Miami’s Underground: An In Depth Look At the 305’s Next Generation of Creators
Submitted by Gabriela Gratereaux
Miami, Florida: well known for its sandy beaches, tourist vibe, and tropical environment. With lots to do and see, it’s pretty hard to miss the strong community vibe that you’ll find everywhere in this enormous city. More and more each day this diverse city is constantly inspiring individualism in adolescents and young adults. Since the late 70's, the 305 (Miami’s area code) community of art lovers has been hosting successful underground shows displaying different types of art forms. But lately, more and more youngsters seem to be taking on the role of establishing complicated underground events for their peers to display their work, perform, and have a good time with other fellow artists. Most underground artists are usually part of individualistic or collective endeavors that represent a particular movement or have an underlying theme to benefit the common good like politics, freedom of expression, etc. Some of Miami's youngest and ambitious creators answered a few questions on what it means to be a young artist in Miami.
“I’m happy to be part of the local artist community in Miami, everyone is very supportive and nice so far! I'm excited to see what the future holds for all of us since we all have so many opportunities to grow.”
-Isabella Desbiollles, 20, photographer
“To me being a local artist in miami gives me passion and motivation. Miami is a place blooming with creative artists. Miami offers a lot.”
-Thomas Fonseca, 18, photographer and filmmaker
+ Do you think of yourself as more of a local artist or an underground artist, sticking to a certain philosophy and a movement?
“Well, I’d like to consider myself more of a leader of a movement that’s soon to expand past Miami. UNCOMMONKIND has members in Atlanta, Africa, Canada, and Los Angeles. Right now I’m more underground than local because I’m not really trying to stay local forever, you know? I believe my philosophy, when it comes to creating and existing in general: is that through my art, I’m constantly evolving myself and having my knowledge about the universe grow through that understanding of myself.”
-Julian Ocean Gomez, 15, visual artist, co-creator and member of art collective group UNCOMMONKIND
“I think of myself as more of an underground artist since I’m just beginning to showcase my work and underground goes more with my style anyway.”
-Valencia Bellot, 17, fashion designer, creator of Swankemon
+ How long have you been doing music/art? And how does Miami affect you and what you create?
“I’ve been doing art ever since I discovered my own personal style and I’m now branching out with my brand entitled ‘Swankemon’ so that’s really cool. Miami hasn’t really affected the work that I do because I find my inspirations through New York 90s hip hop and that’s what I grew up on but I definitely see local artists striving in Miami, whether its music, art, photography, design its for sure coming up and it’s cool being surrounded by people who have similar interests and just seeing Miami grow artistically is dope.”
-Valencia Bellot, 17
“I first learned how to start making songs on the ukulele and then transferred them to the guitar so when I got a classical guitar in the eighth grade, I started playing music and then in 9th grade my first band was ‘The Ruffans’ with the homie Ramon and some other homies and it was pretty fun. Then I started making music with Luis and that’s what we’ve been doing ever since so we’ve gone through three band names together. First Terramar, Paul Metto, and now Deux Pooch, and it’s just been a lot of fluctuating band members until now.”
-Gabriel Garlin, 21, musician, lead guitarist and vocals for indie rock band Deux Pooch
Are they any certain struggles you feel come with being a local artist?
“There is definitely a large community of artists and musicians who are under appreciated and are trying to make stuff happen to change that. A big thing for us is that we don’t have a social media presence and so we really only exist by word of mouth really so people that don’t know us don’t book us so we just play at a lot of homie events and just play less shows in general than other bands who maybe have a social media presence. For Deux Pooch we’ve been just holding off on it until we master the sounds we want in our music and also until we record stuff.”
-Luis Velasco, 21, musician, drummer for indie rock band Deux Pooch
“A struggle I feel like it is being a local artist is that there can be a lot of people who treat the scene like it’s competition and don’t remember art is about spreading the love. At events like pop up shows there can be this really bad vibe and it’s something I try to diffuse by spreading love”
"Being a local artist in such an artistic community is hard. Especially in photography, because anyone can pick up a camera and start taking photos (since in art is everything is valid). It is important to be authentic and to find a style that characterizes your work. That's something I'm still looking for today. Also, I was never surrounded by local artists, or young aspiring artists and I never grew up among them. I went to a very small high school in Coral Gables and no one really shared my passion so it's been really hard to move within the community with my art."
“Yeah. When it comes to my craft, which has a focus on fashion it’s quite hard to get people to go out of their comfort zone and purchase stuff that isn’t from a brand they know. I’ve had success with it though which is why I continue doing what I do. But if I have to be honest, a lot of people I know get disheartened by that fact and just stop producing work overall. But that doesn’t faze me as much, it certainly is a struggle, but not as bad as the one I have with myself and my constant need to be perfect and have everything look “right” in my own eyes. I am my own worst critic and it’s been very tough to enjoy my own work without looking at all the faults in it which has caused me to procrastinate often. Yet I carry on and it has made me stronger because I don’t get comfortable or have a huge ego about my art. So yes. Always make sure to love your work, but never stay too comfortable. Be on the lookout for improvement.”
-Kevin Gold, 20
“I do believe there are some struggles in being a small local artists as of right now, which is just the amount of time and effort it takes to really get where I’m trying to go. I have very very big goals, I’m really trying to shift the worlds consciousness to a point where I can save society in a way. Us as a society, are constantly distracted by entertainment to hide the fact that we are slaves to this nation.”
