Zuriel aka. Stohtl, is a 20 year old self-taught digital artist, born in Alaska and is currently based in Texas. He dropped out of college in his freshman year and have been doin art full time with a little job on the side to help pay for things. He created his instagram account in the middle of quarantine 2020, and have since been well connected with big names in the industry. He has always loved art but he definitely want to branch out and dominate other mediums. Stohtl’s biggest goal is to influence the unborn and create timeless designs.
Hi Stohtl, thank you for sitting down with me. First question, and I always ask this cause Im curious like that. How does a regular day look like for you in Texas?
Hey Ruben, glad I could finally get the time to talk with you. Life’s honestly been pretty basic for me, but I’m moving up slowly and learning my lessons. I currently stay at home and work at my mom’s alkaline water store. I sadly wasn’t creating as much as I’d love to recently so if I’m not helping my mom out I’m just chilling at home since my friends are out in college. Very very recently though, I’ve found a shift in my energy and motivation. I’ve been quitting this sorry ass nicotine addiction and putting in more hours towards my work and my health. Days are lookin better man, excited for what’s to come.
Some months back we published another very talented artist based out of France, called Nathan. He mentioned you as one of his influences. How does it make you feel knowing that you’re only 20 years old and already out here influencing the next generation of artists.
Yeaaaa, if I remember correctly that’s the whole reason you and I got to connect. Honestly I was filled with pure joy when I read it. I was having such low confidence with my work up until that point, and truly it made me realize such a simple solution to one of my biggest mental blocks. It’s actually crazy to think of how ignorant I was to the idea of creation. The effects of everything. I could design a piece with the intention of attracting a big audience, whilst in contrast, someone may view the creation and receive the intent of inspiration. The simple fact that what you create was NEVER a thing unless you took action amazes me bro. And when it’s born unto this world, it has the ability to inspire someone to do the same. And I just think about the cycle continuing, and really that’s what’s been boosting my drive. So hey, shoutout you Nathan, here to say you inspire me too bro.
You started posting your artworks on Instagram during quarantine in 2020. Which is fairly recent. But when did you start to play around with different graphic design programs? And which programs do you use now?
I blindly enrolled into a digital arts class my junior year of highschool to fill my schedule up. So likeeee 2019 I believe. I had always been more loving for the creative side of school so I was taking it more as a blow off class. Doing physical art my whole life and not being exposed to the whole digital world, had me entering the class with such curiosity every new day that went by though. I’m definitely aware that God has given me a gift so I’m blessed to say I naturally progressed pretty well with the activities we were doing. The year was split up into different programs so for a full six weeks we’d learn the basics of the specific program. Honestly can’t recall which half of the year we got to Photoshop but in that short period of time I spent with it, I fell fast in love with what I could accomplish on it. I love the free reign it gives, and all the many different routes to go about when wanting to achieve a certain look or effect. To this day I only use Photoshop but soon I’ll have enough saved to invest in a printer and scanner, just to incorporate physical aspects and textures that I’ve always wanted.
What made digital art your prefered way of expressing yourself, and not more traditional ways like painting or drawing?
Well what’s promising to me is the advancement of technology. I always viewed it as a good way to break into the scene and start my career off. I was actually planning the majority of my highschool days to study engineering, more so to impress my parents, thinking that’s what would satisfy them. I think I finally decided to pursue my passion whenever I got a recommendation letter to enroll in the advanced digital arts class my senior year. So yeah, I’d say for now I’m steadily improving what I can create in Photoshop, but I’m excited to hone designing as a whole. I want to design to my interests eventually. Furniture. Clothes. Accessories. An art school building. I really cant confirm everything I dream to design, but I’m confident more people will be aware of my work by the time I move on from just strictly digital art, so I’m really amped to see what’s in store. Trusting God every step of the way man.
You mention that you were planning on studying engineering, so with that in mind, dropping out of college to do art full time, with only a little job on the side, must have been a nerve wrecking decision. Talk to me a little bit about what led up to that decision.
Well to be frank, I’ve never been a fan of school. Definitely some immaturity with my early mindset of hating school, but I really don’t think it’s for everyone. Again, I was supposed to study engineering and get my degree with that. Because our technology stays improving, I felt it was a good arguing point to help convince my parents and let me pursue graphic design in college. I really wasn’t too stoked about going but if my parents wanted me to get a degree I thought I might as well do something I like. Heading into that school year I had about two hundred or so followers. What I loved most about that era was my insanely hungry mindset. I put countless hours that year on building what I have now. At the time, my parents were going through some problems which definitely affected me. I started to mope and sulk and waste my time not focusing on what my parents were paying for. Hardly ever going to class.
The one thing I kept grinding though was my art. Which I’m thankful I did. I was consistently posting daily or every couple of days and every now and then I’d get a model or artist to repost the work I made for them. This got me sooooo many connections that year. Like I felt so underground cause big names would randomly follow or like my work it was pretty nuts.
Ok ok, so now fast forward to like late March. I was checking my notifications one night and peeped I had someone comment to check my DM’s. Come to find out I had Fenty Corp interested in me working on some digital collages for a drop. I got in touch with some management there and setup my first commission. The whole process was surreal and such a big blessing.
