Meet Laurynas Buzinskas. He is a graphic designer, illustrator, street artist, and muralist. Hailing from Vilnius, Lithuania, from a young age he was fascinated by American hip hop culture. He also had quite the penchant for drawing. These two interests were what initially led him into the world of graffiti.
As Laurynas puts it, “I met these older guys, and they invited me to go spray with them… I was going out at least three, four times a week in the nighttime. My parents didn’t know about it at all. I was just leaving, going out to spray with them all night long. In the morning, I’d come back and go to school.”
While it’s easy to get caught up in such an engrossing lifestyle, there’s no way it could have lasted forever. Eventually, the worst thing a young Laurynas could have imagined happened: his parents found out, catching him sneaking in during the wee hours of the morning. His father initially thought his son had been committing robberies, and while the revelation that he had instead been tagging was something of a relief, the elder Buzinskas expressed vehement disapproval. However, Laurynas had a passion for street art, and not even his father’s warnings could stop him from doing what he loved.
Worse came to worst, however, when Laurynas was caught tagging by law enforcement: “I started to get in trouble… a lot,” he tells us. “I had multiple incidents with the cops.”
One of these incidents nearly landed Laurynas in prison for two years, something that he narrowly steered clear from. However, it became obvious that he needed to redirect his life. Still, his love for graffiti was not something that would simply go away. As an artist, he needed to create to feel whole.
A Change in Direction
After finishing high school, Laurynas’s parents were vehement in their demands that he attend college or university. In his own words, Laurynas was not a “good student” in high school (How could he have been with such little sleep?). But he had to fulfill his parents’ wishes. With art being the only subject that truly interested him, he decided to use college as an opportunity to expand his skillset.
“My first year in college was a turning point for my art,” he tells us. It was his first time being trained as an artist. He learned how to create And it wasn’t long before he started applying the concepts he learned in school to his graffiti. This is when Laurynas truly discovered his penchant for creating eye-catching murals.
Laurynas Moves to the U.S.
Learning all he could from art school in Lithuania, Laurynas decided it was time to migrate to Chicago.
“Graffiti started here in the U.S.,” he says. “And I really wanted to see it and feel it for myself, not just through the internet… I left my job, left my parents and moved here alone.”
While his aspirations were admirable, Laurynas began to wonder whether or not they were realistic, as he initially had trouble finding a job in the arts, despite his being a skilled graphic designer. He worked a series of odd jobs—including being window cleaner and a dispatcher for a trucking company—for roughly four years, eventually finally finding a graphic design job for an advertisement company.
This job gave Laurynas the leverage to also take commissions under his own company Yolocone Graphics, which has since become his main source of income. Yolocone does mural work for businesses across Chicago. Take one look at the company’s portfolio, and it becomes obvious what a skilled, versatile artist he is. And while he (thankfully) no longer risks legal trouble in order to create, his background in graffiti remains the foundation of his work.
Who is Laurynas’s Everyday Hero?
Laurynas’s transformation from graffiti artist to professional muralist is an inspiring one. However, he doesn’t credit his accomplishments only to himself: his wife is his own everyday hero.
“I always wanted to do what I’m doing right now, but I had fear,” he tells us. “But when I met my wife, she was very supportive… she pushed me to dream bigger. And then I thought, ‘Yeah, I can make it. I can make it happen.’ Now I’m getting bigger clients, bigger projects. And I feel free… She is the main reason I am where I am.
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When asked for details regarding his wife’s influence on his work, he recounts a story: “I had a serious meeting coming up… I was supposed to meet the client and talk about the price for my work. My wife asked me, ‘How much are you gonna charge?’ I told her what I was thinking, and she was like, ‘Are you crazy? You’re supposed to know how much you’re worth!’ So when I met with my client, and he asked me how much I would charge, I told him the amount my wife told me to ask for. He said, ‘You know what, that’s fine. Do you want me to write a check right now?’”
Clearly, Laurynas’s wife is his muse, and he credits his success to her just as much as he does himself. He hopes that in the future they will become even more collaborative in running Yolocone.
What Would Laurynas Tell His Audience?
Seeing how many obstacles Laurynas has managed to overcome, he is bound to have some wise words for people who may be in a similar situation that he was in. So when asked what he would tell his audience, he simply says, “Never give up on your dreams.”
During his youth, neither his parents, his teachers, nor law enforcement saw much value in his skills, yet he persisted because he knew that it was not only his greatest talent, but his greatest passion. He has since found a way to not only legally do what he loves, but to make a career out of it.
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“I kept going, and I’m still doing it to this day. And that’s the main thing I would tell you guys: never quit on your dreams.”
We must keep in mind the grueling hours Laurynas put into making his dreams a reality. One is not simply born as skilled as he is; he painted constantly, always making very gradual improvements. While it is true that we must never give up on our dreams, that is only half the battle. The other half is putting in the work.
Remember that after coming to the U.S, it took Laurynas years to find a career as a graphic designer. In order to survive, he took many jobs that he did not necessarily enjoy, still pursuing art on the side. And now, he is a living example of the benefits of both hard work and unwavering passion.
Your Everyday Heroes has been proud to bring you the story of Laurynas Buzinskas, a hero who was able to go against all odds and turn a frowned-upon passion into a sustainable career. Even in his success, he remains humble and hopeful that he can inspire future generations to make something of their own dreams. We hope that you have come away from his story feeling as inspired as we did.