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Subway Artist Trades Handcart for Storefront in DUMBO

By Janet Upadhye | March 28, 2014 2:02pm

DUMBO — The days of selling artwork in the subway from a handcart bound with binder clips and shoelaces are numbered for artist Paul O'Rourke.

His dream of selling his art from a brick and mortar shop will be realized on April 5 when he opens the doors to a small space at 145 Front St. in DUMBO after a year and a half of selling underground.

"Just signed the papers. Started from the subways now I'm here!," the artist better known as Flye Lyfe announced on his Facebook page. "No investors, nothing. Money saved from blood, sweat, and tears. I hope you come out and support because this took all my life to acquire."

O'Rourke, 28, of Ridgewood, said he looks forward to having an "official space" where people can buy prints and hats, t-shirts and hoodies with original designs by the Oklahoma native, who has been drawing since he can remember.

That and he no longer has to worry about the police, said O'Rourke, who has been arrested and ticketed for hawking his goods in the subway.

"It's legal to sell in my own store," said O'Rourke.

O'Rourke's designs range from humorous political statements — a cartoon version of an Anthony Weiner campaign poster that reads "Look at the whole package" — to sports and pop culture references — a cereal box called "Yeezus Puffs."

Prints cost $20 while clothng prices range from $25 to $40.

And for old time's sake, Flye Lyfe fans might still catch him in some of his favorite subway stations — Union Square and Bedford Avenue — from time to time.

"I do enjoy selling down there and meeting new people," he said. "Plus it's a great promotional tool."