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On Public Art: Catching up with Likeone

AdelanteLikeone is a Chicago-based street and graffiti artist. Just a few months ago we sat down to do an introductory interview. So much has happened this summer that I wanted to share with all of you lovely followers of Sixty, the amazing work that this artist has created. In addition to exciting new solo work, Likeone has also collaborated with other prolific artists including Christopher Silva and Kevin Coval.

And for some fun Likeone agreed to answer our Six Inch Survey, which is [surprise!] another play on the name of the organization, yay! It is a way for us to lighten things up a little and learn something else about the person not necessarily related to art.

Likeone. Permission Wall. 61st and State. 2011. (Photo courtesy by Likeone)

Likeone. Permission Wall. 61st and State. 2011. (Photo courtesy by Likeone)

Nicolette Caldwell: Since we last spoke you had big plans for the summer. If I can recall correctly you were creating the “Con Ganas” campaign. How has that been going? Have building owners been receptive to it?
Likeone: Well, “Con Ganas” was the beginning of a series of text-based murals, and text-based exterior collage work. But to be honest, I didn’t really get very far with it. I was so anxious to get out and paint once the warm weather came. I did a couple of abstract murals to loosen up, and I have been riding out that wave ever since. I’ve tried to make plans to work on these text-based murals, but every time I do, it somehow falls through, so I’m not gonna force it. I do plan to do some text-based public works before the summer is over.

NC: You mentioned that sometimes you sit back and watch the way the public reacts (or doesn’t react). Have you noticed anything different worth mentioning?
LO: Nothing outrageous, just mostly positive feedback. I wish I had a spy camera facing out from the walls so I could see the looks on people’s faces when I’m not around. But that’s also the beauty of it. So many people walk by, get mugged, make love, have a drink, and who knows what else in front of these walls. I’ll never know all the things that happen and people’s reactions, but I enjoy the fact that my work is there and a part of everything.

NC: Aside from that, what else are you/have you been working on? You mentioned you did a mural for Simone’s Bar. How did that come about? Were you pursued or did you seek it out yourself?
LO: To make a long story short, they expressed an interest in the past, but nothing really came of it. This time around the new management expressed an interest, and had more of an idea of what they were looking for. They wanted a local artist with some Mexican flavor, but at the same time they wanted something that would stand out from the other murals in the neighborhood, something contemporary, bright, and bold. So we were able to work things out and move pretty quickly.

I also just finished the backdrop for Kevin Coval’s “Louder than a Bomb” youth poetry slam. Also a cool project. I’m anxious to see how my work translates to being a 3 dimensional object suspended in the air.

NC: What was the concept behind that mural?
LO: At the time I was sketching for the Simone’s wall, I was having some serious allergy issues. I never had them until a couple years ago, so I guess I’m still kind of getting used to it. So my sketch was loosely based on flower pollination. There’s a large flower shape on the left, with the wind blowing through carrying the pollen through to the right.

Likeone. Permission Wall. 2011. (Photography by Dan Segar)

Likeone. Permission Wall. 2011. (Photography by Dan Segar)

NC: You also mentioned that you might be collaborating with Chris Silva. Has anything happened with that yet? If so, what does it entail?
LO: I just finished painting a wall with Chris last week. It was an interesting collaboration. I’ve always admired his work, so to get to hang out and paint with him was pretty cool. It was also interesting to paint with someone who doesn’t paint like me, because it forced me to work differently with composition and colors. We freestyled everything, so it was like planting a seed and watching it grow. Hopefully we’ll get the chance to work on something a little more planned out in the near future.

NC: Maybe it’s me, but I have noticed a significant growth in the Chicago public art community in general; a lot of collaborations, public commissions, and amazing “graffiti art”. Do you think it is mainly due to summer when more activity increases or do you think that there has been a significant increase of interest, which has facilitated a lot of work and encourages many artists to work harder? Or do you think it is both?
LO: I think it’s a little of both. Summer is definitely a factor. I definitely think there’s more of an interest from the public, which leads to more people blogging, and Facebooking about stuff as soon as it gets done. I also think there’s a lot more young people becoming active and making public work. I saw a couple of very young artists wheat pasting these birds and butterflies on 18th street a couple weeks ago at like 2pm in broad daylight. They totally smashed 18th. So yeah, more people are doing things.

********** Six Inch Survey **********

1. When are you at your most creative?
My mind is usually the sharpest in the morning, like 5am-12pm. But painting in the night after some beers is always fun.

2. What is your drink of choice?
Tough question because there are so many variables; time of day, mood, what’s on tap, do I need to be productive afterward, etc. I’m a beer lover, so that will always be my favorite, but I need coffee on the regular to function, so either or. Nothing cheap.

3. What is your favorite smell?
My sense of smell is pretty shot, not sure if it’s the paint fumes or what—so fresh oxygen is fine with me.

4. If you could collaborate with any artist, past or present, who would it be with?
Another tough one. I’m sure the answer to this would change on a regular basis, but as of today, I think I would love to paint with How and Nosm. I’ve always loved their work from the trains, to the walls, to the more recent minimal color palette character stuff they’ve been doing. I think it’s cool that they’re twins and can work together seamlessly. I would love to get in there and see what could happen.

5. What would you do if you didn’t have a career in the arts and skills, education, and money weren’t a factor?
I would definitely continue to be creative. My brother and I are constantly coming up with ideas for new inventions, so I might invest a little more time into that, and definitely brew some beer. But I’d probably end up just traveling and painting.

6. Nude or Naked?

For more information about Likeone go to www.theshiftchange.com

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