When most people think of the Everglades, images of swampy marshes and alligators usually come to mind. Thoughts of endangered wildlife and ecosystems might conjure unsettling machinations. For muralist and illustrator Marlon Preuss, or simply Marlon Pruz to his peers, the Everglades is a place of calm and endless inspiration.
In the second part of our artist series with Vans UltraRange spotlighting three singular creatives and their individual journeys to seek inspiration through nature, we follow Pruz through his hometown in Miami to discover how Florida’s unique surroundings affect and inform his work. Pruz has been slowly generating buzz in Miami’s sprawling art scene for a couple of years now and his specialty as a fine art muralist has earned him a place among the city’s fastest rising stars.
“What inspires me about Miami is that it’s a perfect blend of the United States and Latin America.”Marlon Pruz
For Pruz, who was born and raised in Miami Beach, Florida, being artistically inclined came naturally almost since birth. “I was born an artist. Ever since I could lift up a crayon I was drawing all over the walls of my parents’ house,” Pruz admits. Ever since then he was always enrolled in art programs and would be daydreaming and designing his own worlds.
But Pruz stresses that getting to this point in his career had its own challenges. While he was still attending art school in New York, he battled demons that many artists eventually face in their coming-of-age: self-doubt. “All my teachers made it seem that making a living as an artist is almost an impossible thing to do, that there wouldn’t be any opportunities for everyone,” explains Pruz. “As I’ve gained more experience, I realized that opportunities for artists are abundant and that there are no rules to how you choose to create your art.”
“I take a lot of influence from the streets, and skateboarding, but I also take [inspiration] from neoclassical art, directors, movies.”Marlon Pruz
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At any one time Pruz’s studio is filled with myriad tools, mediums, and paints that he uses to create the realistic and highly intricate elements that go into his work. Unconventional materials like laundry detergent and White-Out are just some of the instruments in Pruz’s arsenal that helps bring his creations to life.
“Art, there’s no rules, there’s no limits. You can use anything as a paintbrush and anything as an art material.”Marlon Pruz
While Miami is typically associated with the glitz of South Beach nightlife, Pruz tends to connect more with natural surroundings, like the tranquil Everglades nearby that’s only a short drive away. “I love to travel and meet different people, different realities inspire my art a lot,” Pruz explains. “Interacting with a different point of view really helps to guide my art.” He builds on this idea to create a totem painting that’ll eventually live the course of its life within the marshes of the Everglades itself, not unlike the real totem poles Native American tribes have been creating in South Florida for nearly 200 years.
“When I go and create in nature, I leave the urban life behind and get infinite inspiration. There’s a whole other reality that exists there, a whole other ecosystem.”Marlon Pruz
Pruz’s art and style is a mixture of many different stages of his life. The first artist he really gravitated towards as a youth was Salvador Dali, and at the age of five he discovered that he loved surrealism. “As I grew a little older I fell in love with the art of video games, graphic novels, animation, skateboarding, and rap music,” Pruz admits. “As I started to do art full time, I looked more into historical art from different periods such as baroque ceiling murals, classical ornament, and poster design from different eras.”
The scenes, characters, and colors along with street culture in Miami helped Pruz develop the intricate style that he’s known for today. But his style is always changing, and what he takes inspiration from one day is completely different from what he takes the next.
“The tribes that have lived in nature and the Everglades before me have all left their mark. Totem poles that were built hundreds of years ago are still around, so it’s my modern-day cave painting that I leave for someone else to find.”Marlon Pruz
Follow Marlon’s journey as he takes us through the Everglades for an intimate installation through the Florida marshes, and stay tuned for the third and final part of our Vans Artist Series highlighting radical street artists ICY and SOT. If you missed part one of the series, you can check out our feature on LA-based painter Maxwell McMaster here.
- Executive Producer: Highsnobiety & Vans
- Creative Strategist: Susanne Biermeir & Alexa Di Benedetto
- Project Manager: Amy Tran
- Production Company: Greenpoint Pictures
- Director: Nina Meredith
- Director of Photography: Sean Lyness
- Producer & Photographer: Phil Staiman
- Editorial: WAX
- Editor: Alvaro del Val
- Assistant Editor: Matt Elias
- Color Grade: Nice Shoes
- Colorist: Phil Choe
- Final Audio: Heard City
- Mixer: Jodi Levine