He calls himself “a large scale stencil artist.” This is the first B.D. White piece I ever came across. I was walking in the East Village in NYC a little less than a year ago and happened to look at the bottom of a street pole (this is a collab with fellow street artist, Jilly Ballistic):
I was so interested in his style, that I reached out to him with…10 questions. Here is the interview (It’s been in the works for a couple of months):
TOKIDOKI: I spent a majority of 8 years in Asia, SE Asia…and that’s why the first time I saw your work (in July 2013, sad to say), the ‘communist propaganda’ looking pieces on St. Mark’s Place…I was immediately drawn to it. What was your inspiration behind those specific pieces?
B.D. WHITE: The communist propaganda piece was just a dig at congress. All you see is them fighting back and forth blaming the other party like children rather than working together to form solutions. I wanted to make a piece that illustrated that and I thought it would work great as a propaganda poster taunting them. I came up with the idea and then went to Jilly Ballistic for the text. She came up with a great line the illustrates the meaning perfectly.
TD: Who’s Jilly Ballistic? (I looked her up a bit, but more to the point): How did you start collaborating with her? Some of the communist propaganda (sorry, i don’t know what else to call them) pieces are with her. Some aren’t. What’s the story there?
B.D.: Jilly Ballistic is a great New York street artist. She puts up historical images of people in gas masks and these tongue in cheek Policy Advisory posters like “To thine own selfie be true” and “It’s all fun and games until morality sets in”. Needless to say I was a fan of her work, and just by chance she emailed me saying she was a fan of mine, so we started to collaborate on a few pieces. I was already using text with my work and she creates fantastic lines so it worked out great. I had some ideas with images but no lines and she filled in the blanks perfectly.
TOKIDOKI: So, I leave for the Middle East in July and when I return to NYC in September, I see a colorful bird mural piece up in Williamsburg and I couldn’t believe it was yours! I naively pegged you for the one style/theme that I saw in July and that was it. I was blown away by the bird. Does that sound right? But anyway, where did that come from?
B.D. WHITE: The War Flamingo is a more accurate representation of my canvas work. That image was for my sister’s bar One Last Shag in BedStuy to be used as a logo. I also tried to add meaning by showing a beautiful graceful bird decked out in war paint to show the ridiculousness that war can bring. I don’t know if I succeeded in that though. But that was painted in the studio with multiple layers of stencils on these cheap wood panels and then attached to the construction barrier with glue and screws. I really enjoyed doing those wood installs because I can go out in broad daylight and put them up without risk of arrest. No one seems to care about construction barriers.
TOKIDOKI: And now the most recent Native American woman. What’s she about?
B.D. WHITE: The native girl was actually a portrait of my sister. That was another piece that I tried to add meaning to but kind of failed at it. I paired it with a modified Robert Frost quote “Miles to go before we sleep” to try to illustrate the ongoing Native American struggle in this country, but I don’t think I succeeded.
TOKIDOKI: I just thought of something so I’m going to put it out there right now. I noticed that your recent pieces, though glued and screwed into wooden backdrops, they’re getting lifted off the streets. Has this always happened or do you think the recent Banksy mania (people wanting to steal any bit they could grab) influenced people in a way to think that hey, grabbing street art for free is a good idea! What do you think?
B.D. WHITE: All of the wood installations have been stolen. I think the longest one lasted for 2 or 3 weeks. Shortest was 1 day. I don’t know if it’s the Banksy phenomenon or if people just like it and want it for themselves. Either way it’s both flattering and frustrating. Flattering because I’m glad they either liked it or thought it was worth money enough to take the time and effort to steal it. But also frustrating because the pieces take time to make, I put them up for everyone to see not just for one person to selfishly take home.
TOKIDOKI: Do you like Banksy? Why/Why not? Every artist interview I conduct, includes this question.
B.D. WHITE: I do like Banksy. I love the politics he puts in his work. I tend to agree with everything he says and I think he has a great way of illustrating it in an almost humorous way.
