When you first view Augustine Kofie’s artwork you immediately are struck with the skill and intensity of his technique. You can understand his love of process and structure. With strong interest in architecture, form and shape of typography, 1960’s iconography, contemporary music and street culture, Kofie constructs a dialogue in his work that is not always easily revealed. His collages and assemblages are layers upon layers of development. His work is as much unintentional mastery as it is intentional order. The imagery not only leaps out at you, but also draws you into his conversation.
Growing up in Los Angeles and very active in the West Los Angeles Graffiti scene since the mid 1990’s, Kofie’One, as he became to be known, is a skillful and well respected street artist. After viewing one of his paintings and assemblages you may begin to recognize his distinct style in one of his many murals scattered around Los Angeles. Drawing on his craft of lettering he has developed an abstraction that goes beyond the traditional three dimensions of our known world into a crafted world that builds on itself. Choices like his color pallet recall a vintage sensibility. He has the innate ability to combine appreciation of the past and his vision of a developed future.
Which work will you be exhibiting? Why did you select this piece?
I will be exhibiting a three-color serigraph entitled “Muchas Los Angeles”, a line art illustration of my signature lines and shapes at a 45-degree angle juxtaposed with two photo references of hand painted signage I collected on my excursions in LA.
I selected this piece because I felt it touched on both the city's modern architecture and freeway systems that weave Los Angeles as well as it's deep roots in the Latino culture, hence the found hand painted signage.
What is your charity or cause? Why did you select this? Where does community work fit in with your ethos as an artist?
The non-profit I selected is 'In Dusk We Trust' (Induskwetrust.com)
In May of 2006, a fellow Angelino, DJ, teacher, and colleague Tarek Habib "Dj Dusk" Captan was taken from this earth by a drunk driver. The last time I had spoken to him he had shown interest in my coming into the youth center he worked at to do some art projects with the kids there. We had been going back and fourth on the idea for a bit, and I committed to making it happen that summer. I regret that that never came to fruition and I wanted to still share in some way in his name.
I fondly recall my slim, but fruitful arts programs as a youth in Los Angels and how much they nurtured my creative side, but there always could have been more for me to get involved in.
Please talk about the art scene in LA: What is it like as an industry? What is it like as a community?
Los Angeles has the visual arts on lock. The art Industry? I’m not to deep in the mix to know it's goings on and I'm trying to keep it that way. I’m content not knowing the politics of galleries and artists outside of my own community and circle. I let the work speak for itself.
Please talk about Filipinotown. How does this neighborhood influence your work as an artist?
Geographically my place is so centrally located it makes it a breeze to shoot anywhere in town within 20 minutes. Environmentally, it's the most peaceful place I've stayed in. That's not to say the whole 'hood is like this, but my place in particular particular is on top of a hill and is a straight blessing. This is the first location where I have a larger studio space to work on paintings that is separate from my personal space/home, and it's on the same lot of land. I feel I have been producing my best work out of this location. I like to be in the cut and out of the way if things whenever possible. And when my environment is kind and giving to me, my work shows it.
Why should people buy art?
I hope more people purchase art because they simply enjoy the movement and it brings them enjoyment as well as brighten up their personal environment. I’m especially thankful for my collectors, they are truly appreciative of my work and feel I am contributing to the larger cause. Their support personally outweighs the business side of it all.
Do you collect art? Who do you collect and why?
I collect a variety of obscure, refused items for personal enjoyment... light obsessions if you will. I would consider some of them art works, even if they are manufactured and not hand made. I have purchased and traded artwork from fellow artist within my circle and sometimes outside of that circle. I have work from Frowhawk 2-Feathers, Stay High 149, Just An Owl & B+ to name a few.
What are your thoughts on the traditional role of the gallery in nurturing an artist’s career? How do you think artists will evolve in response to non-traditional (online) sales opportunities?
Speaking for myself, I have been I am an independent contractor for ten years. I work with galleries when we have a planned exhibition and that's as far as it's gone for me thus far. I do have representation here and there, but that has been based on specific, special projects and events.
I'm weary of full representation because I have occasional issues with trust and commitment. So far this independent route has worked out to my favor, give or take some issues. Bottom line is that I built up my name, identity and the direction it has gone in for the last decade. I’m responsible for the projects I say yes and no to. I've done pretty well so far handling my art affairs, especially since we live in this ever-expanding information age.
Keepdrafting.com was launched nine years ago and only last year I started light web sales of prints and hand made Zines. The response is fantastic and the consumer is definitely getting settled into the idea of e-commerce, especially limited edition items. I still believe that seeing something in person and picking it up as a “hand to hand” transaction is the best way, but in this day and age worldwide reach is key.
How did you connect with Cat Jimenez? What are your thoughts on Edition One Hundred? Why did you decide to be involved?
Shane Sakanoi of “The Qualities of Light” let me know of the project and what Cat had planned. I was very interested in the idea and direction as well as the roster of tastemakers she had in mind. Avery humbling list of creatives.
It's one of those projects that, if I hadn't been involved and heard of it, I would have been making calls to see if my services were needed in any way. When you're a true born and raised Angelino and a working artist, you feel like your name should be the first on that list when it comes to Los Angeles based projects, so I was humbled to have been one of the first names in this inaugural launch. A blessing.
What are your thoughts on Art in the Digital Age?
For me, I love my computer. I’m online everyday digging for info, images, and music. I also love my spiral bound notebook and an extra fine sharpie right next to my MacBook, even more. I use a computer as a tool to push my fine art forward like I never would have imagined. Uploading my own web sight with content (up to the minute), to editing my own music and videos, then sharing them openly. As a visual person, I'm always looking for ways to enhance and present my work to this broader audience. This sort of hybridizing of art in the new media age was something I did have a fear of for a number of years, but I've found my niche and got in where I fit in.