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Q: Who are you?
A: That depends on who you ask. Each person who has seen me on the streets, at an art show, or in the park will tell you I am this or that. But I am me.
Q: So you have no self-identity?
A: No. If I put all of me in my work I would be dead already. I would have to live up to a character. They would never call me by my name.
Q: Do you think you are one of the lucky ones? Having reached fame at such a young age?
A: Luck played a part. But it was my craziness that got me from the streets to the studio. My foolish passion. I stand out for the simple fact that this medium is said to belong to a Caucasian crowd. Anything different jumps out and is often ridiculed or feared.
Q: You feel as if there isn't room for Black or Latino artist?
A: There is room. But you have to make the room. You have to force yourself to be seen. You have to yell in silence. There will be notions about you. The real challenge is getting known as an artist and not just a 'Black Artist', 'Latino Artist', 'Urban Artist' etc. The critics will be hesitant to praise, because there is a chance you might go on to overshadow their greats.
Q: When certain people compare you to Picasso, Van Gogh, or Warhol does that insult you?
A: Yes and no. I've looked up to them before, I've pulled inspiration from their work. But it goes back to superseding those labels. They aren't just saying the next Picasso, they must attach my skin tone to the title as well. We can never just be. Everything has to be categorized.
Q: Do you foresee a future where an artist can be an artist and succeed regardless of their background?
A: Any artist can succeed. You can be from Brooklyn, or you could be from Singapore. For some, there are just different levels you must climb to reach any sort of commercial success or recognition. That's the human curse I think. The need to be remembered.
Q: Will you be remembered?
A: That's not up to me. I create to live and provoke emotion. Without feeling, we are but corpses parading about. Aimlessly walking until our heads are finally cut off.
Q: Much of your imagery is dark, almost apocalyptic. Where does that come from?
A: The streets. Business folk pretends all is well. They have money which is a false sense of happiness. I have loads of cash, but it does not make me happy. Only creating does. My so-called 'status' has not made me blind to reality. Look outside, neighborhoods of tents, bodies washed up in the harbor, needles and crack pipes as common as the daily news, police checking to see if their guns still work. Not everything is a rainbow.
Q: There seems to be a marriage between substance abuse and art why do you think that is?
A: When you're starting out you emulate certain creatives. You hear about Bob Marley using reefer as a tool to make music so you smoke a joint and see what it's all about. Or you read about Burroughs using heroin as a writing lubricant. The artist is always looking for more. Various ways to open up to new ideas. Most of these substances keep you going & going. It takes the brain into overdrive, keeping that will to create in motion. We often fear not doing enough.
Q: Do you use drugs to create?
A: Look at my work. You tell me. If you've done a certain substance and see that perception in my work maybe I have. The drugs are not creating art. No matter the state of mind it is the individual doing all the work.
Q: Can one truly put a price on art.
A: No, but we do it anyway. Some will say my work isn't even worth a bus ticket, others will claim it's worth millions. Art critics are living a fantasy. All is subjective. I will be the worst to some and the greatest to others. I'm already famous. There will always be some sort of story attached to me until I die.
Q: What does the story say about you now?
A: Nothing profound. I dress funny. My work is all over the world. I am both defined and a mystery. What a trip.
Q: When did you know that you wanted to create and not work for someone else?
A: We don't need bosses. Bosses are for those who can't think for themselves. Here, I'll put it like this.
The artist grabs my notebook and scribbles this poem:
creation—the pursuit of freedom
I seek solitude to be alone with my mind
Here the mind tells me secrets
It unveils the ether, the ether is where I reside
There are no shackles as there are in the present
No one here to call me a peasant
No one to call me slave
If I was another pallet they would call me an artist in residency!
Where I'm from, a boss is a devil.
I am both angel and demon
These streets might be hell
But I do not create for no devil.
Therefore I play god.
I am the apostle of my own beliefs.
Q: You are God? Christ, Buddha, Allah?
A: You can run that as a headline if you would like. It would be great for your magazine. But you would be missing the point. I'm not saying I created this earth, and jot in my notebook who is going to heaven or hell. I am an extension of that higher power—we all are. That means infinite creations reside within me. Why would I be foolish and not create all that I possibly can?
Q: My final question. Once you have left this earth, and only your work remains, what is your biggest fear? That your work will end up in the wrong hands? Or it will not be received as you intended?
A: Two fears. One, that I will become Mickey Mouse. My art will become a symbol that everyone recognizes, but has no value. I do not want to become a souvenir, but a well of inspiration that creatives can visit when their craft is in need of a spark. Two, that once I reach the after earth all the artists I have ever stolen from will be lined up with hands out awaiting payment and reparation. All artists steal and extract inspiration. But the greats make it their own.
This interview was conducted in an Inn somewhere in Boulder, Colorado.
Wednesday, June 26th at 2:07 AM
A ghost of an artist visited me.
Partially in a dream, partially in an awakened state.
I have my guess as to who the artist is.
But I would like to hear about your interpretation.
Leave a comment below.
Life will go on.