Observer: Curtis Kulig | Artist
Interview by Malaya Velasquez
What’s your AMMO?
Miss Lily’s in NYC. It started as a restaurant. Serge is a good friend and asked me if I wanted to invest and I of course said yes. Now it’s a juice bar, a shop, and sort of just a general good hang. It’s like a trip to Jamaica without leaving the city. I love it there. And the vibe is like none other.
After reading an interview with 1NEDERS you said “Graff is a really selfish act where the writer is wanted to be seen and heard by everyone whether everyone wants to see it or not. Love me is a true expression of wanting to be loved but also a sarcastic fuck you to all the haters. Most tags are so serious and the whole graff culture is pretty hardcore. Love Me is pretty ironic and kind of pussy.” There seems to be a lot of thought put into these two words, and a huge part of ‘love me’ and graff in general is about personal self-expression. What is your personal experience with ‘love me,’ what lead up to this being your tag?
‘Love Me’ is bigger than me. It started as something I scribbled in notebooks. A few friends in LA have early pieces I wrote on in ’05 and ’06. When I got to NY and started spreading it, it kind of grew into this animal of its own. I mean, people get it tattooed on their bodies; I get pictures every week, from people I don’t even know. People also hate it vehemently, which used to bother me, but it really doesn’t any more. For me, it’s opened a lot of doors, created a lot of opportunities and keeps growing and that’s all I really care about. I get bored really easily and so far it’s been pretty interesting so on it goes.
Usually when I see love me in a book, or novel the two words are paired as a question do you ‘love me?’ Love me seems to be more of a statement. Is it? Cause being able to just flat out say ‘love me.’ doesn’t seem pussy but pretty damn brave.
Brave? Nah. I’m not a tough guy. The world has enough tough guys. It’s technically a command if we were in a telenovela, right? I took like a year of Spanish so I could be off on this, but you know like ‘Escucha Me’, it means listen to me. I think it’s kind of like that. Just saying it straight, not asking. Someone once said it’s somewhere in between a desperate plea and an inviting mantra. For me, it’s hard to say… depends on the day or who’s looking at it.
A huge part of the impact of ‘love me’ definitely lies in its almost impossible proliferation. What role do you think repetition plays into lives of graff or tag artists?
I think repetition is the key to anything having traction in this day and age. We’re so oversaturated. It doesn’t matter if you’re a tagger, a painter, a musician, a writer, the audience wants the same over & over, but just a little different. It’s like the scene in the movie Basquiat, where Benecio Del Toro tells Jeffrey Wright about how it will take 7 years to be famous and 10 years to be rich, but you’ll have to paint the same thing over and over again so people know it’s you.
If you could sit down and have a dinner with any five people from past or present who would they be?
Andy Warhol, Richard Branson, Eazy-E, Marilyn Monroe, and my very much alive friend Steven Arroyo, preferably at his new spot La Otra Escuela in LA. All of them know how to make moves from the gut, create something no one knew they wanted, and each one is a brand in their own right.
You have done collaborations with other artists in the past; do you have any current collabs you are working on?
I did a little project for the election with Dana Veraldi of Deer Dana. I think she’s a fantastic person & I love her drawings. Right now most of my collaborations are with brands. I have a collection for Vans coming out and a collection for Smashbox Cosmetics, both launch at the start of 2012. And I’m doing playing cards with Theory 11; which is amazing. I have a few more in the works but nothing I can talk about right now but they’re all brands & products I’m into and they’re a lot of fun.
What is your experience on working on collaborations vs. working alone? Is there a difference between the word and act collaboration vs. two artists working on stuff together?
I’ve done stuff with Mint & Serf and they’re great because I’ve known them forever and I like their take on things. Working with Dana is cool. You know usually it’s using my work as the foundation or I do something over their work. I like the brand stuff because we get mockups or give them ideas, then tweak and change or rework. But lately, I really like working alone. On canvases. It’s kind of my therapy and something I can just do solo with no computer, no phone calls, and I like that.
Any advice for young artists?
Just keep doing what you’re doing. Sooner or later someone will pay attention. And get on as many blogs as you can. Everyone looks at them. They’re the new PR and a lot nicer and they don’t take a monthly retainer.
Could you describe your life and work as an artist in 1 food, 1 beverage, 3 colors, 1 song, 1 sound, 1 profanity, and a description of a random image?
Food: Jack’s Breakfast at Jack’s Wife Frida. Beverage: Americanos. 3 Colors: Red, Black & White. Sound: Ohmmmmm. Profanity: Cunt Description of a random image: Peeking out of white bedsheets.
Any good music lately? Who’s on your playlist?
Waka Flaka and Author Russell
A 20-foot cherry red auto-painted sculpture that looks like it’s falling through the floor somewhere
For more from Curtis Kulig go to, www.lovemewashere.com