Timothy Teruo Watters is an artist who can create pieces that make you look beyond the lines and paint to something more. The detail in his paintings and his eye for vibrancy make his art not only enjoyable but awakening as well. With his constant progression as an artist and his drive to create pieces that positively influence his audience, Timothy has established himself as a true professional and innovator in his craft. This is his story…
Q. How old were you when you discovered your talent for painting?
A. Art has always been one of those things that I just did. I don’t remember when I first started, but I remember always doing something. I was that kid who never left his sketchbook and colored pencils anywhere. My grandpa influenced me tremendously with being a prolific Impressionistic painter as well as a carpenter, sketcher and stained glass creator. He bought me some brushes, paint and a canvas and sat me down in his studio, and said go. I think I was 13.
Q. What were some of the first subjects you painted?
A. The Impressionistic era focused on daily scenes as a direct break from religious and political pieces, thus, Van Gogh and all those wonderful painters depicted everyday scenes, flowers, etc. My grandpa found great joy in painting different still lives of flowers and sail boats in the
Q. What inspired you to paint celebrities and athletes and what has the feedback been so far?
A. As an artist you always want to evolve and develop your skills. As a kid I used to draw figures that had blank faces and hands because features were so difficult to do correctly. So as I gained experience and confidence, I wanted to further challenge myself. Painting people is an extreme challenge as I want my portraits to be faithful. I play a lot of sports and absolutely love music, so I thought I would challenge myself with painting well-known figures and honor some of my favorite musicians, political figures and athletes. The feedback has been very positive so far, thankfully!
Q. Many of your pieces have a stained glass feel with the color blue as a recurring element. Explain the significance of this.
A. The stained glass feel was not intentional but just came as a natural progression of my style development. It came about really early on while doing abstract pieces way back in late ’97/ early ’98. I love the use of simple elements such as lines. It is amazing how the placement of thin lines can transform a blank canvas into a picture! I love lines because they emphasize whatever they surround, but at the same time, all my lines connect with each other, literally tying all the pieces together. Blue is one of my favorite colors, especially electric blue. Blue connotates cold and melancholy and I think the juxtaposition of this with bright, warm and vibrant colors creates an interesting conversation on many levels.
Q. What has been the hardest piece for you to paint so far?
A. Normally, whatever my latest portrait is is usually my hardest piece as I am always trying to do something new with each piece I do. I recently finished a portrait of Gwen Stefani and it beyond troubled me. I use much less lines when painting females which make things more difficult overall. Also, when you look at a picture of somebody, you aren’t looking for any imperfections or what’s wrong, but when you look at a portrait, you are naturally looking for what is wrong or out of place. Many times, you can paint someone faithfully but it just doesn’t look right. Gwen Stefani for whatever reason really reeked havoc. I definitely broke some brushes on that one!
Q. You’ve been very open about your trouble with insomnia. How has this shaped your style of painting?
A. I love action movies for obvious reasons and dramas put me to sleep. I find bright colors to be like action movies and subdued colors to be like slow moving dramas. Being in a steady state of tired, I am drawn to exciting stimuli. When I look at a painting, I want to be moved emotionally and elevated. Don’t get me wrong, there are wonderful paintings in a mooted color scheme, but a steady diet of those would put me to sleep. Having bright colors on the walls keeps me up as it livens up the space. I have also become more meticulous in the technique of my paintings as a result of my poor sleep. I have to maintain intense focus in order not to fall asleep!
Q. What is Teruo Creative and what projects have you completed with this group?
A. Teruo Creative is a marketing, strategy and branding company where we create corporate logos, websites and products as well as provide ideas. Some of our past clients include Clear Channel, Warner Bros, Karmaloop and SkeeTV. We have done mix-tape covers for Snoop Dogg and Game, the 98.7FM logo and even wine labels for various wineries.
Q. What is your ultimate goal with your creations and what do you wish for yourself in the future?
A. My ultimate goal is to just to keep making art and enjoy the creative process, but having people place my art in their home and really take pleasure in it, is priceless. It is a humbling experience. For the future, I wish I am able to just keep making art and positively influence viewers.
