Sitting Down With Justin BUA

By Oxygen editors sat down with Executive Producer, Host, and Co-Judge of Street Art Throwdown, Justin BUA, to learn a little more about the street art world and get us pumped for the show! Street Art Throwdown premieres Tuesday, February 3rd at 9/8c!

Oxygen: What made you decide to be a part of Street Art Throwdown?
BUA: Well it was a show that Darin [Executive Producer] and I have been working on for 10 years. Because it was one of those things that I knew was supremely important--to get this culture out into the world. A lot of the perception of the culture is that it’s bad, it’s taboo, it’s vandalism. I come from a street art background and growing up in New York City I saw a billion murals. We really wanted to show the world that this is a beautiful, educated culture, and that it really is the epitome of culture. And now it’s getting recognized, especially in the European markets, as the next great artistic movement, and maybe the most powerful artistic movement in the last 100 years.

O: What is the difference between graffiti and street art?
BUA: Well graffiti is letter-centric. Street art is more than that--more character driven, more conceptual. Street art can be anything on the wall, so that can include stenciling, aerosol, paint. The great street artists are usually great “graf” artists too, but really, anyone can be a street artist.

O: So will viewers be learning a lot about the street art world?
BUA: I think the challenges that we came up with are very similar to real experiences: scaling, climbing, getting in, getting out, going underground, and going above ground. I think any street artist who is out there now is doing the same thing as the contestants on the show. But they [might] have more time in the real world.

O: What should viewers look forward to the most?
BUA: I think the characters are very compelling, the art can be very beautiful, it’s a beautifully shot show, and it’s interesting because it gives a voyeuristic look into a culture that’s never been shown before. There’s a lot of hard work and sweat equity that goes into a painting, especially with a can. We take the artists out of their comfort zones and have them try new mediums.

O: Is street art male centric?
BUA: I think this show will allow women to see that they can do this too. It is more male dominated, but there are women out there. There are the Annies, the Jennas, the LadieOnes, we have women on the show and they’re good, they’re competitive, and they know how to get down. I think this will give young girls an opportunity to know that they can do this too. There are some really great females out there I think the world doesn’t know, and this gives a great platform for those women.

O: What are your thoughts on Banksy? Do you have strong feelings on who he is and who he represents?
BUA: I like Banksy. I think he’s really good and he’s got a team of people that he works with who are exceptional. He’s kind of the quintessential graf-street art-businessman. He’s like the Puff Daddy of street art. He’s doing it all and he makes a buzz, he makes a name, and some people don’t like him because they think that’s gimmicky, but at the end of the day he does cool stuff, and he makes people think, and I think that’s what art is.

O: Do you have any favorite cities to just walk down the street and experience street art?
BUA: Everywhere in the world has their own thing. We have great stuff on Melrose and in downtown L.A. New York had Five Points and that was great, and they just tore that down. But there are great places all over—I was just in Denver and I saw a great alley with some really cool stuff and I was like damn there are people just tearing it up over here. Everywhere in the world man—it’s not just the Parisians or the Germans who are amazing. You know MadC, probably the best female graf artist in the world, she’s from Germany, she’s dope. But we hold it down over here okay.

O: What would you like to say to the haters?
BUA: Don’t hate, appreciate the fact that this is an opportunity for everybody to have a chance. These kids who are on the show never had an outlet before. Most kids, especially in America, can’t survive on their art alone. We have to have more opportunities for kids who want to be artists and I think this is the ultimate opportunity where you can be seen on a world stage. There’s no other show even close to this, so it’s exposing this culture in a positive way.

O: What advice would you give to aspiring street artists?
BUA: Probably try to get on Street Art Throwdown if they want to make their mark on society! The bottom line is good drawing is good drawing, good painting is good painting. This is an art, this is a craft, and this is something that you have to practice. If you’re an Olympian, you have to train every day. This is the Olympics of street art. You gotta do it all the time, you gotta do it well. You gotta know the world. If you wanna be great at something, you gotta go for it. You can’t just be a one trick pony unless you’re ridiculously talented at one thing. But, I don’t think it matters if they’re holding a can or a brush or they’re painting on a wall or in a gallery: you can’t deny the fact that great art is great art. And I think right now we’re living in a culture where great artists oftentimes exist on the street and not in the galleries.

Thanks BUA! Tune in to the premiere of Street Art Throwdown Tuesday, February 3rd at 9/8c!

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