Tell us a little about your artistic background and how you go into street art?
As far back as I can remember I drew a lot. Cartoons, cars, dinosaurs, I also used to draw these massive sci fi battle scenes when I was a kid, bit of a dork really, some of it probably came from Star Wars…
I always wanted to be a cartoonist, then when I got to my teens a couple of my friends got into graff and tried to get me into it. We used to tag all the spots we skated and at some point drawing and piecing became more important to me than skating.
What is the significance of the owl image to your work?
Cus I always liked cartoons so much I did a lot of characters with my pieces, sometimes just characters. At first I was painting other peoples characters (Bode, Crumb, etc) so I wanted to create one that was really stylistically mine and I could repeat a lot, in graff everyone has their own throwup with letters, that style is generally bubble comic style with big looping lines that are quick to execute so I thought id give my throwup a different personality by making it a cartoon like image which I could also paint fast.
The owl is a really loaded image, it means different things to me and the more I learn about owl symbology around the world the more I realise how diverse the interpretations are.
‘A punch up with Kid Acne’
Who/what are your biggest artistic influences?
Robert Crumb, Warner Bros cartoons, Ren and Stimpy, Bode, the Surrealists, Jodorowsky, Herzog, Tarkovsky.
You recently did a few slightly ironic pieces with / alongside LUSH around Brick Lane. Tell us a little about where you were going with these pieces…
Just a bit of comedy really, think its better to smile and laugh at it than get angry and punch a wall. We were painting one day and some dude told us he was running streetart tours, then he told Lush that his work was unacceptable (it wasn’t actually an offensive piece by Lushes standards) and that he would be buffing it the next day to make work for his own sanctioned version of acceptable streetart that would fit into his tour better.
How has street art around Shoreditch / Hackney changed in the last few years?
Well its everywhere for a start, its hard to say because everyone’s slightly desensitised now to it so it doesn’t have the same energy as before.
A while back it seemed like there was a lot of space as a blank canvas, now everythings painted, but I don’t think this is a bad thing, its good to see that people are still getting their work up and it didn’t die like a passing fad.
People from all over the world gravitate to this area to see and do the work so its an unofficial gallery.
‘Collaboration with Conor Harrington in Dalston…’
Where do you see the entire street art movement in ten, twenty, fifty years time?
I think like any movement with its roots in the underground it will go through peaks and troughs and eventually become entirely acceptable in the mainstream if it isn’t already, similar to skateboarding’s evolution.
I think there are streetartists and graffiti legends who will be taught about in school and included in contemporary art texts, actually I think they already are but it will become more and more a part of the everyday fabric and acknowledged art history. How sick would it be to go to artclass and get taught about Blade, Seen and Futura and maybe Barry Mcgee and Banksy. When I went to artschool I had to keep my nocturnal creativity a secret, and talk about “proper” art, that will change.
As it gets older and more and more generations have grown up with it as a part of their everyday experience it will become less of a renegade activity and people might start to realise the true importance of this movement to the sanity of society and democratic freedom of expression. Remember the Dadaists, the Surrealists and even something as seemingly innocuous as the Impressionist movement were considered outrageous and controversial when they began.
On the flipside there will always be a hardcore element who will keep it pure and real and that will help maintain some weird balance, I think the second that side is lost then the movement will lose its energy.
Hackney Wick is known for it’s awesome Burning Candy Crew murals. What do you think about the current state of Hackney Wick given the overwhelming influence of the nearby Olympic site? Are there any plans to hit up some walls just before the Olympics roll into town?
Already done that, haha. Hackney Wick’s always been a strange place, its probably improved to be honest, cus it used to be a really bizarre little ghost town. Im not really into those sports and I don’t really care about the Olympics, but I understand that its very important to a lot of people so let them get on with it and hopefully it’s a success. Theres blatantly some shady business deals going down and some uglyass property development, bigwigs get fatter and richer, but I hope on the other side that there are some genuine benefits for the people who live in the area. I think that buffing the murals is a silly move on behalf of the council cus people really enjoy them and it gives the more dilapidated walls some real energy and life, they’re actually doing themselves and London a disservice when they get rid of great artwork.
Where do you think the best new areas for street art are in London? Where do you see street art moving to in the future?
Well Shoreditch is super saturated and the Wick is a bit of a bust, I think Dalstons receptive to it cus its got that strange balance of being like totally trendy and creative man and yet it still has some raw street energy, a bit of a crossroads of chaos. I give it 6 months to a year before its totally utterly played out…
What is the importance of street art to London and also generally?
It works on so many levels I don’t think many people acknowledge the extent of its importance. Its tempting to play it down and say streetart wont change the world and its true that it generally doesn’t feed the starving masses, but in reality it actually does change the world and peoples lives on a daily basis, not merely on the surface level.
On a simple level if it makes a bunch of people smile and even think a little bit about their surroundings then I think that’s a valid contribution to the world.
Which street / graffiti artists do you most admire/respect?
Blade, Futura, Dondi, Merda, Mode 2, Twist
Tell us a little about your show…
The show is called The Other Sideshow, it was inspired by a near death experience which I had at the age of 17. Due to a medical condition I was told there was a 50/50 chance I would die, it was harsh news so I didn’t really know how to deal with it and just partied my ass off.
One night I partied too hard and came within seconds of carking it, it was that classic story of floating outside of your self and reflecting, it made me think about what I was doing with my life and how I might make more use of it, what was life worth. Its kind of when I decided to become more serious about my graffiti and art and to leave a more positive mark, instead of just getting wasted all the time.
This lead on to other questions ; who you are really, when you devote yourself to your artistic alter ego, which version of you is the real one and which one will you be remembered by?
Street Art London: catch Dscreet’s show at Roktic Gallery, 214 Brick Lane – running until 19 July.
Any other plans for 2012?
Just keep painting and creating, get on with it, stop being a bedroom philosopher.
Im in a group show Dabs and Myla are organising in LA, then another one with SDM in Australia later this year, they both got me hyped and something to look forward to.