I had an amazing experience with Barcelona-based street artist BALU in New York City back in March. The day came out of nowhere and to make a long story short, I ended up going around the city with him and documenting his incredibly courageous, albeit illegal (!!) slapping up of wheat pastes of certain public figures in specific designated spots that represented and symbolized the men (i.e. Kanye West was slapped up on WEST 4th in the Village, etc.) ~ The pictures and the story garnered enough interest for Mikel Reparaz, a European journalist covering Basque Country news, to do a video interview/story on our experience and on graffiti in NYC, in general. It’s in Spanish, but please do check it out.
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 #2: Here is his website for more on him and his art: http://www.bdwhite.net/home.html
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.
I do intend to do something more in-depth on DAAS (10 questions, or so) in the upcoming months and feature some of his upcoming work in various exhibitions throughout the fall and winter…but for now, I wanted to share some of his work here.
The first image is a photo I took today of various postcards (of some of his paintings) that he gave me. The images after that, are the ones I saw on his website that made me interested in his work before I returned to Kobe for the second time. Hendrix, Kafka (!), Bjork, and Warhol (and these are just a few – he’s not all ‘pop’ art and does other stuff):
for more: http://artist-daas.com/geometrics
14may14. Kobe, Japan.