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The street art scene is very much alive in
Q. Where in
A. I grew up in
Q. Children make an appearance in your art, usually dressed up as super heroes. What is the story behind this and were you one of those children who wished to be a super hero?
A. I was always into batman as a child I don’t know why batman in particular but it seems everyone had a superhero that they related to as a kid. I like to create work that engages a broad audience and that is the beauty of creating work on the street. Since my work often deals with loss and memory, it’s important to do some nostalgia pieces.
Q. What is it about brown boxes that you enjoy to use in your art?
A. I don’t know. That came out of a series of rubbish pieces that I did. About a year ago some friends and I were painting a wall one day in
Q. Living in
A. Yes and no.
Q. Toys, children, balloons, and bears have been great staples in your art. What can you tell us about this child-like imagery and do you pull scenes from your own childhood into your work?
A. Yeah I guess it all relates back to the superhero pieces. A lot of it is based around the themes of disposability in modern society, loss of identity over time etc. A lot of the work I am exploring at the moment relates to child homelessness. I guess different themes weave in and out of my work at different times.
Q. Have you ever been to
A. I spent a couple of days in LA years ago but didn’t paint anything, I am hoping to come over later this year and I will definitely be painting when I get there.
Q. What are you currently working on?
A. I started a new painting this week and I am finishing a wall in west end today. I also have some design work happening at the moment.
Q. There seems to be more of an acceptance of street art in the mainstream culture. Since street art was very underground when it first started, do you feel that this acceptance helps or hurts the street art scene?
A. For the most part I definitely think that it’s a good thing. When I started writing graffiti I was broke so I eventually embraced criminal elements to substitute my income. These days it’s possible for us to make a living off of our art alone and this has pushed many street artists out of the shadows and given us the funding to create bigger, bolder and more impressive works.
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A friend of mine brought to my attention this amazing painting of the Notorious B.I.G. made by an artist who goes by the name Adream. Fascinated by this piece, I continued to research his paintings and became more and more of a fan with each piece I found. I love how the diversity of his subject matter and the colors that encapsulate his art jump out at the observer and hold their undivided attention. I was lucky enough to interview Adream on his inspirations, his contributions to
Q. Where did the name “Adream” come from?
A. My last year living in
Q. Many of your paintings have an explosion of color and embody different emotions through the colors. What can you share about your creation process?
A. My style and technique of painting is a universal language we all can connect to. As a cultural artist, I involve many diverse regions such as
Q. What type of artist are you?
A. “Philanthropist". I use my art to send a message of caring, nourishing, developing, and enhancing
Q. What inspires you?
A. Latino community members believe that, under Secure Communities and past immigration policies, local police actively collaborate with immigration agents to detain and deport undocumented residents. This is alarming in
Q. My favorite piece of yours is the Notorious B.I.G. painting from an original well known photograph of him. Tell me about the making of this.
A. I was always interested in the life of an artist after his death. How people view poets after they are gone. It's fascinating. The message and the truth will always remain.
Q. Your work has received much attention from the art community. Did you ever imagine your creations to strike a chord with people?
A. As a child my teacher said "Someday people will pay for your drawings". I did not understand what she meant at the moment. Today at 27, I'm honored to be chosen and directing these public projects for the State requires me to give 120% of my self. I've gotten a better understanding of who I am in relation to my growing family in
Q. What has been your favorite painting so far?
A. "The Dream Mural" at
Q. I noticed there are humming birds in a few of your pieces. What do they represent?
A. It's a messenger of love and joy. I see them float and fly wild in and out of dreams.
Q. What are you currently working on?
A. Performing Arts, Live Action Painting, and Film Project in Berkeley, Californina.
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Editor’s Note: The artist wanted to include a credit for TheNewWa.com
Some may think of spray paint when street art comes to mind, but street artist Morley has a different approach. His use of wheatpasting, which is a poster creation used to show images and words, has become the way of getting his art across the streets of
Q: There is some controversy surrounding your style of art. What do you say to those naysayers who say that wheatpasting isn’t “real” street art?
