What do you consider home? Is it a chosen thing or a consequence of events?
Hmmm. You know the old saying, I couldn’t agree more. I think home is where the heart is. Straight up.
How has homelessness personally affected your life?
Me and the ex were going our separate ways and I decided I needed to move out. Funds were tight, but this had to be a timely move. So I wound up romanticizing homelessness. I was actually looking forward to it. I was so excited to live in this van. Because it was going to be an adventure.
But being homeless was very lonely. Do you know what the worst part about sleeping in your van is? When you wake up and there’s people sleeping on the ground in the vicinity. That’s the worst part. Being in your car, homeless, and seeing someone homeless, without a car, struggle.
I thought you mentioned to me once that you had experienced homelessness in your youth?
I grew up in LA, South Central and San Fernando Valley. As a juvenile, when I ran away from home. I was a bad boy. I would get grounded, go to school the next day and wouldn’t come home until...whenever. In those cases, I had to ride the bus [to have a place to sleep].
What were you rebelling against?
I never wanted to be perfect. And, you know I was raised a certain way. So I had to make my own way. I don’t know, I was a dumb kid, having fun...smoking pot. Getting drunk. Dancing. It was, you know, youth.
As someone who has been personally impacted by homelessness, what should others know to be more aware, compassionate informed and helpful?
I mean the best thing you can do is say hi, to smile. As far as helping homeless people, that’s not my wheelhouse of expertise. I was in a homeless camp [in Oakland’s Camp Three] last night prepping for this project. And I’ve never seen something like that. They actually offered me a spot. They said, hey man you can move in over there if you want. Some of the most giving people.
But I think the best thing you can do is complain about our government, our local government, not cleaning the homeless areas. Those people deserve to not live in filth. I mean, go get the fucking trash from over there. People think these people are all helpless. They’re not, some of them are just doing things their way. I think it’s all about recognizing a human being in front of you that has made their own choices.
What do you believe is the root cause?
You know that’s interesting. I have been fascinated about this as a child. I personally believe that the loss of love is the number one cause of homelessness. I don’t know, I mean that’s what it was for me.
What are your thoughts on the solutions?
I personally think that the end of homelessness should start with construction, or the future of construction. Which should [incorporate] agriculture. We can defeat homelessness that way, and hunger probably too. But there’s some mad scientist out there working on it, hopefully.
Three words that describe you?
I immediately thought of handsome, don’t hate. Sneaky. And tenacious.
What’s your first artistic memory?
I used to draw these old cars - I was always drawing something. The cars from the 50s, I just loved them. One day my mom brought us all some paints, and I remember painting this man by the car. I had to been been about five.
But I had all the karate toys, from swap meets. Since my mom was into fashion and she was a designer, she had all this fabric. I would make all my little guys fresh kung fu outfits. So I was into fashion too when I was younger.
When did you realize you wanted to pursue life as an artist?
I was on cocaine one night - I was tripping out. I was at this party with a bunch of friends, we were getting fucked up. I was way too lit and had a major life change. I flushed a half ounce of coke down the toilet. I don’t know what I was doing, but I knew this was not it. And literally the next day I started painting. It’s funny because those paintings I never finished. None of them. It would take me so long to do a painting. It was the weirdest thing. They were nothing like I’m doing now - they were very abstract.
What was your biggest influence (artistic or other) growing up?
I had a lot of influences. Growing up I went to a residential school, on a compound. We had to go to a different house for each subject. All my teachers there were some of the most interesting and intelligent people I have ever met. Different types of people with strong morals and focus, really dope people.
What mediums do you work with and how did you learn the different mediums?
I paint, draw. I do a little digital but I’m not really into it. I haven’t really learned any medium. I basically do what I think is right. Sometimes it’s dope and sometimes it will never see the light. Sometimes you have to force yourself, you’re not in a vibe. You’re not feeling particularly fired. Especially when you’re working for other people. You have to make sure you capture as many hours for yourself as you can.
How do you decide which medium to use for which idea?
Sometimes I think you just use what you have.
Do you have a medium that speaks most to you?
I think film. Maybe music. There’s something in the works. I think I’m on iTunes, under Midas Lives. Area 109 is the band and the album is Grey Area. I’m on track ‘Angels & Demons’ and ‘Autopilot.’ I’ve been nurturing this producer, whose a woman. She’s so sick. I met her making a beat on her phone. She played it in my car and the beat was knocking. She’s crazy talented. I’ve been doing some exercises with her. I was going to be a rapper. I produced four tracks and co-produced four tracks. My shit was next level. I wish I had those tapes. The vibe on my joints was crazy. I was always into music production but I didn’t have the equipment so I decided not to focus on that. But all I needed to rap was a pen and a pad.
