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'Austin, TX is at capacity': Local street artist sends message to Californians

Artist Goodluck Buddha is creating art that tells Californians to stay out of his city. (Goodluck Buddha)

As a lifelong Texan and 18-year Austin resident, street artist Goodluck Buddha wants to keep Californians out of Central Texas to preserve the city he loves.

As his business travels took him to states like California, he started posting his art there with a message to Californians in 2013. Buddha has many characters he creates but one, in particular, was created to draw attention to what he saw as a growing problem. Spotted all over Los Angeles is a skeletal monk holding a sign that says one of the following: "get out while you can," "total system failure" and most polarizing, "Austin, TX is at capacity, don't move there."

Buddha started developing his persona as an artist around 2013, keeping his art under wraps for the sake of his family and day job in the security industry. He asked his real name not be used on account of the work's potentially illegal nature. He had always admired street art and saw it as a way to interact with the community.

His disdain for the California migration started as a trendy joke but as the trickle of transplants turned more into a steady stream in the early 2010s, it started to seem like each new person he met was coming from Los Angeles or Beverly Hills.

"Austin started becoming a little popular with the California folks and everybody started moving here slowly and then it became kind of a problem," Buddha said.

The problem is not Californians, Buddha said, but the amount of money they come with, which he believes is driving up the cost of living and making it harder for the average Austinite to afford living here.

"I wanted to go straight to the source and put it out there for them to see that there's an issue—I don't know if they see it that way," Buddha said. "There's a lot of people that were able to make it with one full-time job and live in a nice house and now they're having to work a full-time job and a side hustle and then a side gig. It's making people more focused on trying to make money versus just living and having a good time."

Buddha can relate—while he would like to take his art career full-time, he is also a father and waiting until his children leave home to take a risk like that. He said he remembers a time when local artists could make a living doing what they loved while Austin nurtured them and wore the title "Live Music Capital of the World" like a badge of honor.

His art has since made its way to other big cities that he also goes to for business travels, including Portland and New York. And until he goes full time, he sells his art on social media.

"I always had this urge just to leave my mark and put stuff up," Buddha said. "It's kind of like a renegade art movement."


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