Lex Vasquez is a filmmaker, photographer, and writer from Blue Island, IL. We met last year and instantly bonded over a mutual love for life and its madness, and the deeply-rooted urge to express ourselves as human beings, creatives, and idealists.
I talked with Lex about art as a form of self-expression, performing live, the beauty of youth, and the magic of collaboration.
Daria: You’re a writer, a photographer, and a director. What do you find most fascinating about these forms of artistic expression?
Lex: Each is only a different form, or a different language to speak in to express whatever it is that is inside of you. That is why I love every single form of self-expression or collective expression. Those three are the ones I decided to practice first.
Writing is more self involved, you get to explore details and ideas in your mind and use language and rhythm. To write you must spend a lot of time with yourself. I love that about writing.
Photography is fun because you get to capture something in front of you, from your point of view, and later you get to edit it the way you think it should look. Each picture can be worth 1000 words. You can make a statement with an image or you can simply show something you think is interesting. You capture one specific moment and that is pretty cool.
Directing is madness. It is coming together with a crew of people to make something visually appealing and to speak an idea, a statement into the consciousness of viewers while still keeping their attention. At least that is the kind of director I want to be.
“Directing is madness. That’s the kind of director I want to be.”
The process for all three are extremely different and fascinating to me. I find myself focusing on one at a time, not on purpose, it just happens that way. Depending on the point of my life I am at, that is also fascinating. For instance, lately I’ve been a photographer more than anything, sometimes I go on a writing frenzy. Sometimes I draw, sometimes I do nothing but live, which I think is important, too.
D: I was there when you read one of your poems to a group of people at the Jack. How is performing in front of people different from filming? Do you generally prefer to stay behind the camera?
L: That was one of my first times ever reading anything to anyone. Reading my work to people is definitely one of the things I want to get way better at. I love watching slam poets and improv entertainers. I would love to act one day too. But for now staying behind the camera is my go-to.
D: A lot of your work comes from a rather unconventional angle on life and the world. Is there an overall theme?
L: Theme is something I kind of disengage with. I do think some things are reoccurring in my work but I don’t worry about sticking to a theme. Whatever I feel like creating, I create it and put it out there.
D: In a more general sense, what inspires your art?
L: Life, its madness, my hopes to make our world better for all, and the power ideas have.
“Whatever I feel like creating, I create it and put it out there.”
D: We have created an impromptu short film together in the past. The scenes came together as we came up with ideas and the film was done after just a few days of editing. Do you usually plan your projects in advance or do you prefer to work intuitively?
L: Both are interesting. I love to plan or at least try to. But things can also change once you get to the actual creating part, it’s key to be able to do both. I don’t have a preference. I’ll plan every detail I can but I know I have to stay open to everything changing.
D: You have an art show – “Feelings of Youth – Beautiful things to look at and listen to” – coming up on December 19. How would you describe being young? What’s the most beautiful part about it?
L: “Beautiful things to look at and listen to” is something I created last August to celebrate everything beautiful. “Feelings of Youth” is my series of portraits I will be showing at the event. Being young is confusing, you make mistakes and some last a long time, some don’t. You try to find your identity, you begin to make yourself. You rebel, you have sex, you bleed, you see stuff die, you fall in love, you make friends and lose friends, and everything happens and you’re so unsure if you are on a “right path.” It’s so insane, I’m twenty-three now but still consider myself a part of the youth. Youth for me is a state of mind, to embrace the craziness of life, to try to remain, for the most part, happy, which I think is important. The most beautiful part of being young is the passion most young people have, also that feeling of being lost all young people have, it’s so terrifying. I find beauty in that too.
D: Wow, this is actually the most on-point description I’ve heard in a long time!
Another question: You frequently work with other artists. How would you describe the magic of collaboration? Who would you like to work with in the future?
L: I love collaborating because everyone brings something unique to the table. I also love meeting dope humans that are passionate about whatever it is they’re passionate about. I love talking with them and vibing with them. When you collaborate with someone that pushes your vision further it’s unexplainable, most of the time it’s because the two visions somehow mix perfectly.
“Don’t put your artistry in a box but reach as wide and far as possible.”
I would like to work with so many people. I love people that don’t stick to only one medium, because that is what I hope to do. Being able to bring your vision or your energy to multiple platforms or forms of creation or different ways of speaking your message. Vashtie, Donald Glover, Chance the Rapper, Louis C.K., Verluxe to name a few. Those are all people that don’t put their artistry in a box but reach as wide and far as possible. That is something I strive to become.
“Feelings of Youth – Beautiful things to look at and listen to.” Dec 19, 2016, 6PM: 115 Bourbon Street, Merrionette Park, IL.