East3: ALOHA Justin Bua! Mahalo Nui for taking the time to do this interview! I am a big fan and I’m hyped to do this!
East3: Can you share your art history (when you started and how you evolved) and background (art school or self taught)? At what age did you start? Do you come from a bloodline of artists in the family?
BUA: I have been painting and drawing since I was very young. Both my mother and my grandfather are/were artists and constantly taught me about the great artists they admired. I attended the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music and Performing Arts and went on to the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena so that I had a good foundation to begin my career in the arts.
East3: You have a very soulful and unique animated style, where do you get your inspiration from to create Urban inspired art? Do you travel and research different cities?
BUA: The people I see everyday and the urban surroundings I have always lived in inspire my artwork. Growing up in the inner city during a turbulent era rife with Reaganomics, blackouts, garbage strikes, the burning streets, I was surrounded by chaos, but through art was able to find the beauty in it all. I document both the icons of my time and society’s marginalized, each, with equal reverence. It is not only a statement about the ghetto economies and the plight of those living in the projects, but the will, the creativity, and the rich culture that has been born from the inner-city.
East3: I really like your approach to animation and how you have a fisheye lens effect and elongated proportions, is this the way you always painted or is there an evolution to your style?
BUA: There was definitely an evolution to my style. I had to learn the fundamentals and as I did so, I would work to create my own style. I was often told it was too irreverent or subversive, but I had to move past the critics and the comments to create imagery that spoke to me.
East3: Having a strong appreciation with Urban culture how do you feel about the “Street Artist” movement? Do you consider yourself to be inside or outside of that label and why?
BUA: I am huge fan of the “Street Artist” movement. The idea of taking back our space, while creating and finding beauty in our everyday surroundings is what art is truly about. I feel it needs to be done respectfully and by those who are true artists. My art is both inside and outside the label of “street art” because I depict the scenes associated with street art and much of my style has street art influence. However, my work also is rooted in classical training and I work to pay tribute to the master painters that lived before the time of “street art”.
East3: Can you name some visual artists that inspire you and what do you like about their art work?
BUA: There are so many! I love those considered to be the masters such as Leonardo da Vinci, Rembrandt, Caravaggio, and Delacroix, those considered illustrators such as Rockwell, Leyendecker, and Cornwell, along with the current street artists such as Futura 2000, Mear One, and Tracy 168. There are just too many to list.
East3: From observation, you have a lot of passion and interest for Hip Hop & Urban cultures, in your early stages as an artist did you use a spray can as a “Writer”? In “1981” canvas you capture the essence of the culture so well I was curious to learn about you connection to the culture.
BUA: Yes, I did use the spray can in some of my earlier pieces, but my true love of the culture came from b-boying. I began to breakdance in my early teens and became a professional break dancer in high school. The rhythms of the music and the movement of the dance have great influence in my work.
East3: Is creating artwork a spiritual process? I recently have been enlightened and have greater appreciation for my gift because it is a form of channeling energy. What are your thoughts?
BUA: When I paint or draw it is takes me into another state of mind, a meditative state, which I consider a spiritual place. Everyone has to find that place or state of mind in his or her own passions.
East3: Can you describe the moment, event or opportunity where you art career started to take off in terms of popularity and success?
BUA: When I originally painted the DJ, my poster distributor swore it would not sell. It became the top selling poster and I have never looked back!
East3: Do you do any art workshops for the youth? Your style definitely inspires artist of all ages from the perspective of originality and doing what you love and believing that you can be successful by creating your own lane. Those values are really important to pass down to the youth.
BUA: Yes, I often host workshops for all different ages in my community and when I travel to other cities. I taught figure drawing at USC for several years and I love teaching. Which leads me to the answer to your next question…
East3: Creatively speaking, what direction are you headed in for 2013 and beyond? Any new or upcoming projects you can share?
BUA: I am currently working to prepare for my new online university classes where students will be able to learn how to draw and paint from my online videos and I will be able to correspond with the students regarding their assignments. There will not be pre-requisites and these classes offer skills for all levels. Please sign up for my newsletter at www.justinbua.com to stay updated on all that is going on and you will soon be able find more information about the classes at http://artistworks.com/ as well.
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