Interview – Dean Sunshine – Land Of Sunshine

Tonight will see the launch of a book that many have long looked forward to – the culmination of a passion project that we’ve followed from its inception. Having been “paintspotting” around Melbourne for years, Dean Sunshine started sharing his captures way back in 2010 – opening up his blog, Land Of Sunshine to the masses. Back in March, 2011, Dean became a regular contributor here on Invurt, sending through his monthly roundup of Top 10 pieces he’d seen around the streets of Melbourne – and Dean and I have been great friends ever since.

Now, he’s taken that collection of thousands of photos and somehow, extraordinarily, managed to cut them down into a book – named, of course  Land Of Sunshine. How he managed to do this, I have no idea – but the result is 300 pages of incredible art from across Melbourne in the past two or three years. This isn’t any old work, either – it is the cream of the crop in many ways, much of the artwork inside it will be familiar to you if you’ve followed Melbourne street art over the past few years. If you’re just getting into it, well, its an amazing introduction and primer to what goes on down here in the ‘Burn.

I’m not going to talk too much about Dean here, because I was honoured enough to do so for the introduction to the book itself – theres plenty of jibber jabber in there. So please, read on for a little bit behind about one of the best people I know amongst this crazy world of the Melbourne street art community …

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How long have you been enamoured by the Melbourne street art scene, and where did your affinity for art on the walls spring from?

I’m lucky to have grown up in Melbourne during the hip hop/graffiti explosion in the 80’s. Being an impressionable teenager I was hooked straight away. Over the last twenty years I have been surrounded by ever changing art on the streets whilst driving across Melbourne as part of my daily work routine. For the last five years, I’ve been taking photos and documenting the street art scene – my blog, Land of Sunshine, was started in 2010.

How long have you been working on the book and where did the idea to do it first come from?

I started to think about producing a book earlier this year after realising there was a lack of printed matter showcasing the overall scene in Melbourne, specifically the last few years. As I had all the content (over 12,000 images) it only took three months from starting the process to pressing print.

What did you want to represent with this book, and how did you want to accomplish this aim?

I wanted to represent the post stencil Melbourne street art acene and specifically to showcase the artists and pieces that have impressed and inspired me over the last few years – there are so many … it was very difficult to cull them to just 300 pages …

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(AWOL crew)

What were some of the more challenging aspects of putting together the book, and what were some of the unexpected difficulties you encountered along the way?

I think the most challenging aspect of doing a book is the content, but as I had hard drives full of images that was pretty easy. Sorting the artists’ images and organising the other chapters definitely took some time, but again, not too difficult. The hardest part of it all was acknowledging that my photos needed re-touching for print, and that I didn’t know how to use InDesign to get the files ready for the printer.

With the keen eye and help from both Elizabeth McLeish and Georgina O’Connor these two issues were skilfully taken care of. Once I started this project it could not be stopped – it literally took over my days and nights, and I’d often wake up with even more ideas.

You’ve gone and checked out a large amount of work up on the walls – what have been some of your favourite locations/painting sessions you have seen?

Anytime you see these artists at work it is inspiring – I am in awe of their incredible talent when all I do is push a button on a camera.

Some memorable moments include late night pasting with D*Face (right next door to Malvern Police station) … watching DMV paint the huge piece in Chinatown … spending an afternoon with Hush and ELK painting my warehouse … driving around Brunswick and Fitzroy bombing with Will Coles …  There’s More Festival in Brunswick where we had 40 artists painting the whole exterior of my warehouse … hanging with Slicer at an epic abandoned warehouse in Yarraville … watching Adnate paints those phenomenal faces … pasting with Phoenix and at other times Drab … hanging with the WSW crew while they paint both north and southside … helping CDH erect the Atlas piece opposite the NGV on St.Kilda Road … painting with Unwell Bunny and Mysterious Al at the Brunswick warehouse … bringing cold beer to Drew Funk as he painted the whole side of a building solo in St.Kilda …

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(Urban Cake Lady)

Where do you see Melbourne and its art in regards to the international street art community? What do you believe it provides in terms of art up on the walls that other countries may not, and what do you believe that it doesn’t offer, that other countries do?

A few years ago a friend of mine said Melbourne street art didn’t rate internationally – he even sent me a list of global sites with no mention of Melbourne. I disagreed with him, so I set out to prove him wrong. I have travelled quite a bit and, without sounding too biased, our street art is world class!

I think Melbourne has such a large diverse range of different art on the streets – in many cities you just dont see such a range of styles. I think the only thing we lack are huge murals on whole buildings – like you see in Berlin. Those just stop you in your tracks.

Tell us a bit about the preparation that you have done for launching the book, and what some of the more interesting behind the scenes aspects of it have been?

Last weekend I was supremely fortunate to have some of the best Melbourne artists put their time, paint and energy into painting the space for the book launch. Andate, Kaff-eine, Slicer, Lucy Lucy, Heesco, Shida, Mysterious Al, Facter, Jack Douglas, RAD, Hancock, Junky, Eleven, Steve Cross, Choq, Ryan Boserio – I thank you all and it will never be forgotten, nor will the smell of paint fumes.

Tell us a bit more about where the book will be available and how people can get a copy of it?

Initially the book will be available through Generals Pants nationally, NGV bookstore and my blog, Land Of Sunshine.

Then through selected stores including Signed & Numbered, Third Drawer Down, The Boroughs, with more to follow….

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MEDIA RELEASE – LAND OF SUNSHINE

For the past two years Dean Sunshine has embarked on a passionate mission to capture the vibrancy and beauty of street art across Melbourne.

With a long history of association with graffiti and street art, Sunshine has witnessed countless works in action, discovered hidden gems and documented artwork loved by street art communities and dedicated fans both locally and around the world.

Dean’s blog, Land Of Sunshine, has been a beckoning destination for all who enjoy their photographic fix of art on Melbourne’s streets and lanes. With this print version, Dean has created a 300 page book titled Land of Sunshine, the first in many years that represents the globally recognised Melbourne street art movement in its cross-genre entirety.

Over a hundred Melbourne artists are featured, with special exposés on a dozen specific artists who have made their impressions on Melbourne’s walls, including: Adnate, Be Free, CDH, Deb, Drab, Heesco, Kaff-eine, Makatron, Phoenix the street artist, Slicer, Suki and Urban Cake Lady.

All the photographs contained within the book have been captured by Dean on his many paintspotting adventures. The wide variety of mediums used and the Melbourne street art community as a whole are also well represented with chapters on walls, paste ups, exhibitions, international artists and installations.

Land of Sunshine is a moment of captured time in the kaleidoscope of art that has adorned Melbourne in this, the second decade of our ‘new millennium’. In my mind this book, in regards to Melbourne street art, is as critical a piece of cultural documentation as any other produced.

You can download the full media pack for the Land Of Sunshine book here – also check out Land Of Sunshine blog for more info on the book and where you can get it!

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About the Post

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For the past ten years, Fletcher Andersen (Facter) has cut his teeth writing for a variety of street press and music magazines. Drawing on his years of writing experience, and as an artist himself, Facter founded Invurt with the aim of promoting artistic events, and the established and emerging Australasian urban, street, illustrative, underground and low brow artists that partake in them. Follow him on Instagram @facter, or go like his facebook page, and check out his website, Irikanji.

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