Anyone walking the streets of Los Angeles with an open eye for street art might have had a strange deja vu experience at the Kidrobot store in SantaMonica on April 20. The funny looking bubble like creatures you would find staring at you from some sprayed wall or billboard in the city, have invaded and taken over the display and interior of the Kidrobot store on the picturesque 3rd Street Promenade.

The creator of these colorful little fellows is graphic artist BUFFMONSTER, who could easily be detected by the pink shoes with the fluffy white laces, staying true to the prominent color of his pop art.

BUFFMONSTER’s art is part of the microcosm created by the designer toy movement which was launched in 1997 by Hong Kong graffiti artist Michael Lau who turned a handful of GI Joes into customized hip hop street fashion figures.

Kidrobot started out as an online store dedicated to these designer toys in 2002, and soon launched retail stores in San Francisco (2002), New York (2003) and LA (2004). Featuring artists from the UK, the US and Japan and creating own exclusive toy lines, Kidrobot is the place where pop art meets designer toys, Skateboard deck designs and various other lifestyle accessories.

Buffmonster is an influential part of this movement which combines graphic street art. pop art and the world of toy design. Next to the subtle infiltration of our daily lives through street art, he now presents 92 different versions of his loveable little friends, some of them with distinct devil like horns, though. So may be not all that loveable after all?!

When asked about the meaning of the “turbo lover” theme for the exhibition, Buffmonster evades the love theme by saying that this is just exactly what he always wanted to do. So it must be the turbo love for creating his little UFO like characters.

Under the name of Random von NotHaus, he is also the creative director for the new HELIO Mag which is a new lifestyle magazine that just launched its first issue.

Moreover, he was just featured in the opening of the 181 Martel store in Los Angeles on May 13, presenting a new collection of his paintings and jewelry. The turbo love for the little buffies has spread and the city of Los Angeles loves him back.

After signing cards, books and t-shirts for more than 2 hours at the Kidrobot opening, BUFFMONSTER was still kind enough to customize one of his invitation cards exclusively for SHIFT. So we feel the love, too.

Date: 20th April – 30th May, 2006
Place: Kidrobot LA
Address: 3rd Street Promenade, Santa Monica

Text and Photos: Christopher Lenz

[Help wanted] Inviting volunteer staff / pro bono for contribution and translation. Please e-mail to us.