Toons One 44: Recognizing and Supporting Arts and Culture in Southern California
When you think of some of the most culturally diverse and renowned cities on earth, they all have one thing in common: art. From local galleries to life-size murals, a community full of art is a community full of culture. That’s why supporting the arts in your local community is a crucial part of building a legacy, exposing artists to bigger platforms, and providing them with greater opportunities.
Today’s guest inherently understands the importance of celebrating creativity and educating and inspiring others, as he himself has been active on the scene for nearly 30 years. In the house today, we have the one and only Toons One, international artist, style writer, custom painter, fine line pin striper, and original graffiti artist since 1982, right here in Los Angeles.
“We have this conundrum [in Southern California], where we have produced some of the most amazing artists, but you almost never know that because you don’t see it on the streets. There are some of the most talented, amazing artists from all different types of mediums here, sculptors, painters, mixed-media people, but you would never know that, because you don’t see their works prominent. You don’t go into buildings and see their paintings and sculptures, you don’t see them on the streets.” — Toons One [0:28:59]
Naturally gifted with a broad observation of the cultural landscape of the world in which we live, Toons’ creations embody a rich imagination and a soulful interpretation of everyday life.
In today’s episode, he shares his journey with us, recognizes those who inspired and uplifted him along the way, and highlights the importance of supporting arts and culture in his home of Southern California. Toons believes that one of the biggest conundrums Southern California’s finest artists face is not being recognized for their achievements and he calls on not only institutions and the local municipality to step up and support the diverse and vibrant culture in LA, but the private sector too.
“I just do what I do and I go to those places where I am appreciated and then I do all the shiny stuff because they appreciate it. They’re behind it. When I’m [in the US], I’m mainly functioning commercially. Sad to say, but that is what I do here. I try to enjoy it as best as I can and I’m more into the personal interactions that I have with the clients that I work for but fine art stuff, most of the stuff, I’m really not into it because of the motivation behind it is mostly monetary.” — Toons One [0:40:45]
Tune in for a rich and insightful conversation with one of LA’s finest exports who believes that supporting one another and creating movements is not only important but crucial for the future of art!
Key Points From This Toons One 44 Episode:
- Toons highlights the oral tradition amongst artists that seek to inspire and educate others.
- Who lifted Toons up and mentored him over the years, including his mother and hip hop.
- The influence that West Coast artist, Crayone and author, James Prigoff had on his career.
- Hear the story of Toons’ first tag and throw up in East Side Torrance, California.
- Breaking into the fine art world with his participation in Top Illin at ICU Art in 1995.
- What Toons’ learned from being a part of Earth Crew, led by court interpreter, Helen Samuels.
- How he made it out to Mexico City in 1991 and, eventually, to Europe in 1993.
- How he came to do a mural for Maxine Waters and recognize the conundrum that Southern California’s finest artists face in not being well recognized.
- Why Toons believes that LA galleries don’t promote the best work from Southern California.
- The long shadow Hollywood casts on LA artists; Toons believes the culture needs to step up.
- It’s not just up to the municipality to support the arts, the private sector is equally responsible.
- How inadequate funding and appreciation is discouraging artists like Toons.
- The rise of graffiti art from subculture to culture to superculture.
- Why Toons started creating his own group shows: to give back to the scene, expose artists to a bigger platform, and provide them with opportunities.
- Find out how Toons came to live in Berlin after realizing he “lived to work.”
- Why he encourages all American artists to get out, travel, and see the world.
- The importance of understanding legacy and acknowledging and celebrating our history.
- How certain institutions exploit artists in order to create an archive of their work.
- How studying history helped Toons ask better questions, but the key is being observant.
- Hear about the benefits of taking on the role of teacher and student simultaneously.
- Taking the time to invest in yourself is not about the goal; it’s about the journey.
- Toons shares more about his upcoming book, which he hopes will inspire and educate others.
- The discipline and situational awareness that Toons says he learned from the streets.
- Building a legacy will open doors for you, so organize yourself and create a body of work!
- Why supporting one another and creating movements is crucial for the future of art.
- Toons’ final words of wisdom: if you don’t like what you see, look within yourself.
“I got a lot of my drive and my go get ‘em from [Helen Samuels]. I’m very grateful for the lessons that I learned from her.” — Toons One [0:19:15]
“When you don’t have a culture [or] environment that is supportive of what you do, it creates a lot of problems and it creates a lot of division.” — Toons One [0:34:53]
“So many people, they think [the US] is the end all, be all, and I’m like, ‘There’s something else [out there].’ You’ve got to get out and see the world.” — Toons One [0:50:31]
Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:
- Toons One on Instagram — https://www.instagram.com/toonsone44/
- Spraycan Art — https://www.amazon.com/Spraycan-Art-Street-Graphics/dp/050027469X
- ICUART — http://www.icuart.com/
- Juxtapoz Magazine — https://www.juxtapoz.com/
- Scott “Sourdough” Power — https://www.instagram.com/sourdoughpower/
- Not Real Art Conference — https://www.notrealartconference.com/
- Not Real Art on Instagram — https://www.instagram.com/notrealartworld/
“If you’re just more observant to the things that are around you, you’d be surprised what you will learn that is not in a scholastic environment or setting.” — Toons One [1:02:07]
“I go to the ends of the earth to learn from those who I want to learn from. It’s an amazing journey. It’s hard sometimes. It’s difficult, but it is also very rewarding.” — Toons One [1:15:15]
“If you don’t like what you see, look to yourself, look within yourself and pull out what you want to see.” — Toons One [1:28:02]