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THE FINE PRINT: You started painting in the 90s, which means it’s been over 15 years now! How has your art evolved over the years?
LOUIS CARREON: My art has evolved but is on a constant streak, there’s always a lot of street graffiti, colours and letters. It mostly has evolved in terms of time and space, as well as my emotions towards it.
THE FINE PRINT: Tell me more about your project for Landmark Aviation. How does this project vary from other commissioned work you’ve done in the past?
LOUIS CARREON: I would say it’s the scale that was a lot different, painting an entire airplane isn’t an easy task. It definitely varies from a painting made for a client or collector.
THE FINE PRINT: Were there any challenges painting such a big surface as a private jet over the Art Basel week?
LOUIS CARREON: Well, I had to use spray cans all over and have a very steady hand. The private jet is curved, so that was a challenge, as your arm must follow the curve as you go. The weather wasn’t optimal, as it was raining and windy all week. It’s definitely one of the most challenging projects I’ve ever done.
THE FINE PRINT: You state that this particular project was directly inspired by Keith Haring’s work, which is very obvious once you look at the final product. He died before you started painting yourself. I’ve got to ask – does he affect your general artwork in any other way? Did his work push you into becoming an artist?
LOUIS CARREON: I actually dedicated the piece to him because of the colours I used – it’s all black and white. There are a lot of haters in the art world, bunch of people that have nothing else to do than point out that you copied or got inspired by someone, so I’d rather be upfront and let people know I did something similar.
My biggest influence is actually Jean-Michel Basquiat. I think you can see it by how I use oil pastels, rollers, leave it unfinished, as he did. I am not really into the art world, I just want to paint and stay humble towards my art.
THE FINE PRINT: In some parallel world, what would you talk about or do with Basquiat if you had a couple hours with him?
LOUIS CARREON: Do you want the real answer haha? That’s a really hard question.
One part of me would want shoot dope with him, but I’m actually clean now. You know, back then when he was painting, artists were living a poem, a movie every night, that’s what NYC was in that era. The man that I am today would like to talk to him, paint with him, come out at the end of the tunnel in the light, not in the dark.
THE FINE PRINT: You are also the marketing director of a hospitality company — do your other jobs affect your art in any way?
LOUIS CARREON: I own a piece of a couple clubs in L.A., but that doesn’t affect my art. I got into that business because I was good at it, gathering people and getting them there. When I got out of jail, I had to get another job, it wasn’t about selling dope anymore. I now act as one of their front men.
THE FINE PRINT: Speaking of jail time, how was that? Did it influence or inspire you in any way?
LOUIS CARREON: I did two years in for drug related crimes, actually conspiracy; I was introducing people and being involved in that process. I didn’t rat on anybody when I got caught. The federal system is a bitch, a lot of people are in jail for nothing, it’s just how the laws are made. They should teach those laws in school, what a mandatory minimum sentence is and the consequences of fucking around, not just showing videos on how bad marijuana is. When I was 16, that’s what they played, but I didn’t understand the repercussions then. If they’d bring someone that went to jail for half a gram instead, that would touch kids way more and make them understand better than some stupid government vid. I would like to make that one of my movements in the future.
THE FINE PRINT: Are you still to this day affiliated to KBH (Long Beach)?
LOUIS CARREON: Yes, I am, since 1990 and to this day in some way. KBH stands for KROWN BY HONOR, it’s the L.A. hip-hop culture. We are now all a bit older; some have kids, some are in jail, some are artists, some are dead.
THE FINE PRINT: I heard you dropping some verses in an interview, and you were actually pretty damn good at it! How does music inspire you on a daily basis?
LOUIS CARREON: Growing up, I was skateboarding, surfing, rapping and tagging. Music was and still is my life, it’s everything to me. I dropped out at 16, slept in my car, traveled the country. By the time I was 17, I had tagged every major city in the US. I guess I’ve been leaving my trace all around for a while now.
Text by ESTELLE GERVAIS