Haunted Euth, Kiosk and Smear: Artists tagged on LA streets

Who would have guessed the next art movement would originate from old building walls, bridges and advertisement billboards? Street art has become so popular that it has shifted from Los Angeles streets to high value galleries.

For many, the real question is what drives street artists to create the work that they do in the first place? Why do they go out in the middle of the night to put up their work, risking the chance of getting arrested? Their unique motivation is what separates them from the rest of the Los Angeles City.

On Nov. 6, APU’s art history professor and Program Director, M.A. in modern art history, Jim Daichendt, who recently published the book, Stay Up! Los Angeles Street Art, interviewed the L.A. artists to put a name to the artwork seen on the streets today.

Haunted Euth, Kiosk and Smear sat down with Daichendt Tuesday night for a book lecture on West Campus, to discuss their roles in the street art world and what the art movement will look like in the future.

“Los Angeles really represents the failed modern Utopia,” Daichendt said in a preview. “It is a city divided by a gigantic concrete river. In other parts of the world, [the waterfront] is the place you want to live. But we have a scar that runs through this city with all this concrete. We have artists saying ‘Hey, I’m here and we’re adding humanity to the streets.’”

Many street artists consider street art as an addiction; once you start, it is a challenge to stop.

“After doing [street art] for eight years, it kind of starts to become a part of who you are so when you’re considering stopping, it’s a lot harder,” Kiosk said. “For me, I started off with graffiti, but you can take a different outlet with it by asking building owners permission, which proves we’re professionally out there to do work as well.”

Euth, an artist known for having an exaggerated, dark imagination, agrees with Kiosk.

“I like painting outside and I think being able to work on a scale that large just reminds me of being a child again,” Euth said. “That sense of awe I would feel when I had a large coloring book. It provides some reassurance that I am doing the right thing [in the sense of] pursuing the correct path.”

Although they love the adventure and self-expression the streets provide, it is also a dark and tedious career. Smear, known as “a southern culture sensation,” for his iconic cartoon inspired imagery, according to the L.A. Times, thinks differently.

“[Street art] can be self-destructive. The [artwork] you do and know you shouldn’t be doing, is detrimental to your life and your future, so that’s probably the worst thing about it,” Smear said.

This risky art form has reaped harsh consequences for Euth.

“I mean [having your work shown in] an art museum helps when your mom has to pick you up multiple times from jail. Just seeing their face, it gets worse every time,” Euth said. “Sure, they’re your parents, they’ll probably love you no matter what but you’re probably not going to make the Christmas card that year.”

Although Euth has a sense of humor toward the situation, for many artists their beautiful artwork follows breaking private property rules.

The mystery of where street art will be in the future is unknown.

“Street art is contemporary art. I say, like in one hundred, two hundred years from now it’s going to be seen as a movement but it’s definitely going to be here for a while,” Kiosk said.

Although street art has proven to be successful for the featured artists, Euth does not see it prevailing in the future.

“I say stick a fork in it and say it’s done. I don’t think the street art thing will continue with the momentum it has right now,” Euth said. “The biggest part of that is just looking at Banksy’s art that didn’t sell in auctions recently. His prices are dropping and he is one of the main people. There’s always a real risk in labeling yourself, and when you do, you kind of alienate the potential collectors from other places.”

Many students, teachers and art admirers believed the street art book lecture and exhibit was phenomenal.

“I heard [about the art exhibit] online on art blogs and I decided to come check it out. It seems super interesting. I haven’t bought [Daichendt’s] book, but I’ve been pretty anxious to get my hands on it and check it out,” 27-year-old photographer Brandon Hynes said.