Lushsux’s road artwork is widely known by Banksy and Beeple; his NFTs have made tens of millions; and he has a landmark public sale deliberate for a “major auction house” subsequent March — however he’s nonetheless very a lot a man of the folks.
The artist is exhibiting me round his studio warehouse in inner-city Melbourne however will get involved once I level my digicam in the obscure route of his beaten-up outdated Ford. The nameless artist is anxious that I’ll inadvertently expose his location to different graffiti crews who hate him.
“Do me a favor and don’t shoot the car in the front because I’ll have some cunt come round here and try and stab me. I’m not kidding,” he says.
“They’ll work out where it is — trust me — and I’ll get some psycho cunt come around.”
Lush (that’s how everybody refers to him, as “sux” was a late addition) has been overwhelmed up by different writers earlier than, most famously in reference to a sequence of murals of rapper 50 Cent.
As the considerably true, considerably invented, story goes, Fiddy was getting more and more upset with Lush’s murals mashing up his face with Taylor Swift (Swifty Cent), Donald Trump (The 45 Fif President) and Mike Tyson (50 Thent). The rapper reposted that final mural to his 11.8 million followers, telling them that it confirmed Lush wanted “an ass whoopin bad.”
Soon afterward, Lush did certainly get an ass-whoopin’ dangerous, and he posted a image reply to Fiddy of his bloodstained hospital mattress. However, Lush graciously blamed “violent video games” and not the rapper.
Lush explains that he’s introduced in some weightlifting gear to the studio so he can pump iron in preparation for subsequent time.
“I got beat up,” he says. “Someone was hitting me with a metal pole in the shoulder, so I brought my stuff back in so I could get back in it.”
Lush doesn’t appear to be a lot of a fighter, regardless that he’s a huge man in a loss of life metallic T-shirt that exposes his tattoos. The picture is considerably undercut by a ponytail, jaunty-looking pants and softly spoken method. He says he’s not planning to get into fights if he can keep away from it:
“It’s not worth it. It’s funny man, karma. There’s always someone bigger and more junkie than them.”
Lushsux is what Australians name a “shit-stirrer” who loves to impress a response, good or in any other case. He calls it “strategic trolling” and payments himself on Twitter as “the world’s first and therefore best meme artist.”
He spray-painted a lifeless horse for one London exhibition opening and arrange a wrestling deathmatch in order that Jesus and Satan may battle it out in a cage at one other. In 2017, he painted a enormous mural of Donald Trump on the West Bank separation barrier in Israel, referencing the president’s “build the wall” plan for the Mexican border. He’s an equal alternative bother maker, although, additionally getting reamed/celebrated for controversial and supposedly sexist takes on Hilary Clinton and Kim Kardashian.
Earlier, Elle Anastasiou, who works with Lush on his nonfungible token (NFT) platform, DRP.io, defined that the loudmouth web persona was largely an act. “He’s very much more quiet in person, so I need to do all the talking,” she says.
Lush concedes that “it’s misdirection,” including, “Lush doesn’t have to be me, like my government name, type, and personality, you know what I mean?” he says. “I’d rather have fun with it.”
Locked down, whereas NFTs go up
Melbourne continues to be in the grip of the world’s longest lockdown, which may have hit 263 days by the point it’s lastly lifted on Oct. 22. Unfortunately, defacing public property will not be one of the “Four Reasons to Leave Home,” so he’s been largely confined to portray in his warehouse for the period.
There are stacks of canvases in one nook, and he’s lately been engaged on a Joaquin Phoenix Joker NFT drop and a massive Bored Ape image that he painted for a good friend who owns the precise NFT.
Three monumental murals of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg are on the far wall. I’d watched him paint one dwell on Twitter earlier, muttering darkly about Zuck being a “bloody lizard” and complaining that each time he paints the social media overlord, his Instagram posts mysteriously go lacking. When he finishes a mural, he imports the image into Adobe Premiere to jazz up the NFT with motion as a result of “there’s more perceived value in it being animated. It’s kind of fun.”
