Mr. Brainwash takes it to the streets

Tomas Loewy

On an overcast Tuesday during Miami Art Week, pop street artist Mr. Brainwash was drawing a crowd in Wynwood: Students from the Miami Ad School filming his every move. Passersby wondering what he was doing. Miami-based celebs and reality TV stars, all coming over to say hello and snap a photo.

Mr. Brainwash, aka Thierry Guetta, was getting ready to begin pasting his latest mural — this one commissioned by Burger King — on the outside walls of GAB studios in Wynwood, across from Wynwood Kitchen and Bar and Jugo Fresh. But a tropical rain shower wasn’t letting him start on time. So Brainwash did what comes naturally — he got spontaneous, and started painting people’s crisp, white shirts.

First an older man in his collared button-down. Then a young man sporting a white T-shirt and black jeans, and a big fan of the artist, stood up against the wall and Brainwash splattered his shirt with red, then blue, and then green paint. The young man smiled as he showed off his “Brainwash Original.”

“I like creativity in all forms, and I like to be creative for people. When someone comes by with a camera, I want to be creative for them to please them,” Brainwash said. “My goal in life is to please people as much as possible. I do my work that I do with one message — that love is the answer, and life is beautiful.”

Burger King believed Brainwash’s work is beautiful, too. So the company commissioned him to create a mural that would bring the fast food brand to life and encourage social engagement. The final product — a Whopper and fries set against a brick wall — even needed a touch of Brainwash’s spontaneity. Since the artist was never given the actual dimensions of the wall, his mural was too big for the space; thus, the Burger King logo ran onto the sidewalk. No worries. Brainwash ripped off the logo, trimmed it by hand, and applied it to another part of the mural, making sure it blended.

“A lot of people don’t know Miami is the home of the Whopper, and the city is undergoing an incredible transformation and with Art Basel a big part of that, it was just a way to intertwine pop culture with our brand and support our home city during a very cool event,” said Eric Hirschhorn, BK’s chief marketing officer, North America. “And Mr. Brainwash’s work over the last few years has been driven by pop culture, so it was good fit.”

As the rain passed, Brainwash got to work, jumping on a scissor lift, rolling the wall with glue, then carefully pasting his poster art on the GAB wall, section by section. At times he had to carefully get on his tiptoes and climb from the lift onto the building in order to get the sections lined up. And all the while, the parade of local celebs came by to see Brainwash in action: Nightclub moguls David Grutman and Eric Milon; Real Housewives’ Adriana De Moura; Katrina Campins of The Apprentice fame; DJ Hannah Bronfman; Wynwood’s Zak the Baker. Brainwash took the time to pose with each, just like he did with the fans who stopped by and snapped selfies.

“I believe everything is art, and I tried to do something that is part of Miami and with graffiti and an interaction between the wall and people,” Brainwash said. “Sometimes it takes days, sometimes weeks. I wanted somebody throwing paint on the wall, so I added myself and then I will put paint right over it. But I don’t know how long this one took to create. I don’t really calculate time.”