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Buff Monster's Pink-Tinted Perspective of Life in Los Angeles

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Welcome to What's Good in LA, a new feature in which we solicit recommendations and reviews from Angelenos who make ours an infinitely more stylish city.


Elizabeth Daniels, 8/10

If you live in LA, you probably already know Buff Monster, even if you don't know him by name. For years, he's colored our landscape pink with silkscreened posters and art all over the city. Although he's a much less prolific street artist these days, since he's focusing more on successful forays in fine art and toy design. Besides his own shows, his work has appeared in a variety of high profile and highly varied places around town – Manifest Equality and last year's Hello Kitty-palooza Anniversary event at Royal/T in Culver City.

So you've got a show coming up. What's the theme, or what's special or unique to this show?
I was in Europe recently, and I saw a lot of art: Paris, Berlin, the National Gallery in London. It was so inspirational; I saw classic Renaissance paintings in a way I hadn't seen them before. So this show features my version of portraiture and landscapes, things that made an impression on me?

Buff Monster's European Vacation?
A little bit. It's about doing new things, but (the work in the show) is much looser and more spontaneous.

How about here; what inspires you in LA?
(Laughs) Hollywood sucks! There's this theoretical, fantasy, brightly colored surface, but the reality is so different. You could say that LA is kind of reverse inspiration. I live in Hollywood, and it's dirty, there are bums everywhere, it's crumbling and it stinks, then there's this other existence, the clubs, people in Hummers and limos.

I remember coming here for the first time when I was 10. Even at that age, I thought, 'Wow, this sucks.' There's this idea that it's this magical city where anything and everything can happen, it's wrapped up in fantasy and it just isn't real.

Who inspires you here, who's making culture you really like?
I don't think there's a real cohesive art scene here, the way people think there is. I've gone through phases were I would go to all the art openings, sometimes as many as five in one night. But a lot of times that was about?going to the gallery, not necessarily to see amazing art.

I mean, if I had to pick influences or people whose work I really enjoy?Murakami's a big one, so is Japanese culture. But LA -- part of it's just the geography, that everything's so spread out?you know that cliche about LA, that it's 80 miles across and 2 inches deep? Don't get me wrong, there are definitely some talented, influential people here?Shepard [Fairey] is here. Two of my favorite metal labels are based here, Century Media and Southern Lord.

So what if you had to entertain someone from out of town, someone who had no clue and wanted to see your version of LA? (for some reason, this question eventually shifted to be, what if you had to show a space alien around Hollywood, where would you go?)
I tend to like things that are a little low-key, or less obvious. Bossa Nova, Palms Thai?for dessert, we'd go to Beard Papa's for cream puffs. For drinks it would be somewhere like the Frolic Room, or Bobo's in Koreatown.

You cite ice cream as being an inspiration, so you must have a favorite spot.
I'd say Scoops has the best ice cream. I love that place. So many crazy flavors, and I love supporting a small business.

Say you had $1,000 to spend in LA -- anywhere, any store, what would you buy?
I'm not a shopper. Most of the time, I'm focused in my own little world. I'd probably go to a Sanrio store and buy $100 worth of weird Hello Kitty shit, like erasers and then bring them home, stash them in a drawer and forget about them. Pauses. No, I know what I'd buy! Beef jerky. $1,000 worth of Sanrio and beef jerky is money well spent.

Just beef, nothing exotic like ostrich?
Probably fish jerky. It's hard to find good fish jerky that isn't too dry.

Have you ever considered doing something in women's fashion?
You could call that my Achilles' Heel, sort of: I'd totally be into it, I've had offers, and there have been opportunities, but they just don't pan out.

So where's this all headed? What's your big goal?
[About three minutes' worth of redacted conversation] The Buff Monster Mini Golf Course!

So there you have it. Since we interviewed him, some of his work was acquired by the Bristol City Museum -- solidly placing him in the same realm as superstar artists like Banksy (which ought to help the mini golf course dream along). Buff Monster's latest show is Beyond the Pink, and it opens at Corey Helford Gallery on Saturday, September 4.
· Buff Monster [Official Site]
· Manifest Equality Unites Art, Fashion, Music and Cause [Racked LA]