Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Javier Guillen invites you to "GoEastLos"

If you've spent any time on Instagram, you might have come across the account belonging to Javier Guillen, a 31 year old East L.A. native, who just won LA Weekly's "Best Instagrammers Award". In the words of one, “Murals, street scenes, people, details and even Jack White’s recent pop-up show at Mariachi Plaza? Javier has it covered, con sabor.” We appreciate Javier's love for his community and like him, we wanted to share it with you.We ask him a few questions about it and are sure by the end of this interview you'll have that sudden urge to @GoEastLos.

First off, Javier, congratulations on winning LAWeekly's Web Award for best Instagram account. That's got to be exciting right? What was it like getting the nomination then the news that you won? 

This whole LA Weekly/Instagram experience has been craaazy. I was very excited to just be nominated and mentioned by the LA Weekly. For the most part of my life I’ve looked forward to Thursdays (the day the LA Weekly comes out) to read about the cool stuff going on in/around Los Angeles and I would especially love to read about other Angelenos and the way they’ve stood out in their communities. I’ve been very influenced by this paper. So, to be mentioned by the LA Weekly and interviewed by LA Weekly Editor and Chief Sarah Fenske has been surreal. Then, when I actually won the Best Instagram award, dude,that just blew my mind.

Instagram is a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Pictures of food, cars, sunsets and more food. Was it your intention to start an account to celebrate East L.A. and how did that idea come about?

When I first got my iPhone in 2010 I started instagramming everything around me; friends, food, dogs, and especially my community. I realized that other people from around the world were doing the same thing on Instagram. They were sharing elegant/artistic Instagram pictures of their community with each other. Everyone was experimenting with this new photo-sharing/social-network app, and that was very exciting for me. The newness of it got my attention! When I searched for East LA and Boyle Heights via Instagram’s search feature, I thought to myself wouldn’t it be cool if someone instagrammed East Los Angeles to dispel the negative stereotypes and to show the world what were really about. Show the world that we have a rich history, a beautiful culture, and that we’re good hard working people with a strong sense of community. Show the real East LA, not the East LA that makes the news or the movies. Show the Beautiful murals, the cool community events, the businesses, organizations and the new and old culture that makes up the Eastside. Show the positives that doesn’t usually make it to the mainstream media. So I took my love for East LA and y le puse ganas to make the goEastLos Instagram account.

I lived in Boyle Heights during the time I went to Jr. High and High School so the community will always hold a special place in my heart and your photos remind me of that everyday. Do you find that a lot of your followers also have a special relationship w/ the area and the Eastside in general? How do they react to the pictures you post? 
To me, East LA is a unique place to grow up in. There is a special energy in this community. First, you’re growing up with your same people (the largest Chicano/Mexicano/Hispanic population in the US) and you’re going through the same struggles in order to live a better life in the U.S. That immediately bonds you. That feeling combined with the past history that’s made up from all the different ethnic and cultural groups that lived here before creates this unique East LA energy/emotion. I don’t know what to call it, but it’s a feeling. You can definitely feel it. And when you leave this community, that feeling doesn’t leave you. Since I’m not the best at the best at articulating my thoughts in words, I found that with Instagram I can capture that feeling. Most followers react very positive to that East LA feeling/nostalgia.
You've posted over 1500 pictures to date. Do you have any favorites and if so can you show/tell us about it/them? 

I have one favorite. The first picture I posted on my goEastLos Instagram account was a picture of “El Corrido de Boyle Heights” mural. That mural represents my East LAand it’s one of my earliest childhood memories. This might sound weird but I believe this mural holds very special energy. I quickly realized that when you Instagram it, you can feel the energy through the picture. It’s Art! It’s Beautiful! It’s Alive! The energy of the mural is captured in that Instagram picture. And the cool thing about Instagram is that you can immediately share that feeling/energy/picture whatever you want to call it to Instagram and get an immediate response. It’s Social/Human interaction on another level. On our phones! And I think that’s pretty cool.

"El Corrido de Boyle Heights" mural painted by the East Los Streetscapers in 1994.
Photo by @GoEastLos 

Community is very important to us here in Cypress Park. Javier's account is like a daily reminder to look around and pay attention to things that usually go unnoticed and to celebrate our communities and the hard working people who call them home.
Check out a few pix you'll find on the @GoEastLos feed. 



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