I’m pretty sure the week after I was just sitting in my dorm and made the decision to drop out. I figured I’d go where I was happiest, and that was creating art. Really wasn’t even too nervous leading to the decision. More excited and ready I’d say. You can imagine it didn’t get well received by my parents but they’re somewhat chillin now so everything’s good.
You and I talked earlier, and you explained to me what your real name Zuriel means, and it’s dope af. Could you explain it to our readers too? And could you also explain how you came up with the name Stohtl.
Yeaaaa so for a while I was aware that my mom named me that cause it meant “rock of God ”. Also because my older sister’s name is Zephanie so she wanted to keep the Z theme. It was until about two years ago I decided to look more into the history of this name. Crazy cause my mom had zero clue of the depth behind the meaning so it all feels more like I’m destined to create great things. Zuriel, also referred to as Jophiel along with other interpretations of the name, is described as a non-canonical archangel. Said to be the angel of creativity, beauty and art. Really cool fun fact I think, so yeah.
Now Stohtl, the name itself, truthfully is a direct reflection of how I manage in this life. When creating my @ way back when this all kicked off, I wanted something different. Something also appealing to the eye. Something that rolls off the tongue smoothly. I didn’t want like, TJ.GFX lmao, or like zurielstudios. Something more stage name like, but simple. I say the name reflects how I interact with life because eventually I found meaning in my actions. The acronym STOHTL stands for “ Sacrifice The Oppression/Hatred, Transpire Love. Also people pronounce the name incorrectly pretty often. It’s like Aristotle but without the Ari-. Someone did point the name comparison out to me before and I found a lot of his teachings relevant in what I vocalize on my account. Since the beginning I’ve been vocal about the pursuit of my happiness through art. A main belief of his. I’m also a primary example of “persons becoming better through practice”. Whether it’s my work itself, or the lessons I learn from going through struggles. I point this out because I find the deeper connection besides the name pronunciation to be pretty interesting.
Have you ever thought about venturing into to the metaverse and create NFTs, since that’s right up your alley?
Hey no hate to anybody getting in their bag, I’ve just always been a day one hater to the whole idea of NFT’s. I’ve eased up on my opinion towards it cause honestly I never think about them anymore but yea… not for me hahaha.
What do you hope that we, the observers, take with us after viewing some of your artworks?
If I’m focusing on a certain creative idea, it’s cool when people notice the detail and the whole concept. I personally love looking at art on my timeline and feeling a sense of awe. So I guess I’m really just hoping for the viewer to enjoy what I create. Whether that brings inspiration or just pure fandom of the work, I’m grateful. I feel like the work I’ve released isn’t too thematic or deep anyways. More of a testament to my taste, and what I find to look good. Honestly just happy as hell my work is getting viewed to begin with.
I’m going to ask you some more serious questions now Stohtl. I hope you’re cool with that. You’ve just recently started to get back on your grind and feeling good again, after having struggled with a hard drug addiction.
Shit, yeah man. As of right now i’m like a week free from nicotine, which is great. I feel icy. Oh and about a good year off molly. Nicotine was about six years runnin and I had a good three years addicted to molly.
Talk to me a little bit about that period in your life. What brought you there? and how did you get back on your feet?
You know it’s funny to think about how lost and uncoordinated a young immature mind is. It was my senior year of highschool, and for context, I’d already been pretty depressed for about two years at this time. I remember rolling on molly for the first time and it erased almost every negative thought in my head. For the first time in a while, I had felt confident in myself, confident in life, and problem free. I wasn’t clouded with all these pressuring negative thoughts. I slowly started to allow this small pill to dictate my life. It was scary cause not once had i even experienced a bad comedown so shit had zero cons to me at the time. I remember buying a gram of molly rock and just trying to roll as much as I could within two weeks. Of course having to strategically spread it out to reduce my tolerance but mannnn sometimes I’d want to roll days and days in a row so I’d just continually take more and more. I was running from so many problems this way. One of my biggest mental obstacles is my mommas health. She has this brain disorder called chiari malformation. No doubt shes hands down my favorite person in the world. From the time she got diagnosed my freshman year, all the way till now, I’ve created this idea that I’m a disappointment and I need to succeed before she passes. Now oddly enough, I was escaping this pressure I put upon myself but in reality I was running into deeper and deeper problems. I started to feel the effects on my brain and realized how numb I was making myself, even to the point of depersonalization. I lost track of my purpose and gave in to my fleshly desires. Honestly though, what got me back on my feet was hitting rock bottom a couple times. Being able to soak in what got me to that point, and realizing it all starts with me. I haven’t fully reached my destination but for sure enjoying the journey as much as I can now.
I see, sorry to hear that brother. Has that whole experience of your mom being sick affected how you look at art or what you create?
One hundred percent. I mean if I had a perfectly healthy mom I think I’d still try to get the bag but with a different mindset. I think right now I still put that pressure in my head to succeed as fast as I can, but I’m shifting my perspective slowly. She’s already eased up my mind whenever we had a deep talk, assuring me all she cares about is my happiness. Buuuuuuttt I’m pretty stubborn so lets say I’m healthily putting that pressure on me still, hahaha.
