FUCK IT, I’M JUST GOING TO DO IT MYSELF Folks seem more mercenary today? People sometimes say, ‘Oh you can’t do it. You can’t do something this big... it must cost you a lot of money.’ Whatever I make, I make for me. This my way of life and I’m not going to stop that. Even if I do a show once, it’ll be a ten million dollar show. It’s just the fun of it. How does it feel to become such a big name so quickly? It’s not such a short period. When you’re passionate about anything you do, you build yourself. I’m 45-years-old and always working. I’m very patient. I’m going to do something even if it takes me ten years. You portray a very positive message through your art, yet there has been negative media attention around the authenticity of your work and identity. They think I’m not 45. I leave them to it. When I touch a camera, I’m passionate about it and I’m going to get in. Because I work. It doesn’t pay off without work. But I’m not here to just sell some art. I’m here to do something that helps people open their heart and make them say to themselves, ‘That’s what I want to do. I want to become an artist. I want to become a writer. I want to become…’ I want to make people realise that everything is possible. How did you develop such a positive outlook? We have some negativity and we have some positivity... and I choose to believe that life is beautiful. Everything that happens to me provides opportunities. Even if I break my legs, I’m going to see the positive in that. I'm gonna say, ‘Now I can sit down and read.’ And do things that I can’t do now. So I focus on the positive. You have to go through the bad to appreciate the good? Definitely. Because there is bad. But I try to take the bad and turn it to the good. It is the way that I live. When things happen, they happen for a reason. Tragedy helped me to be more sensitive with people. To be more of a lover. I grew up faster. There is always something positive and negative. You cannot always change things that happen in life. But what you can change is your perspective. Like when I did the Einstein picture. I really enjoyed it. He’s holding the sign that says ‘Love is the answer’. He’s the genius that helped to invent the atom bomb. But if he were alive today, he would say, ‘Love is the answer.’ Nothing else. It’s just love. How have people responded to that love? I was in a London gallery and a banker came up to me and said, ‘I’ve been working on Wall Street and your movie helped me decide to do what I wanted to do. So I dropped everything.’ I get emails every day from people who have chosen to follow their dreams. Some emails would make you want to cry. One was from a working person and he said, ‘I prefer to not have any food but I wake up in the morning and I’m happy. I’m happy because I do what I want. I’m not going to stop. I’m going to do a show in England in June, July and August during the Olympic games. I’ve rented 120 000 square feet. People think I’m crazy. But I’m not afraid. You know why? I dream and I move forward with my heart.’ You started off with a vintage store? Vintage is like art. Your eyes tell you what is good and what is bad. Everybody was doing vintage shops and I created a new concept that was called ‘designer’. I would look at the stitching and say this is worth $800. And I believed it. Designers would come from all over the world and buy pieces to make up their collections. What do they care about $10 000 when they’re going to make millions? Selling things for $20 would have been too slow. But making more money lets me be free. I cannot be locked somewhere. I can’t. I have ADD. How did you get into street art and paste-ups? The whole thing started with a big wall that I was keeping for different artists. You see it in the movie. ‘OBEY’ is scrawled across the wall 16 feet high, but you couldn’t see it well from far away. So I hired some people to enlarge it. I was worried because I didn’t have a permit, so I asked the artists to cover it up but they were busy. I waited a week or two and it was still there. So one day I decided, ‘Fuck it, I’m just going to do it myself.’ And that’s where it all started. That’s how I started putting the face with the camera. I just thought it was a cool image. Are you still painting the streets or are you concentrating more on exhibitions? Right now I’m very busy doing shows but I do walls whenever I have time. The next show is a big solo project in Miami. I’ve rented a whole parking lot. What are your plans? Staying positive. When I take on a project, I can’t not do it from my heart. Every day I say I’m gonna slow down and relax a bit, but I’m never gonna stop or slow down. Because that’s the way I live life. In an effort to make his art affordable, Mr Brainwash sells limited edition prints on his website for less than $1000 when his original work on canvas goes for up to six figures. New work by Mr Brainwash will be available at Cape Town's 34FineArt Gallery in December 2011.