feeling of loss. Kobe Bryant is the King of L.A., the greatest of all time, Mr. 81, The Black Mamba, Vino, The Lord of the Rings. He was someone I grew up watching as many of you did. Going to Laker games was one of the many dreams I had as a kid and when I finally went to my first one I got to watch Kobe in person and it was absolutely amazing. He was my idol and I would always mimic his moves on the basketball court. Kobe Bryant brought my friends and family together - watching them in the finals on television. To be a Los Angeles resident means everything and Kobe has been there every step of the way with the Mamba mentality.
You painted the mural yourself? Anyone else help?
I painted the mural myself with the help of my friend, girlfriend and sister. It was my first mural and I learned a lot over the course of time it was completed.
What would you like to accomplish as an artist?
I want to inspire more young artists that are new to the field or wanting to branch out-to never quit. Finding myself in art has gotten me through tough times, emotionally and financially. Going into it, I believed I was going to be an Animator but I ended up returning to my first love in art and that was painting and drawing traditionally on paper & canvas. With practice and more practice I am always learning and being fearless is my message. The right person will give you a chance to use your abilities. So don't give up, use every outlet/education you can to sharpen your talents and don't be afraid of critiques..embrace them and always ask questions.
What are you working on now? Any new, upcoming projects?
I am currently working on some projects, two of which are murals that will expand my portfolio thanks to the Kobe mural. I am looking forward to being able to do more with my art and bring more color to the world.
We'd like to thank Sergio for sharing his artwork and his story with us. We are inspired by his mural and the enthusiasm he has for our city and for art. To see more of Sergio's artwork, follow him on Instagram at @surgeartworx
About the Author
Michelene Cherie is a Production Manager and Content Curator for The Elysian Valley Arts Collective. She works with non-profits, animal advocacy organizations and owns a boutique marketing and event company - Cherie Creative Company. In her free time, Michelene volunteers for several cat rescues in Los Angeles. More info at: www.cheriecreativecompany.com