Photos by G. Art by Stu Rad.
Street artist Stu Rad is having quite a year. His art made a big splash on the streets of Los Angeles and he’s transferred that success into the gallery scene. Find out about his love/hate relationship with soda, his theory on why Sour Patch Kids taste so good, what his favorite Prince song and see the streets through the eyes of Stu Rad – in ten questions.
According2g: When did you start doing street art?
Stu Rad: I started making street art about 6 or 7 months ago. Damn, has it been that long already? I guess it has.
A2g: Who are your influences?
SR: I’m influenced by things I enjoy (like soda and clothing) and things that I don’t enjoy (like corruption and greed). The Coke Bottle image is kind of a warning for people to read the label before consuming certain products – Coca Cola is basically flavored battery acid. The Boot that says “Act Your Age Not Your Shoe Size” (lyric from the Prince song “Kiss”) is actually aimed at the shoe industry in which I worked for 4 years. There’s a lot of shady business that goes on in China where a lot of the world’s shoes are manufactured. The mark-up on shoes is staggering, but if you knew how much pollution is produced from the dyes and glues used to make them all, you’d be floored. Don’t get me wrong, I love Coca Cola and I like wearing shoes. There’s nothing better than standing in line at Pink’s (outdoor hot dog stand in Los Angeles), wearing shoes and ordering a Coke with your hot dog. but the fact remains the same: if you drink too much Coke you’ll get fat. If you dump chemicals into a river you’ll damage the eco-system. There’s better ways to do things, but America tends to think in terms of doing things cheap, not better. My artwork is a friendly reminder for people to know where their products come from and to read the label before consuming them.
A2G: Do you have any rituals before going out and putting up art?
SR: Rituals before I paste? I like to get comfortable in the crotch region. Yeah, no joke, if you don’t have flexible pants, you might have some trouble getting onto some of the roofs in LA, especially the two-story ones. I’ve had to damn near put my leg over my head to get onto some buildings, so I get comfortable first. I stretch and make sure I have comfortable clothing on. Street art is a healthy workout if done properly.
A2G: One of your pieces features lyrics from Prince’s song “Kiss.” What are your favorite songs from Prince?
SR: Really, are you really asking me my favorite Prince song? Why do this to me? Is it because I’m answering all the other questions? Ok fine, I guess if I had to pick one it would be “Little Red Corvette.” “I Would Die 4 U” comes in a close second. Prince exudes confidence. Prince is the shit.
A2G: Is street art a crime?
SR: No, street art isn’t illegal. It’s personal advertising. A cop wouldn’t arrest a little girl for putting up a “Lost” flier of her missing cat would they? Or an old lady putting up “garage sale” signs? I’m not a little girl, or an old lady, or even a woman for that matter, but I still believe I have a right to advertise for personal reasons.
A2G: Street art is now being featured in galleries. How does that change the game?
SR: I love galleries. I love being in them and looking at the art. Not every piece of art made by an artist can be put on the street. Things get absolutely ruined on the street, so it isn’t realistic to keep everything on the street. I like the fact that if my art is in one of these places, then I have the potential to make a little bit of money. Galleries are good for everybody. Let’s not all pretend that we don’t like money here, I like money just as much as the next asshole. The more money I make, the more art I can make. It’s simple economics. Let’s not forget that galleries are a place where a regular person can walk-in off the street and purchase an artist’s artwork they made a connection with, so it’s a chance for them to bring home an artist’s work without having to tear it off the street. It all costs money. I’d rather have that gallery-money going back into my pocket, then have my hard-earned money getting ripped off the street.
A2G: What’s the coolest thing that’s happened as a result of your art?
SR: Well let’s see, I’ve been in the game for a little over 6 months, and I’ve chatted with Shepard Fairey, Mear 1, Eddie Colla, Cryptik, Alec, and I even smoked a bowl with Roa. I guess the coolest thing would be all of the other artists I’ve had a chance to meet recently. I’ve been able to pick some brains of some pretty cool people.
A2G: Do you keep your personal life and your street art side separate or are they intertwined?
SR: Good question. I guess they are intertwined. I put a lot into my artwork, so it’s my main hobby. It’s a good hobby to have. It keeps your mind active and your hands busy. There’s a lot that goes into being a street artist. I put a lot of planning and energy and even money into what I do. It’s a lot of fun, but it doesn’t pay the bills. On one run, I will hand-paint 4, 8′ Boots, and not the actual boot but all of the letters in the boot that spell out “ACT YOUR AGE NOT YOUR SHOE SIZE”. Multiply that by 8, 18″x”24’s” or 6, 36″x48’s” – and that’s just for the boots I paint on one run! I haven’t even mentioned the amount of time spent printing, cutting, gluing, and making the paste. I’m not complaining, because these tasks are fun for me, but it brings me back to the “gallery question” and again, I believe that galleries are good for the street art scene because they are a way a street artist can supplement their income for a supplemental life.
A2G: Tell us one of your guilty pleasures.
SR: Oh, my guiltiest pleasure is drinking Coca Cola. I preach that it is a terrible substance, which it is – but it’s so damn good tasting! I’m also a candy freak. I love Sour Patch Kids and I’ll eat an entire bag of them at a time. I swear, the red ones are made with the blood of Jesus Christ.
A2G: Future plans?
SR:Future plans? I don’t really have any future plans at the moment. The plan is to live in the moment. I’m just playing it by ear. Shit’s all fucked up right now. I’m just trying to have some fun and make some art while listening to sick beats. Thanks for listening everybody! See you on the street. 🙂
Thanks Stu Rad! Keep your eyes peeled for Stu Rad’s work on the streets of Los Angeles and at Lab Art in Los Angeles.