James Haunt is an experimental visual artist from Los Angeles, California. Whose large-scale murals blend his love of comic books, cartoons, and graffiti into a style that is all his own.
Rastaclat: When inspired you to become an artist?
JH: I naturally liked to draw as a kid. I was really into American comics, Japanese animation and cartoons like Ninja Turtles and The Simpsons.
Rastaclat: Was there a moment growing up where you knew you were hooked?
JH: I think I was about 10 years old, and my cousin takes me to this graffiti yard. It's pretty much like a wash in Elmani that kids would just go, bomb and spray paint, so it was just what felt like forever and ever, walking through this wash and just piece after piece. I was just super floored by it. I didn't realize kids were doing that, and it was like so vivid, colorful and big that I was just hooked.
Rastaclat: Was there an experience you think back on that really defined you as an artist?
JH: Yeah for sure. I was going to go paint some spots with some friends of mine. This car pulls up, and it's an unmarked vehicle. It was an old Honda or old Integra or something. It pulls up, shines some lights on us. I at first I thought- I was like, "Damn, I getting ran up on by some gang or something". Then it was a huge light. Then I realized, "Damn, it's undercovers". Before I knew it, I was tackled on the floor, being stomped and kicked. I was kind of bugging like, "Yow, I'm not resisting. You guys didn't even see me spray paint", so I really had no reason to resist. I just had spray paint on me.
Rather than letting that victimize me, I took the other route and let it empower me. It gave me power to really push myself and really see what my capabilities are as an artist.
Rastaclat: What has been your focus the last couple of years?
JH: What I really wanted to do at that point was to maximize on my ability as an artist. If I'm going to start painting pieces I want to go big. I want to do something new, different, innovative, really pushing the tech side along with the artistry
Rastaclat: Did that resonate with people?
JH: People were noticing like, "Okay, this kid can design. He can paint". Then from there it just I think naturally evolved into traveling and trying to spread my look and style to different areas.
I'm extremely grateful because I've been able to see a lot of the world. I don't know if that day that I had that run in with the cops- I don't know if that day it wouldn't have happened if I would be where I'm at today. The main thing is that is I've never let that make me feel like a victim and just allowed it to give me strength to push myself harder.