Questions and Answers with Street Artist Earl Lee

Posted by The G on October 11, 2011 under G Interviews, Street Art | Comments are off for this article

Photos courtesy of Earl Lube Industries.

Millionaire.  Lady Killer.  Sportsman.  Street Artist. Earl Lee is in it to win it.  Earl Lee’s penchant for fast cars and winning ways have turned him into an elusive icon that the most gorgeous women can hang with for only a night or a three day weekend if she bring two friends. The President and CEO of Earl Lube Industries, Earl Lee continues to push the envelope with everything that is fast on land, air or sea while simultaneously breaking the hearts of every centerfold, starlet and trophy queen he encounters.  “Born to Race and Race to Win” is Earl’s motto… and he’s just getting’ warmed up…….  Find out a little more about Earl Lee and why all the girls love him.

All The Girls Love Earl!

According2G: How long have you been doing street art?

Earl Lee: Started on the mean streets of Newport Beach, Cali approximately November of 2008.

All The Girls Love Earl

A2G: Can you tell us a few of your heroes and influences?

EL: The Earl character influences are too many to list but the top three in Earl’s DNA would be Howard Hughes, Hugh Heffner, and Frank Frazetta’s comic strip character Johnny Comet.  As far as street art, the first influence would have to be Shepard Fairey.  I don’t think you can be a contemporary street artist and not be influenced by him in some way.  I don’t just mean his art work but the sheer volume of work he has produced and put on the streets around the world.  Nobody can argue the fact that the man is prolific.  Somebody told me he only slept three hours a night in the beginning.  When I first picked up his Supply & Demand book, I read a part in the beginning that said, “…the fact is, if you want to make stickers but aren’t making them, you’re just lazy”.  That hit me right between the eyes because I had the means and the desire but was being held back by fear I think.

Some of my favorite/influential artists at the moment would have to be Nomade for the quality of their work and Mittenimwald out of Germany who I have been fortunate enough to do some collabs with.  Mittenimwald is a stencil genius when it comes to the female form and his texture work is off the chart.  I also like obscure guys like Stinkfish out of Columbia.  For sure the Cyrcle crew for the size and quality of the pieces they have been getting up here in LA lately.  All my LA street artist homies like Felix and the others I’ve met at the gallery shows since coming out of the closet… so to speak.  But if I had it to do all over again, I think I’d follow in the footsteps of guys like Bozo Texino or buZ blurr and just write my moniker on rail cars.  LOL!

As for heroes… I have been fortunate to have worked with or hung out with several of mine over the years and I find most all of them to have clay feet.  So I took the best of all of them and made up my own hero in Earl Lee.  Although Earl is very much alive he does not have any human frailties…. because he is a toon.

Crazy Horse

Crazy Horse

A2G: Tell us about the beginnings of Earl Lee.

EL: I had created the character of Earl Lee at least a year or two before I started putting him up on the street.  In the very beginning I really wanted to get him up but could never seem to pull the trigger.  At the time I had a very well-paying job working for a celebrity of sorts and I had a lot of fear about “what if I get caught.”  Then I made a trip to the Wilshire and Fairfax district in downtown LA with a friend one Saturday.  I was very familiar with the whole Melrose scene but did not know about this “new” area and the stores that were popping up there.  While walking around I came across a Boy Bomb stenciled on the side walk in front of the ALIFE store.  At that time I did not have a clue who Dog Byte was.  I still don’t know why but that image stopped me in my tracks and really resonated with me.  I’d seen lots of stencil work before but there was just something about that image and maybe the fact that it was boldly painted right on the sidewalk, red and black, right where you couldn’t possibly miss it.  At that very moment I knew I had to get busy with Earl and I’ve been chasing it ever since, like an addiction of sorts.  I still have a picture of that Boy Bomb stencil, from that day, on my studio wall for inspiration.

About a year or so after I started putting up Earl this guy RIK455ER hits me up on Facebook.  I laugh about it today but at the time he was so ninja and off the grid that he did not even have a phone!  He had to borrow a cell phone to call me.  From that day on he has become a good friend to Earl and we have done a lot of shows together as well as a very successful sticker collab.  He is probably the most prolific sticker guy out there as he has been doing it literally 24/7 365 for over ten years.  No joke.  Now this is the strange part…. several months into our friendship I tell him about the Boy Bomb experience on Fairfax and he tells me that he was bombing with Dog Byte and they both did that stencil in front of the ALIFE store.  Weird!  I give the biggest props to 455er for taking Earl under his wing and fast tracking him through all the land mines and the “who’s who in the zoo” and avoiding all the dramas.  I really try to stay above it all.

