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Graphic Designer pvtso: An Audio-Visual Essay

By Donna-Claire Chesman on

A visual and sonic experience, all photos by Aaron Dee.

pvtso — New York City

In a new audio-visual essay, Audiomack breaks down pvtso’s creative process, complete with playlist, including his best creative advice and a note on the importance of taking breaks and chilling in your sweatpants.

Chances are, you have a piece of pvtso’s artwork saved to your cellphone, or framed on your wall if you’re a vinyl-head. Having worked with Rapsody, Brent Faiyaz, Teddy Walton and more artists moving music forward, pvtso’s art has become essential to the hip-hop listening experience.

When not making cover art, pvtso’s work delves into fusing the old school with the new school. Some of his most striking pieces take modern album covers and give them the 70s treatment. pvtso’s art represents the through-line hip-hop has struck, and continues to strike, through popular culture across decades. Recently moving to New York from Barcelona, expect to see even more pvtso pieces before the year is done.

I’m not particularly picky with my creative space honestly. Of course, it’s important for it to have its own identity and make you feel in your element, so I guess the one thing I like to have around me is memorabilia. Basketball magazines, records on vinyl, books, action figures, jerseys. Anything that has a physical presence that reminds me of a certain period of time in life is always very inspiring to me, because it brings out the kid in me, which I think is very important in order to stay creative and open to doing new things.

I try to stay in that creative head space constantly, especially with the way everything is moving nowadays. Not necessarily in the literal meaning of the word ‘create,’ but more so to stay sharp and aware. Being aware and in tune with what’s going on, for me personally, it helps me keep my mind running and it always gives me a different perspective on things… Watching Rapsody work on her project for two years and taking her time with mastering it and perfecting it from every possible angle was a big teachable moment for me and it’s made me strive to approach everything that I do in the same manner.

Obviously, there have been moments where I’ve felt overwhelmed and burned out, particularly when I’ve had a few different things going on at the same time, and each one deserves and needs as much attention as possible. When each one is unique, that requires a lot of going back and forth from one space to another, and it can get messy. But I feel like it comes with the territory. Learning how to recognize and handle that has been important.

I’ve come to find out that actually stepping away and letting those ideas marinate is what brings a much needed clarity of vision and a different point of view. Taking a break, whether that’s going outside to have lunch with somebody, going to watch a movie, binge-watching a TV show, or just to have a few days chilling around in your sweats is a big key to keeping yourself motivated and inspired.

Above all, I really like solitude when I need to press the reset button. Not too long ago, I moved from Barcelona to New York and my go-to thing ever since has been just walking around the city as much and as often as possible. Especially at night, when it’s a bit more quiet and life slows down. Walking around the concrete jungle always has a good effect on me, the diversity it offers just has a way of refreshing your mind with so many new thoughts and ideas. Harlem, in particular, is one of my favorite places to explore.

For me, every artwork I’ve created, strikes a different feel in me, because it reminds me of a certain time period and experience. I think it’s good sometimes to take a step back and let things set in. As for anything outside of that, I think “Changing of The Guard” can be considered striking, probably because I personally think it can create many different conversations and discussions.

If there’s one thing I can give as advice, I’d probably say that surrounding yourself with the right people is something that’s vital. Having people around you who have the same mindset, share the same values and are striving to achieve just as much as you is what drives me, as well as it keeps my competitive spirits flowing.

“Time will take care of everything.”

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