Indie 184 Is Pure Magic
Killing it since 2001, Indie 184 talks her latest show.
Indie 184 gets it done. Day in and day out, the graf writer, artist, designer, and entrepreneur conquers yet another corner of the globe with color. The bright bubble-gum pop and neon swaths of paint are her siren song, beckoning to you from streets and galleries the world over – from the Bronx to Berlin and back.
Ahead of her upcoming pop-up show, Pure Magic, we caught up with Indie to talk what she’s learned from the writing game, her evolution as an artist, and why ambition can sometimes be tricky.
Mass Appeal: What can we expect from Pure Magic?
Indie 184: It’s about 12 new mixed-media paintings. I might throw in some of the new styles I’m doing. We’ll see.
So what is pure magic to you? Is it the work itself? The effect on the viewer?
It’s my world. My paintings are like pages of a diary. It’s like I’m coming out with an album and that’s the title and every painting is a song. That’s how I like to organize my work. So basically, this is my next album coming out – my visual album.
With your streetwear brand, Kweenz Destroy, and definitely in your art practice, you’ve never shied away from being a woman and incorporating more “feminine” colors into your work. Can you talk about using color, pink in particular, as armor, as a weapon?
Color is a language. Color is energy. I’m all about positive energy. This world can be a challenge. There are so many ups and downs in life. I just like to use color as a language. It’s going to sound cliché, but for positivity. I don’t know if it has anything to do with my Caribbean roots or not, but I just love bright colors. It’s just a way to communicate the energy.
In this new work, empowered female icons remain as muse to you?
Yes. They are my muses. They translate the mood of the picture, the whole point of what I’m trying to say. They are like my sirens, my mermaids in the ocean.
It feels like a declaration of sorts in your transformation of a Hollywood icon into an Everywoman. By giving them doorknockers and a bright lip, they become the women you and I grew up with. You show the beauty in the around the way girl.
Very true. At the end of the day, as much as you idolize someone, we’re all just human. We all experience emotions – insecurities, jealousies, sadness, anger – and we’re not perfect. Even goddesses have their weakness.
And we can celebrate that.
Exactly. Sometimes I think I want to get away from images like that, but I think that will happen naturally. I don’t want to push it. Right now, I’m just having fun. I go with the flow too.
There’s still something that you need to say with them, through them.
Exactly. I need to finish the stories I started.
How has where you grew up and how you came up influenced your work?
I lived like everywhere in New York City. Every grade was a different school in a different borough. It gets pretty complicated. It touches things on an emotional level. I realize, as I’ve gotten older, as I start to crack my own shell and start to paint and let things get deeper into that, I’ve learned a lot about myself. What I’ve learned living around in all these different areas is that I don’t have emotional attachment to material things. I don’t know. I feel like I’m getting all Woody Allen here, but what I’m trying to communicate is linked to my childhood. Again, I’m just living it. I’m just living it but I’m definitely learning a lot.
How would you describe your evolution as an artist and where do you want to go from here?
As I’ve gotten older and doing less graffiti pieces in the streets, I treat it like a job, you know? I’m now a lot more focused and I know where I want to go. If my older self could go back in time and tell my younger self, I’d say, “Stop wasting so much time – like chasing all these things that don’t matter or people.” I’m much more focused and I know what I want now. I want to be a painter. I want to take my paintings and make sculptures with them. I’m also working on this comic book, which kind of falls into that world I’ve created and am still creating. It’s gonna be real cool. Like the street meets this other realm that exists. There is so much to come. I’m kind of superstitious in a way. I don’t want to talk about things and then not do them. You know when you workout and then you tell people how much you ran and then the next day you don’t even workout or something? It can take the thrill out of it. I just want to do it. Basically, I just want to evolve in my painting and my work. You know the T-shirt thing, I’m still doing it. I mostly do it for fun. Running a streetwear brand is definitely a full-time job. I’m a mother of three, and honestly, sometimes it can be overwhelming. Doing all these things is a great thing, but sometimes you have to like narrow things down. I want to keep doing gallery shows. I want to paint more in the street. I want to do a mixed-media wall and things like that. There are so many things to do. I don’t event think I can achieve what I want to do in this lifetime. I want to learn a language. I want to do too much. It kind of scares me. Like, “Dang, what the F? Do I have time for all this?”
But it’s that kind of vitality that is conveyed in your work. That kind of electricity.
Well thank you. Ambition is great, but it can be tricky, man. Everything in moderation. Balance is key, man. Because too much ambition, it can drive you really nuts. I’ve learned how to balance things out.
Is that only learned with age?
Yeah, and I think it’s just the way I’m programmed. I’m very much into astrology. A lot of people don’t know that. I’m a Libra, so I think that’s pretty much how I kinda am. My moon sign drives me insane. It’s a push and pull all day every day. It’s cool, but it’s annoying. We all have like alter egos. My moon sign is Indie. She’s more like, you know, she goes HAM. She pops off and I could be a thug. I’m just kidding. But, like the real me, if anyone knows me personally, that’ll be more of the Libra, more balanced, the mother and things like that.
Sometimes it’s overwhelming and you gotta get help, man. You gotta let go sometimes. You know all these great artists like Jeff Koons or Takashi Murakami all got like a damn corporation of all these helpers. I’m not on their art level yet you know, but if they can’t even do it by themselves? They don’t even take care of their kids and like cook dinner. It can be a lot of work and you gotta know when to cross the line and when to get help. Learning how to do that is part of being productive. Sometimes there are dishes in the sink. This whole Martha Stewart-perfection thing, I threw it out the window, the whole concept. I can’t deal with this cookie cutter thing. I don’t have the time. As long as I give my kids my undivided attention when they get home from school or things like that, I’m ok with that, you know? I let that whole perception go and just really focus on what matters. Don’t sweat the small stuff. The best you can do is just be the best you can be, man. The best thing to do is to just rock and do it. All that other stuff can hinder your progress.
Do you have a favorite surface to create on? Canvas? Clothing? Concrete?
It’s definitely paintings, canvas. I like paintings because they have a longer longevity than a wall on the street. Out there, you got people going over you, whether it’s beef or toys, or it’s the city or the owner. You know, I love to get up and put my name on a wall and have everyone see it and have it be accessible to anyone in the community, but it just doesn’t last forever. I mean, nothing lasts forever. But, I like the paintings because they kind of get to travel more. And I can take my time with them too.
How has what you learned coming up in the writing game influenced you as an entrepreneur?
It’s just like using the guerrilla tactics of graffiti – the whole marketing thing. I mean just like in life in general, it pushes me. It fires me up. If you’re not in someone’s face, then you’re out of sight, out of mind. You gotta stay relevant. You gotta stay consistent. So, that’s what I learned. That and you gotta be well-rounded. Some people who can do throw ups, can’t piece. People who can piece, maybe don’t have a good throw up. So, it’s important to be well rounded in things.
Pure Magic: An Ephemeral Showcase of Paintings and Other Media (197 Rivington Street, NY) runs Thursday, June 25 through Saturday, June 27, 2015.
Gallery hours Friday and Saturday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.