Interviews

Interview: John Dolan

2 Sep ’13

John Dolan Street Art London

Photography by Rob Weir
Interview by Carina Claassens

If you’ve been to Shoreditch on a sunny day you would have noticed John Dolan and his dog, George, sitting on the High Street. George sits patiently while John draws portraits of him and the buildings opposite.  In this in depth interview we find out exactly how John became the artist he is today.

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Interview: Dan Witz

25 Mar ’13

Dan Witz street art

Images from Dan Witz.

How did you get started in the street art scene?

I got started doing street art in the late 1970’s as an art student in downtown New York City. Back then, the idea was that if the world was a fucked up place that desperately needed changing, and contemporary art (and art schooling) had miserably failed us in this respect, then it became our job as artists to not only challenge the system but also change it. Much as I enjoyed museums and galleries, they were part of the problem: clearly exhibiting paintings on some white wall somewhere wasn’t going to change many minds. So, in search of more immediate impact, most of my friends started bands, and I did that for a while too, but I was a painter at heart. Inspired by the awesomely graffiti subway trains, I started going out tagging (or my version of it).

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Thierry Noir interview

Thierry Noir painting The Village Underground Wall (Feb 2013)

Thierry Noir was born in 1958 in Lyon, France, and came to Berlin in January 1982.  He found a place to live close to the Berlin Wall.  In April 1984, Noir began to paint the Berlin Wall in order to perform one real revolutionary act: to paint the Berlin wall, to transform it, to make it ridiculous, and to help destroy it. When the Wall fell in 1989 his paintings became a symbol of new-found freedom across Germany. Noir spent a week in London painting his iconic imagery around the streets of Shoreditch. 

Why did you move to Berlin in 1982?

I moved to Berlin for one simple reason – because I couldn’t find my way in France. I was fired from every job I started. After a while I said to myself, I have to change something in my life, because if I continue like this I’m going directly into a dead end. I didn’t want to be unemployed. So I thought to myself, I have to change something radically in my life. At that time I had heard a lot about West Berlin, about the music. There were a lot of new wave groups. A lot of people had to live in squats because there were no flats. The new mayor of West Berlin said, “If I am elected, I promise I will clean all the squats from Berlin”. So he got elected in June ’81, and from that point on there was a big battle in West Berlin about housing, with a lot of police and violence. It was in the news everyday in France, so I said to myself let’s go there, let’s see what’s happened. So I started from nothing, with only two small suitcases. I came with an address, but after a few days some guys said to me you have to find something else. I was really on the street, with only my two suitcases, and I started from zero to live in Berlin.

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Interview: Kid Acne

11 Feb ’13

Kid Acne Slogan Street Art

Sheffield 2009

Kid Acne’s art can be seen on walls all over the globe. The Sheffield-based artist is best known for his comic-like illustrations and larger-than-life slogans. He recently completed his biggest London mural and Street Art London had the chance to sit down with this one-man-army to pick his brains. 

(All images save London 2013 are Kid Acne’s)

Why did you choose the phrase “OH MY DAYS” for the Village Underground mural?

I’ve been painting phrases for a while now. I probably did the first one around 2007 / 2008. I made hip-hop music for a number of years and when I was in a phase of making a lot of music I wasn’t really painting that much. I would write lyrics and ideas for songs in the back of my sketchbook and after a while I noticed I was writing more words in my book than I was drawing pictures in it. I thought I should really use them for something, so I started painting these slogans.

They’re just every day phrases that people say. I think it is nice to paint things that people can relate to, plus it has a lot of impact. Initially, it was almost as though the buildings were having a conversation. I painted one on my old art college before it got knocked down that said “You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone”. I’ve always had it in my head that if I did a slogan in London it would say “Oh My Days”. People don’t really say that up north, so for me it’s a typical London phrase. I like painting big, bold stuff. It’s a good excuse to paint letters without having to write my own name over and over again.

