You might say Buff Monster is not a run of the mill street artist - it’s not every day you run into a guy so passionate about pink whose work prominently features puffy ice cream cones. It’s for this reason that his work is so memorable and well-loved and nearly impossible to walk by without breaking into a giggle.
We were thrilled to have him take over the 6th Street Mural this week. And not to brag or anything but we’re pretty sure this is a life-long friendship. It’s been five years since he did a vitrine installation at The Standard, Hollywood and he was just as delightful this time around. And he even brought his dad! We sat down to ask Buff some important Qs, like could he live without pink?
Buff Monster’s original sketch for the mural concept
The Standard: Your aesthetic is decidedly different from most other street artists. How did you arrive at the art of Super Happy Pink?
Buff Monster: About 11 years ago I had already painted graffiti for a while and given up on it. And I was putting up posters and making some really crazy assemblages and paintings inspired by things I saw and found in the street. I still like those pieces today, but it was clear to me back then that something was missing. I started to experiment with different materials as I started drawing this bubbly cloud land that the then-recently created Buff Monster character lived in. More and more I just got sucked further and further down a pink worm hole, listening to heavier and heavier heavy metal as I went.
If pink were suddenly no longer an available color would you a) stop painting/creating or b) pick another color and if so which?
There certainly is no substitute for pink. I wouldn’t stop painting, I’d probably just work in black and white and gray, which I like doing already.
The Ice Cream Cone man keeps watch at The Standard, Downtown LA
Since you’ve been painting your signature character for 10 years, how do you make sure new work is unique while still incorporating this signature concept?
That is tricky and something I’m always thinking about. Lately I’ve been working on a bunch of new stuff that is just really inspiring. I think the work that people know me for might more or less be complete.
Does being LA-based influence your work? Does it matter where you’re painting – does the concept or the site/city/space come first?
I’ve always drawn a similarity between the content and execution of my paintings with the city of LA (or more specifically Hollywood, which is to say the movie industry, or more specifically the long history of fantasy creation). And like I said above, I’m starting to feel more and more like that’s a completed story. After over 14 years in LA, I’m seriously considering moving to NYC in a few months.
Buff Monster and his pops, Bernard Monster
What’s your favorite collaboration you’ve worked on so far?
I’d say the three collaborative wall paintings I did in Miami during Art Basel (November 2011) were really inspiring. First, I was working on a wall and true graffiti legend Cope2 came by and added some of his signature letters to my piece. That was really awesome.
The second wall I painted out there was for a live painting battle. I was part of Team USA which also had on it Tristan Eaton (team captain) and KaNo. That was a lot of fun, and we ended up winning the battle (against some other rad friends from Europe).
Last, but not least, painting a wall with another buddy of mine from NYC named Lamour Supreme was totally radical. We had never painted together before and we created this very tripped-out piece that showcased both of our styles very nicely.
What can we expect from your upcoming show at Corey Helford Gallery?
I think this show will really surprise people. I always manage to come up with new pieces that surprise people, but I really feel that this new body of work will be a tremendous step forward. I’ve been doing a lot of research on Renaissance paintings. I’m introducing new characters and a new narrative which I’ve never concretely worked with before. I’m also physically painting the paintings differently this time around – this is my fifth solo show with the gallery and it opens on April 14th, which happens to be my birthday.
Stop by and get the Buff Monster dessert created by Chef Micah Fields, available in the restaurant for a limited time.
Photos by Carlos Gonzalez for Arrested Motion, the 100s and Hi Fructose.