There are those who need love. There are those who have love. And then there are those who love themselves just a bit too much. New York-based artist Curtis Kulig, whose trademark “Love Me” movement is inhabiting the Cosmopolitan’s P3 Studio through Valentine’s Day, speaks to them all.
Now don’t misunderstand. Kulig is not some flower child on a mission to spread love. “I’m not a preacher, and I don’t consider myself like a hippie, ‘Oh it’s all good, just love one another,’” he says. “It’s not like that.”
Actually, when Kulig first transferred those two little words from his sketchbook to the streets of Los Angeles seven years ago, he was sobering up and reacting to an emotional impulse. He never expected his appeal for love—written graffiti-style with a heart-shaped “M”—to gain such artistic and commercial momentum.
“It has a draw to society and a reaction,” Kulig says. “The simplicity of it and the way that people relate to it, it’s one of those things that works with any genre of human nature.” Today his signature tag is scribed and scribbled on the streets of New York, L.A., Paris and Tokyo; splattered across Nike sportswear; spotlighted during the opening credits of Saturday Night Live; with many more high-profile collaborations to come. “Once I transferred it onto the street it turned into its own little entity,” Kulig says. “It’s turned into its own lifestyle, sort of.”
For this interview, Kulig arrives a few minutes late, rolling into the P3 Studio after a field trip to Whole Foods. He’s sick of hotel restaurant fare and needed to get away, he reveals, recommending the interview be relocated outside.
“I’ve been here for four days, and I’ve been inside for three-and-a-half of those days,” he says, now chilling with cigarette in hand on a daybed at the Cosmopolitan’s secluded Bamboo Pool. “I’m just getting settled in, starting to feel out the studio and get to work on things.”
During his 30-day residency, Kulig will re-create the atmosphere of his SoHo studio, providing visitors with a personal glimpse of the artist at work. He will also create a permanent installation for the resort’s newsstand on Level 2, and hopes to soon add his own contribution to the hotel’s collection of street art in its parking garage.
Born into a family of artists, Kulig was first drawn to photography, and more recently to painting, sculpting and neon fabrication. He knows that beyond artist circles he’s most widely known as the “Love Me” guy, but he doesn’t mind. More so, he’s grateful for the doors it has opened.
“It is a big part of me, but I also have many more outlets whether people are paying attention or not,” he says. “I still have a core value of things I’m doing that are different.”
Unassuming and laid back, Kulig comes across as someone who doesn’t feel the need to explain himself or his art. Actually, he doesn’t seem comfortable talking himself up. He’s much more forthcoming when engaged in casual conversation about New York-style pizza or the warm Vegas weather.
Graffiti is another topic he admittedly won’t talk much about. “I don’t consider myself a graffiti artist nor do I consider myself a street artist,” Kulig says. “I do put things on the street, but it’s not what I’m concentrating on. What I’m concentrating on is the fine art of what I’m doing.”