I became a fan of yours some time ago when I saw your Andy Warhol photos creatively combined with urban art, while scrolling through Instagram. You have brought life to one of the greatest art icons of the twentieth century by collaborating with some of the great artists in the street and pop genres of today; Peter Tunney, Speedy Graphito, Dom Pattison and Chris Brown a.k.a. Konfuzed… to mention a few. Can you tell me some highlights you have had working with these artists and are there any you would still like to collab with?
I have had the honor and privilege to collaborate with a diverse group of artists to create mixed media fine art as well as murals and stencil art in the streets of Los Angeles, Houston and Vilamoura, Portugal.
Peter Tunney was my first collaboration 2011. Shortly after that, I travelled to the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh to gift them four of my artist proofs as they had requested one of which is now is now hanging next to Andy’s stuffed dog.
I was offered a space to exhibit my photographs in the in the Wynwood area in Miami during Art Basel. I wanted to collaborate with an artist to paint live over my image as part of my show. When I arrived at Wynwood I walked into a studio in the famous Wynwood Walls and behold met Peter Tunney who had agreed to paint on my photographs. I had no idea that he was there. The night of our reception was magical with Peter live silkscreening on my on my pictures of Andy. Patrick Mcmullan hosted the event and we had millionaires and collectors mesmerized. Peter shared with me that he had never collaborated with anyone else but he loved my photographs of Andy. We are now working on eight more pieces together and I am honored to collaborate with him.
Once I was back in Los Angeles I met Speedy Graffito through Fabian Castanier and showed him what I had created with Peter. He expressed a desire to do a series as well with my photographs. I had been advised by photography purists to not have other artists paint on my photographs. I had to dig deep within myself to make a decision about what felt right and also take into consideration Andy Warhol himself. At Art Basel right before my exhibition, a silver lining appeared on my high story balcony at Brickell. Andy’s favorite color is silver and I felt his spirit was with me and that he approved.
I love R&B and hip-hop and I wanted a recording artist to collaborate with and when Chris Brown’s name was mentioned to me I jumped.
I absolutely love my collaboration with Chris. I love the pieces he created and he himself is so passionate about art and willing to be there to support. I’m also grateful that through our collaboration I have introduced Andy and art to a whole new demographic who may not have known who he was and are now inspired.
PETER TUNNEY COLLABORATION
SPEEDY GRAFFITO COLLABORATION
How did you feel when you rediscovered the negatives of the shoot you did with Andy, from 1982, that you thought was long lost? Did you have any idea that this discovery would lead you on such an amazing creative journey?
I photographed Andy Warhol when I was a student at NYU for a book on male models that I did end up publishing. Andy came to my launch party and I received a congratulations letter from Calvin Klein. Fast forward 28 years later and I had lost track of the negatives and in 2011 felt compelled to find them. I was elated to find my 10 negatives. It was truly an American Express moment. Did I have any idea that this would lead me into such an amazing creative journey? Probably not! I did know that this was important though and once I’m on an artistic mission I am driven and fearless. I was at a point in my life where I needed to express myself creatively.
The story of how you met Andy Warhol and how you were able to get an exclusive portrait sitting with him is interesting. Can you tell me a little about how you met Andy and what your experience was like working with him?
I had seen Andy Warhol at clubs in New York City and also at art events in Soho. I had an idea to photograph him as a male model so I called Interview Magazine where I knew he was and Andy himself answered the phone. After he agreed to sit for me I set up a time for two weeks later. I arrived with a guy I enrolled to help who was great with lighting and a Hasselblad camera which I had rented. Andy was waiting in the conference room dressed in a Perry Ellis suit and with his best white wig on. It was a bit surreal because I understood that he was a huge artist but my goal was to photograph him as a model and so I stuck to that. It was a beautiful moment when he picked up that little American flag and I was able to catch that. In retrospect I feel he opened up to me and allowed himself to be more vulnerable than he normally did while being photographed. He wanted he wanted to be a model and to be beautiful!!
You have an amazing eye for capturing the spirit of your subjects. I was surprised to learn you have photographed many stars even before they were famous such as Johnny Depp, Brad Pitt, Robert Downey Jr., Sandra Bullock, Jared Leto, Drew Barrymore and more. How did this opportunity even present itself? Were you involved in the acting community in any form?
My talent as a photographer is to see the beauty in my subjects. After publishing my book on male models I started to photograph actors who I felt were going to have interesting careers and eventually I published several books on the subject. For a few years I was immersed in the Hollywood scene and there I met and photographed Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp, Sandra Bullock, and Jared Leto among many other actors.
What inspires your creativity in your work and who you collaborate with? What is your creative process?
What is my creative process? Well I’m attracted to energy and creativity and artists who are passionate about their art as I am. The street art scene in Los Angeles is very exciting and I love the idea of art for the people. As I continue my journey I meet people from so many different backgrounds and ethnicities and I realize that through art we can all come together in love and appreciation and creativity. This has been an underlying force that has been driving me, plus I love getting my hands dirty and pushing the limits of what is expected. I used to be someone who hated to be photographed and I now find myself loving the camera and even being the muse which is so much fun. I just did a collaborative shoot with lucrative where I’m painted in Gold which we plan to do a series with.
You have brought the “Lost Warhols” to a new scale with collaborations that are creating murals, stencils and wheatpaste guerrilla-like art all over Los Angeles. Can you highlight some of the projects you are proud of?
I had two very exciting shows recently, the Lost Warhols Portugal, which is being produced by Omey Projects and Vilamoura World. I have been invited to collaborate with seven Portuguese artists one Italian artist Maser from Ireland and King Saladeen was participating as a guest artist from America. So I travelled to Portugal.
I also started my own project The Kings Kollection where I created mixed-media art with my photograph of Andy Warhol together with an original photograph of Basquiat taken by photographer Brad Branson around the same period in 1984. I collaborated with his sister Jan Lane. This collection premiered at the Ron Robinson flagship store in Los Angeles.
I recently collaborated with artist Bradley Theodore which I had been wanting to do for quite some time.