Graffelti Graffiti // Milo

August 31st, 2012

Hey Milo. For people over here in the UK, who aren’t quite used to your brand of sunny street art, could you tell us a little bit about what you’re all about, and how living in Los Angeles shapes what you do as a street artist? I just moved back to LA recently. Before that I was living in Brooklyn, where most of my current work was made, and where I started doing the felt installations, which I have affectionately dubbed “graffelti”. I’ve also lived in London, Las Vegas, and Portland, OR. I think that a more general experience in a variety of urban environments is what primarily influences my work, more so than any one particular place. Ultimately, my work is about communication. I am examining the ways that cities speak to us through a language that is both visual and verbal, local and universal. In Los Angeles I’m fascinated by the mid-century architecture and the way it interacts with the exotic natural landscape. In New York, its all about the bricks and the grit. I am constantly seeking out ways to convey a sense of this visual dialogue, whether it’s through abstract painting, photography, or interactive public art.

Your felt work in particular is incredibly striking and colourful. How did you get into this brand of street art, and if not, why haven’t you considered the more traditional forms of graffiti like stencils, stickers and sprays? It sprang from my interest in the naked wall, the cracks, the chipped paint, the patterns formed in the brick configurations of the structures in my neighborhood in Brooklyn. I was also interested in the objects that inhabit the spaces between these walls, the fire hydrants, the lamp posts, the mailboxes, and their consistent, and boldly identifiable presence in city life. The idea for the felt installations evolved from photographing these walls and objects and then drawing and painting on the photographs, in an effort to contribute to the dynamic of these spaces and to bring a humorous sense of anthropomorphism to those otherwise inanimate, utilitarian objects. The natural progression was then to execute this idea in the physical world. Felt became my material of choice because of it’s durability, the intensity of the colors available, the opportunity to sew, and its playful, childish quality. I’m not opposed to using paint or paste but currently I am interested in the ephemeral nature of this work, and the fact that I am not permanently altering a space, just temporarily playing with it.

You have some beautiful felt pieces which mimic some of your oil on canvas work. Of course, the paintings are permanent, but the felt seems to be ‘easy come, easy go’. Do you ever feel bad about leaving your artwork in the public domain where it can be damaged or stolen? The greatest thrill in putting up a piece comes the moment I turn my back on it and walk away. What happens to the work once left in the public sphere is out of my hands and none of my concern. Accepting that can be challenging, but it is ultimately quite liberating. Painting can be so precious, and it takes up space I don’t always have. This work is temporary, and therefore vulnerable. It can be stolen or destroyed, but this also grants me the opportunity to imagine the pieces slithering off of the wall on their own, into the cracks and drainpipes of the city’s infrastructure, relocating themselves elsewhere, having a life that I am not responsible for preserving.

Your felt work is wonderfully abstract, and one of the fascinating attractions to it, is that it’s difficult to pin-point exactly where you’re coming from, or what story you’re trying to tell. Do you find inspiration from music at all, and if so, what type of music are you into? The forms I use in the installations were developed through my exploration in painting, which I view as abstractions of the urban landscape. I aim to construct compositions that express the amalgamation of the visual components that contribute to a sense of urbanity, and convey the duality of balance and chaos that is inherent to the metropolis. I look at the way objects interact in space, the way we are inundated with language and symbols throughout our waking day, the rhythm and the pace, the noise, the vastness in the scale that is available for observation from the weeds growing out of the sidewalk to the crowds of people and clusters of skyscrapers. The forms are my interpretation of all of this, simplified into flat, biomorphic, and ambiguously defined shapes. The installations satisfy the desire to reintroduce these forms into the environment from which they were initially inspired. Music plays a role in the bigger picture. I’m inspired by local music, the projects my friends are working on, their efforts to contribute to culture and entertainment, to the portrayal of a lifestyle, the element of performance, the importance of community. That is where I find the relationship between music and my work to be the most prominent.

Your personal website is a menagerie of drawings, photography, and a whole bunch of other artistic musings. Is there any other medium which you haven’t yet tried which you’d like to try your hand at? I’ve begun filming this and that. I’m interested in seeing how the sense of movement that is present in my work can be translated through film. I’d like to do a stop motion animation piece with the felt.

If you had the option of working with any artist, who would it be, and why? I am a fan of Swoon and Olek, both women, and both working outside of the parameters of traditional forms of street art. I’m also interested in working with filmmakers, set designers, performance artists, any one interested in the transformation of physical space.

What are your plans/projects for the rest of the year? Right now I’m making a series of flags, and posting them around LA. I have 3 weeks worth of footage from a cross country road trip that I am currently on hiatus from reviewing, although that could happen this year. It could also happen in 20 years. I am perpetually on the verge of relocating. I bought a van, and subsequently the freedom to do so, so it’s always a possibility. Otherwise, I just want to continue to develop my painting practice, have a multitude of spontaneous adventures, meet interesting people, and engage frequently in sparking conversation.

Check out a selection of Milos work in the gallery below.

To view more of Milos art, visit her website: MILO MILO MILO or check out the Milo Facebook page.

Questions > Franc Botha

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