Words by: Duke DuRock
With tickets for Lightning in a Bottle (LIB) 2012 now on sale, we’re counting down the days to Memorial Day weekend! As we begin our march, we’ll be bringing you plenty of stories along the way on The Do LaB blog, taking you behind-the-scenes of the festival and giving you a preview of those who will be contributing their creativity. We’re proud to highlight the official festival artwork for this year, which comes from the imaginative mind of Anthony “Locust” Kraus.
(Click image for larger version)
“I can’t even tell you how amazing it is to have my artwork selected by The Do LaB,” said Kraus when we recently spoke to the San Francisco-based artist. “I worked really hard on that painting and I think it turned out pretty well. In L.A. alone there are tons of amazing artists that they could have chosen, so I’m truly honored. I know The Do LaB bought a painting from me in 2010 and I’ve been working non-stop since then. I really wanted to show everyone how I’ve grown as an artist and what I could do now, so I’m really thankful for this opportunity.”
As Locust’s LIB 2012 piece demonstrates, he has a style all his own. Kraus acquired his alias as a punk-rocker back in high school, where his nickname eventually stuck as he got more into art. But by his mid-twenties, Kras would temporarily quit painting as he found the art gallery scene stifling and uninspiring.
“It was only after I started going to Burning Man and the boom of the street art movement, that I began to see art that was huge and that was outside the galleries in public spaces,” Kraus recalled. “So I started doing it again and I got increasingly more obsessed with it.”
“I think it’s an age thing as well as a demographics thing,” he added. “Art in galleries was geared more towards the older, stuffier and wealthier types who like to drink wine, chat and drop names. It seems like the Burning Man and street art movement is for younger people with wilder ideas that wouldn’t necessarily fit into a standard gallery. To me, the background is as important as the art itself. Just having a white wall, that may be OK for some art but not all art.”
The artwork that Locust creates pulls from a myriad of different styles, including mixed media which he incorporates with his colorful painting, while paying meticulous attention to his many intricate details. Kraus embraces art in all its different forms, but as with most independent artists, he struggles staying true to his strong artistic spirit while also creating work that he can still sell at the same time.
“It’s an interesting dilemma because I want to do art outside in public spheres because I think it’s important, but I also really need to make money to survive,” Kraus explained. “Most of the people who do these amazing murals outside, a lot of them aren’t making very much money. They do it because they love it. I’m willing to spend money to put art in public domain for the sake of bringing more color and art into the world. I’m also just as willing to fill up a gallery with whatever hare-brained shit I can come up with and sell it if I can, because I do need to keep the lights on.”
In 2007, Kraus experienced his first LIB festival as a performer, but it was when he was asked to come do live painting in 2010 that he noticed just how much the festival and his own artwork had grown.
“I saw a really drastic change,” Kraus recalled. “It went from a baby festival to really growing into itself. It was amazing and there was so many people and different things going on. I worked my ass off for the entire time doing fun things that I had never done before stylistically. I was experimenting and just hoping it would work out. I ended up selling the piece and I was really happy about that because I didn’t expect it.”
He added, “That was a really beneficial thing for me because I’m really shy and I have no idea how to interact with people that I don’t know. So painting has really given me a great platform to have meaningful conversations with people.”
Locust’s art has the ability to tap into different emotions through his distinct style and you can feel the tremendous creative passion that he puts into every piece. Unlike over-priced gallery mark-ups, Kraus makes his work affordable and whether someone is looking for Locust original or limited print, he will find a price-point that fits within their budget.
“I love to make art for people that’s specifically for them,” said Kraus. “People can also order prints of any of the pieces that they see on my website. It’s all a sliding scale [in terms of payment] because some people don’t have a lot of money and that’s not the most important thing.”
He added, “I’m starting to get older as I’m in my mid-thirties now and I’ve experimented and done different art forms and experienced other ways of living as I’ve traveled a lot. I just have this mantra that art was what I was born to do, so I need to just do it.”
The Do LaB would like to sincerely thank Locust for sharing his talents and creativity which we are proud to showcase as the art for Lightning in a Bottle 2012! Let us know what YOU think of it and Locust’s other pieces in the comment section below and you could win a limited signed print of the artwork!
To view more of Locust’s incredible and inspiring artwork, visit his website.