Tell us about the primary subjects of your work.
It’s interesting because I used to do a lot of pop stuff - icons, musicians, actors. I didn’t want to be that artist that was doing that same thing everyone is doing. Everyone is doing a Michael Jackson, a Prince. I don’t want to leave that behind. I think I can do better. Even me doing the pop icons that I have used, they all fit into the Midas realm. I wanted them to be immortalized. That’s why I did the clothing collection. I wanted it to be like street art but it’s on clothing, so it won’t get painted over. I think the new stuff I’m doing speaks to Midas’ elegant side. And it feels good. This collection I am working on now [the ‘Elegante Colección’], for Art Basel, it’s really cool, even though it’s rushed. I work better when I’m frazzled.
What’s the first step in your creative process?
Sometimes I just sit and think about what I’m going to do. I map it out in my mind. It’s always easy when I’m doing street stuff because I can just go for it. I have a new philosophy that it has to be big. I have some peers who say Midas you have to go bigger. Some of the great street artists that are out there pushing me, so it’s hard to contain myself. So that’s fine for the street.
When / How / Where do you get inspired?
Man I get inspired a lot, it’s all love. If I'm in deep pain, it’s going to inspire me to fuck shit up. If I’m in an excellent mood, if I’m excited, I'm happy or I’m in love. I’m going to tear shit up. I would be walking down the street and I see a falcon, a super hawk. I come up with ideas all day, none of them get written down. They’re great ideas. But they’re not on the level that I see [how] it’s supposed to go.
How do you decide which ideas to execute?
Normally my hand will start painting the right one. You gotta trust the hand. If the hand wants to get loose, you gotta let the hand get loose. You can feel it if it isn’t the one. But most of my stuff is mapped out. I already see it in 3d, from the front, from the back. I like working on thick glass the most. Painting the front and the back, you get the three dimensional effect.
What kind of music do you listen to when you create?
‘Elegante Colección’ is all Beach House’s Teen Dream’ and 'Depression Cherry' albums. Bloom, Zone by The Weeknd.
What would you be if you weren’t an artist?
Probably a linguist.
Why do you create? What’s your message?
I don’t have a message. I’m not trying to be out here trying to tell people, this is supposed to be like this. Nah, I don’t give a fuck about that. I’m having fun. I hope when you see [my work] you have fun. I just want people to enjoy it. I’m not that type of artist. It’s just about leaving it behind, better.
What is success for you?
I think success is being on a journey. So if you’re on your way, you’re doing it. I think success is one of those things, It’s almost like time - the past, present and future. I think it’s just here.
Midas Lives, what’s the story behind your name?
At the time I had just stopped working with a bail bonds film. And I was living on Melrose, seeing all the art. I saw people making bread off art that was garbage, I’m not going to name names. I saw that it was all work ethic. My work ethic - I don’t stop.
Yesterday was the day for me to finish these paintings and it started pouring rain out of nowhere. So I had to pack it up, book a room. But I’m doing it, it’s the journey.
Is there a piece you haven’t let go of?
Usually I’ll give it away. I just let it live. It has to have it’s life and it’s death. You might not have ever seen something like that before, it might stir something in you. It might be more meaningful to you, invoke feelings inside of you. That means good stuff is happening.
What are you working on right now? Any exciting upcoming projects?
Right now, working on the ‘Elegante Colección’ for Art Basel at Superfine. Me, Rocket and In Heroes We Trust and a few more artists. I am painting nine paintings, I have three done. The imagery includes lemons, regatta and sushi. There’s a sub-tone of immortality and love. The images all come together, they all belong. It makes sense. I grabbed some inspiration from your instagram. I painted the [image] with feet with the rings on the toes. I AM ALSO VERY PASSIONATE ABOUT ART AND TECH. PEOPLE DON’T KNOW THAT. IN FACT, I’M WORKING ON A FEW THINGS IN TECH. TOP SECRET FOR NOW. JUST KNOW, MIDAS LIVES IS POPPING.
What would you imagine your last words to be?
I don’t imagine. I will never fucking die. Because Midas Lives.
MIDAS LIVES IS AN ARTIST BASED IN LOS ANGELES, CA.
FOLLOW MIDAS LIVES ON INSTAGRAM: @midaslives