On first glance Buff Monster and his art present a picture that's the opposite of your typical "grown-up". Giant Mohawk, heavy metal music, graffiti, heck--even a installation of porn-related art. But there's a chink in that facade though, and it comes in the most exuberant shade of pink. It's the kind of color that's hard to hate and it dominates Buff Monster's work. Loud, cartoonish, and fun, even Mohawk-haters would have to agree. So when Buff's rep emailed me to get some press out for his fall openings, I was happy to probe a little more into this interesting artist.
Margot: I love that you talk about pink as being "heavy metal". What are some other things you always see in pinks? Is pink the new black? If it is, what does that make black?
Buff Monster: For me, pink is a symbol of confidence and individuality, and it should be as empowering as Heavy Metal is.
M: Where you as blown away by the Banksy movie as I was? Has it had impact on your work?
Buff: I thought it was a great movie. Happy to be in it.
M: One of my artist friends totally has a lot of your work cut and pasted into his collages. How do you feel about other people using your work to make more work?
Buff: I guess it really depends.
M: These days do you find yourself more influenced by what's going on in the street art community or do you feel more at home in a gallery environment?
Some street art really inspires me, but only as it relates to street art usually. My paintings are influenced by other paintings and life experiences.
M: Some graffiti/street artists are super concerned with anonymity. That doesn't seem to bother you much, aside from working under the Buff Monster name. Is Buff Monster a character to you? Do you think you'll ever channel Barry McGee and produce work under different names like he does?
Buff: Barry McGee is his real name. But yes, I’ve thought about it.
M: Tell me a story about one of your tattoos. They don't seem to have quite as much pink as the rest of your work, are they completely personal?
Buff: yeah, they are personal I suppose. I haven’t drawn any of my tattoos, but I know others have gotten Buff Monster tattoos.
M: What's your biggest creative struggle at the moment?
Buff: I have lots of ideas, I just don’t have a lot of time.
M: I know having a really nice, healthy set of dreadlocks takes a TON of work, but how's maintenance on the Mohawk?
Buff: Maintaining a Mohawk is easy. Putting it up takes a while.
M: I think most artistic people truly feel like there's no other profession they could see themselves doing. Art or design is just all they can do, plain and simple. But If you had to change professions, any inkling what you'd do?
Buff: I’d be a lawyer.
M: There's a place here in Chicago, called Kuma's Corner, that's widely recognized as the best burger bar in the city--all are super creative and are named after metal bands. Think you'll ever make it up there the next time you find yourself in this grand city?
Buff: I guess I’ll have to!
Thanks Buff Monster! Hope you do catch that Kuma's burger next time you're in town.
Photos by Kristin Burns and/or Google.