I crossed paths with James Haunt a few years ago. His talent was obvious and he seemed like good dude, too. Later we realized that his studio was just down the block from our first store in Downtown Los Angeles. So we have kinda had each other’s backs for a while now.
At the end of last year, I had a chance to catch up with James over coffee. He was full of ideas. The more we talked, the more we saw the potential to do great things together in 2019.
I am an art fan. My grandma was an artist and I am known to jump in the mix from time to time myself. I have a lot of fun just getting to work with guys like James. So, we decided to start off the year in a big way.
James wanted to open up his style to new directions so we decided to do a wall and just turn him loose to do whatever he was feeling. No agenda, no master plan, whatever he wanted to do. Pretty soon, his mixmaster Justin had a location. He arranged to do a wall in Venice on the side of Saints Barbershop. He got the city on board and we were off and running on the first project in what I was now calling “HEX - Paint The Town”.
When James showed me his concept for the wall, I was blown away. This piece had the signature elements that James was known for, but had so much more depth – so many levels. We all had questions: Would the black paint read deep enough? Would the details pop? Would the concept translate to such a large canvas? After all, this was a pretty big wall.
We started out on the adventure and happily found all the answers to be “Yes”.
I am always amazed at how fast James works. He makes clean lines look easy. He gets in the zone and just kills the game. The colors, the details – so on point.
He explained that the piece was called Fantasma as an homage to his cat. He liked the relation between his last name, “Haunt” and the fact that his cat was grey and white and so “Fantasma” (“Ghost” in Spanish) was a thing.
So, we are introduced for the first time to Fantasma, the muse of most of James’ work and his most recognizable image. He recalled how his painting started by painting a girl with white hair, grey skin, and two different-colored eyes. Just like his cat.
This piece was finally going to start showing more of Fantasma’s surroundings. She is a traveler on our planet. A stranger in a strange land. This wall shows her in a melting pot of electric lights, which signifies the uniting of world cultures and communities. The many languages represented point to her travels around the globe.
After a week of painting, stopping, starting, and dodging the rain, it was finished. I confess, I was geeking out a little. I think we all were. This thing turned out great! I mean really great, and the bonus was that we beautified the community in the process.
Now that you know the backstory, head over to Saints Barbershop on Washington Blvd. in Venice, and check out Fantasma by James Haunt.
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