I’m sure you’ve noticed the many amazing works of art on the streets these days? It’s hard not to when they are everywhere! Gorgeous works of fine art, and make no mistake that’s what they are, have been popping up in cities around the world. It makes sense! All those blank walls are perfect canvases, creating a world wide, never ending, always evolving art exhibition.
Who Is Behind This Worldwide Explosion Of Art?
The more I’ve seen the more I’ve wanted to learn about these artists, some of whom have pieces up around the world. I had questions:
Who are they, and what compels them to create? How did they get their start? Do they have formal training? Do they feel bad when their work is painted over or torn down Were they commissioned, or did they throw it up on the fly? What’s the meaning behind the paintings? Is there one? Do they consider their work graffiti, street art, or just plain art? Is it hard? How do they do it?
Meeting the (Street) Artists
Recently I’ve had the opportunity to meet some of these amazing artists, whether it be coming across a work in progress (these murals don’t appear magically), serendipity, a studio visit or at an art show. They’ve all been a real pleasure to meet and in some cases I even had a chance to take photos and ask questions.
The whimsical nature of BumbleeLovesYou‘s art has made him one of my favorite artists, and lucky for me he’s local, so I get to visit his various pieces regularly. His pieces evoke a feeling of childhood innocence, and often include fun little details, like hearts, animals, and flowers.
My initial meeting with BumbleebeeLovesYou came about via social media. I wondered where a certain piece (Take Note pictured below) would end up after its exhibition in Downtown Santa Monica ended. Before I knew it we were direct messaging about the piece coming home with me! Lesson here: It never hurts to ask!
I can’t express how excited I was when we actually met! Not only did I end up with a fabulous piece of artwork at my home, but I’ve made a new friend.
I’ve since visited his studio and had the chance to chat with him about his work, but I think this wonderful video tells the story better than I ever could.
I was Introduced to Karlos Marquez’s work through a mutual friend, and was immediately attracted to his combination of street inspired lettering and neon light.
I visited Karlos at his studio in South Central LA where he was gracious enough to show me around and answer my many questions.
In your opinion are street street art and graffiti one and the same?
In my opinion, Street Art” is just a name that has been given to “Graffiti” in the past few years. Its used by galleries, museums and art auctions to label Graffiti.
Graffiti has a negative connotation, and by nature its vandalism plain and simple, so to some its vandalism and to others its art. I think the elite have used the word STREET ART to give it a cool hip name to sell it.
All the large murals you see on th side of buildings today are just that, MURALS. Just because you used spray paint does not make it graffiti.
If you have permission to paint a MURAL on a wall with spray paint and I painted the other side with spray paint without permission they would both still be called STREET ART. Call me old fashioned, but I would rather see good old graffiti done on walls, it is a more raw and free expression of art.
When did your graffiti art move from the street to the studio?
I stopped doing graffiti over 20 years ago and I have been doing studio artwork over 10 years.
What type of artist to you consider yourself?
A visual artist because I like working not just with canvas, but I use all different media to create my artwork. I paint on furniture, sculptures, metal wood, cement, or anytime I can get my hands on.
Karlos will be exhibiting his abstract work at Fathom Gallery in the California Market Center Building located in Downtown Los Angeles on April 28, 2018 from 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm. Unable to make the show? You can learn more about Karlos and his art and where to see it on his website.
WRDSMTH refers to himself as a “Writer Doing Time in Hollywood.” His pieces can be found everywhere in Los Angeles, and around the world. It’s his positive and meaningful messages delivered in a simple way that make his work particularly appealing. He really puts himself out there, which is so refreshing since so many of us don’t feel comfortable enough to do such a thing, but wish we could.
I attended his solo show “I’d Like To Have A WRD with You” where we had a chance to meet. Funny enough I was surprised when he introduced himself as Brody. It never occurred to me that he actually had a “real” name. We spoke about his inspiration, much of which comes from personal experiences or favorite songs.
Thinking that his technique must be a closely guarded secret I was delighted to find out that he was taught by another street artist and has been only too happy to pass on the knowledge. Who knows, maybe I’ll ask for a lesson one of these days? As I found out above it never hurts to ask, does it?
The Art of Chase
Chase is a Belgian artist, but has called Los Angeles his home for the past 20 years. I was recently invited to meet him and attended his solo show here in Los Angeles.
Chase’s signature eyeball makes his pieces easy to spot, haha, and there are plenty here in the LA area, especially in Venice Beach.
I’m hoping to catch up with him again soon, and when I do I’ll update this post.
Okay, Fanakapan isn’t based in LA, but he does have a gorgeous collab piece in Downtown LA, and I can’t write this post without including my meeting with Fanakapan! I’m a big fan of his shiny but photorealistic style and knowing his work can occasionally be seen on London’s Brick Lane, I set out specifically to find one.
Not only did I find one, I found him! As I came around the corner I saw a man painting, and immediately upon seeing the shiny work in progress, I knew it was him. Serendipity!
You might find this hard to believe, but I can occasionally be shy. Not this time! I knew this was probably my one and only chance to speak up.
Graciously taking the time to speak with me, we chatted about his work, the piece he was working on, and his visits to LA. He did tell me his real name, and we took some photos together, but like many street artists Fanakapan prefers not to show his full face online. He gave me permission to post this one with his face partially covered.
The piece he was working on was clearly political. It shows a fox (Trump) holding a dead duck in its mouth with more ducks (Americans) blindly following behind. We found ourselves in the area a few different times and so were able to watch the progression of this piece.
We located one other Fanakapan piece on our trip, also in Shoreditch, but no promises that either of these are still available to view.
Nicky Nailed It
“Nicky” is the most unknown of this bunch. I met him during one morning while on bike ride in Venice Beach. There is hardly a place in LA where you won’t find a Nicky Nailed It, so I shouldn’t have been surprised when I turned around and there he was installing one of his signature pieces, but I was. It was fun hearing about his many adventures, but I’m not sure he plans to do much more with this. His pieces are often found near murals and other works, and I asked if the other artists mind? He says he tries hard to be respectful. I think they do mind. Of all the artists I’ve met his pieces are the only ones that really feel illegal. They are definitely graffiti in the truest sense of the word.
He’s been plastering Nicky around town, and just about everywhere for the past seven years. Now that I’ve introduced him to you I guarantee you will see him EVERYWHERE made of whatever material he can get his hands on. If you’re wondering the stencil is a portrait of him as a child.
6 “Los Angeles” Artists & Where to Find Them
Would you like to visit some of these pieces yourself? This handy map will show you the way to the public pieces that were still available to view when I wrote this post.
This map should get you started, but is by no means a complete list. Each of these artists have multiple pieces around town and the world. Happy hunting, and do let me know if you find a new piece you think I’d like!