We hope you’ve enjoyed our interviews with RICH (HBT) & INEPT, as we continue with our third installment of our “Artist Spotlight.” Today we present Los Angeles based street artist/musician/anarchist: ABCNT.
1. Explain where the name “ABCNT” comes from, does it have any significant meaning?
In the mid 90’s I used to write the alias ‘Absent’ and even had an acronym for it (Always Be Successful Entering New Terrain) and my DJ name was ‘AbcntMnded’ so I merged the two to simplify into one main idea, or entity. Not a brand— that’s one thing I am not, and will never be, I’m just me.
2. Where can one see your artwork?
Spots in L.A., Hit+Run events, or on the web at www.abcnt.info (technically on TV as well!)
3. How Long have you been doing art in the streets and how did you get started?
1996 was initially when I first started tagging, catching spots, thinking more about style and art, before people were even saying “street art.” Inspiration was just more about keeping up with graffiti and stenciling. But I didn’t come up with the ABCNT “business bandit” logo until 2004, which is just more iconic and easier to stamp in a persons head.
For those who don’t know- can u explain the meaning of your iconic “business bandit”?
At the time I made the “business bandit” image, it was a few years into the Dick & Bush era and I was more involved with protests and it was always mandatory to avoid police profilers who videotape the identity of protestors, to look for the regulars aka dedicated activists, to establish so called ‘leaders’ for some bullshit fascist data, who knows. So we’d go masked up to protect our identity. With that scenario constantly in my head, fucking around one night the image just naturally merged into the idea of creating this anonymous yet professional figure that people can identify and rely on for a message of truth. Adding the drips just helped the image float and communicates an aesthetic that to me is timeless and connected to the zeitgeist. The business aspect is my form of subversion. If I can infiltrate a company or establishment with my ideas, that seemed more productive to me than screaming at some sanctioned protest surrounded by police.
4. What do you enjoy most about street art and How does art affect you?
I like originality and creative solutions that enhance the landscape of the city. Style is cool but gets boring, someone with something to say is always more interesting. Content is king. Every major city’s art scene is crackin’ right now and there’s a lot of great shit happening, its all inspiring. Except for the cute shit, I can’t stand toy bugged eyed Mickey Mouse bullshit, and biters with wack ideas and poor execution.
5. What’s the theme of your art? Where does your inspiration come from?
Politics & activism is a heavy influence in my work. When I read things, ideas come to me and I’ll write them down in my book and revisit it build on it etc. I just gravitate towards that realm, it’s in my blood and I’m here to address issues that I think are important. It channels through me, I’m just a messenger. I try to keep ABCNT on that avenue of focus while other types of work & style I get out my system through either working with Hit+Run or commercial work as a freelancer.
6.) By design, you’re clearly a dedicated activist/anarchist, do you ever create abstract visual art too or exclusively stick to political art? Would you describe art with no meaning like a non-alcoholic beer?
My collage work is sort of abstract. I guess it may depend on who’s viewing it. I definitely explore different realms of visual art. Political art is just easier for me and feels more important and immediate. I don’t hate on anything if it doesn’t have any meaning to it necessarily, because sometimes the meaning is in the process and technique. For instance my friend Vahe Berberian does a lot of abstract paintings and I really love his work. Recently I was allowed to select a few of his paintings and collage them for a new EP by BEI RU. That’ll be out soon.
7. Many people may not know your involvement in the music scene— how does this differ from your visual art that most people are familiar with?
Well I came up in the 90s “golden era,” before the internet really became accessible to the population. A real west coast hip-hop fanatic, with a kind of militant attitude towards consciousness, and I made an extra effort to practice the elements. So if I wasn’t working on styles & letters, I was trying to uprock and do a power move, or freestyle and write rhymes with my crew. Surprisingly to a lot of people (except my inner circle) I did more rhyming than anything else. As a result I started diggin’ in crates, making beats, mix tapes and still doing it but more to maintain my own spiritual connection to music. (Download ABCNT’s latest mix tape HERE.)
Do you prefer one medium over another?
I’m not sure if I prefer one over the other. It’s just a matter of what I feel like creating at the moment. It just happens that visual art has more of my time occupied.
8.) Since leaving rhyming in the past- what’s your opinion on the current state of lyricists? What/who is fresh and what isn’t?
It’s evolved. I mean artists that come to mind from; Saul Williams, Ras Kass, to Mos Def, and GonjaSufi They did it, and in most cases, are still doing it and taking it further. But yea no one is checking for rappers these days, shit’s dead. If the lyrics are real though, I will dig it. As of now, I’m bumping that CRIME Kills Kids, DamFunk, Zackey Force Funk, GLK, KUTMAH, that whole BRAINFEEDER experimental beats movement. Everyone else is sort of making history because TV or iTunes said so.
9. What are you currently working on and what are the future ambitions of ABCNT?
Currently I am working with Stardust trying to pay my bills and move this ABCNT movement forward by the same means, but bigger and better like everything else that grows with time.
10. Any readers you wanna thank or famous last words?
“He who seeks titles, invites his own downfall.”
Big shout outs to Restitution Press, CRYPTIK, Brandy Flower and the Hit+Run Crew!