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Buff Monster : The Kotori Interview

Buff Monster: Graffiti to Street Art
BY: Morgan Tharp

Let’s face it: if street credit and making a name is all you’re after, then you might as well be angling for a job at Aeropostle or Nike. Graffiti art revolves around the passion and love of the art form itself, or there would be no artists going out everyday into streets all around the world spraying or painting their imaginations in abandoned lots and on the sides of railway trains and bridges. Graffiti is temporary and the artists get that. What makes graffiti great is its lack of conformity to the mainstream and its freedom of ideas and art. It can’t be bought or sold and therefore always remains in the realm of underground counter-culture. It is free to whoever chooses to look.

But counter-culture, if you haven’t noticed (from all the iPod television ads and Gap store fashion spreads) has become the new fad for large corporations to push their marketing campaigns on today’s youth, forcing styles and trends that were once “cool to die out. Things become so over-marketed that they lose the individuality and eventually become old news, proof that a counter-culture only lasts as long as the people involved keep primarily underground.

Graffiti artists embody the disposable form of our counter-culture, spread throughout our cities landscapes. They are authors and expressionists. Their work is political, artistic, stylistic and for the most part misunderstood, dismissed by the mainstream as vagrancy. Many in our culture see graffiti as a form of societal decay and the embodiment of street violence or signs of gang territory.

At the forefront though, artists like Buff Monster have proved that graffiti is much more than a sign of urban decay, but of an ever expanding sub-genre of the underground art movement.

Thankfully, people have started appreciating graffiti as a tangible form of art, which has opened the door for street art, thus making graffiti artists a viable commodity. “They really are two totally different things, explains Buff Monster. “Graffiti is a totally egotistical endeavor, based around creating stylized letters in spray paint. Street art, on the other hand, is less about the ego, can take any form of media, and really is about creating a connection with the viewer. Needless to say I find the latter more interesting.

“I did graffiti for five years, and gave it up six years ago. Street art is a much more fulfilling and a better investment of my time and money.

Buff Monster came from Hawaii to L.A. in ‘95 and since then he has been brightening up the streets, giving them a bold and colorful look. From his poster art and murals to the flattened metal spray cans which can be seen tattooed on telephone poles all around the city, one can only conjure up thoughts of a much dirtier version of Candyland.

Buff Monster lives within landscapes of pink, orgasmic mounds, oozing sex and candy like a liquid metallic tribute to a triple X movie. With art inspired by porn, ice cream and the thrashing beats of heavy metal music, who needs anything else?

So where is graffiti heading, and do we believe in the idea of “selling out? Nowadays, I can’t recall how many times I’ve heard the phrase, “Well, ________ sold out. Often times this comes from the type of college kids who obsess over the commercial success and “authenticity of their favorite bands. The Fugazi fanatics who debate with religious fervor on whether Repeater or Steady Diet of Nothing was undecidedly their quintessential album.

I find myself now questioning the avenues which some graffiti artists/ex-graffitists are taking. Are we moving away from the anti-establishment, political, artistic and cultural views of graffiti to the corporate world of signature toys and tee’s? I can only picture Da Vinci on eBay selling custom made and limited edition silk screen Mona Lisa t-shirts and collections of all twelve “Last Supper apostles figurines complete with movable arms and legs (supper not included).

“Graffiti isn’t moving anywhere, Buff answers, “except to nicer colors and better quality paint. But I do think that the mass appeal of urban-inspired or urban-related art is growing every day.

“Graffiti was a lot of fun, he tells. “I liked it because before then, creating art was safe and easy. With graffiti, art was an adventure and dangerous and illegal.

“It used to be my passion in life, he continues, “but I’ve since moved on. With street art his chosen medium, he says, “I like the immediacy. I can’t imagine the process I’d have to go through to get permission for everything I do.

You don’t need to look very far to find the Buff Monster within the sprawling, urban streets of Los Angeles, and his sexy, pink virus is spreading.

“I’m working on a million things right now. In the near horizon are the first series of signature Buff Monster vinyl toys, the winter season of Buff Monster clothing hits stores real soon, solo show at Gallery 1988 in February. To top it off, he recently art-directed a 12-page spread in Hustler, a wild trip with vixens in platinum wigs, enjoying each other’s company to the greatest extents, all culminating to milk spraying all over their luscious bodies, from the tips of Buff Monster sculptures.

“That was awesome, Buff prides. “Expect to see more of that.

Thank God. Find out more about Buff Monster at his website:



©2007 Kotori Magazine 

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