Buff Monster's Wall of Pride
Throughout the month of June, cities across the U.S. celebrate the LGBTQ community in various ways. In an exciting new campaign, NYC Pride’s WorldPride Mural Project Initiative, collaborated with production and curation partner, The LISA Project NYC, founding partner, HSBC Bank, and major supporter, Macy’s to participate in the 2019 World Pride celebration. The LISA Project is a non-profit organization, with a mission to unite and support a diverse group of artists in NYC to curate the start of mural art districts throughout the city. 50 local and international artists were selected to create murals across the five boroughs of New York that reflect and honor the beauty, struggle, and strides of the LGBTQIA+ community throughout May and June. B&A Mural Artist, Buff Monster, was among the artists selected to participate in the creation of these murals.
“I’m excited to contribute this giant mural to the neighborhood and I’m happy to bring awareness to the struggles and triumphs of the LGBTQ community.” Buff Monster’s giant pride mural was completed near his Manhattan studio on the Lower East Side. Measuring 94 feet wide and 31 feet high, the mural stretches across the entire face of a building on Chrystie Street. Buff Monster is not unfamiliar with working in this space. In 2014, he worked on a different mural with the LISA Project on the same wall that his new mural is painted on. “I’ve always loved this building; there is a park across the street, you can see the mural for blocks away and there is a lot of traffic turning at the mural for the Holland tunnel (outside of which another huge mural of mine is located).”
Buff Monster’s mural is the largest of the 50 curated for this initiative across NYC, featuring a “diverse group of characters with various expressions unified by a rainbow; capturing various stages of the struggle and triumph of the LGBTQ community,” explains Buff Monster. The figures of the mural are on brand with Buff Monster’s work, one-eyed, animated, characters. However, rather than each character being their own individual color, which is seen in most of his work, each character is filled in with a rainbow gradient of color. While each of their personal expressions makes them unique, the rainbow gradient unites the characters with the symbol of the World Pride celebration. When walking past the mural alongside the building, it’s easy to just see the characters one by one. But, when looking at the whole wall with a little more distance, one can see how the expressions of the various characters tell the story Buff Monster intended - both the struggles and triumphs of the LGBTQ community.
This mural was a seven-day undertaking and is just a bit smaller than the largest mural Buff Monster has ever worked on. The LISA Project team prepared and prime the wall, Buff Monster then sketched his design and filled it all in with the help of his assistants Amanda and Sam. “I’m very happy to be a part of this historic celebration, especially at a time that we’re divided more than ever. Big thanks to the LISA Project and NYC Pride for all their support, my assistants Amanda and Sam, and of course, Dana Dynamite.”
Jeremyville and Buff Monster Get Fungal
Travis Cain used to design toys professionally before he left to pursue other opportunities. But it's still a form he believes in. "As kids we all had toys and loved toys and I just love the idea of the form of toy but having it be a little more collectable, like a piece of art," he says. "Like a little mini sculpture." That's why even though he's not doing it every day, he still found time to create Fun Gus, an anthropomorphic mushroom with a great attitude. "I thought of Fun Gus a couple years ago and it’s just been something that I’ve been working on continuously as I’ve had time," he says. "He comes purely from the idea that 'fungus' could be split into two words." When it came time to produce the toy, he wanted to get a few more hands on the project.
Enter Jeremyville and Buff Monster, along with Frank Kozik. Jeremyville and Buff Monster have become famous for their darkly whimsical takes on the more playful world that Fun Gus inhabits. There were obvious choices when it came for Travis to find collaborators. In fact, Travis never designed a "basic" Fun Gus. There's no official design for the character, so when these three artists came to give their takes on Fun Gus, it was an exploration for everyone.
"I love [Jeremyville's] characters, they're weird but fun and cute at the same time," says Travis. "And I just love the worlds that he creates. I thought that his style would be perfect for Fun Gus." Jeremyville’s Fun Gus is a freckled, wide-eyed, green dude sporting a teeshirt that says “Sprout Up!”
One relationship led to the other when Jeremyville helped bring on Buff Monster. "I’ve been a huge fan of [Buff Monster's] work for a while," says Travis. "He’s designed a lot of toys so he’s really well known in that world. Actually Jeremy, introduced me to Buff Monster." Buff Monster’s Fun Gus, called “Pink Power,” is a cycloptic powder pink guy with buckteeth and a drippy painted head. He wears a teeshirt featuring a similarly bucktoothed, cycloptic monster who is a little less polite.
Both Jeremyville and Buff Monster’s designs for Fun Gus will be available to the public as Travis gets closer to launching the toys. He’s putting together a Kickstarter campaign that will feature rewards that include the standard Jeremyville, Buff Monster, and Frank Kozik Fun Guses, as well as special edition version available only to Kickstarter supporters.
We’ll let you know when the Kickstarter campaign goes live so anyone can grab their very own Fun Gus. If you want, you can sign up to be notified when the Kickstarter campaign is ready at www.heyfungus.com.