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Meet Bo Spencer

Today we’d like to introduce you to Bo Spencer.

Bo, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I’m originally from Kentucky, at 20 I moved to Orlando, FL for a new environment and job opportunities. I worked for several years in sales and marketing for Hilton hotels. I quit in 2014 to pursue a creative career and worked for a scenic art studio painting murals and stage sets. I took the little money I’d saved from that, live painting at bars, packed my car and drove to California. I was 25 when I moved to LA, I rented a house with a few friends in Hawthorne on 147th and Rosecrans.

Every day I would go to the sunken city (graffiti-covered cliff side In San Pedro) to practice and develop my skills with a spray can. I love that place and considered it my training ground but also a peaceful escape. So much so, I started a volunteer collective for cleanups in the area. We would go and paint then pick up trash for hours and carry it up to the gates. Up to this point, a majority of my art was acrylic on canvas aside from the quick throw up here and there. So if it wasn’t sunken city, then it was Venice.

Some days I barely had enough gas to get there, definitely wouldn’t have made it back. So I set up on the boardwalk and sold canvas and custom painted skateboards all day. Or at least until I had enough cash for a cheeseburger, a beer and some gas to get home. I spent several summers out there with a table in front of the freak show (which sadly is no longer there) getting sunburned, hassled by the occasional bum, and getting bit by sand flies. I loved it.

I remember looking up at the murals and saying to myself, “one day I’ll be good enough to get off this boardwalk and start painting big walls of my own.” Using the experience, I gained from Venice and the sunken city my work was finally to the point murals could be a reality. I painted a handful of pieces in the DTLA arts district starting with an astronaut on a door for Art Share LA. (I love them, Cheyanne is wonderful. They do amazing things for artists and the community!)

Then fate would have it a couple of years later I would get the opportunity to assist Mikael B. On painting the entire exterior of Artshare. Truly an awesome and humbling experience. I have been painting murals all across SoCal for several years now, from LA all the way out to Yucca Valley where I now have a home with my lovely girlfriend that’s also an artist. (Steel sculptor and welder). I have my studio in the Dtla arts district and work from LA most of the month but also the house in the desert.

My girlfriend and I both needed space to create and live but also affordable which Venice no longer was for us. We are also interested in owning property and opening our own studio/gallery space someday. Keeping the cost of living low allows us to save for that. We love it, the desert is beautiful and a nice change of pace when we aren’t in LA live painting, working on murals, delivering canvases.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It has not been smooth sailing. I’m just now at a place where I’d say I’m somewhat stable.

To be honest, I’ve been in trouble with the police, I’ve been depressed, I’ve had substance abuse issues, and I’ve been homeless a few times. There have been plenty of ups and downs, but I wouldn’t trade one of those sleepless nights in my car somewhere in Venice if it changed anything. I love my life, and I’m so grateful for it all.

No matter success or failure, I’m at a point in my life I can learn from both. I have a roof over my head, food in my stomach, space to create and a badass support system of people that love me. Everything else will come as it’s meant to.

We’d love to hear more about what you do.
So I have Bo Spencer Art, which is my personal company. I sell original canvas pieces, prints, skate decks, etc. I also do commission work painting murals or canvas pieces. I recently painted a mural live for The Jeremy Hotel in Hollywood and The Clock tower Group in Santa Monica’s iconic clock tower.

I also have my own creative studio:
Outside Voice Studios (OVS).

Growing up we are told to stand in line, raise your hand, use your inside voice. Well at OVS we embrace our inner child, we speak up and stand up for what we believe in. We use our art to positively affect the people that see it rather it be on canvas or a mural on a wall. We want to be a positive voice for the communities and people that can’t or fear speaking up. OVS is a studio of artists supporting other artists and communities.

I have the OVS podcast where I talk to other artists or creatives about their passion, about their journey or process and their community. I really enjoy the podcast, it’s helped me to become a better communicator and listener. But I’m also very proud and excited to act as a sounding board or to present the opportunity for artists to be heard.

Ultimately OVS will one day host our own art jams, we will have an apparel line designed for artists or urban activists. OVS will one day hopefully have a storefront gallery/recording studio. I’d love to have a badass urban art/creative fantasy factory. I’d love for OVS to someday be like a Redbull/Vice style company for the arts.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I feel my bad luck has actually done way more good than any “good luck” I might have experienced. Getting in trouble with the police, sitting in courtrooms by myself in a new state, hundreds of miles from home. Having to man up and take responsibility for myself and my life. Hitting that rock bottom and saying ok well we gotta clean up.

Dealing with prescription pill abuse and going to NA and group counseling. Shit sucked. I learned a lot from my mess ups and still have to keep a close eye on myself, being self-aware when things are off mentally or emotionally. And idk if any of that actually counts as “bad luck” shit, it might’ve saved my life.

Yea idk about “luck.” I think it all kinda stems from self-awareness, focus and decision making. I’m lucky I get to paint and create for a living. I’m lucky I have an amazing mom and girlfriend. I’m lucky yea, but I also worked hard to get to this point.

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