“My formula is to combine viral moments with living memes, and that gets things popping,” he says. A signature Lush transfer is to seek out probably the most talked-about celeb of the motion and mix it with some type of meme in order to hijack social media algorithms. This works even higher when the celeb takes half by reposting or participating with the work like Fiddy did.
I spy one of the inexperienced posters which have been plastered in every single place round Melbourne in current weeks. They’re up in varied different locations all over the world and will even promote “Famous Instagram Account” on the market on the billboard in New York City’s Times Square.
At current, nobody is aware of whose account it’s. “People have guessed Banksy, Ai Weiwei, Snoop Dog,” laughs Anastasiou.
Of course, the Instagram account in query is Lush’s, which has 900,000 followers and greater than 1 billion likes. He’s promoting all 4,500 posts from the account individually as NFTs, from footage of his road artwork to his frequent shit posts.
After the NFTs construct up a head of steam through secondary gross sales, the venture will culminate in March subsequent yr in an public sale of all the account as “Token O” at Christie’s public sale home. Well, that’s the plan they outlined initially no less than. Anastasiou emails me later to say it’s only one of the “major auction houses” in his work. It’s a method of taking again management of his content material from Instagram.
“You’re not getting technically paid from Instagram to post all this content. It’s almost a dead end. But I thought about this pool of content that I’ve worked on for the last 10 years plus. Why not turn that into a 10K project of sorts?”
Perfectly suited to crypto
As an nameless troll with a slicing sense of humor who admits to dwelling in the badlands of 4Chan’s /biz discussion board, Lush is completely suited to crypto. He says he’s dabbled in taking Bitcoin for funds however by no means actually obtained into crypto “because I’m not a numbers guy.”
That was till NFT researcher GT Sewell sat him down in July 2020 and defined the entire world to him. Lush says he was so excited by the idea he may barely sleep for 2 weeks.
“Once, he really got it in my head exactly what the hell it is. I had that, like, that moment where you kind of go crazy for a while about it, you know? Like that day, I just completely switched my whole, like, art practice towards this thing.”
At the time, a uncommon NFT would possibly fetch $50,000 on Nifty Gateway, so he set his sights on getting accepted by the platform. He obtained the chilly shoulder by contacting them straight, so he as an alternative launched into a deliberate marketing campaign of portray well-known crypto figures — the Winklevoss twins, Satoshi Nakamoto, Elon Musk and Shiba Inu — to draw some consideration.
Although the Winklevi retweeted him, it wasn’t till he painted Beeple — probably the most profitable NFT artist at the moment, and 50X extra profitable now — that the technique painted off.
“About two or three weeks later, he saw it and was like, ‘I love this. This is really cool. This is awesome. No one’s ever done anything like that.’ And I’m just chatting with him and trying to pick his brain about NFTs and stuff. And then magically, the next morning, I get an email back from the Nifty people. I’d have to say Beeple was the reason.”
Beeple’s “Everydays: The First 5000 Days,” which collated 5,000 footage the artist created every day over 13.5 years and famously bought for $69 million, helped spark Lush’s Instagram concept.
“It definitely influenced my thinking. I had my mum ask me who Beeple was. That’s how big it was. They’re the sort of things that get your mind turning for sure. And eventually, like all these different things, I was thinking of sort of coalesced into the Instagram idea.”
A full-time artist since 2009, he’s placed on 23 exhibitions and made a comfy sufficient residing, however NFT gross sales have seen him leap up the ranks of Australia’s best-paid artists. He’s already made 623 gross sales for 922 Ether ($3.53 million), and that determine’s solely prone to enhance as information of this newest venture will get round.
“It’s pretty crazy,” he says. “I’d always made enough to travel and to stay alive. But now, all that hard work is paying off, and I’ve found an actual audience of people who are really interested in collecting the work. Because out in the real world, you’ve got to do a lot of weird stuff to try and make big money.”
Western suburbs child makes good
Lush grew up in Melbourne’s industrial, working-class western suburbs and was a highschool dropout, so he by no means studied artwork formally. He was working a shitty manufacturing facility job when his boss advised him he was destined for higher issues.
