Lofty305 woke up at 9:40 a.m. in his Midtown Manhattan apartment. It was a Monday. He brushed his teeth with non-fluoride toothpaste and rinsed his XS afro with coconut oil. He ate two Butterfingers, worked out at the building’s gym, and snacked on hummus. Then he started painting.
He painted a pink portal with two mounds (“ladies boobs”) coming out of it. He painted long tubular tentacles — one wrapped around the body of a naked lady (“healing her”), another squeezing the life out of a blue shark. He painted jet skies and he painted lamps. He painted a “little shepherd dragon” and a ridge of mountains that looked like watermelon slices.
And then he took a break. Painting is tedious work, especially when you’re working with a canvas that is six-feet tall. The canvas that he was supposed to be working on, the one that he’d ordered online, was late. His package should have been delivered that day. But the online tracking system said otherwise. Wednesday, it read, not Monday. This was not okay. I’ve got to start one now, he thought.
In fact, he needed the canvases immediately because Art Basel was only a few weeks away and the paintings needed a good three weeks to dry. He panicked. He cajoled a friend into going with him to the art store. He bought the replacement canvas. Together, they lugged it the ten blocks back to his apartment.
Now it’s around 4 in the afternoon and Lofty305’s taking a break on the couch, chugging grapefruit juice straight from the bottle. His friend, Alan, is sitting to the right of him, rolling a joint. A painting that he made three years ago with his friend and Metro Zu bandmate, Posh God, hangs on the wall above his head. Three-eyed teddy bear-dogs with fangs are outlined in black marker against a chaotic collage of blues and greens and pinks. In the center, “YUCK,” written in green bubble letters.
Lofty305 has only been making art — serious art, that is — for the past three years. He is 23. He starts many of his sentences with the phrase, “I don’t normally…” Lofty305 doesn’t normally paint. He doesn’t normally work with colors other than black and white. He doesn’t normally create art for months in a row, like he is currently doing. And he doesn’t normally work with canvases that are taller than himself.
For someone who normally doesn’t do art, Lofty305 has achieved a lot. His art has been in four shows in galleries in Brooklyn, Antwerp and Tokyo. His most recent show, a pop-up event called “Zutopia” at Con Artist Galleries in the Lower East Side, attracted close to 400 visitors. He makes sweatshirts and tee shirts emblazoned with his art and sells them online. He’s painted murals in Belgium. He’s drawn cartoons in Photoshop and animated them with After Effects.
It took awhile for Lofty305 to “give a fuck” about art. He doodled as a kid and made “mad weird” comic books in middle school. He even took an “actual art class,” but didn’t learn anything because he was too busy not paying attention. Never did he think to himself, “I want to grow up and be an artist.”
It wasn’t until after high school that Lofty305 got interested in painting. Posh God, the chronic tagger, decided to transition from graffiti art to painting. He’d bring his finished canvases over to Lofty305’s house (known as Zu Mansion) to show them off. Or give them to Lofty305. They were the first original paintings he owned.
The more Posh God shared his art with Lofty, the more he began to understand it. “Shit, this is actually cool,” he’d think to himself, looking at a painting. “I get it.”
Once Lofty305 “got” art, he started marking art of his own. He painted monsters and warriors, femme fatales and mythical creatures. He discovered a penchant for placing animal heads on human bodies, and vice versa. He drew inspiration from ancient books and his summer reading list. His specialty, if you ask him, is fantasy art. He has a mad imagination.
In a few hours, he’ll get back to work on the watermelon mountain painting. He’ll be up all night finishing it, no doubt about it, but it’s got to get done. It needs time to dry. It’s going to Art Basel.