Joel Arroyo must be one of the most prolific artists on the streets on Barcelona. There is barely a day that goes by without him painting a new photorealistic piece of work. Oh and if he’s not doing that he’s throwing up one of his tags under his El-Joel alias. Thankfully Joel managed to find some time in his busy schedule to answer a few questions for me!
Hi Joel how are you? Tell us a little about yourself…
Hello good, very good and you? My name is Joel Arroyo, and I’m a plastic artist.
When did you first start spraying on walls?
Since I was a child my mother put me in contact with painting, but until I was 16 years old I did not start painting graffiti.
At the moment I live in Barcelona where I dedicate myself to paint murals for order, at the same time that I develop my personal work, and if I take time, I also paint graffitis (letters) with my friends.
What was the original inspiration for grabbing a spray can for the first time?
I am not very clear, I started doing tags and drawings related to the world of skateboarding, but there was a time when I began to be captivated by the murals on the beach near my house, where I escaped at night to paint my first pieces.
Do you like to work with a sketch or just freestyle?
I always prepare a sketch or an image to work with, in my opinion it is important to go with everything prepared, since any unforeseen event can twist everything.
What’s the inspiration behind your work? A never ending list of things right?
In great part my experiences, but also the work of other artists, as well as modernism, avant-garde, graphic design, hip hop aesthetics, minimalism, tattoo old school … an enormous list.
Is a piece ever finished in your eyes?
I suppose that when it looks clean, proportionate and balanced, when I understand that from that point on, painting more can be counterproductive.
You paint under a few different alias. You have your ‘street art’ alter ego and then your ‘graffiti’ (el-Joel).
Do you have a favourite of the two or do you see them as the same thing?
I use my name in both, but for different purposes. Without masks, this is all I am.
Do you have any crazy ideas/projects that you’d love to do one day?
A lot, I wouldn’t know where it starts, but I try to be consistent with the reality I live and I usually adapt to the environment. So depending on where I am, there are things that are more viable than others.
What do you like to do with your non-painting time?
Thinking about painting! Hahah jokes, organising the murals takes a lot of work, and sometimes the end result is the tip of the iceberg. I also like museums and reading about a lot of things.
What’s the ideal soundtrack to a day’s painting?
I like trap and reggaeton above all. Ohmai de yung beef or with that de Young thug, would be good options.
If you could have one super power for the day what would you choose?!
To fly, you would see how I was going to put the streets of the whole world hahah
What’s next for Joel Arroyo?
An audiovisual project…and I don’t say hahah anymore.
In closing I want to thank you for counting on me for this interview as well as all the people who follow and support my work, you make it worthwhile.
Health and painting.