TD: Have you always been artistic? Were you born in NYC?
B.D.: I have always been artistic. Drawing and framing my pictures on my wall from as far back as I can remember. Painting and drawing became a favorite hobby at a real young age and I’m very lucky I get to continue it as an adult. No, I wasn’t born in New York. I was born in Connecticut and moved to Brooklyn in 2010.
TOKIDOKI: Can you remember the very first piece/sticker anything, that you put on the street? When was it? What was it? How did you feel having it out there?
B.D. WHITE: The first real pieces I put in the street were wheat paste posters (I’m not counting stickers). It wasn’t too long ago, either. February 2012 if I remember correctly. Those first pieces had no meaning what so ever. They were just portraits of myself. One with glasses making an awkward face and the other holding one hand over half my face block out an eye. I loved having them out there. My favorite thing was seeing people stop and photograph it. I guess you could say I liked it enough to keep doing more.
TOKIDOKI: TOP 5: (can only say one for each) Fave Book: Fave Movie: Fave Artist: Fave Food: Fave CD:
B.D. WHITE: BOOK— Animal Farm MOVIE — Beneath the Harvest Sky ARTIST — Shepard Fairey FOOD — BBQ ALBUM — currently it would be There’s no leaving now by Tallest Man on Earth
TOKIDOKI: What is your ultimate message to the world?
B.D. WHITE: Change only occurs when society gets behind it.
TOKIDOKI NOTE #1: Very special thanks to B.D. for taking the time to answer my questions. I truly appreciate it from the bottom of my heart. Artists don’t have to do this for me, of course, so whenever someone does, I truly, truly appreciate it. Thank you, B.D.!
TOKIDOKI NOTE #3: As you’ve noticed, artist Jilly Ballistic was mentioned up there. She’s spot-on with observations and she has a great series going in the NYC subway current;y, where she adds her text to already existing advertisements. I hope to do more in regards to her work in the future. (I follow her on Facebook.)
B.D. White is a Brooklyn-based large-scale stencil artist available for commissioned work. He specializes in creating portraits and hand draws and cuts each stencil.B.D. White is a Brooklyn-based large-scale stencil artist available for commissioned work. He specializes in creating portraits and hand draws and cuts each stencil.
Everyone asks me when did I get involved with and become so passionate about street art. I know exactly when, where, and why. Bogota, Colombia, not so long ago…2012… because of Crisp, a Bogota-based Australian street artist. His passion, knowledge, and talent inspired me. Before I met him, my head was definitely turning towards all of the art I was seeing on the walls in Bogota. I was learning Spanish from translating the slogans, I was learning about the political climate in Colombia, and I was learning who the most prominent artists were. Because I was feeling so affected by the public displays of art, I knew that there was something deeper and more beautiful about graffiti and street art than most people accept or recognize. And Crisp was always available for commentary. I’ve already posted so much of his work, but here, I’m going to post a mural I was likely enough to document right here in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NYC, plus a few Banker Vader stickers that have popped up in the city as well. Here’s more insight into this talented, generous artist:
TOKIDOKI: What’s the difference between street art and graffiti and what category would you place yours in? I know you’ve done commissioned, non-commissioned, stickers, paste-ups…Is it possible your work is one thing in Australia, Europe, the U.S. (graffiti)… but something different in Bogota where it is ‘essentially’ legal?
CRISP: Graffiti writing is stylised writing, letters and words. Street art is everything else. Though street art, urban art and graffiti can be used to describe anything on the streets these days I think. I’m definitely not a writer, so I do street or urban art. In Bogota urban art is prohibited not legal but def more tolerated than in other cities in the world.
TD: Do you remember the first time you put your work on the street? What was it? Where was it? I always ask this question because in my mind I’m thinking it has to be a pretty momentus occasion. But, maybe it’s not…?
C: Both my parents are artists, so I have created art ever since I could hold a crayon. Putting stuff up on the street though is quite a recent thing for me. I’d say about 3 years ago here in Bogota bombing small tribal face stencils was my first experience!
