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How this eco-conscious L.A. graffiti artist creates art out of luggage

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SARTO is an L.A. artist who got his start in graffiti. Inspired by the grit of Los Angeles, SARTO says his formative artistic playground was made up of South Central L.A., East L.A., and Boyle Heights. Now, he’s transferring some of those techniques to fine art and to new canvases, like his recent creation: a painted American Tourister piece of luggage.

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SARTO’S recent work veers away from urban themes and focuses on climate change and weather patterns, which manifests in his use of organic shapes and colors. But you’ll also see traces of L.A. graffiti influence in SARTO’s work. He still uses accessible spray caps, like the Astro Fat, to produce a flared look that resembles original tagging techniques. “It seems easy, but it’s a skill,” SARTO says of mastering the flare.

This piece fits with SARTO’s overall artistic mission and thematic focus — it’s perfect for traveling the world that he hopes to protect, while also representing the style of where he’s from. As he painted, SARTO moved the bag around and painted it every which way, but the color remained on the outside of the bag: the TSA lock keeps everything — from baggage claim mistakes to paint residue — away from your stuff.

Experiencing new places is good for the artistic imagination, and art is ultimately good for people to see and share. “It’s important for art to be documented,” SARTO says of this artistic process. Watch him at work to see the finished piece.

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