1xRUN Thru Interview
Boombastic + Original Art by Lebo
1xRUN: We are really excited about your debut RUN, Boombastic, can you give me a little background about this piece?
Lebo: I did this piece about 6 months ago as part of a few pieces that I did playing with textures and some different materials. A lot of times when I do a series, I have a lot of sketches beforehand, and it helps keep things concise, but with this series of 12 images I really let each piece dictate itself.
Boombastic was actually inspired by the idea of what’s called The Roman Standard. I study a lot of ancient history. When the Romans would go into a battle, they would lead this procession, and there would be a guy at the front that would be holding the standard, which is basically an ornament at the top of a pole/staff, usually a golden eagle. If you think about the army as a machine, or like a car, the standard is basically the hood ornament. So the standard would always be protected. That would be how you knew your army was still standing, if the standard still existed.
So I just played around with that idea, but instead of using an eagle, I used an owl, which is a symbol for wisdom. So that became the center point of that piece. Everything that is revolving around is a play off of that idea. It was a very organic process of creating images and ideas that worked around it, but it was all in a very improvised way. As I used a lot of acrylics to start out with, then over that I started to use ora crayon and India inks.
1xRUN: Do you want to tell us a little bit more about hand-embellishments that you did for the Boombastic prints?
Lebo: Sure, it ended up as a bit of an after thought. There was a bit of negative space that existed after I had finished the painting. I really wanted to expound on some of the smaller elements that were around the piece so that it would create something that would individualize each piece. It basically started with taking these micro-elements in the artwork, and making it kind of a macro part. Also, I thought it was important that each piece is breaking out of the composition image, drawing it out and really bleeding off the image. I really wanted to add more depth and make each one feel more like an original piece that way.
1xRUN: Along with having the original here for sale, you also created a small accompanying set of originals. Can you tell us a little about each?
Lebo: At that time, I was working on a few pieces at a time in the series, but that piece was pretty quick, I think it was finished over a couple of days. The original is available here at 1xRUN for $2500.
I also created a small collection of (4) 14 x 17 original pieces on bristle board. I just finished these 4 paintings as I was embellishing the Boombastic prints. The idea for these pieces is that I’ve been playing with these childlike ghost images, it plays with the ideas of ghosts and what that represents. The idea of energy and how it is exchanged. Thinking about the different ways that we view the soul, and ways that the soul moves basically. These 4 pieces touch on that. Also, if you look at the Bombastic pieces, some of the embellishments draw on some of those elements, but these pieces focus on each one them. The parts that are hand-embellished for the Boombastic pieces also have some of these little characters as well.
1xRUN: Tell us a little bit about you, how did you get your start creating artwork?
Lebo: I’ve been creating art as long as I can remember, I turned 40 last month and I have been creating artwork pretty regularly since I was about 8. I have been very fortunate to be doing it ever since. I started doing it professionally when I was about 23. I started out my career as a muralist. It’s funny now to me that everything is “street art” for me it’s just I’m a muralist. I don’t know when it became “street art”. That’s really what I started out doing.
My attitude about it…well I was raised by first-generation Americans, so I was brought up with a really strong work ethic. Thankfully my parents were supportive of the passion that I had and that my brother had, and encouraged us to be very diligent about it. So we had that immigrant work ethic, coupled with parents that really wanted us to have a voice, and wanted us to follow what is is that we wanted to do for a living. They instilled in us that you can do whatever you want in this country as a profession as long you work hard, and you are good to people. So that’s where everything started. My attitude was that if I can do murals in different parts of South Florida, I guess at the time I was a little more aggressive in my thinking, I thought of it as dropping different bombs in different parts of the city. I figured each bomb as a certain radius and if you drop enough of them, and the radius’s all touch and create something larger. That’s basically what I did for 3 years. I would sell paintings out of the back of my car, really whatever it took.
Then at one point, I was approached by Bourdines (they were later bought out by Macy’s) and they introduced me to the world of interior design. So then I was doing interior design for Bourdines/Macy’s for 3-4 years and that created a whole different part of my career. I was still making paintings. I started doing a little bit more gallery stuff, but I didn’t really like the gallery stuff so much, so I kept doing it on my own. I have always had the approach to be a craftsman as much as a painter. I can apply what I do to anything, even though painting is the mainstay and drawing tends to tow the line, I am always trying to figure out other ways to do things. I found that working with these interior designers on stores, that would lead me to doing big commission pieces for private homes or corporate headquarters build. I’ve had a chance to design some fabrics. I’ve designed tile for an Italian mosaic company. When you draw and conceptualize you can apply it to anything, and that has really been my motivation over the years. Toe the line with drawing and painting, but to spread it in as many ways as possible.
1xRUN: Right, it definitely seems to be working, you actually mentioned to us about a really big reveal coming with a cruise ship. Give us a little bit of info on that?
Lebo: Now this cruise ship with Norwegian Cruise Lines , is beyond anything I have ever thought. The surface that’s being painted on is 2,000 feet long and 100+ feet high. So it’s however many football fields long and this thing is floating on the water costing a billion dollars, and they’re letting me put my artwork right along the side of it. From an ego perspective, that’s obviously there, but more so than that it’s the creative perspective. I mean wow. I just grew up drawing cartoons on my drafting table, and I’m happy doing that, but wow, look at what this thing has become. It’s really bad ass. I did the rendering on the architects blueprints and it is going to be this huge mermaid that goes over the entire ship. The mermaid alone is over 800 feet long!
The other component is the live artwork, which is something I had started doing years ago with bands. The idea was that I would always step off on my own once I had enough practice. So now I’m actually being hired on my own. I’ve put together music with a DJ and I put together projected content with a video editor. So basically we will do a live painting one man show. On the cruise ship, they have a Broadway theater, so we are actually discussing having me do some of the artwork in the theater. So then there will be an auction company on board and they will be selling some of the work. I think it’s going to be really nice combination.
1xRUN: That was actually how I was introduced to your artwork was live painting at a music festival. Do you want to talk about how music plays into your work?
Lebo: Ok. Ya, I think it’s interesting and I’m flattered to be a part of it. People will classify things as “art” and they will put writing or painting, something of that ilk as art. But what I’ve realized over time–because I’ve learned from so many different people, with so many different approaches–is to define art as composition and space. Period. That can be anything. Music is one of those things for me that does it in a very abstract way, and for me something that is very personal. It’s touching. I always felt that I got equal inspiration from music as I did from visual art. When I started learning more about jazz, that became what I related to the most. I really liked the combination of discipline and improvisation. It’s that yin-yang type approach I think.
You really hone your skill and you really practice. practice. practice. But you really have to have this fluidity to it. There needs to be a part of it that is almost aquatic in that it moves and shapes itself, but it still stays water. I think that jazz improvisationists and martial artists, like Shaolin, those in particular are huge influences to me. So basically live painting became my way to do that. It’s taking whatever discipline that I have, whatever years of training that I have, and releasing it. In one part is uncomfortable–as a visual artist you’re usually working in solitary, unless you’re a muralist– so all these people are watching your process and it’s a very unnerving thing to deal with. At least for me. What I feel helps you get over that hurdle is that I have always had very positive and very visceral reactions to it. I like the exchange. I wouldn’t want my whole creative life to be in front of people, but I like that 5-10% of my creative output is in front of people. I think it’s always fun and engaging, I like the energy of it. I’ve been fortunate to work with some of my favorite musicians on top of that, so that’s just a plus. Now that i do it on my own I feel it will become a much broader canvas.