Before a recent move to Joshua Tree, artist Adam Villacin had lived his whole life in Los Angeles — including 7 years in the Silver Lake district. We’re big fans of Adam’s intricate, ink-based illustrative style, having already featured him on our blog with his sick pair of DIY Docs. So we were thrilled when he agreed to create a mural for our newest LA store — and even more thrilled when he shared his favorite Silver Lake spots with us. Keep scrolling for Adam’s guide to Silver Lake, our newest neighborhood — and to see our new mural.
How long did you live in Silver Lake before moving to Joshua Tree?
I moved into my wife’s place in Silver Lake a month or so after we started dating. She had been there for years already, and we lived there together for 7 more, until our family outgrew it. We left when our son turned 1 and our apartment was too small to make work anymore.
Talk to us about Silver Lake…what does it mean to you?
It’s crazy how much Silver Lake has changed in the last few years. So many of my old memories of the neighborhood happened in places that no longer exist, or have completely transformed. Some places that hold that familiarity for me are Cliff’s Edge Cafe, Cafe Stella, The Satellite (but I knew it best as Spaceland), and Silver Lake Lounge. Other cool spots are Forage, Trois Familia and of course, the namesake reservoir. There are also a bunch of incredible examples of midcentury architecture, including the easily accessible Neutra House.
Tell us what a perfect day in Silver Lake would be like for you.
I would wake up early and get to Sqirl before the line gets too nuts, load up on coffee and pastries. Then I’d head up the road to visit Charlie and get in touch with culture at Virgil Normal. Then I’d make my over to Sunset Junction (a name for the street junction of Sunset Boulevard and Santa Monica Boulevard) to buy some axes and knives at the Army Navy store before cutting across the street to Secret Headquarters. They are the best comic book shop in the world, and they carry a great assortment of zines, art books, and groovy European stuff from the 70s that inspires me more than anything. If this is a perfect day, I’d go get a massage at The Now, followed by donuts from Dr. Martens’ new neighbor Blue Star, and a walk to the meadow to read some comics. Dinner is hush puppies and oysters from L&E Oyster Bar, followed by drinks at Tenants of the Trees.
How much is your illustration style informed by current events? How much of it is informed by a sense of place?
I have been working on a series of illustrations that are based on how we, as Americans in 2018, absorb the news, and I try to address what that even means. More of my work is based on cultural events or happenings that have already occurred, with a subtext of relating it to the modern condition. I’m sure I make more work about Los Angeles than I would if I hadn’t lived there my entire life, but I haven’t really felt of much of the desert creep into my work yet. Or maybe it has, and I haven’t noticed yet.
What was the inspiration behind your mural? What was it like to go large-scale vs. your regular ink illustration?
What I wanted to address in the mural I created for Silver Lake Docs store was the history of Silver Lake. I lived there after its transformation into a safe and wealthy neighborhood. My favorite parts of it were the remnants of the Silver Lake past, the one I never knew. Silver Lake was an important neighborhood for many people before its current iteration. It was a place of proud history for both gay and Latinx culture. It had a seedy history as a place with gang violence, and needles lining the sidewalks. And, of course, it has a rich history of music, being the birthplace and landing zone for so many bands and scenes. I tried to be as inclusive to those histories as possible in my piece.
On a technical level, it was really fun scaling up from my regular desk-sized work. I’m not sure it was much different as I was creating it, but the end result is more commanding. I look forward to working larger more often in the future.
Check out Adam’s latest illustrations on Instagram: @adamvillacin