A: I find it ironic to have a medium’s validity questioned by graffiti artists, when it’s only been a couple decades that anyone has recognized graffiti as an art form. To be honest, I don’t really spend much time worrying about how people want to define what I do, whether that view is based on the medium I use or their critique of my work specifically. I didn’t start putting up my posters with the express purpose of being called an artist or to be invited into a scene of some kind. I started putting up posters to communicate positive messages to the millions of people that move about this city. I find that the more I become distracted from that mission, the more my passion for it waivers. Those with strict definitions for what qualifies to be put up on the street or those who just dislike what I do and take some kind of odd personal offense to its existence are allowed to continue to do so. I have tried in the past to find some common ground with them to no success and ultimately, the only productive response is to cut yourself off from their negativity and myopic view of what art is and what it should or shouldn’t be.
Q: When and why did you start designing posters and when did you decide to start putting them up around different locations?
A: I moved to
Q: Tell me about your “Morley Men” project. Were all the men rescued?
A: The Morley Men project was a scavenger hunt featuring toy parachute soldiers that I customized to hold little signs with Morley slogans on them. I decided to do this after I was told about a fan that took one of my posters off of an electrical box. While the idea of someone liking my work enough to do that was flattering, I prefer the posters to ride in public for as long as they can, so I was looking for a way to give something to the fans that they could keep for themselves. I settled on the parachute men because I enjoyed the visual image of this tiny infantry, floating down from above and scattered throughout the city. Small enough to be overlooked by the casual passer and yet to those who find it, perhaps a message to be treasured. Putting them up is great because it’s one of the few things I do that’s not really illegal (though I suppose someone could call it “littering”). Needless to say, it’s nice to not always have to look over my shoulder. After installing them, I post clues for fans to find them and “rescue” as many as they can. Last I checked, the men from the last “mission” had all been found. Not to worry though, I’ll have another one at some point in the future.
Q: Many of the phrases in your art range from deep and meaningful to tongue-in-cheek. Are these phrases representative of your persona?
A: I put a lot of myself into each of my posters and not just because I’m drawn into them. To me, my biggest barometer is how I would react if I saw a slogan like that on the street. What would be something I would want or need to hear? Would I find it funny? Is it relatable on a personal and intimate level and yet universal enough that it would apply to more than one person? The goal is always to make someone feel as though it was written specifically for them and the easiest way to do that is to come from as real and confessional a place as possible.
Q: Continuing with the last question, are some of your sayings based on what people think and are afraid to say?
A: Yes, absolutely. I find that there is something so liberating about admitting all of the aspects about yourself that you’re self-conscious or embarrassed of. For one, it’s a weight off of my shoulders because you recognize that it doesn’t have as much power over you as you might think, and two, because you realize how many other people can relate to it. It’s a lot easier to shrug off things once you recognize that you’re not the only person on planet earth who’s felt that way.
Q: Are you interested in collaborating with other artists to do a joint street art project?
A: I’ve done a couple collaborations with a few artists in the past and while I’ve enjoyed the experience a lot, I don’t think I’ll do too many in the future. There are a few reasons for this. The first is that my stuff doesn’t really lend itself to meshing with other styles very well. The second is that I’m hesitant to mingle too much within the street art scene in
A: Well I try not to be so open about who I am that I put myself at risk of getting arrested, but I do think being more open is just an extension of my art. I didn’t want to be a super cool mythologized icon like Banksy, mostly because I knew I could never trick enough people into thinking I was super cool so the other extreme was what I found interesting. To have a relationship with an artist similar to the relationship we have with our favorite bands is what I aspire to. Having a face and a personality to connect to a sentiment creates a bond and a friendship that I think gives the work a lot more emotional significance to people. It’s difficult to assign that kind of connection to someone who’s shrouded in mystery.
