Jul 11, 2012
Interview with Venice Beach Biennial artist RA Superstar.
RA Superstar with one of his elephant paintings.
How long have you been selling your work on the boardwalk?
I’ve been selling my work in Venice for 16 years.
What brought you here in the first place?
My first day in New York I was drumming in Central Park. I met a guy there who said, “You belong in Venice Beach!” I’d never heard of it before. When I left New York I hit the lottery and won $5,000. I bought my first art supplies. Then I came on a bus to Venice, with a stop in Vegas.
RA Superstar. Absolute Ibiza. Acrylic on canvas. 77 x 57 in. Courtesy of the artist, rasuperstar.com.
How have you seen the boardwalk change over the years?
A lot of changes. Every couple years they make us stop selling certain things. The police will just come and enforce a law that’s totally ludicrous and it runs a lot of people out. So that’s the main change.
Do you feel like there’s a community of artists here? Are things contentious, or unified?
It’s a little bit of both because a lot of people see us out here making money and they say, “Oh, I could do that. That looks so easy.” Then they come by and try, and it’s not as easy as they thought. So they start to copy the people who sell, and that’s where it becomes contentious. “Yo, you’re copying me, man, you gotta stop.”
Can you tell if someone’s going to buy something or not?
Yeah, by the way their feet are pointing, or if their hands are out of their pockets. When their feet are separated, or pointing where they’re going instead of where they’re at, they’re not going to buy. And when they talk to you with their hands in their pockets, they’re not going to buy.
RA Superstar. Love and Hope Heart. Acrylic on canvas. 40 x 63 in. Courtesy of the artist, rasuperstar.com.
What is it that you like about selling your work out here?
The variety of people I meet from all over the world. If they have a gallery in Germany or Amsterdam, I tell them that I travel. I’ve been around the world. I have a tour I do every year to Ibiza, Barcelona, Amsterdam… Sweden every April, and Tokyo in June.
Do you draw inspiration from Venice and boardwalk in your work?
Almost everything. I’m happy when I’m here. Meeting new people inspires me. A lot of people give me ideas, like: “Why don’t you do elephants?” Someone told me that ten years ago and I thought, “I ain’t doing no elephants!” Never tried it. Then last January I started doing elephants and it’s one of my bestsellers. I should have done that before.
RA Superstar at his vending space on the Venice boardwalk, located at Breeze Avenue.
Venice boardwalk, Venice, CA
Interview conducted by Claire de Dobay Rifelj
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