Where are the Wild Things in Brooklyn? Just hang out on the sidewalk.
Just spend a day and a half on the sidewalk painting a big mural and you’ll be met by a barrage of noise – audio and visual – that is a constant state of cacophony and turbulence, and a host of human insight.
A shouting shirtless homeless guy, daredevil teenage skateboarders, gawking tourists with cameras perched aloft, brutish bikers and wirey bicyclists, skinny hipsters, and fast-talking sassy girls sashaying down the sidewalk…. A grizzled sculptor with five-day growth, bent musicians with big black burdens on their backs, real estate developers in wire-rims and pinstripes, monster trucks and sleeveless toughs hanging out the window, and of course “The Empenada” man dragging his blue and white cooler on a luggage carrier yelling, “Empenada! Two dollar! Empenada!”; these are some of the wild things we saw hanging out with these gents for two days. And we loved every minute of it.
Original sketch by Veng (Photo Jaime Rojo)
Veng and Chris worked two days (18 hours) this week to complete the brand new piece in which they pay tribute to the children’s book “Where the Wild Things Are”, by Maurice Sendak, published in 1963. It’s a concept they have wanted to paint for a while and their selected scene is a composite of both their painting styles and a few of the scenes in the book. Together they bring the viewer in touch with the power of imagination.
In the original story, the main protagonist, Max, is banished to his room by his mom for acting out around the house and basically being a little punk. While hanging out in his room he begins to imagine a slew of monsters and a jungle and eventually he escapes into a place where he has power over everything and everyone and becomes the King of All Wild Things. Veng and Chris have depicted many characters of their own on the street in the last few years and decided to create some new ones to play the roles here. Veng’s photo-realistic boy looks at peace afloat in this parti-colored boat as he sails toward a cluster of big comic-book bright monsters. Inspired by the whimsical nature of playtime for kids and the untamed imagination that kids have, RWK let their own imagination run wild.
First, the wallpaper (photo Jaime Rojo)
To create the scene based on Max’s bedroom, where the story begins, they stenciled a wallpaper with their Robots Will Kill logo and washed it out to give it an aged appearance. The Max character, re-created by Veng, is in a boat sailing to an island.
He created the boat to have no grounded plane to give the impression of a dreamlike fantasy. To symbolize the island Chris sprays a clump of expectant monsters, clamoring for Max’s attention as he sails toward them, maybe waving, maybe trying to scare him away. The color palette in background the is soft with many neutrals to evoke a nostalgic feeling, while the boat and characters pop out to meet you.
Brooklyn Street Art: So how is your progress on the piece so far?
Veng: So far so good. Just got finished with the sail and now it’s the portrait. And I have to finish with the cat outfit that he’s wearing.
Brooklyn Street Art: The cat outfit?
Veng: Yes to represent Max.
Brooklyn Street Art: I thought he had a wolf outfit.
Veng: Not in this one. In this one it’s a cat outfit.
Brooklyn Street Art: (to Veng) Did your parents read this book to you?
Veng: I remember lookin at it, I don’t remember them reading it to me. But we had it. I’m sure they did read it to me.
Brooklyn Street Art: Have you seen many wild things on the street in the last day?
Veng: Yeah some guy that would not stop talking to us. Lucky for me I had my headphones on and I avoided the whole four hour conversation. But other than that it’s actually been nice. It’s a different pace than painting in Bushwick which is actually more rough – Less people walking around, more industrial. This is kind of more residential and friendly. A lot of people have been inquisitive about what is going on. So far, no negative feedback.
Brooklyn Street Art: Plus there have been a few skirts that have walked by.
Veng: Yes! And the neighborhood definitely has it’s advantages as far as females go.
Brooklyn Street Art: Well you’ve done your share of murals on the street. So which neighborhood has more monsters?
Chris: More monsters? That’s a tough question because a lot of monsters are in disguise so you can’t really tell who’s who. But every neighborhood has it’s pluses and minuses.
Brooklyn Street Art: Do you want to describe your style of collaboration with each other?
Chris: Usually we come up with an idea and we brainstorm it until the night before we have to do it. As we talk more, more ideas begin to come together. We think a lot alike so it works well.
Brooklyn Street Art: (To Chris) Did your parents read this book to you?
Chris: When I was a kid it was my favorite story. I remember seeing the book in the bookstore and then I remember getting it. And then I remember watching it on PBS when I was a kid and being so enamored with the whole idea of the imagination and going to this other world. So throughout my life I have probably had at least 10 copies of this book.
Brooklyn Street Art: Really?
Chris: Yeah, whether it was because I gave one to someone because they never had it or because my one got beat up and I got one that was in better condition or a hard cover one and usually if any of my friends have a kid I usually get it for them for their birthday?
Brooklyn Street Art: Why is it so important to you?
Chris: I don’t know.. I think it’s the idea of the imagination. I think it’s just the idea of the kid dressing up in the costume and not being happy with what he’s doing every day and he wants to find a different place. That’s pretty much how I feel. I go to work every single day and I don’t want to be there, but you gotta. But doing something like drawing or something to keep your mind a little distracted, it’s almost like living the book again.
Brooklyn Street Art: So in a way you are going to that other place right now.
Chris: Yeah exactly I got out of work today do I could really visit my imagination.
Brooklyn Street Art: What do you think when you realize that your work here could actually spark the imagination of someone walking by?
Chris: That’s amazing. I think that is one of the best things about art – is inspiring somebody to think something, to do something, just kick-start something. That’s one of the reasons we started the website, so people could see art from people all over the world and be inspired to create their own. It’s simple. We just want to inspire somebody to use their imagination.
Brooklyn Street Art: There are going to be a lot of kids walking by this too:
Chris: Yeah, that is definitely going to be cool. And just hearing kids recognize this when they walk by, our interpretation of the story, is cool.
See Robots Will Kill do their thing at the MBP Urban Arts Festival in Bushwick Brooklyn October 3rd! Brooklyn Street Art is the official blog for this event so come out and see live painting, BMX Skateboard tricks, and live music all day. Support the artists you love.