>By Kelley Kirk-Swindell
Justin Bua is a top selling poster artist in the United States and Canada with his urban, graffiti-esque style. He has worked commercially with Atlantic Records, New Deal skateboards, Sony Music and The Nike Corporation.
These days he’s concentrating on commercial work with New Balance Shoes and EA Sports. Bua teaches drawing at the University of Southern California and has even acted in a skateboard-break-dancing video.
In the midst of his world tour for New Balance PF Flyers, Bua will visit Greenville at 7 p.m. Feb 3 in the Mendenhall Student Center Hendrix Theater. He then travels to London, Paris, Miami and Los Angeles to show off his new shoes.On Jan. 7 Mixer called Bua at his Southern California studio. He answered (while taking bites of his lunch).
MIXER: Do you go by Justin or by Bua?
BUA: I go by either.
MIXER: Now, you just got back from Japan, I understand.
BUA: Couldn’t go to Japan because of the tour launch. On the launch, I am going to show a work I have never shown before. Drawings and paintings that I have never shown before. In addition, it is the first time that the media is gonna be introduced to the shoe from the collaboration between New Balance and myself.
MIXER: What can we expect Feb 3?
BUA: We intend these to be the most amazing events on the planet. I know that I am going to be doing a drawing demo and hopefully, if I have the materials, a painting demo because painting is a little more entertaining. A lecture which will take you through my own particular journey growing up in New York and how I got to be where I am now – wherever that is – and I am going to talk about my involvement with the different commercial work that I’ve had recently; particularly EA (Sports) and the New Balance shoes. Then I am going to do a Q & A. And then I am going to do a signing. So it’s going to be a demonstration, a lecture, a Q & A and a signing.
Its gonna be a whole full day of insanity and greatness. I just want to meet all the people from East Carolina. There’s been a lot of cool supporters over the years there. It will be cool to get there. I haven’t been to the Carolinas since I danced with the Spoleto. I danced in 1984 in Greenville, South Carolina. Isn’t that crazy?
MIXER: Tell me about your work for EA sports.
BUA: I am the visual spokesperson for the new game (NFL Street). But basically they hired me to paint a mural for the intro sequence of the game that they are printing out. I was on MTV’s “Making the Game” where I talked about my work with EA Sports. I also got the opportunity to hire 10 other young, up-and coming urban artists. So it was a really good opportunity for kids to work in the commercial world.
MIXER: Tell me about New Balance and the Bua shoe.
BUA: I am working with New Balance who owns a company called PF Flyers. We are doing the BUA PF Flyers shoe, which is the first-ever shoe done in the history of art where we are actually taking my paintings and drawings and putting them on the shoe. I am designing the whole shoe. It’s really cool. It’s one of my favorite projects. And it looks like if everything goes well that it will be a consistent shoe line. Those will be available early to mid-May. But people have to e-mail me like if they want the special “in” because they are gonna go definitely before they hit the stand. We are doing a limited run of a Bowler shoe, a DJ shoe and Boombox shoe. It’s a limited edition PF Flyer. We are doing a 1008 of each on its first run. It’s gonna be an art piece.
MIXER: Is there anything pivotal in your life that put you on the direction you are they want the special “in” because they are gonna go definitely before they hit the stand. We are doing a limited run of a Bowler shoe, a DJ shoe and Boombox shoe. It’s a limited edition PF Flyer. We are doing a 1008 of each on its first run. It’s gonna be an art piece.
MIXER: Is there anything pivotal in your life that put you on the direction you are now?
BUA: I think that there were a couple of moments, One is definitely going to the School of Art. Having that energy around me of all those talented people in my world. Another one was being able to have the opportunity to go to Europe as a young person on tour with the break dancing team and being able to be exposed to all that art that city kids aren’t really exposed to. So I think those two events and definitely a lot of negative events actually fueled me. A lost of teachers who said, “You’re never going to amount to anything.” That kind of thing really pushed me and added fuel to the fire that I had burning through my Aries body.
MIXER: Do you have plans to do any acting?
BUA: Well, I just did the video called “Skate Break,” which is the first-ever hybridized skating-breaking video. I am the main actor and I am starring as the leading role named Dr. Miclo who is trying to rid the world of skating and breaking. It’s a hilarious character, and it’s a really well put together video. It’s got some of the best skaters and breakers in the world. I really support it because it’s underground, and I love the B-boy, skate culture. So, I’m doing a little acting.
’m an entertainer. I enjoy performing for sure. I like doing my show and everything. I enjoy speaking an lecturing. I have dun in front of a crowd. I have a good time. Teaching, I think, helps me be comfortable with it because I am always speaking to a lot of students. And, you know, I have been dancing my whole life. I have always performed in front of a large audience, and when you perform in front of a large audience as a young person you just get acclimated to that world.
Mixer: Did performing professionally at such a young age teach you confidence?
BUA: I think it did. I think that battling and doing that kind of thing did as well. You know, just going in and going for it. Not being scared to put yourself out there. Now, of course you were, but you did, you put yourself out there anyway. I think a lot of that, getting over that initial fear. You always a little frightened. But you know, I know a lot of people, a lot of professional, very famous actors who don’t even like performing in front of crowds or speaking in front of crowds.
MIXER: Are you enjoying life now?
BUA: I am definitely overworked and I haven’t taken a vacation in over three years but I am definitely enjoying life, absolutely. I work hard. I wish I could say I play as hard, but I don’t.
MIXER: Did you play hard when you were younger?
BUA: Yeah definitely. I think I played hard enough that I don’t have to play hard anymore. (laughs)
MIXER: Are we going to see you break-dance while you are here?
BUA: I have to follow the rules, and I don’t want to break my back. Just got over from doing that exact thing. I don’t know if it was from dancing or from running down the side of a mountain at full speed but I go full board. I don’t hold back. I really hate sitting, and I am flying so much so often that I can’t really (afford to get hurt). I might do a little something, but I can’t really get down as much as I would like to. I think there will be plenty of kids there who can break and get down.