Artist, MOMO, is livin’ the dream! In between travelling the world he’s either at his “surf studio” in Central America or at his “treehouse studio” in New Orleans – where both include surfing/swimming and naps before noon. He tells us about inventing jobs as a kids, working in the MIMA Museum in Brussels, and dancing at Sugar Mountain after his murals are done and dusted.
When did you fall in love with design and how did you get started? I was always an artist as a child, like all kids, I just never quit. I had an uncle that was an artist, that had me thinking I could grow up the same way. As far as design goes, I’ve never been a designer, never had the training or held a design job. I think I’m just making art, but its neat and tidy so I understand that puts me near the design camp, and I certainly steal a lot of inspiration there.
Where did you study and what were some of your first jobs?
I went to a special high school program that had us living on a college campus taking art courses. These two years were really good. Then I drifted around the desert in the US, took a scholarship to a college with good computers in 95, and dropped out after a year and some weeks. First jobs I invented. Like I would sit in front of fancy houses and paint a watercolor of the landscape and try to sell it to the owners. Later on I painted murals and made large sculpture for restaurants in Jamaica. That job was really ridiculous, but Jamaica is amazing.
What does a typical working day include for you right now?
Everyday is a work day. Right now I’m at “surf studio” in Central America, which means I surf 6 – 9, breakfast and quick nap till 12. Design walls and paintings and prints all day on my laptop, bed by 10. When I’m at my studio in New Orleans, I swim at the community pool 8 – 9, get my mail from the guys in the French Quarter, and work all day in my studio (which is also where I sleep, in a sort of treehouse over all the mess).
What three naughty things have you done in your career to get ahead?
I guess all the work on the street is naughty. I used to paste posters on the second story construction scaffolding around buildings in NY, then last year a massive building asked me if they could print a mural onto their 5 story scaffold in NY. It amazes me sometimes that pirating the system can get you invited to go legit. When I lived in a tent on this small island in Key West, I used an invented street number for my state ID/drivers license, one that was between two buildings. I always wondered where the junk mail was delivered. I actually used this address for 10 years afterwards. I’ve cut my own hair since I was 14, if you calculate the savings and look at how broke I’ve been most my life, you could say this savings gave me just what I needed.
What have been some of your highlights since you first started out? There are too many. Meeting artists that I’ve admired for ages. The rare moment that I felt I’ve made something good, or new, and it feels alive in your hands. Making big murals with lots of friends assisting, feels amazing. When Cope2 started following me on instagram, that blew my mind. I had his Chalfant video on VHS when I was younger, like ’98 we’d watch it to get amped up. Working for 3 weeks in the new MIMA Museum in Brussels with 4 artist friends/idols this past Spring was a major high point.
What’s on the cards professionally and personally in the next 12 months?
Well next I’m going to Melbourne to paint for Sugar Mountain, Jan 9 – 23. I’ll be dancing the final days. Then I’m making two shows in 5 months! It’s a very tight schedule, for which I’m plotting out all the work right now. First is Delimbo in Sevilla, March 9. Then May 5 I have an exhibition at Alice Gallery, in Brussels. Then I have 3 murals lined up for 2017 but I want to steal away to surf studio for a long time as well. Generally I hope to make more prints from my studio in 2017. Not just versions of murals but artworks developed for that medium. And I want to commit regular time and effort to our political disaster here in the US, trying to work towards any solutions large or small. My artwork is open ended not message driven but on a personal level the US feels like the scene of a car wreck right now, and everyone needs to do something.