In the world of street art, virtually anything goes.
The streets have become a canvas for artists working in a variety of media, whether it be spray paint, stickers or wheatpaste. Little by little, these artists’ chosen works and styles help them create their street cred — and maybe, one day, a path to their own formal gallery shows.
For L.A.-based artist Free Humanity, the streets provide a platform for sharing positive ideas and information. As Free’s website states, his art focuses on “taking back the humanity stolen from our minds by social manipulation and planting seeds of positivity through art and consciousness.”
Avid street fans and casual passers-by can spot Free’s art on the streets of Los Angeles, with his work ranging from small posters to large murals. One of his trademark images is a lotus flower with a diamond emerging from it, but his style proves easy to spot even when he chooses other subjects, including entertainment icons like Michael Jackson.
And though his work has gained fame on the streets, Free traces his love of art to a very early age, before he could even roam outdoors.
“I started finger painting on my walls at six months old,” Free said.
Free identifies one of his signature pieces as the “Peace Lotus Girl,” an image of a girl with only her eyes showing behind a scarf and the words “Free Humanity” emblazoned along the bottom. The work was inspired by a photograph of his significant other, which he then sketched and transformed into the work it is today. Free describes this as his favorite work, done with what he calls a “pixel and drip effect.”
Bigger works, including a mural featuring the face of Audrey Hepburn with a quote from the actress stating “the best thing to hold onto in life is each other,” show off Free’s versatility while maintaining his familiar colors and pixelation.
As the city streets began to house more of his work, Free’s fan base grew. Klerkx Art Agency recently signed Free, and West Hollywood’s Maximillian Gallery hosted his first solo, pop-up art show last Thursday.
“I’ve always wanted to do a solo show,” Free said. “Full control is hard to come by with galleries. I’ve done a few shows — one in London and mostly in and around L.A.”
As with many street artists, Free’s success mostly depended on his tenacity and ability to get the attention of complete strangers walking the city streets.
“The ‘Diamond in the Lotus’ was made about two years ago, but I’ve worked harder on getting out in the public recently,” Free said. “I post my work everywhere and anywhere.”
Free also recognizes the figures that inspired his work, from the street artists Cryptik and Alec Monopoly to the performance artist Zhang Huan. In this vein, Free also appreciates being signed by an art agency that represents artists he respects.
“It’s a huge honor to be selected by Klerkx Art Agency, [which] represents artists from the likes of Icy and Sot from Iran, street artists that focus on human rights by using images of vulnerable people in society and John Fekner, one of the first stencil artists of the ’70s,” Free said.
His show not only displayed his works but gave visitors a chance to show their own talent and possibly win some art. Visitors were given the opportunity to place a postcard with their best version of Free’s work and get the chance to win a piece.
As for anyone interested in pursuing art for themselves, Free advises aspiring artists to create truly meaningful pieces.
“Art should delight and inform, inside or outside,” Free said.
Free’s works merge this philosophy with a genuine love of art. In the end, Free wants visitors to experience art in simple terms:
“Hopefully, something that at least makes someone smile,” Free said.