Interview: Bortusk Leer

23 May ’11

What inspired you to first paste neon monsters all over the streets of East London?

Sweetooth and Cyclops told me it would be loads of fun and I thought it’d be nice to see something silly on the way to work

Tell us a little about how you developed your style.

I suppose I got into naive and so called outsider art when I started to help my ceramics tutor teach special needs classes years ago. I was facsinated by the way they worked with such freedom. Then I started copying my own infant work as my mum had saved a load of my old school books, since then I’ve spent many years since trying to draw like a five year old. But the monsters came about from a lucky accident really, I was painting my nu-rave pigeons one day and found using a stencil really boring. So I just free styled a monster…..It was one of those eureka moments and the rest as they say is history.

How do you feel when one of your pieces is ripped down very soon after going up.

It doesn’t bother me to much as there’s not really much I can do about it and once its up on the street it doesn’t belong to me anymore.

I actually bumped into 2 guys running along the street a few years back with a dripping wet monster, which is a complement I suppose. The one holding the monster ran off when I told him I’d only just put it up, but his mate apologised and stopped for a chat. And now it’s an amusing story. The most annoying thing about it is that if it gets taken down straight away I don’t get a photo of it next day in daylight.

We’ve seen a few very old monsters around East London however. Which is the longest standing one that you know of?

I’m not sure about the oldest one in East London, but the first one I ever put up in New York was still up when I went back a few months ago, 3 years later.

Your pieces appear on the street sporadically and en masse. What prompts you to go out pasting in this way?

Its mainly because I’m not living in London at the moment, so when I’m in town I try and get up as much as I can.

How do you pick your locations? What do you think is the importance of context to your street art?

I just walk about and if I see somewhere that looks suitable I’ll stick one up and I try to choose places where I think they might stay up for a for a bit. As for importance of context I don’t really give it much thought.

We always see your monsters down Blackall St. What is it that you like about this place?

Mainly it’s because there’s lots of other stuff going up there and it usually stays up for some time. Although it seems to be getting buffed more recently. I also put my first pieces up on Blackall St as Bortusk as I used to work around there, so I have a special fondness for it too.

Can you tell us a little about ‘Rots Rulebek’ and his line of cosmetics.

I have absolutely no idea who Rots Rulebek is? No seriously he’s a long lost cousin who’s riding on Bortusks coat tails. Apparently they’re all big sellers in his local supermarket.

Tell us about some of the reactions that people have had to your work on the street.

It mainly seems to be positive as most people seem to get that the monsters purpose is only to brighten up their day and cheer them up a little. I’m sure they piss a few people off (the miserable bastards) and I have had the odd comment about there being no skill involved in my art work, but I think they’re missing the point.

The first time I put up a Rots piece I was waiting by it for a friend to catch up when I had a group of people stop, burst out laughing and start taking pictures……Happy Days!!!

You’ve got work in London, New York, Germany, Spain & Australia to name a few. Where in else in the world would you like to put up pieces?

That’s a difficult one to answer other than everywhere but I’m hoping to go travelling around Asia at the end of the year and plan to monster up their fair shores.

What are your plans for the rest of 2011?

At the moment I’m taking a bit of a holiday as I’ve been flat out for the last 6 months getting my current show together. I’m planning my first New York exhibition later on in the year as well as work on some new ideas and collaborations that have come up. Then get the hell outta here for the cold months! And to put loads of new stuff up on the streets of course!

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous August 28, 2011 at 8:42 pm

i found a bortusk leer just like the 5th one today. i looked closely and saw a signature much like bortusk leer but said something like rots rubleck. do you know who this is and do you know his name?


Street Art London September 2, 2011 at 4:16 pm

That’s would be Bortusk Leer’s alter ego ‘Rots Rulebek’

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