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POW Chats: An Interview with Bumblebeelovesyou

bumblebeelovesyou bee there soon Bee There Soon

 

Fresh off of Air + Style LA 2016, we chat with the always pleasant Bumblebeelovesyou about origin stories, communication, bees and beach plans.

Hey Bumbleebee, I want to start where we left off at Air + Style when we were discussing how your name came about. Highschool right?

Yes, the name Bumblebee, was a nickname in hs. I was wearing a black and yellow striped shirt that I got from Hot Topic, but it looked good on me I swear [laughs]. And someone at a party said the name and it stuck, but it wasn’t until years after hs that I decided I wanted to base my work around the theme of that name. I didn’t want to base my work purely around the theme of ‘bumblebees,’ but something clicked for me when I started experimenting with graphics and I just thought ‘bees’ symbolized so much and I knew there were countless ideas I could explore because of it. And ‘lovesyou’ just had this awesome positive aesthetic energy, not to mention when you google bumblebee all you get is actual bees, ‘lovesyou’ was a great extension and in this age of communicating everyone needs a good hashtag.

Can you talk about where you're from and what it was like for you growing up there?
I grew up in Downey, CA. My parents own a home and we had a front yard with a sidewalk to play on and a backyard with a lot of fruit trees (Dwny kids know: lemon tree, orange tree, grapefruit tree, avocado trees, fig tree and a lemon tree, oh and a peach tree that died recently).

I’m a 90’s kid and was raised purely off Saturday morning cartoons, the Disney channel and Nickelodeon. I had a pretty great CHILDHOOD.

bumbleelovesyou payphone prints on wood

Your work has come to deal largely with communication as an underlying theme. Where does the desire to focus on that topic stem from as opposed to all the other muses to choose from?

I’ve always felt that because of my age, I’ve always had one foot in the ‘age of analog’ and one foot in the ‘digital age’. Fortunately, while growing up I started to take note of all the changes that were quickly happening around us. Pay phones were just disappearing and cell phones were paving the way for new everything. GPS and laptops had been around but only if you were fortunate enough to bee able to afford them. Slowly but surely, everything started to become accessible and the way we communicated started to change. I still feel like some of my old friends are still trying to catch up with the new technology that is, social media. I always felt like no one was talking about this rapid change, so I decided to start a dialog with old telephone kiosks and turning them into sculptures with beehives in them. The theory being that the rise in cell phone usage had been starting to misguide the bees patterns of migration and because of the cell phone rise, public phones were no longer needed so they were taken out.

You've been in demand lately Bumblebee, can you talk about your most recent projects?

I’ve had a few recent projects. One major one being getting my ‘wisdom teeth’ removed; all 4 throughout the month of January. That was seriously one the toughest things I’ve done in my entire life and the tooth fairy didn’t even show up (smh tooth fairy).

I made my first product available online-- ‘Mutual Feeling’ lapel pin-set available during the month of February. That was an awesome personal project because I’ve always been into product design. They came out so great I can’t wait until the next pin release, which is probably going to be ‘Somewhere I’d Rather Bee’.

Another cool project was working with ‘Dunkin Donuts’. What an honor to be able to paint on their first store in CA. I felt very humbled that all my hard work had been starting to get noticed by big names like them.

Also, speaking of product design, I designed an all natural butter label, TAVA Ghee, that is sold in Whole Foods in downtown LA. Of all things I did last year, nothing beats walking into a grocery store and being able to purchase your own product design. What an awesome experience.

And the most recent project I did was my print -- which coincided with the Oscar Sunday and sold out -- of my print set trilogy, Director’s Cut. (Thanks everyone who got one!)

Just Friends Just Friends

 

What are your creative processes when getting ready to draft a piece? What types of rituals or practices get you in your zone leading up to working?

In order for me to start working on a project I have to immerse myself into whatever I’m working on. Like, seriously, my gf sometimes gets jelly over the amount of time and effort I spend on them. But she knows ilher. Usually, it starts out with me going into the space and asking a lot of questions about what sort of ‘vibe’ goes on here. If I’m working on a canvas, it’s similar, but what changes is that it has to be my ‘vibe’ so I’ve usually planned in advance the type of mood I want to set, but I don’t always know what I’m going to create.

One thing that I do is starting by cleaning my studio space. I can’t work in an unorganized & dirty room anymore. I feel like, the cleaner the space, the better the work tends to bee. It makes me feel more comfortable, relaxed and organized. Also, Netlfix and Seinfeld tend to be a go-to while I’m designing. Podcasts help too, the Nerdist is really long and entertaining. And lastly, listening to the same song over and over again for hours is when I’m most productive. (will ‘Views’ album ever come out?)

If you could only paint with three colors/hues for the next 6 months, what would they be and why?

I guess I only paint with white, black and yellow although lately I’ve been integrating, pink, blue, and green into my work. I would have to pick the first 3 because it’s where I first got my style.

Last year you were voted LA Weekly's 'Best Street Artist' for all your efforts in the public forum. Can you talk about your history in public art-- your tools, some of your most memorable spots, etc?

One day I just got up and said, 'I’m going to paint this outside. I don’t know where I’m going to paint it, but it’s going to happen and I hope I don’t get caught.'

So using unloved parts of the city, I just started painting kids in striped shirts doing things that kids do. Then that evolved into my making beehives sculptures out of the phone book and placing them into unused telephone booths. That’s how it all started; just by me saying I’m going to do something, then actually doing it, but in a well thought out planned execution.

I am very grateful for the love LA Weekly has shown me throughout the years. I’m glad they’ve recognized me for my hard work and what I represent. A lot of ‘street artists’ here aren’t even from LA so I think it was very important for my career as an artist to be recognized as the best in my city. It really shows the bond we share for people who grew up here. There’s a sense of community even though we are spread out. It’s like we’re all extended family.

Somewhere I'd Rather Bee Somewhere I'd Rather Bee

 

Can you tell me about the piece you painted during Air + Style? A rendition of your work, "Somewhere I'd Rather Bee," right?

Yea, I love that piece! I hardly ever get to paint ‘Somewhere I’d Rather Bee’ anymore. There’s only a handful of originals of that image even though it’s one of my most beloved characters by my fans and myself.

Air+Style seemed like a great opportunity to present that work in a more casual way: a ‘coloring book’. I traced the outlines of the image and put letters and numbers extending from the image to make it seem as if there were instructions on how to color in the piece and I invited random people to help color the image with sharpies and spray paint, crayons & colored pencils. It was awesome because Jeff Soto, who was painting in front of me, helped out a little bit too! It was such a fun weekend and I’m glad I was able to bee a part of it. Also, glad it sold at charity later that week. #stillgotit

What do you have coming up in the coming months in terms of work projects and professional goals?

Let’s just say ‘blacklights’ and ‘ceramics’ will bee involved for the pop-up. I’m in a few group shows around CA, and for the most part I am using this time to continue integrating collectible product designs for all my fans and collectors. There’s a few large scale murals as well and hopefully I’ll be getting out of state so if anyone reading this knows of any walls, please let me know ;)

What do you have coming up in terms of personal plans you're looking forward to, completely aside from obligations and work?

I really want to get back in the ocean. I used to surf and bodyboard and it was so much fun. I really hope I can force myself to get out of the studio and dedicate some morning time to get back in the water. This is CA afterall, or at least work on my tan while I’m there.

Mutual Feeling Mutual Feeling