LA resident Sage Vaughn has grown from being a graffiti kid and “just wanting to vandalise shit” to a contemporary artist courted by galleries across the globe. Born in Oregon to “full-on hairy, hippie” parents, Sage moved to LA when he was four, but still struggles with the idea of being an Angelino. “Some part of me never feels one hundred per cent that I am from LA, I have this call of the wild thing,” he says.
Much of his work sees birds and nature at the centre of an urban backdrop, a juxtaposition that seems to speak of Sage on different levels. “I have always been a guy that has one foot in one world and one foot in the other, I always felt like I never fit in anywhere,” he says. Living a sheltered childhood, blissfully unaware of ‘hipster cool’, Sage’s eyes were opened to street art at a pretty young age. “I went to a show in San Francisco, by graffiti artist Twist [aka Barry McGee]. It was the first time I’d ever seen graffiti in a museum, art that was similar to what I did, and people were looking at it with respect.”
Having grown-up seeing graffiti an excuse to “vandalise shit,” Sage has watched street art’s meteorical rise with raised eyebrows. “It’s seeing graffiti become a trendy thing in the art world, where you have rich grad school kids in museums writing this very perfect analysis of graffiti. It is such a weird taming of this thing,” he explains. “The only thing I like about graffiti is that it is wild, so to see it get tamed is like seeing a tiger in the jungle; it’s a once in a lifetime experience, but seeing a tiger in the zoo just feels so different.”
Sage recently moved from the trendy Silver Lake neighbourhood to Pasadena. “There were too many blonde skinny hipster girls and it was too segregated,” he explains. “Now in Pasadena there is a mix of people. It’s rad!” After a morning surf in Malibu, he spends six-to-eight hours in the studio, so he gets through a lot of music. So much music, in fact, he’s even developed a few theories. “I’ve been thinking forever that hip hop needs its Nirvana,” he says. “Everyone raps about the same fucking crap, and I think Earl Sweatshirt might be the person to change it. Plus he is friends with Jason Dill, so he has good taste in people.”
The Best of LA
Rad Angelinos, big-upped by Sage Vaughn.
BAND: Mikki and the Mauses
Whispery sing-a-longs that wouldn’t seem out of place on that movie Juno. “We essentially play music only for fourteen-year-old kids, because they need a friend being like, It’s okay that you’re a freak, freak.”
ARTIST: Jason Dill
In both the figurative and literal sense. Give Dill a skateboard, give Dill a camera; either way he’ll show you something that will make your retinas burn.