Summer in Los Angeles means many things: trips to the beach, picnics in the park, and, most importantly, the Summer Reading Challenge at the Los Angeles Public Library.
The Summer Reading Challenge—a long-established fixture of the library’s annual array of programs and projects—invites Angelenos of all ages to track their reading between June 6 and August 6 and offers several enticing prizes just for signing up. Then, once you complete the Challenge, you can be entered to win more prizes like a custom skateboard, museum memberships, or an iPad.
As part of the yearly rollout for the challenge, LAPL librarians identify, select, and collaborate with a local artist who will shape the design and theme of the challenge. Past Summer Reading Challenge artists include illustrator Zachariah OHora and artist Jose Ramirez.
This year, the Los Angeles Public Library teamed up with local graffiti artist Man One to create the look and feel of the 2022 Summer Reading Challenge. Born and raised in Los Angeles, it was here that Man One says he “developed his love for art,” cultivating his technique and skills “as a graffiti artist on the streets of LA.”
Man One’s work—distinctive for its bold colors, vibrant affect, and dynamic form—is well-suited for one of the library’s cornerstone programs. The portraits of three local creatives who live the “Express Yourself” mantra every day, created in Man One’s unique, varicolored style, are bright and fun. Their joy invites Angelenos to register for the challenge and encourages current challenge participants to hit their goals.
While the artwork featured in this year’s Summer Reading Challenge is new, having been designed specifically for this collaboration with the library, Man One’s connection to the library runs deep. For years, he has been a participant in LA Made, a cultural programming series featuring artists, writers, and entertainers at LAPL lcations throughout the city. He has also been a guest in a Your Author Series program, a series aimed at children and teens to connect them with some of their favorite authors and illustrators. Through these programs, Man One has been able to connect with young Angelenos and help them refine their artistic talents while also introducing them to the world of graffiti art.
It is this world that Man One believes has the power to transform young artists. Reflecting on what graffiti means to him, he calls it the “ultimate self-expression.”
“You can create what you want. It’s very free. It’s very instant,” he says. “It’s not permanent, so there’s a lot of forgiveness in that, but it’s also large scale, it’s also life affirming.” It is no surprise, then, how this year’s concise yet powerful Summer Reading Challenge theme “Express Yourself” came to be.
A wide lineup of programs, events, and performances will accompany the Summer Reading Challenge, including an art workshop for teens led by Man One himself. For more information on how to get in on the fun your local library has to offer, visit lapl.org/summer.