The Secret World of LA Street Artist ‘Plastic Jesus’

PLASTIC JESUS: You never know when you go out if tonight’s the night that you are
going get busted and you are going to spend the rest of the night in the jail cell. PLASTIC JESUS: The thing about street art that attracts me is firstly that there is
no editing, there is no editor, you can put any message you like on the streets. And second,
the fact that street art is illegal and it is put out without any legitimate authorisation.
That in it self is a statement and I feel that kind of subversive nature of it really
works into the kind of person I am. COMM: Originally from London, Plastic Jesus is an LA-based street artist. After 20 years
working as a photojournalist, he got into street art around four years ago. PLASTIC JESUS: Melrose is one of the busiest streets of LA. You get between 30 and 50,000
people go down there a day. So, it is great spot to get a piece of street art and also
it has kind of become the centre of LA street art as well. Most of the stuff down there
is done illegally. I am not saying the building owners turn a blind eye to it, but it is kind
of almost accepted that street art is part of the culture. PLASTIC JESUS: Now, I’ve always admired Banksy and the way in which he conveys a quite
often political message or a current affairs message within quite a simple street art stencilled image. So really that’s where my start up came. PLASTIC JESUS: This is probably the piece I am most famous for – Stop Making Stupid
People Famous. Black wall, yellow works pretty well, it’s just quite a striking piece and
I can guarantee that in a day or two people will be posing up next to it, taking selfies
and tagging, tagging themselves and tagging, hopefully, tagging me in it as well. I think
it says a lot to Hollywood as well, this piece, like, stop f*cking making stupid people famous,
you dumbasses. PLASTIC JESUS: It’s re-posted a millions of times on social media and it always gets tagged
underneath various celebrity, you know, reality show stars like Kanye West, Kim Kardashian
etc. etc. But the piece has actually a double message, ‘stop making stupid people famous’
is really also a criticism of us. We are the consumer, we are watching the TV shows, we
are buying the tabloids, we are looking at the websites, we are the people making these
people famous. So, it is also very critical of us and that’s the way I like pieces to be. COMM: He made international news recently when he built a wall around Donald Trump’s
star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. PLASTIC JESUS: Most of my pieces are current affairs, news or political commentary. I think
having spent 20 years as a photojournalist, a lot of my background there comes into play.
I did some No Kardashian Parking signs. Recently, leading up to the election, I’ve done some
No Trump Parking signs as well. So what I do is that I think of a few ideas, maybe jot
them down and sketch them, come back to them a few days later, if there is one outstanding
idea that I still think works, I will go with it. That was the case with certainly the Trump
wall that I put on the Hollywood boulevard. PLASTIC JESUS: These are Trump $100 bills, and if we look here we’ve got the, we have
got crossed assault rifles, we’ve got the wall between us and Mexico, Trump’s signature. PLASTIC JESUS: The whole message behind my art is really not to tell people what their
opinion should be or how they should think. PLASTIC JESUS: I did another piece called Liberty, which is the Statue of Liberty holding
a police riot shield with a riot helmet on. Now that can carry two messages, is it ‘are
the police protecting our liberty” or ‘are we becoming a police state’. Well, I leave
that for the viewers to make their own mind up. PLASTIC JESUS: Where my pieces are, I often go back and just hang out there and take a
few selfies, just to gaze at the reaction, I mean, that’s the important thing with
what I do. I want to see how the public interact with them and their reaction and their comments. COMM: He conceals his identity, but that’s not just to avoid fines or possible imprisonment. PLASTIC JESUS: I don’t want my persona, me to become the focus of a piece of art that
I do. I want the message in the piece of art to convey it’s own importance. My brothers
both know I’m Plastic Jesus. I think they think that it’s pretty cool that they got
a brother who does this stuff, which is getting so much attention, and slightly subversive, and a bit of an unusual job. COMM: Finally, how did he choose his pseudonym? PLASTIC JESUS: I first moved to LA about 9 years ago and whilst just driving around,
I saw all these cars with these little plastic Jesus figures sitting on the back dashboard.
These little plastic Jesus figures are there to remind these people about their morals,
their beliefs and their ethics. And I felt really by doing street art, that’s really
what I hoped to set out to achieve, to get people to question their beliefs and ethics.

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