“Yeezus” is the name of hip-hop artist and rapper Kanye West’s sixth studio album and its corresponding tour. Produced by Rick Rubin and released by Roc-a-Fella Records and Def Jam Recordings in January, 2013, “Yeezus” is considered by many to be West’s greatest album to date for its incredible diversity in sound from West’s previous recordings.
AL: How do you perceive the trajectory of your art at large and the commercial art you do? You’ve done art for fashion, such as Kanye’s “Yeezus” merch. Do the two mesh?
WL: Doing commercial art hasn’t hindered me in any way. The kinds of projects I’ve done have opened an avenue for a lot of people to get to see what I do. It’s really fucking gratifying walking around town and seeing some kid wearing something. I like getting to do commercial stuff because I like pop culture. I’ve been collecting t-shirts, stickers, buttons, hats ever since I was a little kid. So it’s really awesome to now be making that kind of stuff and having it go all over the world. It also gives the people who can’t afford my paintings the opportunity to have something. I choose the things I do very carefully, and I turn down way more than I accept. I’ve done a lot of collabs for a long time. The first one I remember doing was a t-shirt with Supreme in 2004. It just keeps growing. I could probably make t-shirts for the rest of my life, but that’s not what I want to do.
Now I have my own clothing company “Best Wishes” that is a way I can harness that creative area. It isn’t just t-shirts. It’s a lot of lifestyle products like sheets, blankets, plates, silverware.
AL: What’s next for you?
WL: The next show I’m doing is going to be at Damien’s place in 2016. I’m working on things with Kanye. There are also many folks that want paintings. I’m very lucky.
“It’s not so important to me to feel
a community of visual artists per se—
just people creating.
It doesn’t have to be on canvas.”
— Wes Lang
Glenn Gould (1932-82) was a Canadian classical pianist whose broad talent and work as a recording artist has made him one the 20th century’s most renowned musicians. Gould is best known for his interpretation of Bach among many other classic composers. At the age of 31, Gould quit performing to focus on his recordings as well as his composing and conducting careers.
AL: What are you listening to?
WL: Lately, I’ve been listening to a lot of classical music. Mostly Mahler and Chopin. And lots of Grateful Dead. Glen Gould. I kind of obsess and listen to the same record over and over again. I have a playlist called “Everyday” that I listen to everyday. I also love Coldplay, John Frusciante’s solo stuff, Micah P. Hinson . . . but mostly The Grateful Dead.
AL: So it was a dream come true for you to do art for The Grateful Dead.
WL: Oh, absolutely. I grew up going to shows and collecting t-shirts and tapes. That happened because I was listening to a show in my room at The Chateau, and Darren came over, who was into The Dead. He was like, “How cool would it be to work with The Grateful Dead?” I said, ”Fucking amazing.” Then all of a sudden I was. That’s how my life works. I stay focused on the things I want to do, and eventually they end up happening.
AL: What do you think about the rising creative scene in Los Angeles?
WL: I mean, I know it’s going on. I don’t know a lot of the artists here yet. Even though I’m downtown, I don’t get around much or go to openings often. I know more people that are making music and movies. Everyone I hang out with is doing something positive and exciting. It’s not so important to me to feel a community of visual artists per se—just people creating things. It doesn’t have to be on canvas.
I moved here in 1990 after high school. I worked at Fred Segal, lived right by Fairfax High School, and it was fucking dark here. I only lasted about a year then moved back to the east coast. But now I’ve got more and more friends who are moving here and visiting a lot, like how I was. Every time I’d come I’d say, “I’m thinking about moving here.” That’s happened a lot to people because there’s some really good shit going on in this town. I don’t know how to put my finger on it. I don’t know if anybody does yet. But it’s got a thing happening, there’s no two ways about it.