Professional street artist and mural-maker Bulk Styles details his practice for painting South Florida’s walls
After spending years making a name for himself as part of the Miami Style Graffiti (MSG) crew, muralist Bulk Styles’ work now dots the walls of many Palm Beach County restaurants, businesses, and galleries. In addition to painting, Bulk also contributes his time to speaking with local students about how street art can have a positive impact in their lives. Bulk spoke with A&C about his process, developing his art into a business, and more from his Jupiter studio.
A&C: Your work can be found at many restaurants, breweries, and arts districts throughout Palm Beach County. What’s your approach to securing new work and commissions?
Bulk: I’ve been fortunate enough to where I’ve had really good opportunities at a lot of awesome places here. It’s really word of mouth, and that’s why it’s so centralized here. But I did that on purpose, you know? I think a lot of [other artists] say to branch out and stuff, and my goal was to kind of keep it a little tighter. With every new project, I take the same approach: I listen to the clients, figure out what the vibe is, and begin by making them feel like they’re a part of the project.
What part does preparation play in your process of painting a new mural?
After the client approves a design, I go through a checklist of all the paint I need. I start packing a few days before the job. I get all my colors together, make sure I have everything. The night before, I pack my truck up. I’m usually starting jobs super early in the morning, as early as 4 a.m., because of the heat. I realized not too long ago that the more I was preparing, the better my work was getting. It’s just the structure of the job that I needed to learn. However, the actual painting is the last thing I want to prepare for. I want to be present for that.
What are you most looking forward to on the day of painting?
[Bulk laughs] Finishing. When you’re working and you show up to a job, I’ll just say that there are days I have not wanted to paint. But you have to do it, right? And you have to dig deep. There’s no such thing as a block, not feeling it, not being inspired. It does become “paint by numbers.” A lot of people might think that’s funny, that it seems so structured for art, but it’s the way I get those end results.
When do you consider a piece to be done?
When a piece is done for a client, it’s when it looks like what you offered them in design. When it’s a painting that I do for myself, none of them are ever done. … Art’s so broad that I respect anybody who’s like, “That’s exactly what it is, and it’s done for me.” But for me? No. I could always revisit pieces at any time. Even when I sign [my work], I have difficulty. It’s like, the signing does feel very final, and I don’t want my work to be final.
What’s your least favorite part of the process?
Talking about money… because you have to make sure that if you don’t place your value on yourself, others will absolutely do that for you.
Do you see yourself as a commercial artist or a fine artist who commissions his work?
I’m just me. I’ve always just kept the mentality of “I want to paint.” I’ll paint that restaurant. I’ll paint that wall for that business. You can have one of my canvases for your home. I’ll do your back patio. I just want to paint.
Extra Q&A with Bulk Styles
A&C: How do you balance your work life as Bulk Styles the street artist with your personal life?
Bulk Styles: My work defines me personally, so I’m not afraid to say that’s what I identify with. If i’m not constantly producing, what am I doing? That’s what I should be doing all the time. But…there’s also a part of me that doesn’t have to paint all the time. I like to play golf. I might try and think about work sometimes while playing, and then remind myself “Just play. Ready? Next shot.” It helps me put things on hold.
Where do you get your supplies?
Easel Art Supply Center in Lake Park has been my home base forever. They carry my paint. I know other people buy it, but I think they’ve kept it from me. They’re wonderful…a real family. I will go there and be like a kid in a candy store and tell them “10 of those, five of these, six of those.” [Bulk laughs] What does it matter? I’m gonna use it.
Do you enjoy working as part of a crew of artists?
I know that when we get together, we’re gonna have a great time and it’s gonna be beautiful, amazing work that we want to do. We’re getting work up and exercising creativity and putting something good out there in the world. That’s what most important because you don’t take nothing with you.