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Nick Kuszyk, 26 

Artist

The shirts are doing well and have spread to Bittersweet and Industry, boutiques in Charlottesville, The DJ Hut in Washington, D.C., 555 Soul, and Cinders in Brooklyn and online at www.BeautifulDecay.com.

Why he's hot: Kuszyk originally was inspired by an artist he saw in Charlottesville who was producing inexpensive paintings at a high volume. "They were more informal, selling for two dollars apiece," Kuszyk says. He gave it a try, selling his paintings on the street or tacking them up around town.

Kuszyk likes his robots, but they're hardly what he'd consider masterpieces. He maintains a healthy disregard for taking his work too seriously and seems to see the ubiquity of the bots as the larger project.

After receiving a $2,000 fellowship from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in 2002, Kuszyk and some friends held a show at ArtSpace. They advertised it promising to give away $1,000. Kuszyk cashed his grant check and taped bills onto the backs of the paintings — ones, fives, even a couple of hundreds.

"It was like a feeding frenzy," Kuszyk says. "Everyone stole all the paintings and destroyed everything." Recent shows have been a little more civilized. At the Eggspace Gallery, he sold 55 of his low-priced paintings.

Kuzsyk has noticed that people have been starting to more frequently refer to him as the "Robot Guy." But as long as Kuzsyk himself gets to keep a low profile, he doesn't mind his creations' notoriety. He plans to continue selling his robot paintings and T-shirts at affordable prices. "Having your paintings in 60 people's houses rather than three, that's way sweeter," he says.

What's next: Kuszyk doesn't have any big shows planned for Richmond but will be showing work at Brooklyn's McCaig-Welles gallery in July. — Amy Biegelsen



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