TD: How has your work evolved from Pre-Bogota (before I had the pleasure of an introduction to your work) to what you’re doing now in Bogota and also what you’re doing now in Mexico, the U.S. (NYC, Atlanta, Miami…)? Did you start off with anti-corporate sentiments or did that position evolve? In regards to images, I’m a huge fan of the trooper, vader, yoda, and monkey (that I only saw once…the piece with Miko.) And I like the Obama one with the Indigenes, as well as the new Julian Assange portrayal. Your current images are also compelling (the ones that are in this post…) afro-woman, native man, humpback whale, elephant, rat (forgive me if I haven’t identified them correctly, please correct)…what do they represent?
C: Before I came to Bogota I was doing “fine” art, so drawings on paper, paintings on canvas, sculptures and other traditional art forms. Whereas most my work now is on the street. I’m working predominately with stencils at the moment but also do stickers, street sculpture, and paste ups. I’ve always done a mix of socio-political artwork and solely aesthetic pieces. Many of my images are connected to nature, and humans interaction with it, also making points about current affairs and the distorted world we live in today.
TD: What are you saying with this particular mural? I realize that a large part of you wants people to interpret your work for themselves. Fair enough. But, if you HAD to say what it means to you, what would you say? I’m seeing a connectedness of the human spirit with nature…
C: Yes my recent murals in north america were about the connection between nature, animals, and humans. I wanted to emphasis how native people have a closer harmonious relationship with nature, and we should learn from them. Also I just thought it looked cool lol
TOKIDOKI: Your star is steadily rising, mostly due to the evident passion you possess for your art. It’s inspiring. It’s contagious. You’re a huge reason that I’m doing what I’m doing. What’s your ultimate goal to fulfill in regards to your art?
CRISP: Thank you for your kind words, I appreciate hearing my work inspires and effects others. My ultimate goal is to do art as long and as much as possible as long as it makes me and others happy. When I don’t do art I feel lost and it makes me feel like I’m not following my dream or passion.
TD: Do you like Banksy? Why/Why not?
C: I’ve always liked Banksy’s work, he has also helped bring not only stencils but urban art to the masses. His stencils are nicely done and he always has a clever message behind his work. He is able to push important issues and make many people think through his work. What I don’t like, is the fact he is the only urban artists that the general public can mention or knows about. That is a shame when there are so many other great artists out there. Saying that this is due to media rather than him.
TOKIDOKI: FAVE 5?
CRISP: Food – mango Book: “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” by Philip K. Dick Movie: Akira Music: Led Zeppelin Artist: James Gleeson (Australian surrealist)
TD: Who are your Top 3 international street artists/graffiti writers and why?
C: Very difficult Question….BLU – Not only does he create powerful massive murals but his animation work on the streets of Buenos Aires are breath taking! ROA – Awesome mix of realistic animals and anatomy. DjLu – From huge technical and detailed stencilled murals to powerful socio-political bombing pictogram stencils! Plus very nice guy.
TOKIDOKI: In your opinion, what are the top 3 cities in the world for street art?
CRISP: Bogota, Colombia – Still quite unknown and underground to the general urban art world but the most prolifically covered city I have ever traveled through. Probably one of the best cities in the world for stencil art. New York, USA – Not just because this is where it all began but the likes of 5 pointz and Buchwick/Brooklyn make this city an awesome eyeful! London, UK – While I lived in the UK for over 10 years, this is where my love of urban art first started. And it brings so many talented and diverse urban artists to its streets.
TD: Then I consider myself very lucky to have closely documented two of the three! I named some, but what are all of the countries around the world that your work can be found in?
CRISP: UK (London), USA (New York, Atlanta, and Miami), Canada (Winnipeg), Mexico (Sayulita, Mexico city), Dominican Republic, and Colombia.
Thanks so much, Crisp, for taking the time to answer my questions and I will keep following you forever!