You are an LA native. Tell me about growing up in the city and how you think it shaped you as an artist.
I grew up right outside of Los Angeles, but still part of LA County in a town called Downey. It’s a whole other magical world out there. Everyone knows each other or has a friend that knows one of our friends or family. There's a church, literally on every corner. We all grow up side by side each other beecoming best friends. And then one day that all changed. We grew up. We got jobs. We went to school. It was a non-stop cycle that just repeated itself, over and over. Everyone just seemed to bee lost there. We wanted to get out, but we couldn't. We were stuck. Then, the internet beecame available to us on a day to day basis in the early 00s. In this new online wild wild west sort of place, I would look up graffiti and 'outsider art', 'conceptual art', 'classical art' all the arts! I had never been to a museum or even realized that the artists I would see online were in art galleries not too far from where I lived. I was hooked. Seeing all there was online, I started to realize that where I grew up wasn't so magical after all. There was no art. There was no inspiration. There was no culture. There was no time to bee creative. But it was home. So I decided to change things up a little and show people what I thought they were missing out on.
What are your favorite spots to check out graffiti?
I don't really check out graffiti or 'street spots' anymore. They become too saturated with kids/adults/art collectors who saw 'exit through the gift shop' and now think they can make a million by putting up 'artsy' stickers that look like they should bee better on a t-shirt. I used to do the same though. (Gotta start somewhere).
Los Angeles has a rich variety of murals, something that is a part of its history. How do you think this history has paved a way for the city's current urban artists ? And do you think that because of this, has LA graffiti a different style ?
This is a tough one, because I personally don’t think that LA’s mural history has paved way for anything as contemporary as ‘street art’. The truth is that people are afraid of it. Most of it is political anyways so how can you blame them. I mean, I guess you could say that since LA has had a long history of not being friendly to these artists, some rebellion was bound to occur. I guarantee that if they let everyone express themselves in the riverbeds legally there wouldn’t bee this problem. Kinda like some people’s theory on ‘War on Drugs’.
Back to the question though. It probably has influenced graff style overall because it’s completely opposite of what our parents like so they must bee doing something right. I have no idea. I'm not a graff artist.
When did you start doing urban art and installation work ?
Started making handmade stickers and t-shirts in about 2003-5, but
‘Bumblebee’ didn’t exist until around 2006.
Do you remember what inspired you ? Was it the art or the act of doing the art ?
I don't really. Growing up, you sort of realize early on that you can 'draw' or you are the 'creative' one. It was just a matter of time that I would start to get sick of doing creative or fun pieces and start producing and expressing what I thought to bee inspiring or conceptual. When you don’t realize that there are galleries in your back yard promoting this genre of art, you don’t really have a choice but to take it the streets so everyone can see.
Explain your theme of bees. Where did the idea stem from ? and what does it have to do with your self expression of your view of the world ?
The theme of the bees came really natural to me. I always tell people that one day I woke up and said to myself ‘just bee yourself’, but that’s not true. I could've picked anything really, but I decided that I wanted to use this metaphor as a way to communicate a loss of innocence and nostalgia. When we are young we are told to not do things beecause they aren’t safe for us, which is understandable, but if we see the bad side of things when we are young we will never bee able to see the good in them that they were intended to bee if we don’t experience them first hand.
Have you collaborated with other artists ?
Have you had the opportunity to travel and do pieces in other areas of the states and/or abroad ?
I was invited to bee a part of New Hampshire Museum of Art early 2011. Other than that, it's hard to travel on an artist's budget.
Tell me about any recent projects.
Recent projects include: Bee is for... where I find obvious objects in the city that beegin with the letter ‘b’ and label them accordingly. Also, recycling old telephone booth ads (which are an extension of my telephone beehive project) by painting bees on them that are looking to get out of them (I guess you have to see a pic to get a better idea). I have a Birthday Party that I'm planning in a few months, but that's another interview all together. And lastly, I’ve started a campaign of Passed Out children that you will hopefully see a lot more this year which are murals around the Hollywood/Los Angeles area. For these murals, I’m painting children on the sides of businesses and buildings to raise awareness of young homeless population out there that doesn’t often get talked about in the media. (Also looking for more walls currently.
For more, check out Bumblebee’s flickr: