Interview with WRDSMITH

I had the chance to talk with WRDSMITH, an LA based street artist, about his work via email. He was in Chicago last summer and put up pieces throughout the city. Much of his work involves a stenciled typewriter with words coming out of it.

ES: How would you describe the work you do?

W: I aspire to inspire others with positive and romantic WRDs painted and pasted on walls all over the world.

ES: I read about how you decided to leave Chicago to go to LA to write. How did you get started as a street artist?

W: In 2013 I was spending an abundance of time sitting in front of the computer writing. While I love to write, I realized I needed an active hobby that would take me away from the computer for stretches of time. However, I knew I’d ultimately come to resent most hobbies if they ended up distracting me from writing too much. So it was conundrum before I got the crazy notion to do word-based street art — an action that would still have me flexing the creative writing muscle, but also making me active.

ES: How did you decide on the idea of the typewriter?

W: When I decided to explore word-based street art, I immediately saw the image of of a typewriter with the page/words coming out of it. To me, it was such a simple idea that I had to research if anyone had done it before. When I discovered that no one had done it, I knew I had to run with the idea and make it a reality as soon as possible. And I did just that.

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Photo from the artist

ES: You mention that you get your inspiration from overheard conversations. What was the best thing you’ve overheard that worked its way into a piece of yours?

W: Not overheard conversations — just conversation I have with others. All the words in my work resonate with me or with something in my life. They are all personal in that way and I like that. It fuels the passion for WRDSMTHing. The fact that these WRDs are resonating with so many people thrills me because I am simply expressing myself and exploring things in my own life/world with my art.

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Photo by Elisa Shoenberger

ES: You talk about the location sometimes inspiring the piece. Could you give an example of that?

W: Sometime I’m walking or driving and I see a great wall or how a wall looks at a certain time of the day, which makes me think of some creative words that pay off that scene/location/moment. Then I work to polish those words and install them. One example is when I saw a plastic surgery company on a busy street and how the sunrise reflected in the mirrored windows. I wrote: “I really, really, really like you just the way you are” and installed it the following morning. Also [I] took the pic just as the sun was rising.  

ES: What do you want people to know about your work?

W: I want them to know I am a writer first and foremost. And 98% of the words you see in my work are written by me. Occasionally I will utilize a lyric or quote to tip my hat at words that inspire me, but I always give credit where credit is due.

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Photo from artist

ES: What is your favorite piece or place you’ve put up a piece?

W: I love putting art up in NYC, Paris, and London. But I also love filling Los Angeles with WRDs. Favorite piece [is] probably a tie between “Aspire to inspire others and the universe will take note” and “I love the way you blush when I tell you how you shine.”

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Photo by Elisa Shoenberger

ES: What do you want people to know that I haven’t covered in the other questions?​

W: I want them to know I am having fun and am just getting started.

Thanks to WRDSMITH for taking the time to talk to me about his work!

 

Interview with Megzany

I had the wonderful chance to talk last week with Megzany, a street artist based in LA. She was in Chicago last summer and made some incredible pieces in West Town and Pilsen. I even found some of her work on my recent trip to London! It was a pleasure talking with her via phone about her work.

ES: How did you decide to start doing street art?

M: I’ve always had an affinity to street art but I never thought I would take my art to the streets. It is an accomplishment to consider myself a street artist. I started in February 2016. I went to a gallery show, met a street artist and basically he said, “You want to be a street artist. You have an artistic hand. What are you waiting for? Just do it.” Two different artists told me that I was crazy for not pursuing my dreams– I thank them very much for the encouragement.

ES: How would you describe your work?

M: I consider my work as light-hearted and super inspirational. Most of my pieces have messages driven from places I’ve been and things I’ve felt. Something inside me makes me put these messages out there in the streets– I figure [that] people are going through the same things and need to see them.

The piece “Courage has no gender” came from when I worked in the corporate world. I felt that I had gone through a lot of dead ends or doors closing in my face. I was in the corporate space and not male. I wrote one day, “Courage has no gender” to myself. I am courageous. I shouldn’t feel that I couldn’t achieve something because of my gender.

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West Town, Chicago

ES: Do you have an artistic philosophy?

M: I stand for equality, it is so important. I want everyone to have the same jumping off point.

ES: Could you tell me the genesis of the mermaid in a vending machine?

M: The vending machine series started with a girl in the machine. The girl is me. I think that women should be able to express their sexuality without feeling like they are just there to be ogled at.  

The mermaid resonates with many women. Imagining the world is yours; you can do anything. I merged the two of those – the mermaid (basically as the everywoman) [with the vending machine]. The world is not her stage to be purchased; the world is hers to take.

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West Town, Chicago

ES: Could you talk about the drone and swinging girl?

M: A lot of my work is based around flight– I have a crazy obsession with it. When I saw that drone, it made so much sense. That’s our future; whether it [is] a day care of the future with the camera and watching your kid have fun. Maybe that’s excessive but why not take it to the extreme. Whatever technology brings us will be fun.

ES: Do you let the space drive the piece or the other way around?

M: It’s circumstantial. It’s a segmented question. When I have art that I’m going to do renegade, I search for walls in areas that I feel people would get the most enjoyment out of that piece. It’s the art first then the wall– that’s how I do renegade pieces.

Commission walls [are when] someone says, here’s a wall, and we want art on it. I let my imagination run wild, pairing images with words. Sometimes if I seek inspiration I pull from a book I wrote a few years ago while I was going through a hard time. It’s place I compiled everything I’ve learned, all my values in a 12,000-word book —my own personal handguide— for my reference. Basically, it’s the wall first then the art (unless someone wants a specific piece of mine then that’s obviously different).

ES:  I see a lot of photos on your feed of people reacting to your work. Could you talk about that feeling of people interpreting and responding to your work?

M: It’s really a blast. It’s something that takes me by surprise when I come across a photo of someone interacting with my work. It’s incredible. I put art up [in the hopes] of people finding and enjoying it but never expect that people will interact with it. When it does happen, it’s a pleasant surprise.

My favorite moment is when this little girl put up a dollar to the vending machine. It cracks me up, definitely symbolic of a girl tapping into her imagination. The art has come full circle.

ES: Could you talk about doing a piece on the streets versus a commission piece?

M: I’m an adrenaline junkie. There’s such an up and down, high and low, on street pieces because it’s such a gamble whether it will be there in an hour, two days, three days, etc. Some pieces have been riding for months or still do.

The streets are perfect for testing your art. I don’t normally test beforehand and I like to continue evolving any single piece.

Commission walls are a major difference. I enjoy them. They are a lot closer to my heart. I want them to live and breathe. There’s an expectation that it will last longer so I spend more time perfecting things. I go through an emotional state when I’m done. My friend put it in a very interesting way, “When I put that piece up, it’s no longer mine.” I’m learning to cope with that. I’m closer to those pieces that are commissioned. I’m giving a gift to some.

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West End, London

E: Anything you want people to know that I haven’t covered in other questions?

M: I’m here to stay in the streets. I love interacting with people– I hope people come and say “hi” if they ever see me out and about.