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Bleeding Heart: The Life of JGoldcrown

If you live in New York—or California, Texas, Miami, Chicago, or even Brazil, China, or Japan—you’ve seen them. Walls adorned with multi-hued hearts, elegantly dripping, mixing, and melding into layered pop graffiti masterpieces. These are the Lovewalls and they’re the creation of one enigmatic man: JGoldcrown. And his murals—also called Bleeding Hearts—have gained him fans and patrons worldwide. To learn more about the Lovewalls, and his unique history as a self-taught fashion photographer and documentary filmmaker, we hosted JGoldcrown at our SoHo store for a coffee and a conversation a couple of weeks ago.

I’ve heard you’re a self-taught artist and photographer? How did you get into those things and develop your skills?

School wasn’t for me and I didn’t like taking orders so I left when I was 16 and from there I worked in a darkroom in Farringdon, London. I’ve always been fascinated with the creative world. I taught myself how to use a camera when I was very young and just ran with it. I was never formally trained as an artist. It has always been a passion of mine, so I made it a priority to train myself and learn the intrinsics of camera work and various styles of art.

From there, what got you into fashion photography?

In 2007, when I moved to New York and re-entered the fashion world, I began incorporating mixed media into my fashion photographer, which was influenced by my former days as a street artist in the early-’90s. I wanted people to interact with me and my art so in 2014, I started a workshop called “The Shed Project” which allowed people to wander around my studio space.

You’re so well known now for your Bleeding Heart/Lovewall images, that I don’t think a lot of your fans are aware you made a documentary about AIDS in Africa. What prompted you to step away from fashion photography and make “To Die No More”?

I was offered an opportunity whilst living in London, working for a fashion magazine, Dazed and Confused. It was during a shoot with a rather well known actress. To cut a long story short, I took some personal photos of her and then her publicist got aggressive. I told her where to go and it all kicked in that I was done and this was meant to happen, so off I went to Africa. The AIDS epidemic in Africa has always been something I’ve wanted to capture and bring to light, especially through the perspective of people living with the disease. I wanted a break from photography and the fashion world and thought this would be a great project to delve into. It was gut wrenching and beautiful and incredibly inspiring to hear from people first hand. It was a humbling experience that I’m grateful I was able to share.

From there, how did you transition into fine art? Did you make and sell work before creating the Bleeding Heart motif?

It really started for me when I was in New York in 2007. I started selling artwork on the street with my friend. I was mixing my photography with art in mixed media works. We would set up outside the Apple store or Bathing Ape and people would buy our work. We chose this area because of the foot traffic. A lot of tourists would walk by and they loved the work. It was just so New York to them. I learned how to sell art and make a business for myself. That’s when this whole thing started without me even realizing it.

Since the success of your Bleeding Heart/Lovewalls, you’ve got travel the world even more and work with all these amazing brands and people. How has that changed your perspective on creativity and art?

I’d like to be more involved, politically. I want to travel to countries like Africa and Syria and raise awareness and create murals over there. I just want to create beautiful art in an area that is impoverished; focusing on countries that have been devastated, I’d like to go and try and make the town beautiful again. Bring some color to it and bring some hope. It’d be a little outside of my comfort zone, but I like that element of it.

Any next moves you can tell us about?

Something with Land Rover and Jaguar, some international projects, and talks of a possible TV project.

To keep up with JGoldcrown, follow him on IG here: @jgoldcrown

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