This might be a stupid question but If you were to find something positive out of that experience, what would it be?
That’s never a stupid question, don’t trip. Honestly I’ve been a big advocate for being aware of the trials you go through, and tappin into the lessons God is trying to show you. I find that there’s a good balance in everything. Definitely positive out of every situation whether you like it or not. So it’s really just a matter of if you want to learn or stay stagnant. I think if you’re not growing you’re dead man. So for me, and in regards to the question, yes. I’ve found the discovery of my soul to be something very positive out of the situation. Cause that’s really what happened. Literally dragged it through pain and suffering, tortured it with addiction, and left it alone in dark spaces. Putting my soul through that was tough but I believe I’m able to see how great life can be now. How bright days can get. Finding beauty in the balance really. I’ve found who I am again, and that’s off the idea of who I CAN be. And I’m not saying all this to depict like my life is tuned up now and completely better, but I find that with this mindset I’m on the right path.
What advice would you give for any young aspiring artist, hoping to get their art and name out there?
Man I hear a lot of people preach the same idea, but really that’s all there is to it. Just start. Create. Realize what a gift it is. The ability to create what you want. Be aware that you’re on this earth and you have God inside you. You’re literally capable of anything you set your mind and heart to. So cliche honestly cause it’s repeated so many times, but man, if you really want it go get it. Also I’d say, attempt to conquer your mentality everyday. That makes things so much easier for yourself.
Lastly, advice from me, become dedicated and delusional. I also wanted to leave y’all with this greatttt quote I’ve been lovin recently by Terrance Mckenna.
“Nature loves courage. You make the commitment and nature will respond to that commitment by removing impossible obstacles. Dream the impossible dream and the world will not grind you under, it will lift you up. This is the trick. This is what all these teachers and philosophers who really counted, who really touched the alchemical gold, this is what they understood. This is the shamanic dance in the waterfall. This is how magic is done. By hurling yourself into the abyss and discovering it’s a feather bed.”
That’s what’s up. That’s a dope ass quote… Now to something a little more light hearted. What inspires and motivates you?
A lot to be honest. So many different aspects of life to get inspired by. First of all God and my parents of course. My sister. My close circle. Houston, Jordan,Gunnar, BT, Justis,Ethan. My boys for real. Shoutout to each person for pushing me in daily life stuff. Work ethic, having a big heart, and perseverance are big ones they project for sure. Grateful for all of them. My mom especially.
Man Fart, Ian,Litsa and Walter actually invest time into our conversations which I’m so blessed for. Reeno, we’ve talked a couple times but both were hella motivating. He’s something special though man, definitely keep an eye out for him and really everyone else moving forward. But yeah not only the work they create, but how they operate definitely is also a big source of both inspiration and motivation. All their work is superb.
You got the whole day off. Money in your pocket and free to do whatever you want. What are you doing?
Bro honestly, probably go get all the tattoos I plan to save for. Absolutely love body art. I’m decently covered right now but I have soooo many ideas. I’m like one big canvas investing in other artists, it’s a dope experience. Also how much money we talking ? Cause if it’s OD then I’d probably also pay off my momma’s store and their house. Actually wait, probably that before the tattoos lol. Sorry mom if you’re reading this I know you don’t like my tattoos.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years. Do you have like 5 year plan or anything like that?
For a while I wasn’t looking into the future at all. Honestly now, I see myself really healthy in five years. Physically, mentally. All I’m really manifesting right now is to build my brain and allow it to be capable to lead and inspire. Build my spirit, to allow myself to love. I think if I focus on that, everything I yearn for will unfold smoothly. Career wise I’ll definitely be working with those I want to in five years. Definitely going to have a cover art I created for an album at the Grammys. Definitely designing some jerseys for a random sports team. Definitely will be inspiring those who inspire me. I’m capable of everything. Real excited for the journey and for those witnessing this so early on. Trust it’ll DEFINITELY happen.
What song do you listen to the most right now?
Shoutout my boy Houston, he put me on, but I’ve been loving “This Night Has Opened My Eyes”, by the Smiths recently. Ooooooo also “cz” by Mk.gee. Both of those I think are top tier tracks. Been in a big Project Pat vibe for some reason too recently. I actually take pride in and love my music taste, so y’all dont be shy asking me for music. I think my taste is pretty all around.
What’s your favorite movie(s) and why?
Ok I love movies but if I had the opportunity to express my love for One Piece in my first ever interview, of course i would. Over any movie ever made. Like this is peak fiction bro. Goat Piece man. Oda’s story telling, detail, creativity, and writing is all so far ahead of his competition. If I had to recommend any form of art to anyone on my deathbed, hands down would be One Piece. Tryna live like Luffy. Bro been manifesting what’s his since the beginning.
Aye Ruben, and I know I took the question an entirely different route lol, but I think I did good the rest of the interview. Had a lot of fun bro. Thank you again for putting my perspectives on a platform. Gonna be a legendary first interview.
God bless you all, go get after it.