Over the years, Idol Motions has transformed himself from a bomber prowling the streets of Perth, into one of the cities most promising talents. Having started out smashing walls and lanes back in the mid-90s, Idol had a life changing epiphany whilst wandering through an abando – and since that moment, he has continually pushed himself, and his work, to the challenge of heightening his skills both on, and off the walls.
Having run with the infamous Hellz Kids, exhibitions and other projects with both the 6025 Crew and Artist Anonymous Collective, as well as strong ties to the Perth Hip hop community and the S.B.X. crew, Idol motions has been there, done that, and continues to do even more. Clean lines, colourful flares and a penchant for iconographic hip hop entities and natures denizens, Idols pieces are the culmination of years of dedication and hard work, and, most importantly – his work is full of hints at the simple joy that he possess of loving the shit that he does.
Having recently held a successful show with S.B.X. mate Paul Deej, and having just jetted off to Milano in Italy for a new project, Idol Motions is an artist who we have had our eye on for quite a while now – and one whose work we’ll continue to enjoy as time progresses. We had a chance to throw the man some questions not too long ago, and we were pretty happy to read all about his work, and we’re pretty sure you will be too – read on!
Without beating around the bush – the bits of your bio I’ve read, you’re pretty open and honest about the fact that you had a less than ideal upbringing, but that it also helped you to find a path for yourself away from the drama of it all – how important has it been for you over the years to have such a strong creative outlet, and when did you first realise that this was the path you had set yourself upon?
Cheers for putting me on. Really honored to feel like I’ve bullshitted enough people to give a damn about my craft, HAHA!
Ok, since forever, I’ve never really been a people person. “I know right?!” such a generic answer”. But ye, that mixed with anxiety due to feeling like I had to keep busy to avoid people, really gave me an excuse to zone in with art and ignore the rest without coming off as anti social. It was the one subject at school where I felt in my zone. Didn’t have to talk to impress. Just let ’em peer over my shoulder from time to time and say thanks whenever a complement was given. Year by year, the attention grew slowly boosting my self confidence. When I reached high school I felt like I had something to prove. But this time in a positive light. Felt good. Felt confident. Felt like all the other subjects were rubbish. Now looking back, feel a lot of regret for not taking all the other classes seriously. End result, felt stupid. hehehe!
You see, I dropped out of year ten. Roamed the streets of Perth with graffiti bombers. Got drunk in ally ways and passed out. Woke up delirious and got chased by cops. Slipped onto trains with the same lame ass excuse as to why I didn’t having a valid ticket. Get home and pass out. Woke up later that afternoon and do it all again.
It didn’t take long to get bored, so one day my mate DAZER decided to show me this abandon building just out from the city center. By this stage I had already seen heaps of graffiti bombing and throw ups. To be honest, it didn’t interest me at the time but what I found in the dingiest of all places was something different. It was like finding a hidden portal into a new world. The ceiling above had a huge hole allowing light to shine in. Looked like a scene out of The Prodigy – Fire Starter. Right there to my left was a freshly painted piece. I had never before see anything of that caliber. The piece had a sunset background with silhouettes of birds and rats with this awesome DASH piece just floating in almost a defense-like stance. Arrows, cutbacks, fades, high lights, crisp can control through n through. That was the first time I had witnessed and properly acknowledged proper graffiti art. Straight away, I had to see more of this and from that day forward I would never see the city the same. 1997 was to be the beginning of something special.
Days later I started practicing in quiet hidden industrial areas. Keep in mind, I did my fair share of ‘bombing the system’ before.
When exactly was it that you started throwing shit up on walls, and how did you get started out? Who were you knocking around with, and what experiences with other artists and environments out on the street spurred you on?
Styles and forms, graffiti and canvas – at the end of the day, what most impacts the style with which you work within? Is it the mediums, the walls or the paints, or is it all a big combination of the above? What and who motivated you to create your work?
I started to go public in 1998. By this stage, i had proven my hand styles to be worthy of representing Hellz Kids. Along side TRITS, HERBS, DAZER, OAK, DEST, NEXT ABC, SINCH, RENZ, SENZA, FITZ, DEKS ONE, REPS, TOMAHAWK, and of course the main man ELMS ONE, just to name a few.
At any given time when I was out n about bombing there would usually be at least 3 or 4 if not more of us. There was always competition on who could hit the hottest spots, have the nicest hand style or even just try to put up the most. The competition never ended. We were all so hungry for the top rating from each other. I think because of that alone, it really taught me in a big way to always paint like its your last piece. Trying to outdo the last. I didn’t even take photos most of the time. Besides the fact that I was already super paranoid, it was about fighting through the butterflies in the gut and embracing that adrenalin, while still being able to leave a stylish piece for the rest of the onlookers to enjoy between peak traffic that morning.
Damn! Wish I took more flicks!
After painting walls for so long I felt like I was only exercising repetition. To me that wasn’t enough any more. I needed to change it up. I needed to do something with meaning. Something the viewers could relate to. Even challenge their thought process and/ or beliefs. So I decided to pack up graffiti for a while and experiment with different mediums. Ink and Water colours on paper, Acrylic on canvas and wooden board, metal, aluminium and even glass. During the few years of playing around with different things I also decided to study up a little on art history. Doing this helped me to get a better understanding of being a true artist and the history behind many references that are still used today. Clarify the direction I wanted to pursue and also how to go about it but mainly, properly evolve my style into something uniquely different from the rest.
