Our first professional artist feature comes from the God-father of Urban Art. I caught up with the man himself to pick his brain a little. If you are a fan of hip-hop, urban, or art in general then you have heard of Justin Bua. For those who haven’t, read on….
STAMP: Introduce yourself. What is something you want the world to know about you?
My name is BUA and it’s probably best just to call me by my last name. Although my first name is Justin more often than not people call me Jason. It doesn’t really matter how many times that I tell them that my first name is Justin they don’t seem to listen. Whether or not they listen is not really the issue at hand, I’m starting to learn this. I think that my face is so “Jasonish”, so Jason-like and that they can’t help it. This is actually an interesting lesson in visual hemispheres. This means that the right side of the brain, (the visual side), becomes dominant when people see my face and the left side of the brain, (the verbal side) becomes submissive. This not only proves to the world that I look more like a Jason but more importantly it proves how we first judge and recognize things, people and objects visually and how instrumental art can be to relay a story without a narrative or the written word. Anyways those are just some thoughts.
Jason BUA (just call me BUA)
Justin: I was around it my whole life. My grampa’ was a letterer, a graphic designer and a painter. He did the original letterings for Felix the Cat as well as Prince Valiant and many more comics. He was amazing!
STAMP: What is your medium of choice and why?
Justin: Acrylic is my choice, but I love oils and continually take lessons to shape my oil skills. Oils are more beautiful and rich but I’m mad versed in Acrylics and they’re fast as hell so sometimes I gotta stay in my sweet spot!!!
STAMP: Did you study at an art school? If not, do you wish you did?
Justin: Yes the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena in Cali. [The experience was] Amazing!
STAMP: How were you able to take your love for art and make it into a career?
Justin: I started out designing skateboard decks and got into the poster game years ago. I also did a lot of commercial projects and still am doing commercial works.
STAMP: You have a very recognizable style. Do you find it challenging to infuse this signature look with your diverse range of clients?
Justin: Nah, I paint what I paint and it translates to the masses, which I’m really happy about. I’m an artist for the people by the people and of the people!
STAMP: Have you ever felt limited or trapped by your style? With so much pressure on mainstream art, have you felt peer pressured into conforming?
Justin: Well I think the art world is slowly changing and accepting to the urban art form. Whether it be graffiti pieces to urban subjects, cityscapes to entertainers, and shady street characters. I grew up to b-boying. I celebrate the urban experience and I don’t conform to what I put on canvas. That’s the TRUTH… Whatever shows up on the canvas is the truth!
STAMP: Can you remember the first piece you ever did and what inspired you to do it?
Justin: Kindergarten… I had an amazing art teacher and she made me do books on my life… That was the beginning of a whole new world!
STAMP: Can you tell any interesting stories about specific pieces, artists, or projects that you’ve worked on?
Justin: I got a million of them too many to go into… BUT I am working on my next book entitled “Legends of Hip Hop” and I was really on the fence about this one painting I wanted to do– It was a painting of Puffy and I didn’t know whether or not I should be painting him because he was more of a producer and a catalyst for the arts rather than an artist. Well I posted the fact that I was on the fence about painting Puffy and my FB page blew the fuck up. KA-MOTHERFUCKIN-BOOM!!! I had so many people screaming not to paint him I was actually surprised! Someone said that he was the Don King of rapping and yet another said that just because someone was in the room with Leonardo while he was painting a masterpiece doesn’t make him a great painter himself. Then I put it to the test and had Chuck D come to my studio-yes yes ya’ll a real life legend! Chuck put it down and said that Puffy was up there with the Kim Kardashians’. Well nuff’ said. That was a clear definitive “NO”!!!
STAMP: When a clients approaches you for a project, what factors, enter into your decision to take it (besides money)?
Justin: Money is definitely a factor but more than that I have to be intrigued by the project and it has to be something unique and great!
STAMP: Are there any clients you wish to work with, that you haven’t already?
Justin: Yes there are and many individuals like Jay-Z that I haven’t worked with as of yet that I think would be fun and inspiring.
STAMP: What have been your favorite projects to work on to date? Why?
Justin: NBA Street and NFL Street were fun projects just because not only did I do the character designs and the background designs but I was able to hire a team of artists that I believed in at the time.
STAMP: What are your challenges as an artist?
Justin: Money is the biggest challenge because the dollar bill has 4 legs and I only have 2. It’s not I never cease to chase the dream and it’s exhausting. I feel blessed that I can make a living at it but damn it’s a hard knock life.
STAMP: Have you ever shown in galleries? If so, what was the experience like? If not, how come?
Justin: Have I ever shown in galleries… yes sir. Hundreds, Just had a show at the Los Angeles County Museum of art. It was amazing. Everyone came out from Mr. Wiggles to Mix Master Mike to Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Justin: Haha not yet BUT mistakes in paintings can be happy accidents and that is a good thing.
STAMP: What role do you feel the internet has on art? Positive or negative?
STAMP: Do u feel like your work is evolving.
Justin: Yes. Every day I strive to get better. I am a teacher but I am also a student and I try to grow all the time.
STAMP: What advice would you give a young artist just starting or trying to get started?
Justin: Just put your art out there to the world and you will shine. Never get too down because whether or not the world embraces you as an artist or not isn’t the point. You paint because you have to and that’s the way it is.
STAMP: Do you agree with the overall objective of STAMP? Why? or Why not?
Justin: I dig STAMP… I respect people who try to create awareness for art and the art movement. Keep doing what you’re doing (:
Justin: LEGENDS OF HIP HOP ITS MY TOUR DE FORCE!!! BE ON THE LOOKOUT!!!
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