Chaos, growth, enlightenment — three words that best do justice to the phenomenon that is ComplexCon. Going on its third year, the highly-anticipated festival successfully took over the Long Beach Convention Center on November 3 and 4, for two days of pure mayhem and entertainment.
Written By: Shirley Ju
November 16, 2018
Somehow embodying and offering all aspects of today’s culture — music, food, fashion, sneakers, sports, activism, and education — ComplexCon lives up to its mission statement of empowering the individual, no matter your status. So I felt comfortable walking the halls of Long Beach Convention Center knowing conscious creatives like Pharrell Williams and Jaden Smith were doing the same.
The event, usually known for its all-star lineup of performers, featured Rae Sremmurd and Vince Staples. It also contained educational and informative Complex(Con)versations meant to inspire attendees. This year, eccentric entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk gave advice to self-funded business owners, showrunner Lena Waithe spoke about breaking barriers in the entertainment industry and Louis Vuitton Creative Director Virgil Abloh blessed the hypebeasts in attendance with his presence.
But to me, one of the best parts of ComplexCon was and always is the art gallery. This year there was a wide range of talent, which included everyone from Uzumaki Cepeda to legends like Takashi Murakami, who is best known for creating Kanye West’s iconic 2007 Graduation cover. With the Japanese contemporary artist’s work showcased in most of the prominent museums in Los Angeles, it was only right for his influential work to be displayed at ComplexCon as well.
Walking by Mariella Angela’s booth was almost impossible to pass up. The Norwalk-native, who found her passion by creating oil paintings of all the biggest names in Hip-Hop, is a walking testimony for anybody with a dream.
Angela stated, “I’m happy that I was able to allow people not only to see the paintings, but to experience the environment I create in. It’s kind of wild that someone like me is able to be a part of something huge (with no sponsors) so I just want to share my soul and passion while I’m here.”
She added, “Anything is possible really, it’s wild.”
While Angela comes out on top as a strong Asian-American in an industry dominated by white males, visual artist and designer Louis De Guzman does the same. When I met the Chicago-native, he stood proudly next to his life-size “Elevate” vinyl figurine.
Guzman stated, “ComplexCon is dope and I love doing this kind of stuff because I grew up on the scene. It’s more so about having an effect on the kids (the future) and telling them that they can be whatever or whoever they want to be.”
He adds, “For me being second generation Asian-American, my parents came here from the Philippines in search of a better life. They always supported me, so I feel like it’s my duty to really live up to what they wanted from me and beyond.”