In commemoration of the recent group exhibition, Wrapped on display at S&P Gallery in London, I had the opportunity to talk with LA Based pop artist MR NICE about his work.
MR NICE’s climactic compositions feel as fleeting and spontaneous as the brushstrokes and speed at which he paints them. Everything seems to fall into place in a symbiotic symphony mirroring the nuance and mess of the world around him, from which he directly draws his inspiration.
I prefer to keep an open mind while creating, so my art doesn’t become stagnant
Inviting you into the works are faces you might recognize, from Winnie The Pooh to Kobe Bryant to Marilyn Monroe. There is an entry point for all audiences removed from pretension and taking itself too seriously while still making serious strides in artistic technique, craftily mingling many mediums and styles. His works encourage you to bring your own lived experiences, sense of humor, and curiosity to the work.
Q: How did you first get into art? And when did you feel you were starting to make first real strides in the art world and finding your own rhythm?
A: I first started making art around 4 years ago. My wife and I had just completed building our hair salon in Beverly Hills. We had spent all our money and couldn’t afford to buy art so I decided that I should buy a bunch of canvases, paint and see if I could make some pieces to have in there.
I started to really feel I was making some headway in the industry in my first year. I had been commissioned to make art for an international watch company, the CEO of an NBA team, and a famous pop star. This early encouragement really helped me keep creating and improving on the base work I had created.
Q: You use a lot of different mediums on the canvas, from spray paint to neon lights to acrylic pens – how do each of these communicate to you and how do you decide when to use one or the other, or is it all just a stream of consciousness?
A: I tend to use multiple mediums within my art to create layers. When using multiple techniques, I find that it really adds depth to my pieces. The way I work is not very pragmatic. I start off with a concept and edit and change as the piece develops. I prefer to keep an open mind while creating, so my art doesn’t become stagnant.
Q: A lot of your works consist of text and quotes, and even some more recently including actual books themselves in works such as Read Me, Library Works. Where do you mainly draw your literary inspiration from?
A: The texts and quotes I use are generally from people I’m inspired by. I look back through history to find interesting leaders, poets, writers etc. and try to use their wisdom within my art. With the actual book spines, these were curated from a batch of books I purchased with empowering titles.
Q: Would you consider your works autobiographical?
A: I used to consider my work my social commentary when I started. Then I moved into an area that I can only describe as a mixture of autobiographical, pop art, and positivity.
Q: You talk about reality through cartoons, which makes your work really accessible because of how universal these iconographic characters are but also cartoons are almost abstractions or stand-ins for reality. Often they reflect the current state of the world. Do you think it’s easier to get at what you’re trying to talk about by not depicting the world literally but abstractly through cartoons?
A: In some ways, yes. I think people can relate better when the subject matter is something they recognize or maybe even grew up with. It also makes the whole piece a bit more light-hearted if the subject matter is heavy.
Q: Do you think moving to LA influenced your practice and how does LA’s art scene compare to Londons?
A: LA definitely influenced my practice since I only started making art after moving here. I was never really involved in London’s art scene when I lived there, but I think LA is more open to new things in general compared to London. It just gives me the freedom to create whatever I’m inspired to.
Q: Do you have anything new in the works or something you’re looking at developing more in this next year?
A: I have a few fun projects beginning in January. I’m also deep in talks about joining the NFT space. 2022 is an exciting year for sure.