Graffiti art, not unlike music lyrics, has the power to inspire, spark change and spread messages of positivity. At least, that’s how New York City’s Andrea von Bujdoss describes her street-art passion.
"Music resonates with people and so do graffiti phrases," says von Bujdoss, who designs under the name Queen Andrea. "It’s a different type of the same expression."
The artist — with more than two decades worth of experience coloring the walls of NYC — was tapped to design two New Jersey-based murals promoting MTV’s Video Music Awards, coming to the state for the first time Monday. And the team-up just made sense, she says.
"I grew up in downtown Manhattan and I was involved in hip-hop culture, graffiti culture, skateboarding and the rave scene. Back then in the ’90s, there was a lot of great music, especially hip-hop. That was the golden era."
The VMAs put a particular spotlight on the hip-hop genre this year with rapper Missy Elliott honored as the Video Vanguard Award recipient. The award is the highest honor of the annual MTV ceremony and celebrates the career of an artist who’s proven influential in the music scene.
Queen Andrea’s work is identifiable for its bold colors and bubble-block lettering, but it’s often more about the message than the aesthetic alone. She’s designed for WALL\THERAPY, a project dedicated to transforming cities around the globe with murals promoting inclusion. With 2015’s “Prismatic Power Phrases” — featuring quotes like "today is your day" — she turned the 191st Street subway tunnel into an uplifting commuting experience.
"[Graffiti] just opens people’s minds and hearts right there on the street," she says. "The illegal graffiti and street art is really interesting too because it has to be done late at night … and some of those thoughts are ones that really aren’t sanctioned."
Queen Andrea says her passions for art and music have often overlapped. Her work has previously been commissioned by Jay-Z’s fashion brand Rocawear, iHeartRadio and Lil Wayne.
"Music has been incorporated into my art from day one."
For her MTV partnership, Queen Andrea designed two murals that spotlight the VMA’s airdate, logo and moon person awards. She spent five days bringing her work to life on Broad Street and Edison Place in Newark.
"That’s typical of murals because of weather delays. It’s a very unique art form. If it’s sunny, I work 10-, 12-, 14-hour days. For this, it was a real push to get it up fast because the event is so soon."
Queen Andrea’s murals can be found at 1001-1005 Broad Street (corner of Broad Street and West Kinney) and 738 NJ — 21 (between Edison Place and Lafayette). They’ll remain on display through Monday evening.
The award show airs live on MTV at 8 p.m. It’s set to feature performances by the Jonas Brothers, Taylor Swift, Missy Elliot, Shawn Mendes, Camila Cabello and more.