Meet Plastic Jesus; the hot new street artist taking LA by storm..
Often considered the Banksy of LA, Plastic Jesus is making his mark on the art world. Creating bold stencil and installation works, this up and coming artist questions the norms of society, using his art to highlight issues and opinions that often go unquestioned. Influenced by his experiences working as a photojournalist, his work is to the point and in your face; bright colours and bold subject matters are combined to create contemporary works which are humorous but also portray serious messages.
Plastic Jesus has been featured by various media channels including the BBC, CNN, Buzzfeed, LA Times, The Daily Telegraph, Us Weekly and many more. This acknowledgement of his work, combined with a constant presence on social media platforms, such as Instagram, has allowed Plastic Jesus to create an ever-growing international fan base which he relies on to gain interest and to avoid his work becoming inaccessible.
CultureLabel wanted to find out more about the anonymous artist, so we asked Plastic Jesus a few questions…
What drives you? Where do you get your inspiration from?
I’ve always been creative; to me visual art is the perfect way to express my opinions or emotions. As you can see from my art I’m inspired by news, politics, current affairs and culture. I don’t think I’ll ever run out of inspiration!
What’s been the most challenging piece of street art you’ve ever resurrected?
My Heroin Oscar statue I installed on Hollywood Blvd, during the 2014 Oscars was a technical challenge to fabricate. I’d never made a full size statue and the materials I used were far from ideal.
The night before I was due to install I was working late into the night and knocked it over, breaking off both arms at the shoulders. It would never have never been ready if it wasn’t for 5 minute setting epoxy glue and a hair dryer.
What role do you see street art playing in society and politics?
The streets are the only truly unedited ‘galleries’ that exist. So it’s a place where anyone can communicate anything. I think it’s important to democracy that everyone has a voice. Street art can be that voice.
Did you expect the world to react the way it did to your Donald Trump Wall? Where did the inspiration come for this piece?
I was stunned by the reaction. I thought the piece was okay but I never imagined it would go viral in the way it did. I was getting interview requests from all over the world. It even appeared in newspapers in China, Japan, and all over Europe. I think people respond to imaginative art and hopefully this piece falls into that category. I had a few ideas for a Trump piece, I’d already placed “No Trump Anytime” parking signs all over the US. But to me this piece symbolised the absurdity of his anti-immigration wall.
Ideally what do you want people to take away from seeing your work?
I want my art to connect to people on a number of levels; I want the piece to be visually engaging but also to be shocking or humorous. However, I also hope people can connect with my work on a deeper level and are able to see the message it represents and consider how they relate to it.
Your background is predominately photography, does this influence have an effect on the work you produce today?
My background as a photojournalist has been hugely influential on my work. As a photojournalist I may spend days or even several weeks working on a story, selecting just one image to convey a story. That image would have to communicate the story, the politics etc all at once. This discipline has helped me to focus and simplify my image to a point where (hopefully) the message is clear.
How have you seen the art market change over the last 5 years?
I’ve been a working artist for under 4 years, but seen a huge rise in my audience. Even during this short time, I’ve seen how it is no longer vital for an artist to be paired with a high end gallery. Previously the gallery controlled the exposure of an artist and could make or break their career. For me social media has been amazing. The truly global reach and unfiltered audience means I can connect with huge numbers of people around the world. Personally I don’t like the gallery experience; so many galleries make people feel un-welcome or not worthy. Art should be accessible to all, not only to an invited audience with a large chequebook.
Has the LA street art scene changed in LA over the last 5 years?
Street artists come and go, new people turn up on the scene and make their mark and sometimes just fade away. Street art is temporary, I think this works to ensure that the scene is constantly evolving. The city in some areas is more accepting of street art and issuing permits, however that isn’t really my thing. I do not expect to have to get permission from a government body to create art. If they don’t agree with your message you don’t get your permit.
Where did the name Plastic Jesus come from?
I moved to LA in 2007 and I was amused by the 3 inch Plastic Jesus figures many people have on the dashboards of their cars. If your faith is that strong do you really need that $4 figure to remind you?