Interview by T.K. Mills - Images Provided by LeCrue Eyebrows & @catscoffeecreativity
LeCrue Eyebrows is a familiar name to all who follow New York City street art. The curator of several successful shows as part of The Flood, the winner of Sour Mouse’s inaugural Art League match, he is an artist who gets up all over town. Eyebrows' minimalistic, black and white style is instantly recognizable.
Yet, the origins of his work are a mystery to many. This is by design. A dedicated craftsman, Eyebrows generally prefers to let his work speak for itself, but in this rare occasion, he spoke with me about his artwork. Emanating a humble aura and a wise eye, the artworld veteran shared with me his insights; from adapting to circumstance, to developing originality through letting go.
T.K. Mills: To start off, would you mind saying your name for the microphone?
LeCrue Eyebrows: I’m LeCrue Eyebrows.
Mills: So always a good question to start with - where did that name come from?
Eyebrows: The name Eyebrows came from when I was doing these weird comic illustrations. And I thought a weird name would belong to that kind of style and that was definitely a weird name. Then I was drawing the same character over and over again. The one with the spiky ears.
One day I was hand drawing my stickers with my daughter, who was two at the time. I set up stickers for her to draw and I set up my own. After some time, she asked me why do I always draw that same face? So, I told her to give a name to the face and she said LeCrue. I immediately liked that it was so bizarre. I started trying different ways of spelling LeCrue and eventually I found one that stuck. And I was like “Wait a minute. Instead of naming the character, LeCrue, why don’t I take on the name LeCrue Eyebrows?”
After she named him, I looked up the meaning of LeCrue – LeCrue as a name means a gift from God, which obviously fits really well with my daughter. And it also means ‘flood,’ which is a curating project that Token and I developed after that.
Mills: Going back farther, when did you first start drawing? When did you start pursuing art?
Eyebrows: All my life. 2010 I started taking it a little bit more seriously. I did oil painting, acrylic painting. I was trying to get into galleries working with a lot of local spaces. I did the whole paint and play one-night shows, stuff like that.
I don’t usually like to reveal a lot about myself, but well. We found out we were gonna have a baby and all of my oils, and my art materials as well as my space to create, had to be removed in order to make room. Priorities, you know.
To make up for the loss of my painting supplies, I supplemented them with a Surface Book Pro, and started doing weird illustrations. I need to create something. Otherwise, I feel different. Using the surface book, I developed this crazy comic style just to have fun, as well as developing the name “Eyebrows.” I made stickers of the weird illustrations and I started putting them around.
It didn’t last long though, I eventually made space and set up my painting materials. And the time that I spent away from painting actually allowed me to create and develop the style which I utilize now.
Mills: Your art evolved organically. It’s funny how a double identity serves a sort of artistic ego, but at the same time, it’s personal — it becomes how you know people.
Eyebrows: Exactly, yeah. that’s part of the art itself. Whatever your vision of whoever is creating this is, is going to be part of that experience. When you look at a piece of art, you’re not seeing just the art. You’re seeing the reflection of you in that art.
That art is speaking to you and it’s that energy that draws you to that piece. So, when you add the artist to it, then you want to know more about this ‘person.’ Where is this person coming from? I don’t want you to think about that. I want the viewer to think about how this reflects to them. Why are you drawn to it? And whatever image in your head of the artist that’s creating it is also a reflection of you as well as an alter ego. In a sense, my alter ego is trying to bring out and introduce itself to your alter ego…. well that’s one fun way that I like to look at it.
Mills: We view the worlds through our own interpretative lens. That’s the lens that develops through our own personal experiences and everything you see is gonna be filtered through that. With art in particular, because it is so subjective, your personal lens and your interpretation of what you see is going to be highly affected by that.
Eyebrows: I agree 100 percent. and that interpretation is important to me. Not to have people realize that, but to actually see it, to actually notice it, to actually identify it, and then be able to reverse the interpretation to multiple angles of other perspectives.
Mills: Building off of that idea, to what extent do you feel attached to a piece? When you create a piece, what energy do you put in and what energy do you expect others to get out?
Eyebrows: The act of painting for me has always been an intense form of meditation. It is truly an outerbody experience, yet I am in the depths of myself as I paint. I feel like I am able to journey deep into my consciousness and bring out these amazing lessons or profound thoughts or teachings buried under all of the events of the day. I am able to tell them in a figurative fable through imagery.
For example, if I paint dog, it’s not a necessarily a dog. It’s a symbol that builds and tells a story. The dog has a duck on its back. It’s the support system carrying the pure thought of this little duck. I can’t put it into words. The energy that I put into it, it comes from the things that I’ve learned, tales that I’ve experienced that I want to transfer to my kids. I feel like the images are just portals to wisdom that cannot be described using language. So, it’s gonna be a positive message. A positive, strong hold. Mostly saying to them, to think for yourself. Get away from the masses. There's a place inside of you that can tell you everything that you need know. I’m trying to tell my kids that secret of wisdom. And hopefully, others can see that and feel that as well. It’s been a crazy experiment so far.
Mills: A visual expression of the things that you can't necessarily express.
