Below is an interview I did with Caters News UK about the piece:
When and where was this artwork created? Was there a reason you chose this location?
“Free Bird Seed” was created for the Soho House Chicago. The two front cornerstones of their building are painted each month by a different artist. Lance Curran from Threadless (a Chicago company that works with a lot of artists) curates the wall for Soho, and contacted me last year to set me up for a month.
The piece was for June 2017.
What do you use to create your artwork, whats your technique?
I make my street pieces on the computer. Once I’m happy with a concept and the way it looks, I print what I’ve made onto paper. I create stencils from the paper to use as guides to lay out each wall, and as masks to fill in color. Then I use spray paint, acrylic paint with brushes, and paint markers to finish the piece.
What inspired you to create this? Was it something you were commissioned to do?
I do street art because I like connecting with people. I was asked to do these particular walls for the month of June and given the latitude to paint whatever I wanted. Over the past few years I’ve done a number of street pieces referencing comic book images of superheroes at their lowest moments: when they’re depressed, hurt, grieving. But recently I’ve been itching to do the exact opposite: pieces with Wile E Coyote at his best, when he’s showing his courage, ingenuity, grit. This project was the perfect opportunity to do so. The two corners (four walls) allowed me to put the viewer in the middle of an ongoing story. Not to mention enticing the roadrunner with bird seed seemed perfect as the space between the two corners house two restaurants (one being the Chicken Shop).
Why am I inspired to create pieces such as these? Probably because I myself don’t like being categorized or narrowly defined. It’s humanizing in my opinion to show the dark side of a “hero” and the greatness of a “failure”. All of us have both sides, and how one is defined at any given moment is simply a matter of perception.
But I also like using iconic characters from popular culture because we can all connect through our shared stories. Strangers can have discussions about the pieces because they’re all coming to it with context. Context also allows me to say more with less. This idea of distilling ideas down to their core and eliminating noise is a bit of an obsession of mine. It’s really important to me that my work blend into their surroundings as seamlessly as possible by using the architecture and the context of the area. I want it to feel as real as possible for the viewer. Like Wile E chasing the roadrunner, I’ve probably never fully achieved this… but nevertheless, that’s always the goal.
Do you have any future plans or projects?
Yes, I have many plans and projects I’m working toward. I’d ultimately like to do 20-30 different Wile E Coyote pieces over the next few years and make a book. I’m participating in two group shows in galleries later this year, and have a solo show planned for next year. I’m also working on a number of designs to create my own clothing. If people are interested in staying up to date with my projects and shows they can go to the "contact" page at WorksByELEE.com and sign up or follow me on Instagram @_e.lee_