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.



Issue #136 of the long-running contemporary and pop art magazine Juxtapoz features a large celebration of street art as it makes what is likely its victory lap in a journey through the limelight. The May 2012 edition the magazine makes a “special examination on the state of public art in 2012” as we transition to a Post-Street Art era. Public art programs such as the LA Freewalls Project and similar programs across the nation set the tone for what can be done with street art, and the value of such projects and the idea of public art in general is the focus of this month’s issue. 

Interesting discussions with people all across the board, from festival stakeholders to politicians and all the way through to the artists actually working in these initiatives should make for a great read in this magazine with four limited editions covers by Steve Powers, JR, Swoon and El Mac. Features with Nuart, FAME Festival, Ron English, and Revok and Saber make the art journal worth a purchase for any street art fan here.



Emil Horowitz takes viewers behind-the-scenes in a video recap of an art happening that should have any contemporary art follower jumping up and down just at the knowledge of its occurrence. TED-award winning photographer and world-renowned French street artist JR teams up with Chinese perspective artist and painter of immense hype Lui Bolin in this rare view into the process behind Bolin’s incredible works of art. The Chinese painter takes his subject and blends them seamlessly into their surroundings by way of screenprint ink and paints to match the background, then photographs them from a particular point of view, often making them disappear to the point that the subject is hard to find.

In a rare collaboration, JR stands before one of his more popular pieces in New York (after finishing a large series across Los Angeles County) and lets Bolin do his magic, in time disappearing into one of his own pieces much in the way many painters dive deep into their work symbolically. The end result is a beautiful teaming up of two artists from very different backgrounds inspiring those around them by doing what they do best.

ThinkTank Gallery is a blog I run much in the same format as this, voicing the narrative of the gallery of the same name in Los Angeles, CA - a gallery that I manage for my day job. Follow it for daily info on Los Angeles and art as a whole.



The street artist named JR is one of the most iconic names in street art, photography, and even contemporary art after winning the TED Prize for $100,000 for being an exceptional person.

I was familiar with JR’s work for quite some time before he won the award and used it to begin his project focusing on the wrinkles of Los Angeles, but I didn’t expect the work to be as important to the city as it was. Living downtown, I see it walking to my favorite bar or getting on the freeway. The series is now iconic in this town, and what he has to say about it proves why.

This is one passionate artist.