A while back, Cindy Schwarzstein introduced me to street artist Bleepbloop at Le Summer Street Art exhibit at Lexington Social House in Hollywood. Bleepbloop and I got to talking, discussing street art, live art, and expression. We exchanged our info and he disappeared. Late the one night, I get a text from Bleepbloop. Would I like to come with him and Thrashbird on a ride-along? Of course I would! Bleepbloop, Thrashbird, and their videographer, Hollowdoubt and I met at three in the morning and prepared to hit the streets.
Three years ago that Bleepbloop moved his canvas, the streets of New Orleans, to the the streets of Los Angeles. Thrashbird arrived in LA eight years ago, becoming a veteran street artist. A few years back, intrigued by Bleepbloop’s work, Thrashbird sought him out. This turned out to be a fortuitous meeting for both of them. They soon started collaborating, creating, and plastering walls with their street art.
Thrashbird and I have many stylistic agreements when it comes to our work. It just made sense for us to get together, plus he’s got about 8 years of knowledge on me on application.
As we were about to set off, Bleepbloop lays out one of his pieces on the sidewalk. All of his art is hand-painted. He shows me his intriguing work which cryptically includes a potentially solvable algorithmic puzzle. Ethically, I refuse to reveal the answer (also I haven’t figured it out yet!). We load up a truck with about twenty pieces of art, a tall ladder, an extendable brush, and over five gallons of adhesive. A few of their pieces are massive, the largest of their works measured 15′ x 8′.
Thrashbird leads us to a few locations that he had scouted out earlier. Surprisingly, the first place we hit was the usually trafficked La Brea Blvd. Dressed in dark clothes and hoodies, they just looked like shadows from afar. In the brightness of the street lamps, both artists start pasting up their work. Smaller pieces were pasted in less than a minute. To finish off the ritual, they paint frames around their art. Together, Thrashbird and Bleepbloop made the decision to spray-paint a frame around each piece
in order to make them pop.
The painted frame effect adds the gallery element onto our work, as well as acting as a visual draw.
Since they are breaking the law, they keep a constant eye out for police. Since they are not destroying anything, as their art can be safely removed, they don’t fall into the ranks of graffiti artist “vandals” who spray-paint, scratch, and tag throughout the neighborhood. But still…
It is a legal grey area, Bleepbloop explains:
Street art isn’t vandalism. If you pay taxes, then the streets are yours to do with what you will. Plain and simple. If a building owner wants to call us criminals because we’ve given them free art, then I’d say someone needs to re-evaluate their definition of vandalism.
What do they have against all those defenseless blank walls that dot the landscape? These empty spots have proven to be major motivation for both artists. Thrashbird questions:
Ask yourself if you would rather drive around a city that is empty and grey and brown and beige and flaccid and flat, or have some expression, ideas, and color?
Haha, we both suffer from a form of horror vacui, in which blank walls make us uneasy, creative, and vindictive. It’s like the walls are taunting us.
The biggest piece of street art they put up on my ride-along was so large they had to divide it into three giant side-by-side panels. Climbing a large building, they find the perfect spot. There is actually quite a bit of work involved posting their pieces. It takes a lot of maneuvering to spread the glue evenly over the parchment and to then position the glued part onto the wall without it folding over onto itself. In their early stages of putting up large panels together, some pieces were destroyed by the difficulty of this process.
There are relatively few street artists in the LA region. The more renown are now being shown in exclusive galleries and exhibitions. I was curious if this was a scene where the artists tend to know and collaborate often one another.
Bleepbloop points out:
As for a scene where artists meet and converse, I would say not in any particular setting. We just see each other’s work a lot and find ourselves in each other’s company. My personal favorite artists in our scene, aesthetically and stylistically, would be Retna, Xvala, Data, Chase Erachi, and Hottea.
For Bleepbloop, street art wasn’t so much his initial inspiration. He was motivated by the opportunity to get his work into the public’s eye, and for him, street art seemed to be a quick and easily accessible format. I ask both artist to describe their personal artistic style.
I would call it either, minimalist deconstructionism, abstract illustration, or beast art, the latter seeming the less pretentious of the three.
Thrashbird described his style as:
Messy, imperfect, obtuse, awkward, abrasive, sometimes jovial. There is an expression I can’t stand. It breeds apathy and lethargy. “Everything will be OK.” That’s an excuse to do nothing. My style is to show that everything won’t be OK. The only way to ensure that it will be OK is to be proactive.
Bleepbloop, Thrashbird, and Hollowdoubt proceeded to the east end of Beverly Hills, and then threw up their signature characters by the Troubadour. Bleepbloops signature is “Eat Boy,” and Thrashbird’s, “The Clone.”
Bleepbloop, describing his signature, says of his character:
He’s Eat Boy. He’s got “MORE” written on his tongue and I’m unclear if he actually is a boy. He’s more like Eat Person, but that just doesn’t have the pop that Boy does, so he’ll stay Eat Boy.
I finally left the group at 5:30 AM. Meanwhile, they still continued putting up their work until well after dawn. When the sun has finally risen, Bleepbloop and Thrashbird will return to their respective studios to work on their next collection of street art.
Bleepbloop will be showing at the Gabba Gallery on November 16th.
Thrashbird and Bloopbleep are always on exhibit throughout the streets of Los Angeles.
Beverly Blvd. east of La Cienega Blvd.
All photography by hollowdoubt