Jul 03, 2012
Interview with Venice Beach Biennial artist Flewnt.
A recent assemblage painting by Flewnt
How long have you been selling your work on the boardwalk and what brought you here?
I would say 8 years now. A friend of mine told me to try to sell out here. It’s a good platform. Before that I only did a little art—sketchbooks and drawings. I used to make all-natural pipes out of coconuts and bamboo.
How did you start making your paintings with found objects?
I’ve been in L.A. since I was 9 years old. For a while I was living in Hawaii, to get a different scene, and I started making little pieces out of different objects. From there I just kept adding more things on.
Flewnt in his vending space on the boardwalk (space #111, located just north of Park Avenue).
Where do you usually go to find materials?
I’ve reached that level where they just come to me now. If I’m driving and I see something, I might pick it up. But for the most part I stopped that years ago. You start becoming a hoarder. “Oh, there’s another door!” Everything is art if you really look at it, but that’s not what I’m trying to do. I’m trying to make art. So a lot of times if I need something, I’ll just go to Home Depot and buy a bunch of wood, cut it all up, and build it. You’ll see me doing this texture here, but then in the studio you’ll see something different. My whole goal is to flip it so hard, you’d think someone one else did this piece. For me, that’s all-around art. People say they’re chefs, right? They come to your house, see what’s there, and then they want to go to the grocery store. If you’re a chef, work with what you’ve got! Art is like that too.
Does the boardwalk make its way into your work?
I watch people’s shoes—they give me a good color scheme. Like over there: there’s good old black and white. You can tell a lot about people from their shoes. This is the world right here walking on the beach: Mexico, Japan, China, Canada, Denmark—wherever.
What do you like about this area in particular?
I love Venice. The boardwalk and the art saved my life. I have nothing bad to say about it. So many people out here try to own it, that’s what’s ruining it. They think they’re entitled to something.
Flewnt signing the back of a work just purchased by a customer.
Where did you get your name?
It started out as a game of dice, trying to hit three sevens in a row. “Flewnt Sevens.” Together that’s twenty-one—I love that number. When I started out, twenty-one thousand was my goal for how much I wanted to get for my paintings in one go. Bam! Cut me a check.
Venice boardwalk, Venice, CA
Interview conducted by Claire de Dobay Rifelj
Filed under: Venice Beach Biennial