By Alexa Coveney and Briceyda Landaverde
The portrait acts as the cover to Andaluz’s first studio album, Thoughts of an Artist, which is set to release this spring. The album was inspired by the deaths of his two childhood friends and the incarceration of his 18-year-old cousin.
Andaluz plans to create a painting to represent each of the songs within his album.
“Anything that I appreciate and admire,” said Andaluz, “I create something artistically for.”
Efren Andaluz, 28, opened On Da Loose, a studio and clothing store in Huntington, New York.
On Da Loose, a spin on his last name, opened in Huntington in 2011 as a way to bring urban pop-culture to the area of Greenlawn and Huntington.
His passion began while at Walt Whitman High School, Huntington, New York, airbrushing t-shirts for his friends. After gradating in 2004, Andaluz attended SUNY Old Westbury and then transferred to the Fashion Institute of Technology where he studied fine arts. While attending FIT he interned at a screen printing facility, where he taught himself the craft. He was then able to mass-produce t-shirts for hip-hop artist and private businesses.
Andaluz made his first breakthrough in the hip-hop community when he made a t-shirt for rapper Cassidy. His t-shirt business expanded to other big names in the industry, including 50 Cent and the G-Unit group. During this period, he focused on the business aspect of his work and drifted away from his art.
His portraits focus mainly on hip-hop artists, including G-Unit, Run-D.M.C, Jay-Z and Eminem. Through his paintings Andaluz is trying to break the stereotypes of air brush art. “People look at airbrushing as more of street [art], so it loses credibility and value,” said Andaluz on the misrepresentation of airbrushing.
In order to gain respect from a higher end crowd Andaluz had to learn the art of the paintbrush, something that didn’t come easy for him. For Thoughts of an Artist, the portrait, he used a mixture of oil and spray paint.
Thoughts of an Artist, was inspired by Andaluz’s childhood friend Daron Trollinger, nicknamed “Thoughts,” who was killed in a shooting three years ago and the incarceration of his cousin Josh Csikortis.
This past year he faced another loss with the passing of his friend Jerry Sauzo, who committed suicide.
“My biggest struggle is pretty much the losses I’ve had in my life, dealing with someone being there, growing up with people, and then them not being there anymore,” said Andaluz.
Andaluz is trying to draw attention to the issues minority groups face. He wants to show through his artwork and music that Latinos are more than just “day labors.”
Through his songs and art work Andaluz speaks out against the recent injustices between police and minority groups.
“There’s a lot of animosity between the public, mostly minority groups, and the police,” said Andaluz on the recent incidents between law enforcement and the public. “People aren’t working with each other to try to find a common ground.”
Andaluz has always worked with children, in high school he would air brush t-shirts with cartoon characters. “I have to watch what I do as a role model and also as a business person,” said Andaluz. He speaks to art classes at Walt Whitman High School and was a counselor at Camp Alvernia.
Only a few miles from the store, Andaluz painted a mural on the legendary comedian Robin Williams.
He plans on expanding his business by helping start-up companies market their products and reach their target audiences.
Andaluz plans to release his album on May 16, 2015, the anniversary of Trollinger’s death.