Andrés Bustamante, 25, originally from Cali, Columbia now calls Nashville home.
At 8 years old, Andrés started playing the keyboard and the piano. Later in his teens, his creativity took another avenue and he starting getting into street art like graffiti.
“I’m just a guy who’s creative,” he said. “I love creativity and making things with my hands. I feel like I always need to paint, sew, photograph or draw something.”
He said a lot of interested in street art came from a film called Bomb the System, a documentary depicting the lives of graffiti writers in New York City.
“It’s a fiction film, but it really impacted and opened up a whole new world to me,” he said. “That lead to photography, exploring fashion, painting, sculpting and just doing my own thing.”
Andrés moved to Nashville with his mother when he was 10 years old. He graduated from John Overton High School in 2008.
He is currently working on a street art series entitled “Humanity.”
the HUMANITY SERIES
Andrés has always been fascinated with exploring and learning different things.
“I love the rawness of humanity. I love people who are genuine and who are themselves and I want to be able to explore that more.”
Starting in 2010, in a printmaking class at Watkins College of Art, Design & Film, Andrés decided to make stencils of anatomical hearts but with a touch of his own flare, adding designs and color.
After putting the project down for a few years, he revived the series at the end of 2015.
He was drawn back to the thrills of street art and putting something meaningful out there in the public gallery for everyone to see.
“I guess my love for street art and graffiti culture mashed together and I decided I wanted to be able to share this with the world,” he said. “Art can be free and can portray a powerful, positive message.”
In a less destructive form of street art, Andrés cuts the stencils out of wood and other materials and then nails them to wooden poles around Nashville and surrounding communities.
“I feel like it adds to the conversation about street art and starts another one about humanity,” he said.
He said looking at the oneness of humanity, everyone has a heart and everyone goes through hardships, love, passion, success and failures. Andrés said many times people wear masks in order to be accepted out of pride, fear or insecurities.
“We’re human beings,” he said. “I love exploring the subject of seeing Heaven in humanity as well as vulnerability and who people really are when they don’t feel the need to wear a mask.”
Andrés left Watkins because of financial reasons.
“You don’t need a degree to continue doing things you love. No one can tell you that you’re not an artist because you have a degree,” he said. “If you love it, you’ll pursue it.”
Andrés said he does encourage people to go to school but, also to follow their hearts and get out of their box.
“Do what makes you feel alive and what makes you feel passionate to wake up every morning.”
He said for him, humanity means being created in the imagine of God. It means being a people of diverse cultures, backgrounds, upbringings, races, languages, beliefs and families.
Andrés said what’s important to realize is that we’re all human beings who should have more compassion, understanding and empathy for each other.
Overall, he said he wants to see a bigger community of street art in Nashville.
the CITY, the COMMUNITY, the FUTURE
“I’m really excited to see the visual arts scene and the fashion scene come up,” Andrés said. “The music scene is a staple for Nashville and that’s never going to go away. It’s a part of the culture, richness and beauty of this city.”
“Everyone is a musician, but I love seeing the painters, the photographers, and the fashion industry growing here. I love seeing creatives in different backgrounds.”
Andrés said he’s heard concerns from others about Nashville turning into the next Atlanta, which for him means being an overcrowded city with too many buildings and not enough local culture.
“I think Nashville has a great focus on local culture, community and celebrating each other’s craft no matter what it is. I love that about this city,” he said. “I hope people will call Nashville home whether they’ve been here for a year or they’ve grown up here.”
Andrés said he hopes the local feel in the city and surrounding communities continues and encourages people to support the arts and artists.
“Give people a chance, get to know their heart, find out what the beauty about them is, embrace one another, don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone and meet different people with different interests.”
Andrés said one of his biggest personal concerns are how people are being treated by others.
“Don’t treat people like a career move, like a chess piece that you move around in order for you to be king. Treat people like a human being. Everyone is valuable and deserves to be treated as such.”
He said community means loving people for who they are, being inclusive and welcoming.
He said it’s obvious you can’t make a deep and powerful connection with every single person you meet but you can with certain people and you should.
Other than the “Humanity” series, Andrés is working on paintings and his streetwear lifestyle brand called Liferlife, which he began in October of 2011.
“There’s been a lot of learning from this project, a lot of trial and error,” he said. “Learning the ups and downs of business and networking, mostly by myself, has been pretty rough. But now I’m starting to work with a business mentor and a personal life coach. It’s been a fun challenge. I’ve met some beautiful people and I’ve had a wonderful time exploring myself, spirituality and learning to be a human being.”
Andrés wants to rebrand and reinvent his creative endeavors so he can be more vulnerable with his art and more open as a person.
He said he wants to produce fine art made out of love for the craft and not just with the thought of commercialization.
“I want to go back to the roots. I want to honor art over consumerism,” he said. “I’m launching one of my last collections under the Liferlife name and then I will create all work under my own name.”
Andrés said in the future he wants to learn how to manage money properly and make money work for him. He wants to have the financial freedom to pursue art and his creativity in the fullest.
“Whatever I end up creating I hope I can positively affect our generation, the community and the individual,” he said.
Thanks for reading Nashville!
Every Thursday at noon Neat Nashville embraces the community by highlighting an individual in a feature article that tells their story and voices their concerns about the city moving forward. It is our hope to inspire good change locally, to be a force of unity, and support the people we all call neighbors.
It starts with community. It starts where you are.