Some may think of spray paint when street art comes to mind, but street artist Morley has a different approach. His use of wheatpasting, which is a poster creation used to show images and words, has become the way of getting his art across the streets of Los Angeles. The honest and witty sayings included in his wheatpasting, has definitely set Morley apart from others in the art scene. This is his story….


Q: There is some controversy surrounding your style of art. What do you say to those naysayers who say that wheatpasting isn’t “real” street art?

A: I find it ironic to have a medium’s validity questioned by graffiti artists, when it’s only been a couple decades that anyone has recognized graffiti as an art form. To be honest, I don’t really spend much time worrying about how people want to define what I do, whether that view is based on the medium I use or their critique of my work specifically. I didn’t start putting up my posters with the express purpose of being called an artist or to be invited into a scene of some kind. I started putting up posters to communicate positive messages to the millions of people that move about this city. I find that the more I become distracted from that mission, the more my passion for it waivers. Those with strict definitions for what qualifies to be put up on the street or those who just dislike what I do and take some kind of odd personal offense to its existence are allowed to continue to do so. I have tried in the past to find some common ground with them to no success and ultimately, the only productive response is to cut yourself off from their negativity and myopic view of what art is and what it should or shouldn’t be.


 Q: When and why did you start designing posters and when did you decide to start putting them up around different locations?

A: I moved to New York in 2000 to go to college at The School Of Visual Arts. I was a screenwriting major but became interested in street art when I started seeing “Andre the Giant Has a Posse” stickers all over. I began making stickers with my sayings and putting them around the subways. When I moved to Los Angeles, where a lot fewer people use public transportation, I needed to go bigger to accommodate for all the cars that would be driving by. The goal was always to put some positive messages peppered throughout the city to combat all the rejection and disappointment that we all face every day. Some of the messages are meant to be encouraging, some attempt to give advice, some are food for thought and some are just to make you laugh.


Q: Tell me about your “Morley Men” project. Were all the men rescued?

A: The Morley Men project was a scavenger hunt featuring toy parachute soldiers that I customized to hold little signs with Morley slogans on them. I decided to do this after I was told about a fan that took one of my posters off of an electrical box. While the idea of someone liking my work enough to do that was flattering, I prefer the posters to ride in public for as long as they can, so I was looking for a way to give something to the fans that they could keep for themselves. I settled on the parachute men because I enjoyed the visual image of this tiny infantry, floating down from above and scattered throughout the city. Small enough to be overlooked by the casual passer and yet to those who find it, perhaps a message to be treasured. Putting them up is great because it’s one of the few things I do that’s not really illegal (though I suppose someone could call it “littering”). Needless to say, it’s nice to not always have to look over my shoulder. After installing them, I post clues for fans to find them and “rescue” as many as they can. Last I checked, the men from the last “mission” had all been found. Not to worry though, I’ll have another one at some point in the future.


Q: Many of the phrases in your art range from deep and meaningful to tongue-in-cheek. Are these phrases representative of your persona?

A: I put a lot of myself into each of my posters and not just because I’m drawn into them. To me, my biggest barometer is how I would react if I saw a slogan like that on the street. What would be something I would want or need to hear? Would I find it funny? Is it relatable on a personal and intimate level and yet universal enough that it would apply to more than one person? The goal is always to make someone feel as though it was written specifically for them and the easiest way to do that is to come from as real and confessional a place as possible.


Q: Continuing with the last question, are some of your sayings based on what people think and are afraid to say?

A: Yes, absolutely. I find that there is something so liberating about admitting all of the aspects about yourself that you’re self-conscious or embarrassed of. For one, it’s a weight off of my shoulders because you recognize that it doesn’t have as much power over you as you might think, and two, because you realize how many other people can relate to it. It’s a lot easier to shrug off things once you recognize that you’re not the only person on planet earth who’s felt that way.


Q: Are you interested in collaborating with other artists to do a joint street art project?

A: I’ve done a couple collaborations with a few artists in the past and while I’ve enjoyed the experience a lot, I don’t think I’ll do too many in the future. There are a few reasons for this. The first is that my stuff doesn’t really lend itself to meshing with other styles very well. The second is that I’m hesitant to mingle too much within the street art scene in Los Angeles. This is not to say that I don’t admire and respect the work of the artists that I share the streets with. I would just rather not invest too much into the aspects of any subculture that can be distracting such as drama, popularity, envy, beef, etc. I recently turned 30 and maybe it’s the resemblance to high school that makes me rather just do my thing on my own which ironically, is also not too far off from how I behaved in high school. I’m just not very social I guess.



Many street
artists go by aliases and work in the shadows of the night. Why did you choose to be open about your identity and work in daylight where people can see you?

A: Well I try not to be so open about who I am that I put myself at risk of getting arrested, but I do think being more open is just an extension of my art. I didn’t want to be a super cool mythologized icon like Banksy, mostly because I knew I could never trick enough people into thinking I was super cool so the other extreme was what I found interesting. To have a relationship with an artist similar to the relationship we have with our favorite bands is what I aspire to. Having a face and a personality to connect to a sentiment creates a bond and a friendship that I think gives the work a lot more emotional significance to people. It’s difficult to assign that kind of connection to someone who’s shrouded in mystery.


Q: My first encounter with your work was with the poster that read “Let's Fall In Love Like Both Our Parents Aren't Divorced”. What is the story behind this poster? 

A: That’s one of my personal favorites actually. The poster comes from the fact that every girlfriend I have ever had came from a divorced family. Many of my friend’s parents are divorced, my wife’s parents are divorced and my parents are divorced. I think there are two reactions that our generation has to this phenomenon; one is to become commitment phobic and to distrust that any relationship could ever last. The other is to crave commitment and to have some version of what was never afforded you. I fall into the latter category. The poster is a statement about wanting to fall in love as though you’re unaware that even the love you were created in could fade. I like the duality of making an optimistically romantic statement while acknowledging the harsh reality it’s wrapped inside.


Q: What is one question you are tired of answering about your work? 

A: Well, let me preface this with the fact that it’s a huge compliment when anyone ever asks me about my work, whether it’s an interview or just in conversation. With that said, it gets tiresome when I’m asked who my favorite artists are. Maybe it’s just because I feel that same panic listing them as when someone looks through my iPod. I’m always worried they’re silently judging me. I just want to yell: “THAT MILEY CYRUS SONG IS REALLY CATCHY, OKAY?!”


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