It’s time for another Brand Focus where we take a deeper dive into some of the newest brands on the come up and many of the most prominent names in streetwear. This week we had a chance to sit down with legendary street artist Justin Bua to discuss life and his recent tribute to Nipsey Hussle.
Hi BUA. Thanks for taking the time to talk. Let’s talk about your background. So your name is Justin Bua but you go by BUA, is that your real name. What’s the origin?
Hi, it’s nice to talk to you as well. Yeah that’s my real name. It’s a Puerto Rican Italian name and I’m Puerto Rican/Italian. Out here on the west coast I’m kinda like a Unicorn but back home I’m just one of the guys. I fondly refer to us as “Jewricans”.
We know you’re from NYC and you currently live in Los Angeles why did you make the move?
I got a scholarship at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. I never wanted to leave New York, but this was basically the Harvard of Art Schools so I had to go.
We’re very familiar with Art Center. How was that experience for you?
It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done man. Teachers were highly critical and down right mean. I can remember one time when I got so overwhelmed and felt so out of my element, I broke out in tears. I mean I was surrounded by so many talented people and back home I was the guy. Here I was just one of the guys. But that experience made me stronger and brought out the best in me. I kinda took on a Marine Corps like approach…Semper Fi man…always loyal. I was determined to be the best I could be.
Let’s talk about the Nipsey Piece. Tell us about it in your own words.
So let’s start by saying my teenage daughter got me into Nipsey. I really didn’t understand how deep he was until I started to learn more about him as a person. Let’s face it…if you’re young and you know the truth, you’re dangerous. Same with Tupac and Martin Luther King, not saying this tragedy was a full conspiracy, but you never know. He was a very deep, spiritual being. Not superficial like many of today’s artists. That’s why I tried to capture this moment of him in transcendental peace. I used corpuscular beams of light to illuminate him in a deep state of consciousness, deep in thought and lost in the moment. Now whether he’s transcending to the next realm or the next rhyme, that’s up to the interpretation of the viewer.
Would you say the hip hop culture has evolved or devolved? What’s your take?
I’d have to say it’s constantly evolving. With that being said sometimes it takes two steps back, but then it seems to go two steps forward. One thing is it’s definitely not as lyrically minded and has become more producer minded. I mean the powers that be figured out what works to make money. Back in the day MCs like MF DOOM and KRS-1 had to make their own way. Now it seems like there is a mad rush to find the hits and pair them up with somebody like Taylor Swift.
Name a couple of your favorite streetwear brands.
I don’t have any. Hah! I mean I dress nice, but I get paint on everything. I wear Nike and Adidas, but I wear them just because that is what I wear, not because I’m proud to do it. I do have love for certain brands I have connections with from the past like Triple Five Soul and Freshjive to name a couple.
We noticed you have done apparel and shoe collaborations. Any plans to do more?
Yeah I’d love to do more. I really enjoyed working with PF Flyers. They gave me such a great pragmatic canvas to work with. They sold out every season. Someday I’d like to even do my own thing. No limits, no boundaries. Greatness…kinda like the Jordan Brand logo. Iconic. That’s how I feel but let’s take the focus off of counting dollars and just put out good shit. Surround yourself with like minded allies and just do it!
What is the next project for you personally?
I have some amazing relationships in the works but we’ve got all types of non disclosure agreements so I can’t mention names specifically. All I can say is it’s gonna be really cool. Stay tuned!
There you have it, a brief conversation with BUA himself. Now let’s check out his Nipsey Hussle Crenshaw Edition Print. This exclusive print is extremely limited to only 50 pieces with just around 30 remaining at the time of this posting.
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