Artist Lefty Out There worked with Effen Vodka to create a signature bottle featuring his unique style of psychedelic street art for Art Basel this year, and chatted with us about the collaboration, and his upcoming mural in Wynwood.
Tell me about your collaboration with Effen and what it was like to work with them again. LEFTY OUT THERE: I’ve done a bunch of collaborations with Effen. They’re a great brand. I like how they originate from Chicago, just like I do. That’s where their situation is. We did six cities, and then we did six or more cities on the east coast where I live virtural reality performed at multiple kinds of venues. There were some clubs, some bars, some other spaces like that. I also designed a lot of their sampling cups.
Drawing on the bottle was also cool. I’ve never done that before. The Effen bottles lend themselves very well to drawings because of the simplicity of the design. It’s a minimal logo, then three-quarters of it is whatever various flavor color is inside, and then the clear area on top, which provides a very open and blank canvas for artists to create what they want on there.
Something I find very unique about your latest pieces, and perhaps what makes you different from some of the other EFFEN Vodka bottle artist, is that you actually mix virtual reality into your art. Tell me how you do that. LOT: It’s basically me inside of a VR headset painting in multiple programs that then get placed inside of a computer that is either projection-mapped, or displayed on LED screens in a venue. So, I’m basically doing something from start to finish where people can see the entire creation, and unlike a live painting, this piece is actually alive. The brushes that I use, to make a squiggle, are audio-reactive. So it’s like drawing inside of photoshop but in real-time with audio activity. For instance, one of the brushes is called "Bubbles." So when I move my arm, all of a sudden, bubbles start floating from the space that you just moved your arm into.
It’s stepping away from the traditional two-dimensional flat live painting into something that is alive, and pulsing to the music, and moving. I also have full control of what people see.
Which I imagine has a huge impact on the way you create, no? LOT: Yeah, because it allows you to paint something large-scale, and then blow it up really big, and really get in there and do something, do detailed work, and then pull it back out. So it’s very much like real-time sculpting, where you’re going in really close to the piece and carving away with a small carver. It allows you to do that but at a much faster pace and without needing all those tools.
Are there any artists, if you could do a mash-up with vis a vis your art, that you'd love to work with? LOT: Yeah, Virgil Abloh, obviously. I actually knew him back when he was in Chicago. I used to promote for an event that he threw here in my hometown and now he’s the creator of Off-White and many other things. It would be great to loop back with him and work on something, especially because most of his artwork is line-based. You know how he has the construction-type lines? I’ve always thought the combination of my organic lines with his rigid lines would be really cool.
While you're here for Art Basel, will you be checking out any of the local hot spots? LOT: The Soho Beach House is usually where you can find me. I basically live on the beach over there. I love South Beach. I love Faena. I like the Basement at the Edition. I have a lot of friends in the techno-house music scene, so I’ll go wherever they’re playing. In terms of Wynwood, I mean, Coyo Taco actually really reminds me of a taco place back home in Chicago. They have a very similar menu, so I always try to make a stop in there.
I had a mural in Wynwood at Walt Grace Vintage. It’s an exotic guitar shop. I had a mural on their previous location but they’re building a brand new one and we’re in talks about doing the entire building wrap. But I really like their space because I love cars and they have two million dollar Ferraris just chilling, and they have a 1940s Jag with leather straps on the hood. I love the people there and I love the cars.