“He was an encouraging guy. He used to be a roadie for bands, and on my lunch breaks, I’d be drawing — anytime I had downtime, I’d be drawing — so, he’s, like, ‘Why are you here? You shouldn’t be doing this.’”
He set off to Hong Kong in 2009 and spent the subsequent 10 years portray and touring the world. “I just turned it into what I would do and just didn’t have a job from then apart from doing bizarre stuff.”
In 2013, he was the one road artist invited to the Melbourne Now showcase on the National Gallery of Victoria, and a yr later, Banksy invited him to participate in his Dismaland: Bemusement Park exhibition.
“About then, was when I was like, ‘I better start doing art,’ you know?” he says. “I was always interested in viral stuff or memes and so forth. I didn’t really paint a lot of it until that moment.”
“That was the sort of pivotal moment where I was like, ‘I’m gonna take this a little more seriously.’”
He’s typically described as Australia’s Banksy — which he thinks is simply lazy journalism — however concedes there are some similarities in the way in which they constructed up mass audiences through expertise and creating media stunts.
“Why do something for a limited audience or just one subset?” he asks. “That’s what I feel like Banksy does, creates stuff that anyone can kind of interpret and get a laugh out of.”
“He reaches a mass audience. So, that’s the kind of stuff I was influenced by, in terms of his work, you know?”
Manipulating the media
Around the time of the Dismaland present, Lush says he learn a e-book about media manipulation and artwork and got down to attempt it himself after Kim Kardashian “broke the internet” for a second time in 2016 with a completely nude selfie. Lush instantly plastered her over the most important wall he may discover and then set about making it a information story.
“I started emailing and calling as many news outlets as I could find, saying that I was the next-door neighbor and that I was not happy with it because now I have to look at her every day across the road.” A conservative talk-back radio station picked it up, then the story went viral. “If it hits the AP, or Reuters or whatever, then you get a worldwide news story out of it.”
He tried a comparable trick later that yr by portray Hilary Clinton as a pole dancer in a stars and stripes bikini. A mass reporting marketing campaign from Reddit noticed his Instagram account suspended, so he shopped the story to each journalist he may assume of. When the native council demanded the removing of the “offensive” paintings, he painted over it to place Clinton in a burqa, which added extra gas to the story.
“Generally, when I’ve got things successful, it’s just through a bit of skullduggery, like, creating some sort of story for them to run with a narrative to it, and just yet, continuing it on as long as I can.”
This may very well be seen in his supposed “feud” with 50 Cent.
“Obviously, he was just playing it up so people engage with the posts more. They actually loved it; they reached out to me early on and were, like, ‘We love it, keep making stuff. We’ll keep posting and pretending we hate it.’”
Lush says he actually was overwhelmed up, however the incident had nothing to do with 50 Cent.
“I was out preparing a wall for the next day, and a group of these younger guys, graffiti guys, came up to me, being cheeky, and I ended up in a fight with them. It was kind of a bummer. It was just a graffiti beef; it’s just part of the culture. It wasn’t explicitly anything to do with Fifty — that’s what’s funny.”
For Lush, NFTs are the start of one thing as huge because the dot-com growth.
“Right now, we are 100% living in this NFT boom, and I’m glad that I really went for it. It’s just this is just too cool not to not to have done that.”
One side he loves is the actual fact he can work together with collectors straight.
“All you have to do is contact them and say thank you and build a relationship early on. Whereas sort of the traditional art world the galleries are there to sort of basically sort of cock block you from, from getting to know any of those people buying… because that’s how they make their money.”
Unlike Banksy or Jean-Michel Basquiat, Lush doesn’t really feel as if he’ll ever be accepted by the extra critical artwork circles — and he doesn’t actually care.
“I don’t think I’ve ever really been 100% recognized by those people,” he says.
“But now with the NFT stuff and all that jazz, it is not that much of a big deal to be recognized in that world to me. I’d rather be more recognized in this new emerging world, to be honest with you.”
The Lushsux Instagram posts drop begins on drp.io from Oct. 23.