The term “monster” usually conjures up images of snaggle-toothed creatures that lurk in the dark under children’s’ beds. Unfortunately, this stereotype often overshadows other friendly monsters. Pastafarians pay homage to their deity, the Flying Spaghetti Monster. The preschool set adores Sesame Street’s Cookie Monster and his affinity for a certain baked good. Just because they’re monsters doesn’t mean they’re bad.Street artist PaperMonster also falls into the friendly monster category. He’s not here to hurt you; he just loves paper products.“My studio looks as if some animal walked in and shredded everything in sight,” he jokes. “My entire floor is packed with magazines, newspapers, money, and any piece of textured paper I can get my hands. On top of all of that, I have huge stencils lying flat ready to be sprayed in every corner of the room.”
Born and raised in Puerto Rico, PaperMonster came to the States when he was 7 and grew up in Northern New Jersey. As a kid, he recalls tagging at an early age. “I remember drawing my name in block graffiti letters and then drawing a city above my letters,” he says. Since those early days, his style has evolved considerably. “If you look at my early paintings,” he adds, “they have very minimal collage work and now I really use collage work now to take the paintings to a new level.” PaperMonster started by stenciling his own cartoon characters, then moved on to animals and portraits.
“When I first started to stencil,” he explains, “I wanted immediate fame and recognition for what I was doing. I was so scared that no one would ever see my work on even know who I am. Everything takes times and now I see that things can’t happen overnight. They require a lot of dedication and overcoming rejection.” Citing David Choe and Flying Fortress as his influences, he’s plastered his stencils across the eastern seaboard for the past four years.
While he doesn’t like to play favorites, he does admit that downtown NYC and Williamsburg, Brooklyn, are some of the best places to bomb. “Both of those areas have a great amount of people that pass by your work on the streets,” he explains. “I remember one day I slapped about 100+ stickers and by the time I got home someone from Boston had run into one of my sticker and had written an email to me about it.”
PaperMonster hopes that people take the time to fully appreciate his pieces. “I want them to stop and really get the entire experience with the pieces, especially in a gallery,” he says. “You can really look at my pieces for minutes to hours and just let your mind wonder over the textures, colors, and collage inside each painting.” In the future, he hopes to stay up both on the street and in the gallery. Currently, he’s working on new pieces for group shows and occasionally collaborates with other artists.
Although the terrain is dangerous, PaperMonster feels that the future of street art looks bright. “I think the art scene is going to continue to have a heavy focus on urban and street inspired art. The most significant part of urban art is that it is made by people who don’t have opportunities or the best supplies but still manage to take risks. These aspects are what will continue to make the art scene so exciting and fresh with ideas. Since we don’t have formal training and we will experiment with anything. In general, I think that we are inspiring the artists of the future right now. These new artists will really bring something incredible to the art scene and push the art to a new level. It will be more impressive than anything we see today.”
All photos courtesy of PaperMonster. For more info, check out his MySpace page.
Thanks, PM! Best of luck on the street and in the lab (he also holds a Master's degree in biomedical science). Top notch!