It’s no surprise that I’ve become pretty obsessed with Jersey City’s street art and the artists behind them. What’s even more amazing to me, as I continue this journey is discovering that all these talents are everywhere among us; they are your bank tellers, Light Rail operators, dog walkers, teenage neighbor and barista at your favorite local coffee shop. After I saw Sam’s mural on the gazebo walls in Riverview Park I proceeded to stalk him on Instagram and reached out to set up an interview. He said something along the lines “next time I see you at The Warehouse we can discuss…” Little did I know, this guy who’s been making me my Almond Milk Latte’s is also a genius artist.
The day we set up to meet was filled with interviews with people in the Heights. I started my morning at Rumba’s Cafe (post coming soon) then interviewed the guys at Sneaker Room. I met Sam at Riverview Park and it was a beautiful afternoon. We hung out, talked art and Jersey City… Afterwards we crossed the street to Modcup to have a drink and converse with other Jersey City locals. It was the perfect end to a wonderful day and Sam is on my growing list of new Jersey City friends.
What’s your name? Sam Pullin
What is your artist nickname? I go by Bed Bugs In Love.
Why? It’s something I think about a lot… combining something that is grotesque and ugly with something sublime and beautiful… I like the contradiction that it creates. I think it’s a theme that I have in a lot of my work. When you have a duality or a contradiction… those two things can have a contradiction with each other and create infinite possibilities.
How long have you been doing art? I’ve been doing art since I can remember…
The street art is a more recent thing? To me, its public art. I always painted on canvas…. just drew… my approach to making art was anything that was available to me, I would try to create something. The way I started was just being bored in school, and started drawing with a pen and paper…. It’s really all over place, I’ve done sculptures, some installations, canvas, drawing….
How would you define your style? I can’t really put it into words. I would say the theme and the constant is the process that I make the work in. Allowing for subconscious thoughts to manifest itself in a physical form, contradict itself and destroy itself….
Was this mural commissioned by the city? Yes it was. I actually reached out to someone int he mayors office and I told them my idea. I grew up hanging out in this gazebo and then it came down during hurricane Sandy, it was just sitting here falling apart and getting vandalized so I got in touch with them and asked them if I could paint it. The plan is they are eventually going to rebuild it…I said I would love to get a chance to paint it and they where into it.
Can you tell me the story behind it? It’s funny, people keep asking me what it is and why I did it. I think a lot of time. It takes looking at things retrospectively to figure out why you made the decision to put stuff together like spacemen…ancient ruins and stuff like that. I chose to do the ruins because it was on a modern-day gazebo that got destroyed. It’s hard to describe…. loose association of things. Ruins seems to be the opposite of the future, and spacemen are coming from the future… haha it’s very convoluted!
I like it. How long ago did you paint this? It took me around 6 days. I finished it about two weeks ago. It was a long process.
Do you have other murals in Jersey City? I have one on Hudson County in a parking lot… I have another one in an alley way. Unfortunately they recently remodeled the building which was upsetting to me because it was a mural dedicated to a friend of mine that passed away.
Can you tell me more about that? Well… a friend passed away over a year ago, I wanted to do something to memorialize him. Got in touch with Distort who is good with spray paint and we did this mural together.
What do you do to pay the bills? As you know, I work at The Warehouse cafe. Which is a great place… there is a lot of great people. When it’s slow you can have a serious conversation about art…
Everyone that works there is an artist! Is that like a pre-requisite? It’s funny, somebody asked me that question and it’s good old fashion Hudson county nepotism that made that happen….
You grew up in Jersey City? I grew up around the corner from here… by Bowers and Shearman. I’ve been coming down here my whole life to hang out.
Do you have a favorite hangout spot? I would say porches. I like to hang out on porches….
What about food and drinks? Well I am usually drinking on porches…. and they are friends porches not random…so don’t worry I won’t show up on your doorstep!
Haha!! Hmm. It changes alot. I like Taqueria, that place is awesome. I like Komegashi. Then the little places in The Heights…
How do you feel Jersey City has changed? I am glad you asked me that question. I think my experience here has helped define the art I make and my perspective. Help me construct my view of the world… it’s a strange and uncomfortable feeling that it’s not the city I grew up in. There are some benefits to that, like you don’t have to worry about certain things you had to worry about before. I am scared that it will become like every big city in the world…like it’s going to become a Disneyland type of environment with no personality. No disrespect to Hoboken but I don’t want it to become that….
I don’t agree with you though! I can see what you are saying… but I am one of those people who moved here… I will tell you this, you can say its a positive change. My girlfriend Allison is doing a show called gentrification which is specifically this conversation.
It’s going to be at 313 Gallery in January. The show is to also interview people and get their opinions and then give that to the artists involved and then they will make work based on what people say… 90% of people say this; I like that I feel safer in my neighborhood. I do agree that people are moving in and bringing interesting things… and that’s great. But on the other hand, I feel like that there is this active pushing out of older residents at a high government level. High rises going up etc…
Gentrification is not a negative thing and it’s not bad that its changing…it’s something that happens naturally. I just feel like certain people are shooting steroids into the neck of this thing and things could turn into something negative. Like everything to it there is a duality to things….
Like your art! but I see what you are saying. Yeah I mean, I saw your post on Nizz and I remember hanging out with him… that’s cool. It’s not just about people who came here but it’s also people who grew up here…. and these people are doing great things. It is complicated! I do feel very blessed to be doing what I am doing.