In South LA, the Art Doctors Are In

By: Danielle Tarasiuk

The Art Doctors might not be able to cure a crippling illness, but they may be able to provide a colorful cure for a bland t-shirt, shoes and even cars in South Los Angeles.

The list of artistic endeavors the Art Doctors take on is extensive: air brushing, silk screening, painting wall murals, logo and graphic design, car murals, illustrations, and graffiti art.

Owner Alan Araugo is passionate about his small store near the front entrance of Slauson Super Mall where they have been a main staple for over 20 years.

He is currently the only artist there, but occasionally take on apprentices.

During that time, they have been able to work with a long laundry list of celebrity stylists doing everything from music videos (their artwork appeared in Gwen Stefani’s music video for “Hollaback Girl”) to painting celebrities’ cars.

Araugo said they have even gained notoriety due to different mentions in pop culture. The Art Doctors and the Slauson Super Mall were mentioned in rapper Dr. Dre’s song, which brought attention to the store, he said.

Since he mostly works with stylists and not directly with celebrities, he has been able to remain under the radar. Araugo refers to himself as a “ghost designer” and prefers to remain that way.

“It’s crazy that people don’t know who you are, but you’ve done so much work,” said Araugo.

Despite the Art Doctors’ success, Araugo has no interest in moving his shop to other areas of Los Angeles where the urban art scene is booming.

The entire artistic movement in California was born out of South Los Angeles and Araugo likes staying close to his roots.

He said he has seen friends and colleagues move their business, become successful for two or three years then after a short period of time close down.

“For some odd reason, being here [Slauson Super Mall] is kind of timeless,” said Araugo. “People come here regardless.”