Bronx, New York
How did you get your start in Street Art?
I have always drawn and had a sketchbook with me. I started during murals about 15 years ago. After a friend of mine had been murdered, everyone looked to me to do the mural. I wasn't all that great with spray paint, but I sort of winged it to get that wall completed. The wall led to other walls and through two other artists, I connected with Sean Bono with Art Battle International. I started traveling with that community, and the rest was history.
Where do you draw your artistic inspiration?
A lot of inspiration comes from my experience, but I try to draw a lot of inspiration from the location I'm painting. I take into consideration the historical references and the people of the area when coming up with images.
What has been the most memorable response to your work?
I did customized sneakers for a TV show called "It's the Shoes" hosted by Bobbito Garcia where he would interview celebrities about their fascination with sneakers. In the end, he would give away a pair of custom sneakers that one of my associates or I did. Biz Markie bugged out, Chris Paul went crazy and called his whole family to see them. Those are moments are pretty memorable.
What are your thoughts on graffiti vs. street art?
Graffiti is a term given to "writing" from the outside media. Street writing is a whole different culture in itself and has its rules. Most artists that are herald as a street artist do not come from the world of writing, so they do not abide by those rules. I have a love for both, but currently, I'm more in the lane of street art because most of my work is on legal walls. They are two different forms of expression that coexist in the same space.
How has the introduction of social media changed the street art world?
On a positive note, social media has made your work accessible to the point where you can reach the whole world. You can communicate and share ideas on a large scale. On the downside, it gives people what feels like a street art or graffiti starter kit. Some people believe they skip certain steps that usually take years of dedication to craft because certain things are so accessible. All in all, things balance out, the same way you quickly gain attention; you can quickly lose an audience if there is no substance.
Do you have a favorite piece?
The favorite piece I have done is the last piece, a wall in honor of Kool Herc and the elements of Hip Hop. The piece is located on the front of the building where my studio in the Bronx on the Grand Concourse. It's pretty special because I got the opportunity to collaborate with some legends in the writing world, Skeme, and Luzeone.
What’s next for Andre?
I'm doing a mural for the Kevin Durant Foundation and a big project coming up with Bronx Brewery. I also designed baseball caps in conjunctions with Pepsi and New York Yankees for a fan competition called Caps Off to the Yankees, where fans can go to Pepsi's website and vote on their favorite cap. Every month I paint the gate of a friend's ice cream shop to match their Flavor of the Month.
What advice would you give a young street artist?
Be a student of your craft. Pay attention to your craft, be diligent, and do your homework.
What are some sacrifices you have made while in pursuit of your career?
As an artist, you are sacrificing time, job security, and relationships. It's a constant give and take, to balance things. I've had my struggle with trying to find a balance with maintaining relationships, earning a living and also wanting to make art but getting away from why it was important to me.
On the loss and regain of Motivation:
I went through a period where I was tired of the process. I was doing pieces where I felt like I was a photocopier-- just repainting photographs and in my opinion, not bringing anything different to the picture. After a few of those, I felt like I could get a regular job and just paint what I want for myself and not live off of my art.
A friend at the time was painting in my studio and watching him work and enjoying his process inspired me. At first, it felt like a slap in the face that he was here in my studio having more fun than me while I'm painting pieces I can't stand but were paying the bills. I told myself I was going to paint something that I enjoyed in my off- time. I worked on this one canvas for months, and I added to it every day in between paintings. It ended up being a piece I really liked, and it inspired a different process of working.
For more on this artist, follow on social media at @andre_trenier