Wrabel is a singer, songwriter, musician and artist based in Los Angeles.
In collaboration with Ben Heslop from Landmark Street Art in the UK, Wrabel released his art on November 8th.
The American artist explores his feelings and emotions through honest pieces of art that anyone can relate to.
“We're all feeling the same things. For different reasons, and in different places, but the feelings are the same,” says Wrabel.
Wrabel’s first release is now available on the Landmark Street Art’s website.
Introduce yourself. What's your story ?
Oh boy. My name is Stephen Wrabel. I go by "wrabel" I guess. I'm twenty something... for now. I’m a songwriter. and a singer. and I guess an artist? ha! News to me. Hmm I was born in New York, in Long Island. I moved around a lot. Maybe 15 times. I grew up mostly in northern California and in Houston, Texas. And I've lived in LA for almost 11 years.
When did you start feeling connected to art in general?
To be honest it's a world I don’t know very well. My earliest memory of art is from middle school. I remember going to a museum and seeing Rene Magritte's "The False Mirror" and like staring at it too long. Like the rest of the kids were in the next room and I was just staring into it like whoa. This is special. I consider music art as well though... I mean I donno. There's art everywhere. That's really cliche and lame maybe but sometimes if a barista makes latte art I’m sitting there like about to cry like OMG THEY PUT A HEART HOW DID THEY DO THAT, THAT IS BEAUTIFUL.
When did you start drawing?
I used to draw this one image when I was a little kid. Grass and a single tree and a sun in the corner and a couple of clouds and birds in the sky. ha. I'm not much better than that now! But I started drawing a lot shortly after getting sober this last time. Almost four years ago.
You’ve just released your art for the first time. What does it mean for you?
I. can't. believe. it ??? I’m quite anxious and nervous about it really. It's just out of my comfort zone. Like a song...lyrics...melodies. I'm ok in that world. I've been doing it for over a decade. So I'm like ok I know I'm not AWFUL. But I'm really... proud? I think I’m proud of myself. For stepping out of my comfort zone and trying something. Just trying.
You are collaborating with Landmark Street Art, a gallery in the UK, how did you hear about this gallery? When did you decide to work together?
Ayyy. I got in touch with Ben Heslop (the owner of the gallery) when I was purchasing a David Shrigley piece I've always wanted. I loooove his "It's ok" pieces. And Ben had one in the gallery and I was emailing him late one night. We ended up just chatting. About art and David Shrigley and just random stuff. Maybe 5 emails into the conversation (it was now like 3am for me), I decided to send him some of my stuff. I just felt a little pull or push or nudge to send. And so ok this is in no way me being shady but then the conversation s t o p p e d . ha!!! I eventually fell asleep. A few days went by. Me figuring I’m just awful. Even worse than I ever thought possible. hahah. It's funny what your brain does to you. He emailed me back and it started with an apology that he'd been away with family on holiday. And then there were lots of !!! And lots of CAPS LOCK and I just felt lots of excitement. I cried. Of course. And screenshotted it and sent it to my manager Amanda. I was just like whoa. So Ben and I got on a Facetime the next day and we chatted. And here we are.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
My head! And my heart! I donno like I started drawing these little words and silly pictures to purge out feelings. That felt overwhelming. If I wanted to drink or smoke or just had a bad urge to do something harmful, I would write stuff down. Or draw sad little stick figures. Something about a childish thing like a stick figure expressing something really dark and really real struck me. And felt like me. My favorite adjective anyone has ever used to describe me is "whimsical". I like to think my work is that.
What do you want people to feel when seeing your work?
I hope people relate. The coolest thing has been seeing people tag their friends or significant others in my posts of it. It seriously makes me cry. I make things that are me...like I am in the moment feeling something and will jot down an idea, etc. So to know people can relate and connect to it not only means they may like my work, but also very literally means I'm not alone. and neither are they. We're all feeling the same things. For different reasons, and in different places, but the feelings are the same.
You are also a singer/songwriter. Did your experiences as a songwriter help you shape the art you are creating today? If yes, in what way?
For sure. When I started making these lil guys it kinda started from me just writing down some of my favorite lyrics. And then I would write down lyrics of a song I maybe wrote that day. I write so many songs. Like too many I don't even wanna think about it cos the numbers written vs released are heartbreaking aha. So I started writing down lyrics of songs I thought may never be heard. As a way of still purging that feeling or thought. And of offering some sort of connection with the idea behind it. My art has inspired my songwriting and vice versa.
You did the artworks for your songs “11 Blocks” and “The Village”. What made you want to create these specific artworks yourself?
These two songs are so so close to my heart. I just knew I didn’t want the artworks to be some glamour shot of me. So I wanted to do something that was still me. Was still mine. But wasn't like hey here I am in a great suit with my hair done up fancy.
When did you realize your drawings had an impact on people's lives?
I guess the biggest thing here was seeing people tattooing them on their bodies. You mentioned "11 Blocks" and "The Village". I've seen tattoos of both. crazy. it blows my mind. and some of my other drawings. One person got one tattooed over self harm scars. That made me sob. It just melted my heart. And it really stays with me. I can see it when I close my eyes.
What’s the hardest thing about being an artist? And what is the best thing?
The hardest thing is maybe having no idea if anyone will like it??? And maybe the best thing is the freedom. You can create whatever you want.
What advice(s) would you give to anyone who'd like to pursue a career in the artistic field?
Hmm. Do it! If there’s nothing else that makes you feel like yourself. Also if you have to supplement it with a side gig or a day job, do it. Try and give yourself freedom to create without pressure.
Click on the photo below to discover and purchase Wrabel’s art.