On Saturday, August 27, prolific street artist and entrepreneur Sand One painted one of her signature “doll” character on the Carlsbad Art Wall (CAW) located on the east facing wall of Señor Grubby’s in the Carlsbad Village.
Fans of Sand promptly arrived at the CAW on Saturday, but were surprised to find a blank wall with no sign of the visiting artist. Due to the overwhelming response to a recent product launch on her website, Sand was stuck in her LA based studio fulfilling 1,000+ orders of her newly released art themed air-fresheners.
Sand arrived at the CAW on Sunday as a steady fan base of Latina women trickled in. Before she had time to unpack her supplies, a large crowd had gathered. Sand’s social media audience of 85,000+ followers on Instagram, and just as much on all other social channels, watched Sand’s every move through an ongoing stream of daily updates. They know her favorite foods, her beliefs, her art’s story and a slew of personal stories some might sheepishly share to only the closest of friends. Sand is an open book and her followers read every single word.
Sand, a 5ft. tall Mexican woman from East LA wore short jean shorts and a tight bodysuit showcasing one of her signature “doll” characters, is a personality made for the stage. Her thick Mexican accent can be heard at all times sharing stories, personal beliefs and jokes, all which the growing crowd of loyal fans listen to very closely.
Sand’s art and humor is not the only reason why the growing crowd had a smile throughout the day. Many of Sand’s fans, if not all, have triumphed through difficult times in their lives because of Sand’s empowering message behind her art. Sand encourages women to leave abusive relationships, start their own businesses and take control of their lives. The gratitude behind the dozens of smiles that surrounded Sand even before she sprayed a single color on the bare wall is in itself a piece of art.
Lucky assistants are chosen from the crowd. They celebrate this heightened position from just a fan to a team member and instantly begin organizing the colorful spray cans from the front line. There is an unspoken competition for Sand’s attention. This promotion secures a full day of privileged status—one which Sand will always remember.
While the chosen helpers excitedly worked, Sand inquired about Carlsbad. Within seconds, and without a preliminary sketch, Sand decided on a mermaid. She bounced around the wall in an eruption of creativity while outlining her character. After only minutes and within a cloud of dust and paint fumes, her composition was mapped, her cans were organized, and she was back off the wall in full conversation with the newest arrivals.
Every artist approaches large scale painting in the public space differently. Some put on their headphones diving deep into their own isolated world whiles others acknowledge spectators with a polite nod and short introduction. Sand is an anomaly. She aggressively sought out meaningful conversations, often leaving the wall in the midst of creative outbursts. She continuously worked on memorizing each of the many names that watched her every move and she learned of their backgrounds, their hardships and their personal triumphs—responding quickly with brash advice—all gladly accepted.
The steady flow of fans continued to arrive throughout the day. While Sand made progress on her design, adding hints of shadows and highlights, the crowd thickened. As if Sand had eyes in the back of her head, she twirled away from the wall and identified each of the newest arrivals, many whom awaited with gifts of Sand’s favorite almond milk, flowers and an assortment of food neatly packaged to Sand’s liking. Being called out by Sand is something of a rite of passage—the moment you graduate from an online follower, or even a collector, to a mural assistant who will forever be part of one of Sand’s creations.
Sand grabbed a black spray can and began outlining her character—bringing it to life with exaggerated eyelashes, oversized eyes and bright plump lips. The crowd cheered with each new eyelash, many fans shared that those are their favorite part. The womanly figure came to life in a colorful combination of cartoon and comic aesthetics.
Sand has always been an artists since she was a child. She first found inspiration from Michael Turner comic books on the shelves of the grocery store she would frequent with her family as a young girl. This early inspiration was found in the sexy female characters of Turner’s Fathom and Witchbalde. Her “dolls” including the one that she continued to paint between conversations, reflect these early inspirations, along with influences of her heritage in a Mexican family growing up in East LA.
The mural was completed with a quick signature, the same one that currently dries on the shirts, phones and roller-skates of the many watching fans. Sand proclaimed her finished mural to the crowd, as well a to her SnapChat audience, and was greeted with a loud roar of applause. Each fan got a welcomed opportunity to state their name on Sand’s live social media feed.
Sand is an artist, a rock star, a performer, an entrepreneur and a therapist. She is one of the most prolific artists in LA with murals around every corner and an online store her team can’t keep stocked. She can be credited for empowering woman all over LA, possibly saving lives in the process. She has mastered the art of human interaction producing passionate followers through meaningful conversations. Sand is 100% real and tells it as it is. Her confidence is borderline arrogant; her advice is brash and her forwardness is intimidating—and her army of fans love it!