We met up with street art photographer and building scaler BIRDMAN for his showing at L.A. is Paradise - which was great. Before meeting up with him, we got the chance to interview the photographer about his adventurous work. See the interview below. 

ThinkTank Gallery (TT): What was your response to Mr. Brainwash’s street art documentarian role in Banksy’s film Exit Thru? Did his experience and the subsequent  launchpad of his career inspire any movements in your own work?

BIRDMAN (BM): “What the fuck is this asshole doing?” Every time I drove through Hollywood I always asked myself if anyone else saw what I was seeing, but after I saw that movie I just got really pissed off that his image of street art is what people were viewing as the be all end all answer. So what ended up as me just posting pictures to Facebook evolved to where I am today.

TT: Where do street photography as a whole and street art photography in particular cross over? Where do they differ?

BM: Street photography, in my opinion, is capturing the vibe of the city you are photographing. The odd people you find, the dirty or beautiful streets as well as the skyline the buildings create. “Street art photography” can be just a picture of the art or surrounding atmosphere. I like to cross the two in making sure to capture the area the art is in rather then just the piece itself. Half of the art form is placement so I try to document it as best as I can.

TT: What has LA contributed to your work that no other city has provided? What is LA lacking?

BM: Where do I begin. Right now there so many murals going up in the Arts District thanks to “LA Freewalls” and Culver City with “Branded Arts” it’s hard for me stop snapping. I doubt I’ll be running out of material any time soon. Artists from around the world come to LA to paint our walls I couldn’t ask for a better time to be living here. LA is lacking informing the people and authorities how to deal with the art form. Luckily city planner Tanner Blackman is helping that happen in recent drafts on the new mural ordinances in LA. Art is subjective already but where some see vandalism some see art and I feel like its going to be a long time until people can grasp it which is which. 

TT: Any notable or crazy experiences that your career in street art photography has provided (that you can share)?

BM: Almost died a few times as well as some close calls with the authorities, but thats normal. One of the crazier things I had to do for a picture (above, Three Kings) was to shimmy up a pole about 10ft to get to a ladder that was suspending off the side of a 6 story building to get to the roof top…I like to climb, hence my nickname. You’ll be able to see that picture at the show. 

TT: How long do you see yourself climbing buildings and taking pictures of legal and illegal art?


Find more of BIRDMAN’s work here.

An interview I did with BIRDMAN for my gallery’s blog.