Portrait of a Street Artist: GAIA
01 Mar 2011

The Author


Gaia is a very special artist that I have come to love and vibe with on a personal level through his romantic imagery on the streets, electric personality and rambunctious curls. He has been recognized for his contributions to the street art world and relentless studio practice, and has been changing the face of cities all over the world. His images shed light on some of the most disparaged and forgotten places, and via internet his art reaches people who live outside of these ghettos. His work has allowed him to comment on current global and societal issues, as well as more personal, emotional ones.

Aside from concept, his beautiful execution, and absurd amounts of refined skill can be appreciated and noted by all as some next level shit.

SBL:Most street artists who have gained fame are double your age; because of this you have been the bunt of a lot of hatred and jealousy. How do you keep your head above the dark clouds?

Gaia: I take that negative energy and use it to drive me.

So, if I may quote 50 “If they hate then let ’em hate and watch the money pile up.”

Exactly, I am always envious of others’ success and can understand when people are envious of mine. I just take that envy further and transcend it into productivity. Another great source for support naturally would be my parents. They are the most solid people in my life and keep me positive. With out a supportive circle my life would fall apart due to such high vulnerability in the public sphere.

How does your work relate to the Sparkleberry Lane movement and some of the topics we underline?

My work is about issues our generation is frustrated by. We as functioning citizens are bound to things like globalization that dictate many aspects of the way we live that we have no choice but to succumb to. When I create images I am not finding an alternative, I am just developing a portrait of wanting to escape which becomes fleshed out in images of reality contradicted by romance.

My story began from a perspective that our world was degrading and Sparkleberry seems to be a giant escape of that capitalizing on kids loss of control or say in power structures.

Your images are largely seen on the internet, which seems to water-down the aura, or ruin the presence of some of your work because street art is so site specific.

Nowadays street art almost only exists on the internet. I put up a piece I’ve been working on for a minute up in a really cutty place that only few people will see and my only comfort is the ability and agency to disseminate my images to such a more vastly broad audience than the piece’s original local

I mean I found out about graffiti and street art through the Internet. I grew up on the Upper East side in New York which has a much cleaner tamed façade than downtown. Seeing all these tags and splashes of freedom and personal interjections got my ass downtown to get grimy and closer to this artistic rebellion that was happening.










What is one of the most rewarding aspects of what you do?

The graffiti and street art movements are probably the most widely collectively oriented practices in the art world today. It connects so many people and creates camaraderie between such different people.

Because of such camaraderie and friendships you have found yourself traveling a lot and putting up work in places other than your native city what are your thoughts on traveling and interacting with new cities through the vehicle of your posters and wheat-pastes?

It helps build familiarity with places. I get to know whole cities and interact with the characters that wander within it. Before I got a smart phone I would just ride my bike around and take pictures of spots. Then I would number the photos and go home and make a route through Google maps of places I wanted to hit. But now I can do that a lot easier thanks to my droid…Ignore the plug haha.

Where are some of the places people can find your work?

I’ve been traveling a lot lately thanks to some amazing connections that have come to fruition. So far I’ve put up pieces in NY, Boston, Jersey City, Philly, Baltimore, Atlanta, San Francisco, LA, New Orleans, El Paso, Tucson, Mexico City, Madrid, Barcelona, Mexico city, and even Korea. In two weeks I will be going to Chicago to exhibit the most ambitious solo show of my life.

Damn, you’ve been mad places. It must be a great way to leave a little piece of you in places that fall into your travels.

Yes, Definitely.

So you go by Gaia, which is not your birth name. What are the motives behind this pseudonym?

Well most graffiti writers and street artist have aliases because what we do is illegal and cannot be attributed to us under our government names. Also it gives me an alter ego to chariot the re-occurring themes in my work. Gaia is the Greek earth mother but is also a theory by environmental scientist James Lovelock. His hypothesis is that the earth is an organism that has been negatively affected because the human race has become an unbridled force destroying it. Global warming is its response to eradicate the virus.

My work has been an attempt to find a North American mythology that is beyond but still rooted in Christian dogma. So many ancient cultures have polytheistic myths based on animal/man hybrids.

My chosen name does have some consequences though….a lot of graff heads call me Gay-a and say that I have a pussy-ass name but I kind of like my feminine energy in this extremely masculine scene. But I could never change it because after all these years it still really frames my work. It becomes a thesis: I make things that fall under my own umbrella and connect with each other.

I am thinking about creating an additional alter ego though…

Dope, sort of like Nicki Minaj has many alter egos?

Exactly, I’m not saying Gaia is going anywhere, I’m just saying She may need some company.

For more of Gaia’s work check out www.gaiastreetart.com.

And for a great documentary on street art, check out the film “Exit Through the Gift Shop”



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