Javier H. M. Ruiz
Artist and Muralist, Los Angeles & Pereira
Javier H. M. Ruiz was born and raised in Colombia, and he immigrated to Los Angeles when he was 10. He began drawing at age 9 when he copied one of his dad’s paintings, and a few years later he developed an interest and affinity for graffiti and mural painting. He grew up on Spanish music, boleros, salsa, cumbia but was introduced to hip hop in the 90’s by his uncle before even learning English. Javi started a non-profit organization called Herr Foundation that focuses on livening low-income schools in South American with murals as well as fixing the infrastructure. On this trip he visited cities in Ecuador and Colombia and is planning to return soon.
Where did you go on your trip and how long were you there?
I first went to Colombia and then to Ecuador, and then Back to Colombia and Then to Los Angeles, and Then back to Ecuador and Colombia, lol. I was there a total of 8 months in 2017.
A few words about your trip?
Been traveling to south America every summer and sometimes for longer periods of time in the past 4 years, to paint murals and graffiti. Starting a non-profit based out of L.A. that focuses on helping out low income schools, for now in South America. Going to South America basically means going back home for me, when ever I’m in the States I feel like I’m on vacation. Traveling is always exciting, especially visiting new places like in the first half of photos, they were taken in parts of Ecuador I was visiting for the first time. Super nervous the whole time I was taking the photos, I just pressed the little button hoped for the best jaja.
You grew up in Pereira, Colombia and moved to LA at age 10. Can you compare and contrast the cities for us? How have the differences in both cities influenced you, your hobbies, lifestyle?
I was born near Bogota, but grew up in Pereira. Completely different places, Bogota is the big city, cold weather, full of people, fast. Pereira is much smaller, tropical weather, with really mellow and friendly people. Ive been visiting both through out the years, so they have definitely influenced the person I am today, I like to think that I'm a mellow, friendly, city loving, nature addict type of guy. Not only have these two cities influenced my character, but artistically as well, in a major way, specially once I added Los Angeles to that mix.
How were graffiti and mural painting introduced into your life?
I found out about Graffiti in 8th grade, but didn't get into it until freshmen year of high school, and each year I kept getting more serious about it. Murals, I started painting about 2 years ago, 2016 was my break out year I would say, with a huge El Chavo Mural I did in East L.A.
What led you to start Herr Foundation? What sort of projects do you have in mind for the new initiative?
I was given the opportunity to come to the United States, now I am creating an opportunity to give back to my country of origin, and eventually other countries, there are many schools and kids that can use our help. For now Herr Foundation is focusing on getting murals to these low income schools, as well as fixing the schools, infrastructure is my biggest concern. Along with fun, educational projects along the way. While getting as many artists, creatives and volunteers involved.
Do you have any upcoming trips? If so, where?
I'm already planning my next trip yes, back to Colombia and Ecuador, lol, I have so much work to do there. And possibly, hopefully, Mexico city!
For some reason Quito, but I can say the same about L.A and Bogota
What are your plans for this weekend?
Help my lawyer paint his house. Hopefully party and bs too lol
Too many, but Makeba by Aceyalone right now.
Right or left handed?
Ambidextrous, except when throwing a football far lol
What is the best dish you can cook?
What is your middle name?
wow. Hated it growing up, because my sis and uncle would make fun of it for no reason… Humberto
What do you do in your free time?
Play hacky sack
What inspires you?
What do you do for money?
A little bit of this, alittle bit of that. But mainly work at a print shop and paint signs/murals.
What do you do for pleasure?
Lay down do nothing while on Netflix or something..when I can
What do you usually eat for breakfast?
Oatmeal with fruits, avocado toast
If you could live in a different era?
Mid 70’s- mid 80’s
Favorite fictional character?
Hmm.. spider man, but only because I would paint a lot of walls with his skills.
Time travel is suddenly possible, when/where do you go?
Early 20th century Paris, France. Art was popping off back then.
Your idea of happiness?
Rooftop garden and studio basement at my house in Colombia
Your idea of misery?
Not being able to paint
If not yourself, who would you be?
Picasso, Frida Kahlo, Fernando Botero, so many more painters.
What is your present state of mind?
… Forget everyone, Get money Lol, for my non-profit
Bedside table books?
The house of the spirits.. buncha art books.
What do you do if you can’t sleep at night?
Ask gf to scratch my back lol
Do you collect?
Coins, stickers I guess.
Tea or coffee?
Coffee in the morning, tea at night
What is the strangest thing you believed as a child?
That if I ate an orange seed, an orange tree would start growing out of my head jaja