Coffee & Design: Remo Bangayan

Pictured is a coffee bag with Remo's art, featuring cartoon versions of the regular customers at kindness and mischief. The owner says "your support means the world to us! cheers to many more."

For part two of our art-driven café series, we’re speaking with Remo Bangayan: the creator behind parts of L.A.-based Kindness and Mischief’s branding.

BY EMILY JOY MENESES
SPECIAL TO BARISTA MAGAZINE ONLINE

Photos courtesy of Remo Bangayan and Down the Street

Recently, we launched “Coffee & Design,” an article series dedicated to the creative minds behind some of the coffee industry’s most notable artworks. In part one we spoke to Kill Joy, the printmaker and designer behind Cafecita Coffee, and for part two we’re learning all about Remo Bangayan: the talented illustrator who created L.A.-based Kindness and Mischief’s newest coffee bags, along with other signature elements of the brand.

The coffee bags feature characters inspired by the shop’s crew, neighbors, supporters, friends, and regular customers, with a vibrant color palette that matches the Highland Park café’s interior and exterior. Eye-catching and attuned to K&M’s progressive, community-centered spirit, the design is a beautiful reflection of the café and the bustling neighborhood it inhabits.

The coffee bags feature characters inspired by the shop’s crew, neighbors, supporters, friends, and regular customers.

Emily Joy Meneses: Hi, Remo! It’s so nice to finally meet with you—I’ve heard amazing things about you and your work from the folks at Kindness and Mischief. Could you please just share with us some basic information about yourself: location, pronouns?

Remo Bangayan: Hi Emily, thank you for reaching out. Aren’t the folks at K&M just the best? There’s so much good energy that radiates from that space. Anyway, my name is Remo Bangayan and I’m a partner/illustrator/animator/designer at Down the Street Designs (which is literally down the street from Kindness and Mischief). My pronouns are he/him. I’m born and raised and currently living in East Hollywood, California.

What first got you into art? And what/who would you say are your biggest inspirations?

I was raised in a family where creativity was a way of solving problems. My parents managed and maintained apartment buildings, so naturally we’d have to use our hands to make a living in this world. Since we couldn’t afford new toys, my parents taught us to create our own forms of play, whether it be drawing or building. My siblings and I used to build physical worlds (cardboard pinball machines, obstacles courses, makeshift homes for our stuffed animals) and non-physical worlds (fantastical stories on paper). My parents are hands down my biggest inspiration.

Can you tell us a little bit about your work with Kindness and Mischief? When designing for them, what ideas/motifs did you have in mind to best convey who they are as a company?

I would say the relationship between Kindness and Mischief and Down the Street Designs is special in that it’s one based on unconditional love for your neighbor. We are two businesses who are genuinely looking out for the well-being of the other, and are always supporting each other in whatever way we can. Whenever we collaborate, we always have the community in mind. I’ve come to realize that Kindness and Mischief is the beating heart of a diverse, creative, and loving community in Northeast Los Angeles. The owner, Mo, has a rare superpower of radiating infinite good vibes to all those who visit. Folks go to K&M to refuel their bodies and recharge their minds. It’s almost ritualistic.

A sign outside kindness and mischief designed by remo, which features a cartoon mug spilling coffee.
Custom signage for K&M, also designed by Remo.

What influences you and your work—what sorts of music are you digging, what movies, places, etc. play a role in what you do?

Right now, the people who surround me have the strongest influence on my work. Over the past few years, I’ve become affiliated with a nonprofit group called Eayikes, who are totally community-minded people. When COVID hit in 2020, Eayikes stepped up and started Home-y Made Meals, which is a program that provides meals for unhoused folks. Being around them has given my art more purpose and meaning.

As of lately, I’ve been exploring the spiritual/metaphysical dimensions of our reality. I’m really into things that aren’t bound by fictional constructs like money, politics, and fame. The realms outside of those societal boxes are vast, sacred, and neglected by us. 

I love how so much of your work is centered around character design! And it seems like every character you draw has such a distinct personality. How do you get inspiration for each of these characters?

I like drawing people because people are endlessly fascinating. The human form is extremely beautiful. It’s the vessel for which we experience living. Everyone is unique, but also the same. We each have one heart and one mind, but of many varieties and permutations and flavors. I love skewing and distorting the human form in the way that Picasso did. Doing so helps me to explore all those human varieties and permutations and flavors. Everything I do is either play or exploration, and my art is just a product of that exploration.

Anything else you’d like to share about yourself and your artwork?

I began a social media cleanse at the beginning of this week (deleted Instagram off my phone), and it’s been one of the most productive decisions of my life. I find that I have more time to focus and do the things that align to my true desires. I strongly urge anyone who reads this to give it a try. I also recommend to anyone who considers themselves creative to find solitude, silence, and stillness. Ask yourself for whom you create. Find value outside of productivity and hustling. Contemplate what matters to you most in this life. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Based in Los Angeles, Emily Joy Meneses (she/her) is a writer and musician passionate about culture and collective care. You can regularly find her at Echo Park Lake, drinking a cortado and journaling about astrology, art, Animal Crossing, and her dreams. Explore her poetry, short stories, and soundscapes on her website.

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