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The Rolling People

10 Dec ’12

The Rolling People graffiti in East London

The Rolling People collaboration on Hassard Street, just off Hackney Road is surely a contender for one of the best pieces of the year in London. We talk to The Rolling People who are SCARCE, SEKS, CEPT, BRK, SNOE, EGOE and AZIS.

First of all, can you tell us a little about this work and the inspiration behind it?

Snoe: This piece was designed as a mural celebrating the genius of 1980s Marvel comic book artists such as the master, Stan Lee. When I read these comics as a child, the quality of the artwork added so much to the drama and the intense action which allowed you to be in the story where your imagination became the story’s final author. This took you inside the Earth’s core or to a parallel dimension on the other side of the universe/microverse. Cept has been remixing comic imagery and lichtenstienesque stuff for years and in his recent galactic murals and cosmic collages he & our other members of TRP have used Marvel comics to provide background themes for graffiti productions for a long time.

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Anthony Lister Interview with Street Art London

Street Art London: So let’s get this started.

Lister: Sounds great. Anthony Lister, November 15th 2012, the day before the Apocalypse.

Street Art London: I thought that was on the 20th? Anyway. First question, can you tell us a little about how you developed your unique style? Did you study fine art?

Lister: Yes, I did study fine art. Well, I guess I developed my styles with the frame of mind that I wanted to be able to still make art when I’m like old and handicapped. So I kind of wanted to feel comfortable just, you know, making things out of scribbles really. So I actually don’t really even call it drawing. I call it shapeshing. I kind of just push shapes around. I don’t know if that answered your question.

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Interview: Dscreet

17 Jul ’12

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.

 

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Milo Tchais street artist interview Street Art London

With Macay

Tell us a little about how you got into street art and graffiti?

The very distinctive hardcore tagging scene in Sao Paulo, pichação, was what turned my attention to urban street writing, and a love of letter styling in the first place. I have enjoyed drawing and messing around with paint ever since I can remember, but the urge to go out and paint on the streets was to do pichação in the very beginning. Pichaçao was what I saw at first, since a little kid around the streets, but I quickly moved into doing thick bubble and piece letters once I started spraying as well as character designs. That was a time of the first generation and a second was emerging, of writers influenced by the hip-hop graffiti painting in São Paulo, and with little visual information around, not yet with the wonders of the virtual world established. More influences and magazines came about, seeing more pieces and murals, I quickly got hooked and saw myself doing panels almost every day around the city, which developed into murals and big productions.

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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

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James Cochran Street Art

Tell us a little about your artistic background and how you got into street art?

I was always interested in art, but in the late 80’s was taken in by the graffiti subculture which worked well with the adolescent angst and the need to forge an identity at that time. This developed into mural work and then later onto art school where I was introduced to the broader history of painting. After a focus on oil painting and the tradition of figurative painting, I returned to the source – the spray can – which led to a more fluid and personal technique. Throughout this time I have alternated between painting in the street and in the studio.

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Malarky street art in London

Malarky and Mr. Penfold

Tell us a little about your artistic background and how you go into street art?

I was always a doodler and then when i got into skateboarding when i was 13 or 14 I was subjected to a lot more art that related to me and this is when I started doing drawings for stickers and putting them about, gradually got into doing graffiti and for a while I was doing letter pieces but my letters normally always ended up turning into characters and then I started focusing on characters and just drawing stuff that made me smile. I never planned to be an artist, I didn’t even know you could survive working as an artist, i’m still not sure! I worked a few different design jobs and started meeting like minded people that were already working as successful artists, loved the studio culture and just chilling with friends and drawing so I just started doing that. As far as street art goes, I like to paint outside, I can’t really explain it, I like to add some colour to the streets and reclaim a bit of bland street surface, if you what I mean.

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You might have seen his stickers all around East London.  New York based street artist Dickchicken talks to Street Art London…

Dickchicken sticker street art London

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