Eyebrows: I think of all this stuff... life, the world, mankind, current events and it all can be felt better than expressed with words. It comes out crystal clear when you tap into it. I try to say it and it comes out jibber-jabber. No language. Language can be twisted…
I made this quote. “Creativity is a life force of evolution.” Think about the time before language, before barriers, before translations and apply that to anything that you want to identify or label. There’s an intention that lies behind or before that. There's a reason why we created something. I want to hit that little part of your brain. We’re all connected to that energy… like energy language.
Mills: It’s sort of the visual interpretation of reality, especially when we live in a world where people's fundamental understanding is so heavily shaped by the media you consume, whatever you see.
Mills: Moving toward a different train of thought, talk to me a little bit about some of the projects you’ve done. For example, how did ‘The Flood’ come about?
Eyebrows: The Flood is a curating campaign focusing on up-and-coming artist, giving them an opportunity to showcase with more established artists. The Flood was created by Token and I. We we’re offered a spot to curate a show in the Cypress Inn Café in 2020 and we put on a pretty amazing group show. We were gonna rotate it every 3 months at that location. 2 months into the show, the pandemic hit and we haven’t gotten a chance to go back.
We were also invited by the Queens Art Collective to organize 2 nights in a week-long event that they put together at 198 Allen street in 2020. Those 2 nights were amazing - that was basically the week before everything was shut down in NYC. That was the last week of 198 and probably the last week of the old normal that we all once knew. Then we setup another show in mid 2020, however someone that was helping to organize it tested positive for Covid - so we were all exposed 2 days before the show and decided the most responsible thing was to call it off to assure no one passed it around.
Mills: What are some of your aspirations for when COVID finally stops fucking up plans?
Eyebrows: Covid left us no real place to go to see art, no museums, no restaurants, no cafes, no galleries… the only place you could see physical art during that time was the street. And there was a lot of street art going up. And I feel like this is the next renaissance of art. Pre-pandemic, there was space and opportunities for people to grow, and I think there will be a flood of new artists to have opportunities once places start opening up again. Not only with street artists, but a lot of people had a lot of time to get creative, so once things open, I think you are going to see an explosion of creativity everywhere.
My personal aspirations for post-Covid… I opened a lot of doors during the pandemic for my art and I plan on getting both feet into those doors, sitting at the dinner table in those doors, and then opening more doors within those doors.
Mills: On a related note - when did you first start getting up with street art? When did your murals begin?
Eyebrows: I have been getting up since 2015. 2019 I did my first mural on the A6 Wall, compliments to Early Riser. And 2020 came around. I was off my 9 to 5. So, it was the first time I was every able to become a full-time artist and I worked really fucking hard. Urban Russian Doll contacted me when the city was boarded up during the BLM protests, and asked if I wanted to paint the storefront window plywood on the building that she was painting. I said sure, and that brought a lot of opportunities for my art as well as a bunch more mural opportunities.
Mills: You’ve done a lot of different mediums, from working on a tablet to wheatpaste to spray paint. Which medium feels most natural to you?
Eyebrows: Canvas. Because I’m able to sit there and actually take a couple days on it. Explore myself, really set the message. The street… I like the street. Most of my street art is hand done, lately time has been thin and I have had to reproduce a lot of my street work. I like the rush of the street work, it puts a little glimmer in my eye. It has definitely helped me develop a deep connection to the community. Honestly, I have met some of my best friends within this community. It’s a common bond that is hard to discuss.
Mills: Your style is well developed and recognizable. How were you able to refine your art? What does originality mean to you?
Eyebrows: I’ve met a lot of different people with different intentions and different stages in their art career. And I’ve been through a lot of those stages myself. I kind of realized that when you stop looking at what’s going on and you start looking inside and what you want to put into your art, people start relating to that really quick because there’s some level of essence. Your energy is now speaking to their energy and it’s connected on that level.
I can make really nice oil paintings. But if my whole heart isn't into it, it's not going to transfer. Somebody might like it. “Wow, man, this guy is really technical,” But for me, the technical side of art isn’t the strongest way to tell my message. When I started doing my symbols or my hieroglyphics or whatever you want to call them, they’re very basic. Minimalist is a better word to say. But it’s mine, mine only.
To replicate that, I'm sure people can, but it's not going to be the same energy. You're gonna be able to tell a fabricated fake leather jacket against a real leather jacket. They both look the same, but there’s something that tells you that this one isn’t right. Like this one is a little bit different.
Part of this whole style that I created was going back to what was natural, back when I was a kid… Like what I do now, when I’m not aware of what I’m doing. When I’m on the phone, when I’m eating, my hand just starts drawing. As a kid at school, the teacher was talking and I was just drawing on my desk, in another place. And it was basically the building blocks of this style. All those years of doodling and trying to develop my own original style. It was right there all the time.
Mills: Before we finish up, is there anything else you want people to know about you or your art? Or advice you want to share?
Eyebrows: I don't know what I want them to know about me. My art, just enjoy it. I guess, I would tell artists to just stay consistent and be consistent together. Give each other space to grow. Share opportunities that you can, and give each other encouragement, but also be selfish to yourself - make sure you have everything that you need too. That’s what I would tell them.