Bumblebee’s work first came to life on the streets and abandoned buildings of Downey, a city located in southeast Los Angeles County. With a focus on themes of innocence, communication and coming of age, his stencil and sculptural works are most often rendered in the simple, but instantly identifiable color palette of yellow and black. Ongoing campaigns range the remodeling of urban furniture such as abandoned phone kiosks and newspaper boxes to large scale mural projects that address and work to raise awareness of issues such as youth homelessness.
Could you tell us a little about yourself? Where are you from? And how or when did you start doing street art? Do you have a formal education?
I’m from Downey, California, a city between Los Angeles and Long Beach. I started doing political street art in 2006 and decided to change to a happier subject of work in 2007 called Bumblebeelovesyou. I have a college degree, but not in Art. Going to school for Art was always an option for me, but I wanted to learn other subjects like Business, Management, and Communication.
Being an artist is not always easy, where sometimes there is little support from family and friends. How was it for you starting up?
Where I grew up, there wasn’t much talk about beeing successful doing the things that you loved. It was always assumed that I would go to school, get a decent job, and then raise a family. I knew from an early age that this wasn’t going to happen and my family thankfully realized this also. There were some rough patches where I wanted to quit, but once they saw that I put my <3 in it, they did what they could to encourage me. I think getting my first burned copy of Photoshop in high school really lit the torch and got me to realize the potential in graphic design and was a new way to express myself visually. So that led to learning this new ‘language’ and eventually I started to make images via computer rather than drawing or painting so by the time I started Bumblebeelovesyou I had the skills I needed to accomplish my street work by stickers, then posters, then onto stencils, then to where I am now making sculptures and paintings.
Who are your favorite classic artists and from what era and why?
They are all great. I honestly don’t have a favorite. There’s so much influence from those artists that we can see in other artists work from every genre today. Sometimes, for me, it’s best to stay away from influence and just focus on beeing myself. I guess that might bee strange for some people, but I really think in order to push the boundaries you must purposefully try and bee uninfluenced by anyone, but maybe try and reference these artists from time to time just in case people ask 😉
Is there a message in your art?
The message in my art is always ‘Communication’. I often use the telephone kiosk as an example of the
transition phase from the past to this present period in our daily life. We have all seen the rise and fall of
Cd’s, the death of mixed tapes, to the birth of MP3s etc. Nostalgia comes up a lot in my work. I’m a 90s kid so remembering things from the past, whether it bee in school or hanging out with friends or watching Saturday morning cartoons really is something that I am constantly trying to re-imagine and remember.
How do you feel about the role of the Internet and social media in making your work more accessible to the public?
Communication is important. Anything that can send a message from across the world and enter my daily life and inspire me is incredible. Social media is heavily visual based, so these are the best tools for artists to use to communicate their work. Without it, the entire street art genre wouldn’t bee where it is today. Though, that might bee a good thing jk.
Street art is still considered vandalism, how is it for you to go out and paint in the street? Did you ever have any problems with the law?
I got caught a few times. 1 of those times was in my city with my best friend. I had him take my digital camera (3.0 megapixels lol) with us on a billboard and someone called the police. It was a political based message that the police didn’t realize was a slight attack on the ‘system’ they were apart of and just thought it was a nice image of a giant 10ft baby and let us go and also let the poster stay there. It was taken down a few days later, but every time we get together we always talk about it. Now, I always go alone.