By Lucia Viti
Grand/Prestoz merge art with commerce
Folks strolling the streets of Uptown have enjoyed the artistic talents of Grand/Prestoz, or as their friends call them, Oscar Rios and David Mondragon.
The creative duo has designed, painted and branded walls of all sizes and shapes on coffee shops, bars, breweries, boutique eateries, grocery stores, specialty retail and clothing stores in neighborhoods such as North Park, Hillcrest and Mission Hills. Even parking lots have been graced with Grand/Prestoz’s “environmentally graphic” numbers.
The team’s unique artistic niche is noted for “creating community engagement,” be it a logo, a sign or an artistic emblem. While Grand/Prestoz describe their art as abstract, geometrical and dimensional, most viewers express the grand designs in one word: “Wow!”
The native San Diegans met while attending classes at the City College. While kindling a friendship, they discovered their passion for creating anything and everything outside and big. An offer to paint a sign for a Chinese restaurant — a dragon — bred their business now celebrating its fifth year. The thriving mobile art gallery has grown by the size and scope of their projects. Many buildings scattered throughout San Diego County, as well as in Arizona and Los Angeles, have been beautified by a Grand/Prestoz makeover.
“We’re designers and painters,” Mondragon said. “We start with a paper or a computer sketch and work with the specifications, colors and techniques to create designs without falling into a specific style. We’ve grown project by project. We’ve been fortunate, we’ve met some really interesting people who’ve helped us to grow. Person after person, the walls just got bigger and bigger. We realize that we’ve accomplished our ideas. But we’ve worked really hard. We aimed to be doing what we’re doing. And I’m doing what I love.”
The self-described chronic doodlers and sketchers tout a grand scale portfolio that includes prominent Downtown buildings.
“We bring life to inanimate objects,” Rios said. “Our growth, popularity and expertise resulted from hands-on learning. One project led to another and with each project we just improved. We love super graphics — huge, 20-by-12-feet building designs. Luck may have played a little part in our rise. But a lot has to do with our own footwork. We had a vision. We had a goal. This was our goal.”
While working to sharpen their skills, the duo networks.
“We solicit business and business comes to us,” Rios said. “There’s also a lot of outreach to paint other people’s artwork. We love working with other artists to get different perspectives.”
“We love sharing work with other artists, painting what they sometimes don’t get to paint,” he added. “Painting an artistic design that’s not ours helps us to grow.”
While the pair’s artistic flair is certainly gifted, their staunch work ethic is as equally impressive. Determination once scheduled Grand/Prestoz to “every day, all day.” Today, they’ve scaled business hours to a “normal” Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“Our work ethic is devoted to time,” Mondragon said. “Time crunches get hectic. But we stick to the original plan — it has to look good.”
“Our work ethic is simple, whatever we do has to be done the right way,” Rios said. “Everything has to be completed to our liking.”
Projects are based on labor hours, square footage, levels of difficulty and sometimes, the awkwardness of working in angular and cramped spaces. Both agree that assignments “stream” in from references because “our clients are genuinely excited about our work.”
“High expectations and creative ideas work to our advantage,” Mondragon said.
As Grand/Prestoz continue to achieve local acclaim, humility and quality remain key to their due diligence as does expanding their team to artists who “think like us.”
“We agree that when something grows too big, there’s a chance for missing the intimacy and quality of the work,” Mondragon said.
They also support each other.
“David and I share the same mentality, this is what we want to do and this is how we’re going to do it,” Rios said. “There is no plan B. We make it work by supporting and encouraging each other. We make a good team. Our families are supportive and proud. My parents can see my vision now.”
“We’re personal artists who share a business that’s split between business and personal creativity,” Mondragon said.
Grand/Prestoz hope to put murals on San Diego’s biggest buildings.
“We both think San Diego needs huge murals and bigger artworks on skyscrapers like New York, San Francisco and Chicago,” Rios said. “My art — our art — will take us places.”
— Contact Lucia Viti at email@example.com.