[intro-text size=”25px”]Hip-hop music is blaring at a deafening decibel, the clock is slowly crawling into the wee hours of the morning. Red Bull cans are stacking up as a cigarette burns to the filter in a nearby ashtray and in the background a foreign film dances across the TV screen. Amidst the chaos sits Fred Lozano, 23-year-old Cleveland native art director/ graphic designer, toiling away on his latest artistic vision. To most, this computer screen illuminated room would be stressful disarray, but for Lozano it is an integral part of his creative process.[/intro-text]
Lozano may not be a household name, but when his work has been recognized by Drake, various Cleveland Cavaliers players and GOOD Music (Kanye West’s label) while maintaining a client list that includes The Weekend, DJ E-V, Luol Deng, ANTHM, Blu, Tevon Rease, Sony RCA Records and Souljaboy, it is easy to understand why it should be. While Lozano’s clientele list includes so many recognizable names one would think that he had been formally training for years. However, quite the contrary, Lozano never studied graphic design or for that matter even attended high school art courses. He is 100% self-taught.
In middle school, Lozano learned how to use Flash CS6 for fun with no grandiose plan in mind other than being a kid and wanting to find something to do with his buddies. “I just wanted to make weird cartoons with my friends.” To date, Lozano has taught himself how to use Photoshop/ 3D, Illustrator, Flash CS6 and Cinema 4D. Time after time, he was studying these various design tools out of enjoyment and searching for a creative outlet.
After barely graduating from Berea High School due to “not being the greatest at attending it,” Lozano paid the bills by bartending. Yet, he realized he did not want to work in the service industry forever. “I basically boxed myself into a corner and needed to come up with a creative way to survive.” The timing couldn’t be more perfect when Tevon Rease, local rapper and friend, approached him to help him with a mixtape cover. Lozano admits that when the final product was posted he thought it was terrible. However, much to his surprise, suddenly other hip-hop artists began reaching out in hopes that he would create their respective album covers. That single mixtape cover became the stepping stone that led Lozano down the path to his future career. Even though Lozano was confident he had discovered his path he did not give up on his day job right away, but when he finally did, “it was the most terrifying and best thing ever.”
In the past two years ago, Lozano’s notoriety has rapidly increased. His hobby has since turned into television and print features on Complex, ESPN, VH1, The Plain Dealer and more. Needless to say, with his one man run shop and 50+ clients, the days seem more like 72 hours rather than 24, but Lozano is determined to, “be the green in a black and white world.” One of the biggest challenges however, is not his lack of formal classes or technique, but rather the ability to maintain his own voice and not allowing himself to become a “product.” Today there are lots of people who fancy themselves designers because they learned a few tricks from YouTube, but Lozano does not want to be spitting out mindless work that does not carry his true point of view. He notes that the best thing he could tell an aspiring designer, especially one who does have to rely on their own ambitions to master their technique, is to do something new, “go against the wave. I’d rather create a wave than ride one out.”
When Lozano is not working on a commissioned piece he is teaching himself new skills to further his designs, or jet setting to Miami to work with various hip-hop artists. He sparks his passion and maintains his commitment by keeping himself hungry. Failure is not an option for Lozano. In fact, it is his greatest inspiration. Lozano’s end goal has never been simply ‘Art by Fred.’ He has always held a much larger determination: film. “If I don’t do film, I’ll be pissed. Film is the motivation. I tell myself ‘keep learning so you can make films and create what you want.’” Lozano is still learning every day, so all he can do is continue to, “be original and succeed- don’t accept failure.” When can you expect to see a feature film by this Cleveland wunderkind? According to Lozano “Deadlines are bad for creativity. If it happens it happens, if it doesn’t try again.” That is the type of attitude that has kept Lozano’s clientele list growing, his work flourishing and will maintain his eminent hold on the art world. The surface of his vision has only been scratched. His vision and what comes next will only be even more captivating.