Steve Kaufman
The Official Website 

7 Questions for Steve Kaufman

2004 Sunday Herald

Were you starstruck by Warhol?

I didn't know who he was. It's when a artists die, his career really takes off, Warhol, Dali, Picasso, Haring. Their career has gone up since their deaths, I had a stroke & 6 weeks later the show was sold out, that was my highest sold out show in my life.

What's your style?

I work in 14 different styles. I paint in many styles, I create sculptures, paint on many subject matters, & surfaces from plates like Picasso did, I'm also a film-making, I do take photography as well, I've create styles they haven't even given names to the style yet. I recently recreate a Rembrandt print and painted cartoon characters on the background. That's what art is: constantly reinventing what everyone thinks is art, no rules.

Why does celebrity fascinate you?

I learned from Warhol, the greatest captor of celebrities. I also paint people who are icons in different ways, like Dali, Van Gogh, Picasso. Also Elton John, Princess Diana and Bono because of their charity work they do. If you help people, you become an icon in my eyes.

Which causes are important to you?

Sinatra said it costs nothing to be nice but it costs everything not to be. I help 180 charities, I have a 85% success rate with the kids I hire helping to straighten out their lifes, I started a charity call Give Kids A Break. I bought a building in LA which was a gang hang-out. We made the kids clean out the building, we then gave them $50 each as they left at the end of the day. They all came back looking for jobs the next day, after 975 kids later. We also encourage these kids to go back to school. Some of these kids (my kids) are now police officers, doctors, artists, parents. I get to be called Grandpa. I joking tell people I have 975 of my own kids & 600 grandkids and I never did a diaper.

Why create a 9/11 memorial?

I was raised in New York and I lost friends in the attacks. It was a very emotional time, shocking and historical.

How do you feel about four more years of Bush?

I wasn't a Reagan fan but I later heard all these things he did that I didn't know about. Your view changes with history. It's not all positive or all negative, but you need hindsight to see that. It'll be fun if Hillary Clinton and Arnold Schwarzenegger run in 2008.

You recently suffered a stroke. How did that affect your art?

I've been shot, stabbed, poisoned, thrown off my motorcycle when I was hit by a truck, I was ran over by a car. I've been changed with each close rush with death. When I had my stroke, I heard a voice say: "You did good, but go back and do better." That is when I started "Give Kids A Break."