“Money talks”. And so does art. Mister E is a young artist based in Miami who’s got the attention from everyone who is someone. Miley Cyrus, Floyd Mayweather, Scott Disick… His bait? Money itself. Isn’t it ironic?
My work is a representation of how I feel the world works. Money controls the world, yet I don’t believe it is by any means the most important thing in the world. People mostly view money as something evil, and associate money with greed. Through my work, I want to expose the beautiful side of money. Money represents freedom, it should inspire people to work hard, and motivate everyone. Money can allow people to have freedom to do what they choose, be charitable, live stress free. I am trying to bridge the gap between the 1% and the 99%. People talk so much about social inequality and the unfair distribution of wealth, but we are not going to make any progress is there is no communication between the two.
When I started painting money I had no idea that it would take over my entire portfolio of work, but the more that I pursue it, the more I get excited about evolving my work with/through currency. I think all art must have a clear message, a purpose. I have moved on from painting whole dollar bills to using pieces and patterns from different bills and making more abstract art with them.
“One of my favorite series is “One Hundred & One”. This series combines parts of the $100 bill and the $1 bill, showing the beauty in both, and unity between all people.”
“I have a series called “Splitting the Bill” where I do a silkscreen of a $100 bill over two canvases, leaving a space in the middle.”
“I also have a series called “Funny Money” where I overlap a mirrored image of the same bill, creating a sort of hologram appearance with a funny character of Washington, Lincoln, or Franklin in the middle. The crazy part is, if you cover either side, you see a different face. This symbolizes their are more than 2 ways to look at things, but at the end of the day, don’t take life too seriously.”
I also have started repeating the security sequence pattern of the 100’s in a new series. This series started after joking about so many people copying my work. It will be debut at Art Basel Miami this December.
There are two things that everybody loves and/or is obsessed with; money and sex. From the moment I started painting money I gained attention from affluent people. My work became a symbol of success, motivation, and freedom. When I was in school, I loved to paint abstracts using spray paint and ropes, but I knew nobody would pay attention(or money) to that(at first) if I wanted to try and make a living selling art. So I guess you can say it was intentional, I think everything about my work is.
I think the color choice and placement is one of the most important parts to any piece of art, and I think I proved this point by taking a normal $100 bill and coloring it…and it becoming recognized around the world as mine. I am a chameleon. I was raised by parents who treated the bus boy in a fancy restaurant with the same respect as the owner. I have friends from all walks of life, and I enjoy and learn something different from each one.
I definitely didn’t get any art skills from my mother or father, but they did pass down a bunch of other great qualities so I can’t complain. Both of my grandmothers are very artistic, one a painter and one with needlepoint, and my uncle is a very talented and well known photographer, Frederic Weber.
“Art has always been a part of my life, but I never took it seriously. I always took art classes in school because I was good at it and to me it was an easy A. Don’t get me wrong, they were my favorite classes, but I didn’t think I would ever become an artist. I was always drawing houses, so I went to college for Construction Design and Real Estate. I graduated when the economy was shit, got a job in construction but hated it. In 2013 I quit my job, and rented a 800 sq. ft space and opened a pop-up gallery with some paintings I made in my kitchen. After 1.5 years, it turned into something and I decided if I wanted to become what I wanted to be, I needed to work in a space that had no distractions, and I could produce large quantities of work. So I moved into a 5,000 sq. ft warehouse. One year later, after my theory was proven right, I expanded to 10,000 sq. ft, added a full bar, movie room, pool table, and have a 10ft x 10ft stuffed animal pit under construction. I guess I didn’t follow my rule about distractions…”
You’ve had some remarkable buyers, including Miley Cyrus & Floyd Mayweather. What’s your relationship with your collectors? Are they interested in meeting the artist?
Every celebrity I have worked with has been memorable and unique in their own way, but my installation at Miley’s house was by far the most interesting experience. For someone in her position, she was so humble, we were just two artists working on a project. After only a few conversations, she invited me out to LA, to stay in her home for what was supposed to be a few days, and turned into 2 weeks. It was definitely a historic trip that will make for some great scenes in the movie eventually.
“The first artist who I ever really studied was Jackson Pollock. My high school art teacher told me I reminded him of Pollock, and I had no idea who he was. I went home did some research, and then watched the movie Pollock. Then I went back to my teacher and asked if that was a compliment or an insult…I really admire Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons, and I love to listen to interviews and stories with them. It’s one of the reasons I love to do interviews. I feel that people can find the art much more interesting when they understand the thought process and the personality of the artist. Mr. Brainwash is also an artist I respect a lot, The movie Exit Through the Giftshop changed my perspective on art, and was one of the key turning points in my life. After watching the movie several times, I realized that I needed to just do whatever the fuck I wanted, and if I believed in myself enough, then everyone else would eventually too.”
My dream is to have the freedom to do whatever I want, when I want, and be respected for just that.
What can we expect next from Mister E?
Right now 100% of my focus is on my 20,000 sq. ft. solo show for Art Basel Miami this December. I can’t discuss the details of the show but I can assure you it will be something you won’t want to miss.
For my advice to upcoming artists, I will quote the great Dr. Seuss, “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind” In other words, Be a good person, follow your gut, be persistent, don’t fuck people over, and you will succeed at whatever you want. -E
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