Hagop’s fine charcoal-like sketches are solemn, wistful, and pasted all over LA. Greatly inspired by his Syrian-Armenian heritage, using neutral shades of neat crosshatches and simple bold outlines his figures come together like collages from another time. These surrealistic paper totems inhabit corners of Los Angeles from supermarket parking lots, to inside busy restaurants, and the walls of private music studios. Via his totems, Hagop hopes to inspire people to recognize their own spirit and see their strength of character reflected towards them.
Hagop’s lucky break came from his daily hustle. The former math major and pragmatist dabbled in art while working in a stream of restaurant jobs. He didn’t expect to become a “professional” artist or even a street artist but he put on a solo show. One of the restaurant owners commissioned a piece and he started to consider making his mark. The simple act of selling or commissioning a mural is for him a symbol of the connections that bind us together. When Hagop works on a commission, he finds a part of himself to give and hopes it’ll get that energy back in return.
“We’re all connected and we’re all coming from the same energy. It’s all about connectivity really and once someone purchases the piece, it almost brings it full circle.”
Intent on finding his own style in the street art scene, he turned to wheatpaste: a gel-like adhesive made of flour and water. The medium is natural and simple to make: a great alternative to spray paint and stencils making his paper characters postable around the city. Now his work is recognizable as it is known around Los Angeles.
Most of his characters are hybrids of humans and nature: animal limbs fleshed into Victorian-torsos, owl-eyed men, skirts of foliage and peafowl feathers… These hybrids are not random but rather meticulous choices in combining symbolism, culture, and location. While many are inspired by Armenian women in traditional garbs from centuries ago, he tries to depict the diversity of cultures, genders, and races condensed in a globalized world. If you ask Hagop, each of one of us has invisible symbols like spirit animals.
Just as these hybrid totems reveal unconventional compositions, so are the variety of spaces they inhabit. If you walk by Gjelina restaurant in Los Angeles, you’ll spot Walrus Woman: a feminine figure draped in cloth, her face hidden by bones tugged snugly over her eyes. Further East in Culver City at Mophonics record label in Playa Studios, you can find a similar sketch: a woman with a skeletal beak, dragon wings, and a reptilian tail. Ultimately his pieces also find homes that tell stories across the walls that house, and shape, what they represent.
A devoted yogi, he believes that we are all created from the same energy. He advises artists to embrace the power of meditation, “I feel like the best ideas come when you’re in your quietest zone. And when your mind’s quiet, there’s a rhythm that all of a sudden you can open up to the universe and the universe can open itself up to you and you can just download some amazing information.” In his quest to show how we come together with the universe, Hagop’s visual pieces also become tools for reflection.
Not surprisingly, Hagop’s perspective resonates with artists and commissioners everywhere. We all want spaces where art is accessible and inspiring. But when that piece also becomes a source of connection between creators and viewers, we all feel apart of it.
Are you loving art on an urban canvas? Check out some of your city’s most incredible street murals on Wescover here!