Abe Lincoln Jr.: Public Ad Takeover

Your work is iconic and playful.  I am thinking of the cupcakes, the birds, the sticker characters, and toys.  Do these characters live in an evolving narrative for you?  How do you find inspiration for their characteristics (both aesthetically, in their personality, and emotionally how do they develop for you)?

There’s no overarching narrative really, they just inhabit the same universe through my visual style. They’re no more connected than Dr. Seuss characters. When I’m creating I just kind of go with the flow and see what happens. Often I do have a loose game plan “I’m gonna draw some cute kids” and block out a loose shape in color and see what it looks like to me. I think you can see that my style is inspired by mid century illustration and animation, so a lot of that vibe is carried through as well.


Pop Culture and commercialism/corporate advertising play a part in the every day street culture of New York City.  Its bombardment.  How has this informed/motivated your work and the distribution of your work?

Well I really like the constant input that we see in city advertising, as a long time nyc resident I should hate all the digital billboards in time square but I think they’re fucking amazing. I think that the advertising blitz we see every day should be fucked with at every opportunity though.  Is advertising evil? I don’t think so, I have closer ties to some cereal mascots than I do to members of my (very) extended family.  Like most people I was raised in front of a TV set and I love the ad format. I’d love to get some time to invest in video work and fuck with making fake commercials. I did one video piece a year or two ago for an installation that was killer.


Recently you took part in some ad takeovers in some prominent areas of town such as Times Square which is kind of a funhouse of corporate ads for capitalist greed.  I have been following Jordan Seiler and his public ad campaign and key distribution online.  Any good stories from this?  It’s seems like a big leap from street stickering and needed development to balance out the street signage around town.

Clint Mario, Me New York and Jordan Selier are constantly inspiring me with their work. I’ve had a key for awhile but it wasn’t until I got schooled on phone booths that I really became really hyped on ad takeovers. The bus shelters are big and were a little intimidating to go from stickers to a giant canvas. The phone booths were a perfect transitional size.


The times square installation was a blast, it was by far my “biggest” installation. I had the posters printed up and I donned the orange vest and installed them at 9am Monday morning rush hour. The big posters that are street facing are hard to install solo, and the window that you open is heavy as hell. A guy who was sweeping the street was getting cig butts out of the gutter water and I asked him if he could give me a hand. He was very nice and totally hooked me up.

Theres a little element of performance art in the installs in that I kind of act like a disgruntled minimum wage worker, mutterin’ and cussin’ what not.

It’s funny I actually didn’t collaborate with Jordan on this stuff. He’s been a constant source of inspiration though because he really follows the spirit of street art which was at one point “say something”. Street Art is now morphing into Public Art and that’s fine but a lot of people come to it thinking its a channel to get represented by a gallery. Which I guess it is now, but I kinda can’t stand the art world so I’ve opted out of that stuff. I really love the aspect of creating something that’s ultimately going to get thrown away.  “My Jesus Wasn’t A Dick” posters only lasted a day, that stung, but that’s also the rules of the game. Other takeovers ran for weeks so it all balances out in the end.


I don’t really think of Times Square as a Greed Center, I think of it as a place real people will see the work. When you only post up street art in SoHO or Bed Stuy or the LES its a bit of a circle jerk. These areas are generally populated by like minded folks (ad busting anti-culture types, and yuppies who take selfies in front of graff), and you’re preaching to the choir. It’s great to get approval from your peers but but ultimately I want to make random New Yorkers stop for a second and feel something.

Skateboarding is something that I keep coming back to with a lot of friends, artists, and friends that are artists.  It’s weird because I feel like no one ever said, “Here, this is how you ride a skateboard.  Or this is how to “ollie” or “kickflip” or whatever.  Its kind of like the modern dance of the street.  Anything goes. Street art is kinda like that.  It’s the balance of fear and creativity to try and make something or do something with what you’ve got.

I came up in the Hardcore/Skate scene in Northern California in the early 80’s. Rode OG Zorlac boards saw (not old) Black Flag etc. Etc. All that stuff informs me to this day. I fell in love with stickers through Skate culture, stencils and wheatpastes thru punk rock. I still have an old man board set up, and I still go to (metal) shows. There’s this sort of unsupervised chaos and creativity that comes from it with the advent of the internet there seems to be no room for a scene to gestate and mature. It hits the web and the rich kids get wind of it and the next big thing becomes the next last thing a few weeks later.

Sarcasm is certainly part of your language.  You describe yourself as a conceptual prankster in your artist statement.  It makes me stop and think and question and wonder.  We live in a world that is pretty loud, obnoxious, and rewards those that make the biggest splash.  How do you reason with these aesthetics and philosophies?

Actually I don’t describe myself as a conceptual prankster, I asked my friend Carolina Miranda @cmonster to write up an artist statement that meant nothing and was all ArtSpeak, which I hate. It’s part of what keeps regular folks out of galleries I think. I used to be all “I hate fine art” but I have been going to more fancy galleries and seeing stuff that’s awesome. Paul Kremer is a current favorite, Tom Sachs is a longtime favorite, and just discovered Lars Frisik.

What am I missing? I think it’s important for people who are newer Street Artists to kind of be upfront about why they’re here. Are you here to get discovered and get an art show in Chelsea? Then be nice, get wine and cheese for your “outlaw” art opening, and wait for you boat to come in. A lot of times you’ll see Street Art beef which is kind of ridiculous because guess what? No one in street art (for the most part) are Graff Writers and/or tough guys,  it’s just posing and Street Art has a big enough poser problem as it is. That said, if you go over me I will fucking crush your work, so don’t fuck around kiddies.


Who should Frontrunner profile next?

Royce Bannon, COSBE1, Dave the Chimp, I’m a Maker, Matt Siren, take your pic.


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