The internal landscape of Justin Mays of maysgrafx is the stuff of psychedelic dreams. His work features bold colors, geometric shapes, celestial imagery and spiritual symbolism. It's striking, deep and in my opinion, makes for very dope tshirt designs. We talked to Justin about his most recent contribution of the letter 'G' to our No. 26 - A to Z Typography Zine.
Tell us about yourself and your work.
My name is Justin Mays, but people might know me as maysgrafx.
I grew up in Annapolis, Maryland. My mother was the art teacher at my school, which definitely peaked my interest in drawing at a young age. After high school I spent five years at The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, which was basically a constant Spring Break. I did however receive two degrees, one in graphic design and one in motion graphics. I graduated and moved to Miami Beach where I freelanced for Univision, making abstract background animations for Latin award shows. While freelancing, I worked the nights as a VJ at Cameo, the biggest nightclub in South Beach!
I loved Miami, but when the economy crashed it forced me to move to LA to find work. However, LA turned out to be the mecca of motion graphics, and I haven't stopped working since the move. After getting back on my feet, I married my beautiful wife, bought a house, and had a daughter who is now just over a year old. Being in LA has given me the opportunity to really challenge myself in my career, which has helped me push myself with my personal art as well.
I was raised in a very religious setting which inspired me to research symbolism used in religions and cults. I find sacred geometry fascinating and beautiful. Nature has always been a part of my life, I grew up on a Christmas tree farm on 200 acres of woods and farms that were in the middle of the city. Likewise, the desert is such a unique place and it symbolizes to me a place where one can reconnect with the universe. I love going out to Joshua Tree to meditate and disconnect from the digital world. Also, the female form to me is already one of the greatest if not the greatest work of art. I just like to build off of it and or show it off in brilliant bold colors and gradients.
How did you approach your letter to our latest zine?
I was very excited to get the letter 'G'. I wanted to keep the design within my typical style, but push myself to use my Cinema 4D skills too. I decided to explore the negative space within the letter 'G', making it dimensional with a touch of surrealism. It ended up as a Godly female form looking down with an all-knowing gaze, sitting inside a giant 'G'.
How does it feel to see your work in one of our zines?
What other S6 artists do you admire?
How did you go about finding your unique style? Did it evolve over time?
I only used to work with my own images, but it felt really limiting. I had tons of ideas for things I wasn't able to shoot, so I decided to open myself up to other imagery. Since then, I've been able to explore a lot of new concepts.
Describe the moment you felt like you "made it" as an artist?
I purchased a Hajime Sorayama signed print from Fifty24SF Gallery also Upperplayground.com and then got a call later from the gallery director saying he was filling my order and noticed my email had (grafx) graphics in it and said he was curious and googled it to see if anything came up and that he found my Instagram and liked what he saw. And I'm currently selling a few signed prints with them!
What's the best piece of advice you've ever received about being an artist?
Honestly, the thing that's had the most influence has been my own realization to never stop creating. Always challenge yourself and never stop learning learn new techniques!
Any parting words of wisdom?
Be responsible when you trip.
Check out more of maysgrafx work below.
Photos by: Matt Draper