What inspires our Las Vegas artist Justin Favela? Veggie tacos and Mister Rogers

Justin “FavyFav” Favela
Photo: Mikayla Whitmore / File

Justin “FavyFav” Favela’s piñata-like visual art, acclaimed podcast (Latinos Who Lunch, co-hosted with Emmanuel “Babelito” Ortega) and full-hearted advocacy of Latinx culture speak for themselves. But what energizes that work? Recently, Favy took a break from an East Coast gallery tour to talk about his influences and inspirations.

In broad strokes, where does your art come from? Most of my artwork is inspired by my upbringing—my family, and a lot of PBS: Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and Sesame Street. And looking at my work recently, I see the influence of TV talk shows. Pop culture, in general.

Which local artists inspire you? One of my biggest inspirations is David Ryan. … He was the first artist to take me in and show me his entire process. I learned so much from his work ethic. And his work is just beautiful.

Also, I have a circle of friends who are amazing artists: Krystal Ramirez, Mikayla Whitmore, Lance Smith. It’s inspiring to be around creatives who push you to do better. It’s all about support. There’s no use in being competitive in Las Vegas.

What are you reading? A book called Eating NAFTA [by Alyshia Gálvez]. It’s about food trade policies between Mexico, the U.S. and the world. ... A lot of my work is about the globalization of Mexican food, and how that relates to the art world and the history of colonization in Mexico. I also just read Planet Taco [by Jeffrey M. Pilcher], which was really great. I wish it had been written by a brown person instead of a white person, but you can’t get everything you want.

Speaking of, where should we be going for tacos? I’ve actually been a vegetarian since the new year, [so] I’ve been trying out all the vegetarian places, like Pancho’s Vegan Tacos. I find myself at Taco y Taco often, because they have vegetarian options. And the other day, Tacos Tijuana made me a really bomb veggie taco. I’m not strict about it—if someone offers me a free [non-veggie] taco, I’m gonna eat it; I’m not a monster (laughs).

Whose podcasts do you recommend, besides your own? Oh my God, I hate my podcast! (Laughs.) I’m obsessed with Tea With Queen and J; it’s two black womanist nerds who are just so funny and smart. I’m also listening to De Colores Radio, out of Texas; they’re a collective of Mexican-Americans with a really great podcast. And any podcast about drag queens.

Lastly, where’s the best place in Vegas to see consistently good art? The Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art is the place to go. But a lot of people are sleeping on the Library District galleries. They show some really awesome art that people should be paying attention to.

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