The street art underground
Being an artist in LA hasn’t always been glamorous. In the '60s and '70s, LA was considered the “mural capital of the world” but it’s been an uphill battle with the city and government officials who have cracked down on artists and been quick to remove murals that they believed were vandalism or gang-affiliated. Shepard Fairey, the artist behind the 2008 Obama “Hope” campaign poster and the clothing line OBEY, is just one of many artists who has been arrested for destruction of property.
“The first time you go out, you literally think like the world is looking at you... It’s scary as fuck but then you finish, and you have this adrenaline rush,” says WRDSMTH, about his early days making street art. After watching several documentaries, and videos from veterans like Shepard Fairey on how to make wheat paste, the self-taught artist created his own stencil method and hit the streets. Initially, he started painting solo during the wee hours of the night but learned the tricks of the trade and realized that “... if you look like you’re supposed to be there, nobody questions anything,” he says. In other words, if you’re the only one on the streets at odd hours of the day and a cop sees you painting a wall, they’re going to be suspicious, but if there’s a guy painting a box during the day -- often times wearing a hard hat and construction vest -- no one will look twice. About 75% of WRDSMTH’s “illegal” art is now done during broad daylight, but it also helps to have a “lookout”, usually another artist friend, because for the most part, they all have each other’s backs. Literally.