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An Interview with Phil Lumbang

Earlier this month the Angel City Brewery in downtown Los Angeles featured a one day exhibition for street artist Philip Lumbang. Known for his lovable bears which have been seen up and down the West Coast, this former intern of Shepard Fairey sits down with Hi-Fructose friend Birdman for a quick Q&A on the LA street art scene, trying to make it big and living a Hug Life. Enjoy!

I remember the first time I saw one of your “Awesome Bears” in the street; it was around a lot other great pieces but yours stood out to me. The simplicity of it caught my eye. What is the desired emotional response you would like to people to feel who see it?

I’ve always wanted to be different and I guess that translates into anything I want to do. I mean the street is a very masculine, abrasive, in your face kind of place to put up art. Hitting up a spot and making sure everyone knows that it’s yours. I just wanted to make people smile and rethink about the art they saw in the streets.

I’ve noticed in videos of you painting they are always shot during the day, why is that? I know its not for lighting for the camera guys. 

I’m all about painting during the day, I’ve just found that I get into a lot less trouble that way. I mean painting at night is cool and all, but your just asking for trouble. I mean I got a family and I wanna make sure I’m there for them 100% and not worrying about jail time or fines.

Some posters appeared here in LA with you and Becca collaborating, when do you chose posting a picture of your art and actually painting the art? And great collaboration too, your art compliments each other nicely.

Thanks, That whole thing with Becca actually happened through Facebook of all things haha, the Internet makes everything easier you know? So I just sent her a message saying ” let’s collab!” then the next thing I know I’m painting over her pieces and making some really dope art. I’m not a wheat paste guys so she has been the one hitting them up. We are planning to release a series of prints so be on the look out for that.
Can you briefly describe how you started as an intern at Obey Giant to where you are now? Seems like it would be quite the adventure to be involved in.
It all started with the internship, and I pretty much worked my ass off to make sure I was able to get the job. At the time I was in school full time and working 2 different internships. I mean the journey wasn’t that epic, just took a lot of hard work and dedication.
Was Shepard an inspiration to you branding the city with with the same or similar images of your “awesome bears” everywhere? Or was that originally your plan?
Oh hell yea, Shep is the man. I mean I never hit the streets until after I was working for him. He was defiantly a major influence with my art. The simpleness and the concept of an icon really resonated with me.
Other then being able to live off your art, where would you like to go with it?
I really want to brand the bears hard, and make sure it becomes a house hold name, you know just the regular world domination thing. I like to dream big, otherwise what’s the point in doing anything at all?
Is there any message you want to give to other young artists reading this?
Keep making art, and get an internship. Make sure you’re nice to people because it goes a long way. Also the art world is dangerous, its a pretty corrupt and political arena, so toughen up. Just be able to adapt to any situation with a smile on your face.
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