Q: My first encounter with your work was with the poster that read “Let's Fall In Love Like Both Our Parents Aren't Divorced”. What is the story behind this poster?
A: That’s one of my personal favorites actually. The poster comes from the fact that every girlfriend I have ever had came from a divorced family. Many of my friend’s parents are divorced, my wife’s parents are divorced and my parents are divorced. I think there are two reactions that our generation has to this phenomenon; one is to become commitment phobic and to distrust that any relationship could ever last. The other is to crave commitment and to have some version of what was never afforded you. I fall into the latter category. The poster is a statement about wanting to fall in love as though you’re unaware that even the love you were created in could fade. I like the duality of making an optimistically romantic statement while acknowledging the harsh reality it’s wrapped inside.
Q: What is one question you are tired of answering about your work?
A: Well, let me preface this with the fact that it’s a huge compliment when anyone ever asks me about my work, whether it’s an interview or just in conversation. With that said, it gets tiresome when I’m asked who my favorite artists are. Maybe it’s just because I feel that same panic listing them as when someone looks through my iPod. I’m always worried they’re silently judging me. I just want to yell: “THAT MILEY CYRUS SONG IS REALLY CATCHY, OKAY?!”
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The streets of
Q. Explain your name “Bumblebee” and how it impacts what you create.
A. Bumblebee is an old nickname someone once gave me at a party beecause I was wearing a yellow and black striped shirt. The name stuck throughout high school. I forgot about the name until 2006 when I started doing street art around my city (
Q. Many of your pieces advocate bringing awareness to youth homelessness. How is this topic important to you and why have you decided to convey this issue through your art?
A. I beelieve that art is most powerful when it actually has something to say and has a positive impact. What inspired the project to paint the images of children sleeping around
Q. How important is it to separate yourself and your work from competing street artists?
A. I don’t really look at it as a competition. It’s definitely not a race. But it is very important to understand the history of street art and bee able to define what is actually ‘street art’. To me, street art is any form of artistic expression that collaborates with where it is placed in public. It’s important to know the other artists out there and it’s really important to keep an eye out for new ideas and concepts that other artists are creating beecause it can definitely inspire and make you become a better artist yourself. So I guess I would say that it is a priority to separate my work from others beecause in order to bee a successful artist, I beelieve that you have to bee an original one. Many artists have the same technique, but where it is different lies in the message or voice that you are delivering.
Q. Many street artists create their pieces at night. Have you ever created anything in broad daylight?
A. That really depends on the location. Sometimes it’s easier to make pieces during the day for obvious reasons like being able to see what you’re doing, but sometimes it’s just fun to do them at night under cover. I guess it just depends on my mood. Hmmm….
Q. Tell me about your telephone box bee hive creations and what sparked you to create them.
A. I’m from LA and in LA you tend drive everywhere. I would drive back and forth to work every day and start to notice that telephone companies have been abandoning their public telephone booths by taking out the phones and leaving the structures behind, probably due to the rise in cell phone users. I want to reuse these structures as a way of communication with the public once more by replacing that empty space with paper-mache beehives. To me, this symbolizes the irony beehind the question, 'where have so many of the bees gone' and the theory that cell phone signals have been misguiding their normal patterns of migration. The beehives are made by cutting strips out of the ‘B’ section of the phone book and gluing those strips together to a mold and then taking it off the mold once it dries and painting it.
Q. While art is up to interpretation by the observer, is there a common meaning across your art that you want to convey?
A. My work has to do with nostalgia and youth. People often say my paintings of children are haunting. I really beelieve it’s beecause they connect with the images. It’s hard to describe in words, but each image I paint represents a feeling that I remember when I was younger and I’m trying to translate that into something visual.
Q. What are you currently working on?
A. Right now, I’m curating an art show of 10 internationally recognized street artists from around the world (including myself) at the Carmichael Gallery in
Q. Complete this sentence: What Art means to me is?
A. What Art means to me is beeing yourself.
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Artist wished to spell any words that began with the letters "B" and "E" with two E’s