Earl Lube

Earl Lube

A2G: What is Earl Lube Industries?

EL: I’ve always had a fascination with vintage advertising, especially pertaining to vintage speed equipment companies, gas saving devices, spark plugs and especially the oil additive companies such as Bardahl, Wynns, Justice Brothers, and STP.   Earl Lee is the CEO of Earl Lube Industries, a multi-million dollar company passed on to him by his father in an era when a million dollars was a lot of money.  The main product is of course, Earl Lube.

Earl on Race Day

Earl on Race Day

A2G: Who is your favorite racer?

EL: Earl Lee, of course.   If that does not count then it would have to be A.J. Foyt.  I have been fortunate to hang out with him in his garage at the Indy 500.

Ericka Tune Up

Ericka Tune Up. Photo by Photo Jeninc

A2G: Why does Earl talk in the third person?

EL: Earl’s life is like a National Geographic documentary about a mysterious daredevil that all the ladies love.  Truth is, Earl is so busy living his life of high excitement that he hardly has time to speak at all!  This is why Bubba, Earl’s closest friend, confidant, and custodian of Earl Lube Industries, interprets and narrates Earl’s life for his fans.

Evil Earl stickers

Evil Earl stickers

A2G: Take us through a day in the life of Earl.

EL: After hitting the alarm and shaking off the three ladies from the night before, Earl gets up to put on his pants like any other normal man but he does not have to bother with his cowboy boots because they never come off.  He has his normal hearty breakfast of three eggs, three sausage links, three strips of bacon, three waffles and one grapefruit cut into three halves.  He washes this all down with a full quart of his own patented confection of Earl Lube– a snake oil, motor oil, personal lubricant that tastes a bit like butterscotch.  It’s Earl Lube, the elixir which gives him his power over women.  Just a quart a day and all the ladies would love you, too!

Earl x Miw (time trials)

Earl x Miw (time trials)

Though Earl is a scratch golfer and winning gambler, it’s in racing where Earl’s true passion lies.  The thrill of the chase, the quest for glory, and the pure need for speed is what fires Earl’s heart.  If you were to ever wonder what was on Earl’s mind, you could bet your mother’s wedding ring he’d be thinking of his next trophy.

As a captain of industry and CEO of Earl Lube Industries, duty sometimes calls and Earl must be quick to respond.  Though Earl’s business headquarters are off in Pasadena, his mechanic always has his P-51 Mustang fired up and ready to fly on a moment‘s notice.  However, Earl finds a way to finish every day at the racetrack and though he may not always go home with the trophy, he always takes home the loveliest ladies.

A2G:  Speaking of ladies, can you give us some tips that you’ve been successful with for getting the ladies?

EL: O.K., ladies, look at Earl… now look at your man… now look back at Earl… if your man used Earl Lube every day you’d have that same tingling feeling for him that you have for Earl right now. Cause everybody knows… “ALL THE GIRLS LOVE EARL LUBE”.

Erika Electrical Box

Erika Electrical Box. Photo by Photo Jeninc.

A2G:  Any close calls?

EL: For a cop to roll by while doing an Earl install is almost standard procedure for some reason.  I’ve had help on some large installs and when the cop rolls by I tell them to just keep pasting.  I’ve never been hassled yet… knock on wood.

Earl Sticker Pack

Earl Sticker Pack

A2G: What’s next for Earl?

EL: There are more Earl x Mittenimwald collabs in the pipeline as well as rolling out an Earl Lube Industries advertising campaign.   The advertising campaign is based on a love of vintage advertising, water slide decals, “Authorized Dealer” stuff, old match book covers, etc.  Some of the stuff is re-purposed retro images and some of it is brand new.  The balancing act is always blending Earl’s vintage roots yet keeping him minty fresh and current.

Chim Chim

Chim Chim. Photo by Photo Jeninc.

A2G: Parting words?

EL: Don’t think Earl Lube Industries is all fictional.  As we all know, Earl Lee is a genius inventor.  Earl’s fans keep asking how they can get their hands on Earl swag, so Earl is soon to be rolling out some prints and other stuff to make them happy.  He is also working on something geared towards the hardcore street artist and hopes to start testing that out on the streets shortly.  So stay tuned kids…. there’s lots more to come in the adventures of Earl Lee.

Bebe Girl

Bebe Girl: "All The Girls Love Earl"

Thanks Earl.  Just so you know, it’s not just the girls that love you.  We love you too!

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