July 30, 2013.
Craola, he is constantly challenging himself. His hand is in many different disciplines. His vision is pure and uncompromising. An artist for 2 decades now Craola's work is distinctive and admired around the world. Read on and gain some wisdom.
AK: What do you write? Are you in a crew?
C: Craola. CBS.WAI.VT.BASHERS
AK: In what city did you start painting in the streets? Do you feel your work has influenced the community in return? If so, how? Is there a relationship between the artist and the community in which they work?
C: I started painting in Los Angeles County, just about every part of it and expanded out from there as I met other artists. I would say the community wasn't very happy with it at first and where I live they still don't allow to much public art to surface, but the changes you see in Downtown and Hollywood and the areas surrounding is incredible. It seems those communities have latched on and allowed some amazing art to go up and progressed individual artists to push themselves to grow in their skill sets.
AK: Did you go to school or are you self taught?
C: I was self-taught up until Junior College where I took my first art classes and switched my major to art because it seemed like a good fit. I went on to get my bachelors degree in studio art form Long Beach State. I learned a lot at school, but I learned way more from painting and drawing with guys from my crews. Painting walls and preparing to paint walls was a school in itself, one for which I am always grateful.
AK: How did you get started in the arts and why?
C: I was always interested in art. I was obsessed with drawing from a very early age and cartoons and comics were my driving force. Once I discovered surrealism and the old masters, I was completely hooked and new art would be what I did with my life.
AK: How long have you been working in the streets?
C: Since 1993, but these days it is only a couple walls a year. I like to focus my time on large long focus canvas pieces which can take months to complete, but the hidden details are the driving force these days.
AK: Who or What inspires you the most?
C: Everything in Creation, landscapes, creatures, both ones we know about and ones we are finding out about everyday. Cloudscapes. Old vintage cartoons and advertising. The imaginations of my little boys, huge long lists of artists that could go on for ever.
AK: What should the general public know about street art? What stereotype about street art/graffiti do you hate the most?
C: There is a big different beetween street art and graffiti artists. I think the lines are becoming more blurred over time, but I have always found it annoying and disrespectful when "street artists" or poster artists put their art over graffiti landmarks or over a well known writer's tag. They don't know their history of who was painting the streets first. I still see tensions in certain circles between these two labels of artists and I'm okay with that tension and separation. It keeps people on there toes. It's cool if there is crossover, the addition of different art tools to the belt, but the Graffiti writers were doing it bigger and on a more public scale first and they weren't doing it to gain the notice of galleries and ad campaigns. They were doing it as a conversation between themselves. The galleries and ad campaigns are a bonus addition for them doing their thing, it didn't happen the other way around. These days everything seems upside down and backwards as far as the question you present here goes. At the end of the day, you can't deny a good piece of art. If it looks good and is respectfully created, then it will find acceptance. My focus these days is just creating interesting images built on pure imagination, and I don't care if it is done in the studio, the streets, in a notebook, a coffeeshop, in animation, whatever. Just be creative.
AK: Are you a full time artist? Do you have a day job? Is it best to be full time artist or not worry about it and make your $$$ elsewhere, that way you can paint what and how you want, which one offers a more creative outlook?
I am a full time artist and feel blessed to be able to go into the studio each day and just be creative. It is stressful at times. I do have to consider the income side of things because I have a family to support. But over time, it has been my imaginative works that have been fueling our art en-devours over here, and to that I am thankful. Before I did my own personal work full time, I worked in video games and at various clothing companies and lots of free lance gigs. I made the money to live on so I could go home and do creative personal works. I always say that If I was to only be working at the grocery store, I'd still be coming home to do these personal works. I believe in making an honest living and supporting those you love and are responsible for first. To answer your question "which one offers a more creative outlook", it depends on the person, there is no one perfect formula. For me it is working full time as an artist on my own stuff.
AK: What are you working on now?
C: I am currently working with a team on creating a Stop Motion animated short called "I'm Scared" based on my two little boys. It is a story I wrote over time that involves a little boy giving his even littler brother bad advice about all of the things he needs to be scared of now that he is in the world. It's got a bunch of great creatures and monsters and all the things I like to draw, but beyond that, we have a great team who are making these drawings and story come to life, Pete Levin, Robyn Yannoukas, Dan Levy, and Lesley Padien are slated so far to use there talents on this project. I'm really excited. I've also got a couple walls planned with Axis and hopefully Dabs, Myla, and Witnes in the near future, plus always working on pieces for upcoming shows at Merry Karnowsky Gallery.
AK: What do you hope to achieve or accomplish by putting your work in the street?
C: My goals with painting in the streets are the same as they have been since my beginnings of painting walls in 1993. To put up interesting art, to challenge myself, to have fun with my friends on a common goal, and to leave behind a mark of some sort for when I leave this world.
Check out Craola's work. http://www.ImScared.com