We had the good fortune of connecting with Lawrence Limtao and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lawrence, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
In the early years of pursuing my passion project, it was easy to lose sight of the fine line that lives between work and life. Because I loved what I was doing so much, I would forget that it too was work, and that I needed to take my foot off the gas pedal to stop and refuel from time to time. The nonstop go-all-the-time drive led to unforeseen burnouts and I have since learned how to take a step back and remember to live. In more recent days, I’ve readjusted that balance and may not paint every single day – Sometimes its nice to just temporarily take your focus off what you’re working on and take time to enjoy other things like skateboarding with friends or going on a bike ride somewhere listening to your favorite music. The balance definitely took me a while to find, and it is still fluid and ever changing. In more recent years, I have made sure to take time away from my main work/projects and hang with friends, visit family, and do unrelated things for fun like making collages or playing with wood-burning and other random crafts. I’ve learned that time for play is not only important, but it is powerful as well. It gives a sort of energy and joy that helps make working easier, more enjoyable, and more productive. Time is a finite resource, and the way you choose to spend it definitely matters. Life is kinda like eating at a buffet, and the balance is kind of like taking the time to try out different things. Not having a good balance would be like going to a world class buffet and eating only ice cream until you’re full. Which could actually be amazing for a little bit, but you get the idea!
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am mostly known for stencil painting, and started making stencils early in high school to make shirts and patches. Eventually it led to painting griptape for skateboards, which made its way to skateboarders across the world, and has led to painting murals on walls in more recent years. – It has been anything but easy, and actually was born out of hardship when I broke & had surgery on my ankles from skateboarding. In the past few years, although I have not stopped painting, most of my time was consumed by a more than full time job project managing the production and installation of large tradeshow exhibits and giant graphic activations. Because tradeshows and large events are on hold for an unknown amount of time due to COVID-19, I was laid off and now have much more free time to focus on making art. With the art I am making, I try to make sure that I’ve got some purpose behind it, even if that purpose is to make a passerby forget the chaos of the world and stop smile for a second. It’s been a work in progress since 2012 and I’ve learned that making something from nothing is totally possible, and it’s a beautiful thing! Throughout the years of developing as an artist, I have learned that passing on knowledge so more people can create is an important part of making this world a better place, as opposed to hoarding trade secrets. For me personally, being able to teach others how to make their own stencils is like giving them another voice that they may not have known that they had. Being able to share this with youth has been exciting and rewarding to see – This summer I ran a stencil workshop for kids on a trip in the Sequoia National Forest with Skate Wild. Some of the campers blew me away with how quickly they picked up the knowledge and were already making multilayered stencils in one day! Furthermore some even continued to make them after they traveled back home on the other side of the country! This year one of the things I am more proud of is a series of stencils I put up throughout Long Beach and LA. The pieces were of the dude with sign, and little messages to the community. The messages were thoughtfully crafted and specific to current happenings in society with the pandemic & shelter-in-place mandates, and said things like “It won’t always feel like it does now.” and “What a year this week has been.” – The response from these pieces was overwhelmingly positive, and I hope to create more art that resonates with the community and helps bring nice surprises, smiles, and thoughts worth considering to people’s lives.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I’m not sure that I’m the best person to ask for this, because my best friend would be here to skate, and we’d end up at abandoned pools, ditches like at Griffith Park & Bronson Canyon, and skate spots and parks scattered throughout the city! Some other adventures might include Sunken City, hiking to the Hollywood sign, and swinging by Venice Beach. If a friend was here for a week, there’s a good chance we may go out of town for a day to visit spots in the San Diego area, as well as possibly camp a night in Joshua Tree or Big Bear weather permitting! Food-wise, personally most food & drink would mostly be at home with friends. However, some favorite go-to’s for friends out of town include: Provami Pizzeria in Hollywood, Woon Kitchen LA, Salud Juice in Long Beach, Thai Curry Pizza in Long Beach, La Creperie in Long Beach, and Kitakata Ramen Ban Nai in Costa Mesa. ETA in Highland Park also has great food and cocktails! And of course, In-N-Out!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Shoutout to Cory Keen from Keen Ramps who’s been a great friend and encouragement throughout the years! Seeing a friend grow a successful business from the ground up and continue to grow has been nothing short of inspiring! Love you dude!