Did anyone make it to Art Murmur Friday night? I saw a great show on urban street artists (specifically black calligraphers & muralists) tying in nicely with my street art theme of last week, so I’m gonna continue to roll with that for a bit. I’ll have more on the show, titled Aero Soul 2, later in the week.
For now, I have my next artist interview installment. I had initially hoped to have these monthly, but seeing as this is only my second in over a year, you can see that I got a bit off track (ahem). But I have high hopes to get back on track, so if you’ve seen something interesting recently and want a bit more info about the art and/or artist, send me a note and I’ll see what I can do…
Here’s another piece by Get Up – we’ve seen this one before, but with a different color scheme. It exemplifies a cool feature of stencils – that they can be used over and over. My interview with him follows…
Are you a formally trained artist? What’s your background?
No training or school. I’m pretty new to the whole art thing. I used to draw alot when I was young, up until maybe 7th grade, but I was never serious about it. I’ve done music since I was 13. I started off DJ’ing and then shortly after started making hip hop beats. I have an album out under a different name that features some songs with MC’s and some instrumental tracks.
About a year ago I realized that the music I’m doing, and that I really want to do, is different from what I had released under my previous name. I liked “Get Up” because I wanted something simple, a verb or command, something positive, and I just felt like it went with the theme of the music. Get up and dance, get up and do something etc.. At the same time I thought it would be cool to do some street art-type promo to get the new name out there. I started with the dancing couple with bandannas. I was just having fun, getting a rush doing it, and right away I started getting lots of positive feedback and people were taking it a lot more serious than I was. I really enjoyed painting and the idea of having visuals along with the music. That’s when I decided I would try and branch out more and do music and painting equally. My first piece went up in June 2010 in San Francisco.
Can you talk about some of your influences? (other artists you admire for example)
I really don’t know much about or follow art or artists. I see lots of stuff on the streets and stuff but I rarely know who it’s by. I’m familiar with most of the more popular artists, and I’ve learned about and met lots of artists since I started doing it. My influence is just the world around me and my experiences. I grew up in Philly so I’ve been surrounded by some of the best graffiti for most of my life. I have a few friends that are street/graff artists too so I’ve picked up some things along the way.
What is it about street art that appeals to you?
I love how it’s in your face and so many people see it every day. You can’t do that with music, short of standing on a corner with a boombox. Another thing I love is the interpretation aspect of it, or art in general. It’s also just lots of fun and I think its awesome when people tell me it made them smile or how they enjoy seeing it everyday going to/from work.
It seems that street art has really come into mainstream acceptance in the art world recently (gallery shows, etc.) How do you feel about that?
It’s cool I guess. I don’t really follow that world too much but I have been involved with it a little bit recently. There’s still a huge difference between a street piece and a canvas, but if people like what they see on the street and want to enjoy it in their homes, there’s gotta be somewhere to facilitate that. I do believe that if you are going to sell pieces you should have plenty of affordable art and not just expensive pieces.
How did you get started?
Just wanted to try something new to promote my music and have some fun at the same time.
I’ve seen a number of your larger pieces around Oakland and they seem to be primarily stencils. Is this your main mode of working and if so why?
I started with stencils because I was only interested with doing lots of pieces easily. I didn’t start stenciling to be an “artist”. I’ve been doing simple graphic design for a few years, just for my own music stuff, so I basically just wanted to take what I was doing on the computer and put it everywhere I could. Another thing I do a lot of is painting on cardboard, wood, or canvas and leaving it in the streets for people to take home. I also do lots of stickers and just started doing screen printing.
I’ve noticed that some of your stencils are done on large sheets of paper and then pasted up, rather than painted in place. Can you talk about your process?
I prefer to paint when possible, but some spots are just easier to paste. With posters if you get caught in the act you can still take it down and no damage was done. With paint you’re most likely getting a ticket or going to jail. I was arrested when I was 14 for graffiti, and then in November 2010 I was locked up in London for doing stencils. It’s always best to avoid jail. Posters have the advantage of being able to have more detail and color and still be put up in a minute or two. Paint is more permanent and can go on spots that posters might not stick to.
You seem to have the idea of music incorporated into many of your images, and I understand you’re a musician as well. Can you talk about whether your music inspires your visual art and whether your visual art also inspires your music?
When I started it was strictly to just get my name out there for the music, so that’s why mostly all my pieces are music related. Over the past few months I’ve been getting a lot of interest in the stuff I’m doing so I do see myself exploring other themes that I’m passionate about, and doing stuff more as an “artist” rather than just doing street advertisements. I’ve been doing lots of canvas painting and trying out different media and mediums. I definitely see the music and art inspiring each other. Whether its making a painting to match a song or vice versa.
Are there other central themes you focus on in your work?
Positivity, color, or just things I think are beautiful.
How do you hope to affect people who come in contact with your work?
I always hope for a positive response or feeling, but any reaction is good because it means people are paying attention to whats around them. If I can bring a subject, or situation some attention and get people to think about or discuss it than great. I know I’m probably not going to save the world or fix any problems by putting something on a wall, but If I can brighten up a block and make someone smile, or inspire them to do something positive or make some art themselves then I’m about as happy as can be.
Do you have a favorite color?
Probably green. It represents so many different things but mostly life and growth to me.
Thanks for your time – I really appreciate it. And thanks for bringing your art to Oakland!