It was about 2003 when I decided that I was ready to test the walls with my new vision. The first thing I’d realized was the different textures of the walls. Something I never would have bothered to take notice of before was now a contributing factor to my thought process accompanied with what style, colour, theme, even what type of paint would work best on the chosen surface. I’ve now started to realize how complex art really is. Applying that knowledge to graffiti made the imagination run even wilder. Now that’s when the real fun began!
Working, creating and loving in Perth, tell us a little about how the city itself has helped to shape your work? How is Perth these days for artists such as yourself? Do you feel it’s opening up more to less traditional forms of art, and the artists who create it?
Yep, for sure! Graffiti art/ street art is definitely starting to take a front seat in Perth culture. Though it still feels like Perth is trying to find its original characteristics by borrowing other cities cultural back bones. Kinda like a person filling in a colouring book and calling them self an artist. I think if we as the people of Perth City, and as a whole in W.A., want to make a mark, but we need to stop looking over the shoulder of the Eastern States for answers. We need to start thinking on our own. The reason I say this is because its no different as to an individual artist trying to build a style that others can distinctively recognize. At first its all trial and error. Then we find things and references that inspire us to recreate. (This is the part where I think the Perth’s culture is stuck). We then take these recreations into our studios to manipulate, dissect, then reinterpret into our version of what we want the audience to see and this takes years. Basically recreating originality/ inventing new culture.
Right now I see Perth like I see Mr Brainwash … All cut n paste with a short attention span. Don’t get me wrong! I’m not saying Perth isn’t trying. It just seems like everyone here is more about trying to keep up with the cool kids instead of being our selves. Hey, to me art is no different to any relationship. You can go for something fake or something real, but in the end it all falls back on you.
Can you explain some of the regular tools of your trade? What are some of the essential pieces of equipment or medium that you just cant live without? Favourite paints, caps, pens, tunes?
Besides the fact I’d go crazy without hiphop and instrumentals, I never really cling to one thing. Every time I find my stride with certain tools something always goes wrong like run out of a certain cap, finding the one marker you need is lidless and dried up or that one brush you’ve been using religiously for the past month falls apart. It might be that I’m a tad rough with my tools, but in regards to that its kind of a good thing. It teaches me to constantly utilize between tools, keeping me from getting to comfortable. I think if you stay in your comfort zone, you find your self hesitating to be assertive with the motions of progression within the W.I.P (work in progress) when the unexpected happens: eg, Running low on buff colour. If your a real graffiti writer then I’m talking to you. hehehe!
If I have to make a choice though, I guess I choose spray paint. Without graffiti I probably wouldn’t have taken art seriously. But again, due to my health complications I have been trying to stay away from the paint fumes and focus more on ink on paper. Really diggin my crazy A2 designs at the moment.
Within your work, I have noticed you do seem to have an affinity for nature – a lot of your past characters have revolved around portraiture of animals and other fauna, what is it about the natural world that you love to portray?
When i was younger I spent a lot of my time living in mining and country towns. With not much to do id find my self drawing and at that time things like cable tv and internet wasn’t available. So the only references I could find that inspired me was from what was around me.
Birds, buffaloes, fish, snakes, mother nature. Choosing to spray these themes on walls years later in suburbia was my way of saying, “you can’t take the country out the boy”.
Tell us a bit about some of your previous shows and other projects you’ve been involved with – and what other creative endeavours have you found yourself amongst over time? How about your upcoming show with Deej? How did it all come about, and can you explain a little more about your hip hop influences, and what parts of the culture itself that spurred you into doing the show?
The shows that I have been involved with over the years were mainly team ups with 6025 Crew and Artist Anonymous Collective (A.A. Crew). Both of which I have the utmost respect for, and represent to the fullest!
Where hiphop ties into this is years back when I was still running strong with Hellz Kids. Few of the H.K. boys had a side crew called S.B.X. aka Syllabolix. You’ve probably heard of the crew from the well respected likes of DRAPHT, MATTY B, DOWN SYDE, CLANDESTINE and the hiphop legend ROBERT HUNTER, on Triple J or any UNDERGROUND radio station. R.I.P HUNTER! The one thing that a lot of S.B.X. fans don’t realize is the whole time there was a graffiti sprout from that family tree. Just to name a few: DASH, SOUNDZ & ACTION (XD Crew),DEEJ, TRITS, ELMS, HIGH 5, KID ZOOM and the list goes on.
I was lucky enough to become a part of the growth of S.B.X. back in early 2000 and with that , opening doors to meet and greets with other national and international hiphop stars such as FUNKOARS, HILLTOP HOODS, KRS1, IMMORTAL TECHNIQUE, MF DOOM, GHOSTFACE KILLAH and more.
Just recently I had my mate PAUL DEEJ invite me to a joint project called HIP HOP. Conveniently enough, i was messing around with black ink pens and was trying to find a body of work to apply it to. As straight forward as the theme seems there is a bit of a twist to the presentation. For starters, it was mainly aimed at the 90’s, (the Boom Bap era). Paul chose to work with Gangster rap and underground. I chose commercial. The layout in the gallery was to represent the battle between two artist like the ongoing rivalry between commercial and underground, “The Face Off”. I decided to show repetition by using different mediums to recreate some of the original works. I also hung my originals in between graffiti prints to represent similarities within the strategy of pop culture infiltrating the underground scene.
What do you have planned for the rest of the year, and, indeed, the future? What projects lie unrealised, and what would you like to investigate with your work next?
I’v actually been sponsored to go paint over in Italy for a couple of weeks. Super excited about this! I also have a couple of group shows with 6025 Crew lined up for later this year in Melbourne and then again in Perth.
Just quietly, I possibly could be putting together a solo show for sometime next year to. Keep an ear out peeps.
Check out Idol Motions on facebook for more of his work!