Louis Masai is a painter known for his incredible public murals of animals. Louis grew up living above his parent’s restaurant, and can remember doing his art homework in his Dad’s studio, who was also a keen painter. Louis Masai went on to study Art at Falmouth University, and afterwards set out on his mission of being able to live off of his creativity. He would move to London and begin a balancing act of painting in the studio and painting public murals. Louis Masai is known for painting animals, but he says that he attempts to add ‘human reference’ to juxtapose an element that may not be obvious otherwise. More recently Louis Masai has completed work centred around endangered creatures in a big to raise awareness of the shocking statistics. I am a big fan of his work, and it was awesome to learn about his taste in books. Please enjoy my interview with Louis Masai…
When someone asks you ‘what do you do for a living?’ – How do you respond?
I’m an artist – I paint, illustrate, sculpt and do murals. But if I’m being honest, I make my living by having fun, and for me that is the single most important value in life, if you’re not enjoying what you are spending every day doing, then don’t do it.
I started reading In Search Of Lost Frogs by Robin Moore, who has become a friend in recent times, but Robin is a photographer and environmental explorer. We hope to be working on an exciting project at some point in the future to hopefully rediscover some of the world’s most questionably extinct species.
What’s your earliest memory of reading?
I used to read a lot more than I do now, in fact I read all the time right up until the age of about 12. I would always read with music playing, and now – if I listen to the music that I was listening to back then, I can remember the stories.
If you could encourage young people to read one book in particular, what would it be?
Wow, I don’t know. I think it all depends on how young the reader is and what they are interested in. But my advice would be to follow what feels natural to you, if you are inspired by something different from others don’t let that put you off, we are all unique and what you’re reading will reflect what makes you tick.
Did you demonstrate an affinity with art as a child?
Most definitely, it was pretty much the only thing that I was really good at. I obviously enjoyed other things like sports, but I definitely received the most gratification from being creative.
What is the worst job you’ve ever had?
You know what, I don’t think that there has been a worst, I have enjoyed all of my jobs for what they were at the time. Its the people that you work with that makes a job good or bad, and I have always worked with cool people. I have also entertained some pretty cool avenues for making money, whether it be deejaying, painting or cooking.
What two pieces of advice would you give a young aspiring artist?
Follow your thoughts to the end. Don’t copy others but be inspired, and definitely don’t compare yourself. There is no such thing as wrong art.
Who would you say are the three artists that continue to inspire you?
I’m not sure that I am inspired by an artist as such. There are artists that I love and respect, and they are within many different styles, but none have really inspired me. My inspiration comes from nature – I guess she is an artist in some ways. So, I’d say nature!
Do you read as much as you’d like to?
I’ll be honest, reading words for me is not fun these days, I love looking at pictures and reading the messages that are portrayed through the images. I have a library full of exciting books and I definitely should be looking through them all more often.
Well that is again a very subjective question, if I was to suggest a book, then I would say Beautiful Losers by Christian Strike and Aaron Rose. It is an incredible book and one that has without a doubt inspired me immensely. But it’s probably more that the culture that surrounds this book that inspires me the most, and in that my suggestion would be to any aspiring artist to learn about where the origins and cultural references of the art that you are creating stems from, for without knowledge of your roots you will stumble and fall.
Is there a book that you’ve read more than once? What is it and why did you revisit it?
Actually no, I have never re-read the same book.
What book have you recommended the most to friends and family?
I don’t think I have ever done that, sorry…well maybe Beautiful Losers by Christian Strike and Aaron Rose.
Do you think there is a relationship between books and art?
In my case absolutely, I collect books by my favourite artists and it is a way of connecting to the creator in a way that I might not be able to do without the book.
What’s your favourite genre of book?
My favourite genre would be art books.
What do you think a world without books would be like?
It would be very boring.
Do you think digital books will ever completely replace real books?
Well I think that it’s going in the direction of that, but not just for books, its for everything. I’m also a record junkie and I only collect vinyl, I can tell you now that the availability of vinyl on new releases is very limited. But the very fact people like me still collect means that there will always be a supply and I’m sure that books will exist in the same way.
What book do you feel humanity needs most right now?
Gosh, well probably books that deal with living better, from the food we eat, to the way we consume and the impact we have on the environment.
What is the book that you feel has had the single biggest impact on your life?
I don’t know about the biggest impact but I read The Quiet Mind by White Eagle many years ago and that book definitely put me on a path of self reflection.
So, I’ve never had a reading list, but I’ll tell you five books that are on my book shelf that I would love to sit and look through before the end of the week:
Walton Ford: Pancha Tantra by Bill Buford,
Margaret Kilgallen: In the Sweet Bye and Bye by Eungie Joo, Alex Baker and Susan Sollins,
Herakut: The Perfect Merge by Jasmin Siddiqui and Falk Lehmann,
The China Tea Book by Luo Jialin and
Across the Ravaged Land by Nick Brandt.
What books or subject matter do you plan on reading in the next year?
Well, I have to wait and see what is on the shelves in the book shops.
If you were to write an autobiography – what would it be called?
Well I don’t think I would. But I am in the midst of writing two books, one will be the work I have done in the last 5 years with a plan to raise money for species protection and the second will be a series of new works that are about raising issues surrounding animal cruelty in the farming industry supported by vegan recipes.
If you’d like to learn more about Louis Masai, you can find him on his website, Facebook and Twitter.
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