-Julian Ocean Gomez, 15
+ What does it mean to you to be a local artist in a thriving community like Miami?
"As if I'm in a time machine, the atmosphere and utter rawness of the Miami scene I'm apart of is definitely reminiscent of New York in the early 1980's. The space is so fresh and open to new ideas and ways of expression. It hasn't been commercialized to the point of tourism in Wynwood (a widely known part of the Design District in Miami), and I can say for a fact that the people of Miami rule the scene here. It's truly a beautiful thing watching it grow and prosper."
-Kevin Gold, 20, “BASTRALOX”, fashion designer, creator of clothing brand and collective Near Miss, member of art collective group UNCOMMONKIND
“Miami is a place full of open minded people, having a community like this makes it a lot easier to connect with other artists and collaborate. More people respect what you’re doing and see the vision.”
-Dionnys Moran,19, fashion designer, creator of clothing brand Chatnoir, member of art collective group UNCOMMONKIND
“We would say we are in the midst of trying to move out of just being a local artist to an underground artist, kind of try to spread our wave of music past Miami.”
-Hometown Losers, late teens & early 20s, emo-punk band
“I think of myself as an underground artist as I don't follow any movement but just my creativity and feelings which make my pictures one hundred percent me!”
-Isabella Desbiollles, 20
“I started dancing at a young age when my mom would put albums on, my whole high school career I’ve participated in the Miami Beach Senior High rock ensemble as the rapper, I’ve danced in the dance team, and did poetry as well. Miami affects me in a way that if I didn’t have Beach High, and the opportunities it has, I wouldn’t have continued doing what I love. There’s so much love in Miami and in the art scene, there can be lots of hate too, but if I wasn’t here I don’t know where I would be right now.”
-Dylan E. Somerville Hall,19, rapper, poet, dancer
“If I have to be honest. I started when I was very young but I hated doing it. I struggled with feelings of doubt and insecurity with art for a long time. Until a couple years back, let’s say almost 4 years ago, I got extremely serious about it because I realized that I used to doodle and draw things all the time, and had no other interest in anything else. So I stopped going against my destiny and decided to actually follow the path in life that has always been there for me, instead of standing at the crossroads, blank eyed and terrified of my future. In essence, I found that light in my life and I follow it to this day. My future has never been brighter, if I must say. The people I’ve met in Miami affect my work more than anything. Being surrounded with the friends I have made from UNCOMMONKIND has certainly pushed me farther than I ever could have gone by myself. I actually made it a goal of mine to become part of a group because I know I can’t do it all alone, and it’s just unwise to not be part of a movement when you’re an artist. The melancholic, lone wolf stereotype is so romanticized but it’s quite incorrect. It’s pointless to work in complete solitude forever, you need to be part of something, experience how others create, and interact with them. There’s no other way to grow as an artist. Although, there must be a balance, give time to yourself and your craft, do not force yourself to be motivated by others. It must come from inside you. Working with other people is just a benefit. It shouldn’t rule your creativity.”
- Kevin Gold “BASTRALOX”, 20
Do you see local art taking over the city in the future? And if you do, how do you feel about that?
“I do see local art taking over the city in the future because I see it happening now! I feel really blessed to be able to be a part of this thriving and creative community full of dope people.”
-Isabella Desbiollles, 20
“I definitely do see Miami growing as a hot spot for artists to become recognized, thanks to XXXTENTACION and a few others, and I’m planning to make the best out of that without selling out and being like every other artist, I believe in one of the most original artists out of the people I know, and I make sure to surround myself with people just like that, who are who they are and stay true to themselves.”
-Julian Ocean Gomez, 15
“I do see local art taking over the city, I think it’s beautiful that people put their vision out there. Art is a form of expression, it feels like the foreign minds of Miami are all speaking.”
“One of my few struggles I go through as a local artist is getting out there and coming out of my shell and show people what I can create. Like with everything in life, there is always going to be people that like what you create or not . But I can't let the negative opinions affect how I feel about my work.”
-Isabella Desbiollles, 20
“In terms of struggles in being a local artist would be trying to stick out in the crowd because with a scene that’s up and coming it makes it harder to stick out and show what we can offer. We try to have music that relates to people that feel like they don’t have a voice and just try our best to make people feel alive. We would be nothing without our fans and this amazing community! I mean at the end of they day we are just a bunch of losers haha.”
-Hometown Losers, emo-punk band
“There’s definitely a lot of struggles being a local artist, I don’t have all the resources that other people in the fashion industry have so it isn’t that easy, but that makes it so much better when I succeed.”
Our artist interviews collectively agreed that Miami has had a huge influence on how they grew as people/artists and how they get inspired. With all of these youngsters fresh out of high school, in the midst of college, or still in high school, the future is bright with their drive and many opportunities thanks to the art scene in this iconic city. From touring the states in bands, to going national in magazines and art galleries, the 305 will always make their hometown proud.
Gabriela Gratereaux, 17, is a female multi-media artist hailing from Miami Beach, Florida. Most of her work is inspired by her city’s atmosphere and environment. She has been published in Lithium Magazine, Creeper Magg, Pinstriped Magazine and others for her work capturing the feeling of what it means to be young and experimenting with color theory in her films and photography. You can contact her through email and check out some of her other work on her Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube.