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Street Artist Targets Upper East Siders 'Beat Up By the Corporate World'

 The New York City street artist wants to inspire young neighborhood professionals with new works, he said.
James De La Vega Art
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YORKVILLE — A street artist known for his whimsical, philosophic fish hopes to make a splash on the Upper East Side among "young professionals who are beat up by the corporate world."

James La Vega — a New York native who has long decorated the city's concrete with cartoon-like sea creatures and inspirational slogans such as "Become Your Dream" — recently painted a mural at High Point Deli, a bodega in Yorkville located at 1716 Second Ave., at East 89th Street.

"Whenever I chose a private space like that or something that's public, I try to think about how can I use the art to not only be beautiful, [but] how can it be used to empower and also inspire," he explained. "It was basically a win-win situation."

Though De La Vega considers the Upper East Side one of his favorite neighborhoods — and has worked in the area before — he hopes to cheer up the young professionals populating the area with the new work, he said.

"I'm sure when they go to work or when they come home from work, they're probably beat up by the corporate world, so it's an inspiration. They like unexpected surprises," he said.

With regards to technique, De La Vega said he doesn't stick with one material when creating his art, as it "just depends on what the moment requires."

"I use whatever I need to use," he said.

The store's manager was not immediatley available to discuss the work.

De La Vega thought the store would allow him to do more with his art than he was able to in the East Village, where he had a store that shuttered in 2010.

"I think I outgrew the East Village," he said.

He recently collaborated with the Cigar Inn stores on the UES and in Midtown to sell T-shirts and bags, De La Vega said.

He also teamed up with Tory Burch to design "pajamas and iPad cases," he said.

"I like to do more commercial projects like that with brands that are interested in empowering people," he said.

"Too many brands don't have a humanitarian effort going on. They have more of a capitalist venture going on."