Manhattan Beach street artist Mazzy makes an impact with his inspiring political art
The next Banksy?
- Written & Photographed byKat Monk
Mazin Darwaza MacGregor, known as Mazzy, was born locally at Cedars-Sinai hospital in 1998 before moving to Austin, Texas, and then back to Manhattan Beach the summer before he began middle school. As the child of creative parents with their own incredibly unique stories, Mazzy was destined for an artistic career.
His mother is a producer/storyteller, born to Palestinian refugees and raised in Saudi Arabia until she moved to the United States at age 14 to attend high school and college. Mazzy’s dad is an advertising creative director and art director who perpetually moved across the U.S. during his childhood.
“I started creating art when the politics of the U.S. was kind of shifting. There is a lot of hate in the media. I like to try and bring that out and use it for something good, and sometimes it is comedic.”
Mazzy credits his father for opening the doors to the art world for him. As a child growing up in Austin—a city known for its distinct art scene—Mazzy tinkered with making films with friends, but it was never something he took very seriously. Almost 10 years ago Mazzy’s dad, Scott MacGregor, introduced him to the British documentary film Exit Through the Gift Shop by Banksy, the British street artist who has been commercially successful while keeping his identity completely private despite being at the forefront of the street art movement.
Reluctant to watch the film at first, Mazzy considers that viewing a pivotal moment for him. After watching the film countless times, Mazzy developed a vision of the art he wanted to create. As a 10-year-old kid with limited knowledge of how to get started, he relied on his father to help him actualize his vision. Mazzy and his dad set out to learn how to stencil together.
Mazzy’s art is political in nature and utilizes mixed media—including stencils, spray paint and newspapers. “I started creating art when the politics of the U.S. was kind of shifting. There is a lot of hate in the media. I like to try and bring that out and use it for something good, and sometimes it is comedic,” shares Mazzy.
Scott adds, “As Mazzy developed, he weaved current social issues into his art. His art has purpose and intent and is created to question our current reality.”
Mazzy attributes his unique vision, in part, to being self-taught and not formally trained. “Growing up in the South Bay gave me an individualistic point of view that helped me develop my own style,” he explains.
It wasn’t until he took AP art as a junior at Mira Costa that the community got an opportunity to view Mazzy’s artwork publicly. With the help of his teacher, Mrs. Heredia, Mazzy had his first art opening at the Mira Costa high school gallery with almost 45 pieces of art. He sold his first piece of art for $7, and his highest sale to date has been $1,400 at a ShockBoxx gallery showing last summer in Hermosa Beach. Not bad for a teenager.
“What I really appreciate about Mazzy’s work is that there is a playfulness mixed in with really smart political commentary,” says ShockBoxx’s Mike Collins. “I totally dig that we can see him nodding to other artists but that he has added his own voice to the mix. There is something unique in the way Mazzy plays with layers of different media and how he uses this to make a statement. He has a voice, and it is inspiring. I can see his work helping inspire change.”
Mazzy is now a freshman at the University of California, Santa Barbara in the college of creative studies. The program is unique for a big state school in that it recognizes talent early on and only selects a handful of students each year.
Last summer Mazzy got the opportunity to create a mural in Venice behind the clothing store Aviator Nation just off Abbot Kinney. The mural stands 10×20 feet and exhibits all the methods Mazzy has developed in an accumulative manner, spanning the length of his artistry. If you are in Venice, be sure to check it out.
Mazzy is very comfortable showing his art at galleries and has moved away from actual street art for the time being so he can focus more on his studio pieces while he is in college.
“Mazzy is a totally cool cat,” says Mike. “He shows up prepared and ready to mix it up at shows. That is rare for many artists—and especially rare for a younger artist. It is scary enough to put your work on the wall, but to stand in a crowd and talk about it, hear about it and connect with artists and buyers … that’s potentially terrifying. I’ve watched him successfully work the crowd on several occasions. He’s got it all, including the fact that he always shows up with a great posse in tow!”
Kevin McCollister is about as unassuming as artists come. He’s quiet, has peppery gray hair and is dressed comfortably in jeans and a sweatshirt when we meet up. But what you can’t miss about him is the camera in tote; he’s just spent the morning photographing the streets of Boyle Heights.