De La Vega Builds His Brand Online

DSC03593 copy - Version 2Suzanne Rozdeba James De La Vega puffs on a cigar outside the former home of his East Village Museum.

James De La Vega, who shut down his East Village museum in August of last year and left followers wondering where he’ll end up next, has taken his brand online.

“De La Vega is now writing on the sidewalks of cyberspace,” said the artist, famous for his street art, often adorned with the catch phrase, “Realiza Tu Sueno / Become Your Dream.” In January, Mr. De La Vega said he was working on a “digital experience.” Now, that experience has been revealed: an online store, featuring De La Vega T-shirts, tote bags and even an organic baby body suit with his signature fish jumping out of a bowl. An assortment of coffee mugs, shot glasses and water bottles range from $10-$18.

Mr. De La Vega remained confident that his followers — who see him as an artistic prophet of sorts — would follow him in his new, commercial direction.

“De La Vega decides what’s best for his fans,” the artist said, speaking about himself in the third person. “There are De La Vega fans that want to be a part of the message and online accessibility makes it easy for them. They become messengers of a prophetic message.”

Mr. De La Vega is also spreading his message in a separate line of T-shirts, handbags, wallets and E-Tablet cases that sell for between $45-$295 that he created in collaboration with fashion designer Tory Burch.

De La VegaSuzanne Rozdeba A tag hints at Mr. De La Vega’s new direction.

“We are building in a different way these days. More hand-to-hand combat and smarter partnering,” he said, later noting that his products are available in a broad price range. “The De La Vega message is for all fans, both rich and poor.”

The new direction is a far cry from the now-shuttered De La Vega Museum, which was located on St. Marks Place. In the cluttered space Mr. De La Vega sold items ranging from buttons and postcards with his catch phrases, to spray cans he used for street art and pieces of artwork selling for upwards of $20,000.

But Mr. De La Vega’s words of wisdom are free, and he shares them regularly on his new Facebook fan page where he posts regular rants and reflections. One example: “If the grass is greener on the other side, maybe that’s because you’re not taking good care of your grass.”

As for any plans for a new museum, he said, “no need to do the same thing twice. Life has us building the cigar-smoking De La Vega character in a new way. He has become a mysterious figure who offers hellos and no goodbyes.”