Photos courtesy of 2wenty.
Los Angeles based artist 2wenty is having quite a year. His “Facebook Social Cigarettes” street art went viral in early 2011 and he has been catapulted onto the world stage as one of the hottest street artists on the scene! Aside from his art, not much is known about the reclusive artist – until now! Thanks to the magic of Facebook, 2wenty and I played a real life version of 20 questions!
According2g: Where did the name 2wenty come from?
2wenty: When I was 20 years old, I use to ride street bikes with these older guys and they started calling me 20. It’s the only nickname I’ve ever had that wasn’t a spin off of my own name. I figured society sees people as numbers anyhow, so I’m picking my own.
A2G: How long have you been doing street art?
2wenty: I started right before 2011. Pretty crazy considering what has happened thus far. I have been dubbed “the golden child of LA street art” by a lot of people.
A2G: Who are your heroes / influences?
2wenty: I like what a lot of artists are doing but the only artist I’ve really looked up to has been LA’s Dog Byte. He is one of the few artists that was doing what I wanted to do in the terms of how he was choosing his spots, and I liked that he would only put out one-off stencils instead of slamming the street with the same thing over and over again. Not to mention he is a super nice guy and he really cares about the scene. I’ve started paying close attention to C215′s work. His stencil work is some of the best around. I don’t really have any specific influences other than looking at street art which I’m sure has some subconscious effect. I even try to guard myself sometimes because I want to develop my own style.
A2G: Who are your favorite singers/bands?
2wenty: I like lots of different music. Couldn’t really name a favorite. Right now it’s anywhere between Bjork, A Perfect Circle and Oh Land to NOFX to Dub Step music.
A2G: Do you have a preference for wheat pastes or stencils?
2wenty: Before I started doing street art I knew I wanted to do stencils. It worked out that I was fairly good at doing them. I like the challenge of doing a high amount of layers. It’s some what like doing a puzzle. Everything I put out (other than free art) is a wheat paste. It’s the easiest thing to put out with the least amount of risk.
A2G: What is the best thing that’s happened to you as a result of your art?
2wenty: I don’t even know where to begin. It has truly been an intense ride. In just 4 months I’ve had 4 showings (2 in LA and 2 in San Francisco), lots of press in the US ( Forbes, LAist, and Gawker just to name a few) and I’ve had some press in Brazil. I also have 3 more showings lined up between now and the end of July 2011. I have met some amazing people along with some of the top street artists and I’m glad to call a bunch of them friends.
A2G:I read that you are addicted to Facebook. What else are you addicted to?
2wenty: I wouldn’t say I’m addicted. It’s hard to get around what a great communication tool Facebook is. It makes you accessible to the world. It’s pretty hard to avoid using it all the time. Luckily enough I don’t really have any addictions. Right now it would have to be the feeling of going out and getting up. If I do something long enough I always grow tired of it.
A2G: What’s the last book you read?
2wenty: “Satori Now: Awaking Your Highest Self” by David Tuffley.
A2G: Is street art a crime?
2wenty: I think street art is in a really weird place right now. I do feel as though it is illegal, there seems to be a movement that is trying to make it more acceptable. I think some of the intentions aren’t pure. Street Art is really hot right now and there is money to be made. I see lots of people trying to take advantage of it in the near future. When’s the last time you’ve seen museums doing street art exhibits?! Im not really sure where the scene is going to go but I think it is in a transformation stage and its hard to tell if it’s going to be good or bad.
A2G: What’s your biggest pet peeve?
2wenty: Parking enforcement.
A2G: Tell us one thing that might surprise readers.
2wenty: I’m not really an artist.
A2G: Do you collaborate or work alone?
2wenty: There is one collaboration that I’ve wanted to do but it hasn’t happened yet. For the most part I like to work alone. One of my favorite things about art is that you can do it completely on your own and it can be done how ever you like. I’m tired of working and taking directions from other people.
A2G: Are there merchandising plans?
2wenty: None at the moment.
A2G: Thoughts about Twitter?
2wenty: Its too much work. I only allow one social network at a time to sell off my personal information with no compensation.
A2G: Are you a smoker?
2wenty: Luckily no. I almost want to start just because most people are bothered by it and it’s becoming illegal [laughs].
A2G: Any close calls putting up work?
2wenty: A few weeks ago, San Francisco street artist D young V and I had a gun pulled on us, but other than that, nothing.
A2G: Most memorable street art story?
2wenty: I’d love to write details, but with the way they [authorities] are after street artists now a days I have to refrain.
A2G: Future plans?
2wenty: The only real plans I have are for today, because who knows what tomorrow holds. Ideally I would like to keep growing as an artist.
A2G: Anything you want to get off your chest?
2wenty: See above. [smiles]
A2G: Can I ask you 2wenty more questions some time?
Thanks again to 2wenty for a great interview. You can see 2wenty’s work on the streets (and galleries) of Los Angeles. Status update: 2wenty is headed for the big time.