Dre Lopez has been a fixture in the Columbia art scene for more than a decade. He is an illustrator and visual artist, as well as co-founder of PIENSA: Art Company. Chances are if a promotional flyer drew you to an event in the city, or if you’ve seen a cover illustration of Cocky from USC football, you’ve been privleged to see his work.
Q. You’ve been involved in the Columbia art scene for a while. Tell us about your interest as an artist.
A. Yep, it’s been a long time. My interests as an artist are varied, especially as the years have passed. I’ve been able to create material for so many different clients as well as my own creator-owned stuff that my interests remain flexible from one project to the next. That approach fits how my brain works as well as the client’s interests.
Overall I want to create content that elicits a reaction. Whether the project is humorous or serious, small client or big client, big gallery or small gallery. That’s me doing my job. Even if the reaction is that you hate the piece, then good. I don’t care if you don’t love it. You’re still feeling something.
Q. After being involved in the scene for so many years, what are some things you’re most proud of?
A. I’ve created a lot of work that I’m proud of. I’ve formed partnerships and relationships in this scene that I’m proud of. I’m proud that I’m still doing it. Any independent artist or freelancer knows how much effort, thick skin, patience, resilience and support it takes to make this type of career work. For all its bumps and bruises, I’m proud to still be doing it. I’m proud of my friends’ successes as I’ve watched them grow and expand their brands and projects, their careers, their lives. For me though, I still have so much more to do. I’m not satisfied. Ask me again in 10 years and maybe then my answer will be short and specific.
Q. You are in an art collective with your brother called PIENSA: Art Company. Recently you ventured out with your own imprint. Tell us about your new site and upcoming clothing line.
A. PIENSA was our initial studio to start putting out our own work. It was and still is an umbrella set up where we’re a part of it but have always done our own individual works outside of studio-only collaborations. So it continues that way. From my end, I’m trying to put out some of the many ideas that I’ve had ruminating in my head for a while. At the moment I’ve rebranded my graphic design and put out a site — drelopezcreative.com — to show several examples of the many things I can do. That site showcases a bit of my more accessible and relatively conservative, professional work.
Q. What about Columbia is unique to other art scenes you’ve come across?
A. Columbia has a good mix of heart, talent and more importantly a genuine quality to many of its people. Art scenes everywhere are plagued by the same issues under the surface — elitism, disingenuous folks, vultures. All of them have this, including Columbia to a degree. However, what’s different in Columbia is that the people here, in general, actually care. They care about their city, about their scene, about their work, about their friends in the trenches. It’s always been very DIY so the people that get involved and have succeeded here have genuine interest in being proactive and putting in the work to make the scene, the city, evolve and grow.