Christina Angelina is an internationally renowned artist who spray paints murals. We spoke while she was putting the finishing touches on a project in Aspen, Colorado.
How would you explain what you do?
I do large-scale figurative murals, or public art.
What are you currently working on?
I’m currently working on a mural in Aspen, Colorado. I’ve been wanting do a public art piece in Aspen for a while. Aspen has always had an outsider element. Hunter S. Thompson lived here and nearly became Sheriff! A lot of people in Aspen are open to trying new things.
How would someone recognize your work?
I rarely sign anything of mine because I have an aversion to advertising myself.
A signature takes away from the painting. I don’t want to jeopardize the piece in any way. You don’t always need to put a stamp on your art.
People who recognize my work already share it on social media anyway.
How do you choose your locations?
I drive around to remote places like the deserts of Arizona and New Mexico. I select places where my pieces can mesh and age with the environment. Once I find a spot I like, I’ll figure out who owns it and get their permission to paint.
I prefer to work on large outdoor walls. The bigger, the better. Cinderblock is my preferred texture but brick works too although it can be a bit too sandy.
While some of my work is commissioned, most of it self-funded. The lift itself can cost $2k, the paint up to $2,500.
Where do you get the ideas for your work?
I don’t spend a lot of time preparing. I concept on site. After I get get to a place, I feel it out. I create something that comes to me when I’m there.
What about the people in your murals?
The people in my pieces come from my imagination or from people on site. I’ll meet someone interesting at my destination and photograph them. However, I don’t paint entire bodies. I focus on the figurative stuff like faces and hands. The position of the object depends on the orientation of the wall. Most pieces get cut off by the brick.
How long does a piece typically take you?
One to three days depending on the size of the mural. I prepare the surface with primer first. Then I start painting at 8 AM and end at sunset. The one in Reno took me three days since it was 85 feet tall and 40 feet wide.
I’ve been working on more pieces than ever this year. I’ve learned some techniques that help me work faster and smarter. I match my colors to paint sprayers beforehand which expedites the process. I also let the paint drip with water. But most of my efficiency comes from knowing which colors will work for highlights and shadows.
Where did you get your training?
I developed my skills over time. I grew up in Venice, CA and started drawing and painting as far back as I remember. But I started experimenting in my teens. I went to art centers in high school, taking photography classes, finger drawing, and film. I studied printmaking at UCLA. I’m classically trained in oil painting and photography.
What is the piece of work you are most proud?
The piece I’m most proud of is the Kinetoscope, a tank in Slab City, Utah. It’s a post-apocalyptic area inhabited by squatters. I really wanted to paint something special there that aged with the City but also didn’t interrupt the peace.
I really connected with the space. The people that see it seem to feel the magic as well.
Who inspires you or who do you look up to?
My muses are the people that I care about the most: my friends and family. My work is also inspired by the people I meet at my mural destinations.
Of course, other street artists inspire me too. We all encourage each other.
Where can people find you next?
I’ll be attending Burning Man for my 14th consecutive year. I also have a few art shows coming up in Los Angeles so be sure to check them out.
You can find out more about Christina’s work online here: