Written & Photographed by Manuel Ramirez
It’s a hot California day in August, 106 degrees Fahrenheit to be exact. We are two days away from looking like Mustafar and one theme park expansion away from plunging into a Mouse dictatorship. Fortunately, we have refuge from the heat, with ice cold drinks and air conditioning (as no one will escape the Iron Glove). Our sanctuary comes in form of a backhouse; but this isn’t just any backhouse, it’s Ivan Corleone’s backhouse—The Backhouse Co.
What is the Backhouse? It’s a place of inspiration, concentration, conceptualization and creation. A place of birth; where Ivan can convert all of the creative synapses detonating in his head into something tangible. Whether it’s paint, pen, pencil or ink across metal, wood, canvas, paper or even digital presentation, The Backhouse is the culmination of a background in Graphic Design, Lettering, Illustration, Tattooing and a prolific mind.
I was fortunate enough to see him dwelling on an interesting project. He was working on a limited run of 4 hand-inked posters on cold press poster board lined with acrylic. The posters were plastered with lyrics specific to his frame of mind at the given moment. Of the four posters, Three were finished, one was sold to the family of the artist (Isaiah Rashad) and I was able to witness Ivan complete the fourth piece.
My thirst was quenched and the heat stroke that was following me around stayed outside with a three-panel reflector and a bottle of Coppertone. I was shooting all the beautiful hand lettered pieces hanging on the walls when Ivan yells, “Brain Blast!” or, “Hell yea, those are the lyrics!” (I’m pretty sure it was brain blast). Ivan grabbed his cold press poster board and began laying layers of yellow paint. Acrylic dries fairly fast but instead of watching paint dry we decided to wake up his pet dragon, an African House snake. The elegant serpent was a bit camera shy at first but once it shook off the grogginess, it struck a pose even the Lizard King couldn’t pull off.
Once the paint was hard Ivan began slashing away; his strokes were precise but fast. Technique was inherent; clean strokes followed by an intentional grunge pass. The process was brisk. While waiting on the ink to set, Ivan grabbed his sketchpad and commenced lettering; the creative process never stops at The Backhouse. The fourth and final poster containing “House Shoes” lyrics by Curren$y was finished and ready to hang. Creativity is a gift everyone has but only harnessed by few; The Backhouse is a creative sanctum that bleeds imagination. Just being at The Backhouse had my brain searching for innovation. Before setting foot outside this sanctuary I bid farewell to the dragon and packed my gear along with my belongings (the mouse would be angry had I forgotten my wallet containing my entry pass into his lair).
“House Shoes” lyrics by Curren$y (Yellow), “Crenshaw and Slauson True Story” by Nipsey Hu$$le (Cyan), “Father God” by IamSu! (Blue), and “Shot U Down” by Isaiah Rashad(Red).
You can see more of Ivan’s work at: