Archive | Artist Features RSS feed for this section

Insights – Copyright and Moral Rights Of Australian Street Art & Graffiti

I’ve been meaning to write this article for a long time now, because, lets face it, the problem has just been getting worse and worse. Almost every week, someone tells me of an incident, and it goes something like this …

“I went down to The  Market the other day, and there was someone down there selling cards with some of your/another artists artwork on it!”

There’s a guy on Etsy/eBay who is selling my work and they have never asked me permission!”

There are websites, there are ebay sellers, there are people at markets, and all of them are selling cards and other reproductions of peoples artworks. when confronted, they always have several excuses that they always have on hand:

“It was done illegally, therefore I’m allowed to reproduce it!”

“Its street art, its allowed and its free for all – its not copyright, if it was then why would they be painting it on the street!”

“Its artistic licence and my own photographic art, therefore I can sell it if I want to.”

All of these statements are grossly incorrect.

Before I go on with this article, I am going to state that I am not a legal representative, or lawyer,  and have no qualifications in such matters. Although I have sought advice from several legal sources as to the following, and researched the matter, this is a matter of my interpretation and it is to be taken in no way as official legal advice – it’s up to you to take this knowledge, and arm yourselves with as much information as possible.

Now all that disclaimer aside, I will give you the information that I have both gathered, and consulted with legal sources, and I’m going to tell you artists what you already know is quite obvious – all of these excuses, under Australian law, are, for the most part, complete bullshit.

There are several reasons for this, and two very important rights that artists have that invalidate anyone who attempts to reproduce an artists work without their permission – Copyright and moral Rights – and I’ll address these separately.

This is a hefty article and I’ve been working on it for a while to make it as comprehensive as possible, so bear with it.

deb hosier lane thumb Insights Copyright and Moral Rights Of Australian Street Art & Graffiti in street art genres stencil art genres pasteups genres graffiti genres editorial australia nz artist feature advocacy urban art

Image by Deb – Artwork illegally reproduced on eBay


Australian Copyright Law and the Protection of Street Art & Graffiti

The Arts Law website states this, in reference to the Australian Copyright Act 1968:

“Sculptures, monuments and artwork may be protected by copyright. Unless an exception applies, you need permission from the copyright owner of the work. Exceptions to this general rule are found in the Copyright Act. For example, photographing and publishing a photograph of a sculpture or work of artistic craftsmanship that is permanently situated in a public place, or in premises open to the public, does not infringe copyright (s.65). This does not apply to other public art, such as murals. - [1]

Murals, which by definition include street art, are not included in this exemption, and are most definitely protected under the Australian Copyright Law – they are not exempted like other public artworks.

The Australian Copyright Council gave us this advice:

“It will be an infringement of copyright in an artistic work to reproduce a “substantial part” without the permission of the copyright owner and if an exception does not apply. Courts determine whether a part is a “substantial part” by looking at whether it is an important, distinctive or essential part. The part does not necessarily have to be a large part to be “substantial” for the purposes of copyright law.

There are “fair dealing” exceptions in the Copyright Act for the purposes of research or study or criticism or review that may allow reproduction in certain circumstances. However, it is highly likely that a photograph that reproduces the entirety of a work of graffiti street art would infringe copyright in the artistic work.”

The Arts Law website further clarifies this:

“Although murals and graffiti are generally situated in a public place, because they are two-dimensional artworks the section 65 exemption does not apply. As such, if you substantially reproduce a mural or graffiti work in a photograph you may be infringing the copyright in that mural or graffiti work. Substantial reproduction is not a question of how much has been reproduced like 10% of 70%, but rather a question of quality (i.e. what has been reproduced).”  [2]

This means a photograph looking down a street that happens to have a mural wall running down one side adding perspective is less likely to infringe copyright than a photograph that focuses on a key part of the mural making it the main subject of the photograph, even though the first photograph shows more of the mural.

“Less likely” does not mean that it doesn’t, and as the ACC states above, if the entirety of the mural is reproduced, then it is almost certainly infringing on the artists copyright, regardless of “artistic expression” on behalf of the photographer.

This means that the reproducer cannot use this argument as a reason to be able to sell their reproductions of street art on cards/prints/other items, because there is an almost certain chance that their reproduction actually infringes on the artists copyright and can be dealt with by law – and in these situations, it is usual that the reproducer must cease and desist in selling the item until such time as the issue is resolved.

In Practice

The ACC gives  this advice for putting all of this into practice:

“In practice, it may be difficult to seek permission from graffiti and street artists because of the nature of their medium – anonymity is important. While many artists are comfortable with the public photographing their work for private, non-commercial purposes, they may not be as comfortable with commercial use of their work. However, you may find that because of the nature of graffiti and street art (it is a very public artistic practice), these artists, if you can locate them, may be willing to licence their work for commercial purposes. For further information on licensing copyright material, see our information sheet ‘Assigning and Licensing Rights’ and ‘Fees and Royalties for use of Copyright Material’.

You can download a copy of each of these from the following address:

http://www.copyright.org.au/find-an-answer/browse-by-a-z/

The end result of this – you cannot (and really should not) reproduce an artists work from the streets, without their consent. You cannot take a photo of their work, and sell it for your own profit. If you have an image that contains an artists work, you may be infringing copyright, and you cannot sell this until you have ascertained that the image in the photo you are reproducing is not actually breaking the artists copyright.

All artists retain complete copyright control over any work they produce on the streets, legally, OR illegally and no one has any right to reproduce it any any way for their own profit – end of story.

It Was Painted Illegally, Therefore The Artist Has No Copyright Or Moral Rights On The Art And I Can Do What I Want With It.

“People think that because our work is public and it is sometimes illegally painted, they could [sic] use it any way they want.” - Cantwo. [3]

Copyright of an image is not negated if it was produced illegally. Of course,  if it was produced illegally, then the artist themselves may face other legal issues such as vandalism charges, tresspass, etc, however the piece itself is still protected under copyright law as a mural and is still the property of the artist.

The ACC offered this advice:

“It is assumed that references to “illegality” in the creation of a work of graffiti or street art refers to laws relating to vandalism or private property, rather than copyright. That is, the work is not copied from another image, but the physical location of the work may make it “illegal” under other laws.

As long as the criteria for protection are met, works of graffiti and street art will be protected as “artistic works” for the purposes of the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). A general rule of copyright law is it protects original forms of expression in material form. “Material form” has a broad meaning and while artistic works are generally thought of existing on paper or canvas, they can also exist as murals, stencils or other sophisticated works of graffiti and street art. However, very simple tags, stencils of words or phrases are highly likely not to be sufficient for copyright protection.

Under the Copyright Act, the person who first reduces the work to material form is the first copyright owner. In this scenario, the graffiti or street artist who creates a work that is protected by copyright will be the first owner of copyright in that work.Copyright is personal property and may be transferred by assignment – that is, the artist may transfer ownership of their copyright to someone else, but unless this occurs, reproduction is not permitted.”

Naomi Messenger, a lawyer from KPMG Legal writes in her 2002 article “Can ‘Can Art” Navigate Legal Pitfalls [4]

“Spray-can artists usually come prepared. They have preliminary sketches of their proposed paintings. They will generally have copyright in both their sketches as original artistic works, and the graffiti art copyright gives them the exclusive right to reproduce their artworks and to adapt them from two-dimensional to three-dimensional artworks.”

She then goes on to say how a pseudonym would affect this:

“The term of copyright protection may differ if the artist is working under a pseudonym, that is their individual identification ‘tag’.

Anonymous and pseudonym works are only protected for 50 years from first publication; although if the identity of the author is known or can be ascertained, the duration will be the life of the artist plus 50 years.” – therefore the only thing that would affect the actual copyright of the artists work would be the 50 year limit, however the artist still retains copyright over it for that duration.

There is another part to this – in a large number of cases, where someone has taken a photo of a piece of graffiti or street art and used it for their own gain, the piece was actually a legally painted commissioned piece.

Sharon Givoni, a Melbourne based intellectual property law clarifies this further (in a great, must read article for all artists that was published in Illustrators Australia):

“It is important to note that if you paint on someone else’s  wall you will not own the physical painting on that wall as this remains with the property owner.However, the owner of the building will not necessarily own the copyright of the painting on the wall as that often remains with the artist.” [5]

This means that the artist holds copyright over it – unless, of course, they were actually employed. If the artist was employed to produce the artwork, their copyright over the images may be owned by the employer – this copyright has to be given away in writing, however, specifically via a contract.

The people reproducing this artwork have not been granted copyright, therefore they have no right to print or reproduce it for their own profit. Pieces also, painted in legally sanctioned areas, such as Hosier Lane in Melbourne etc, are also protected under copyright, which is retained by the artist.

Yet regardless of either of these variations, whether the artist produced the piece legally, or illegally, any mural created by an artist is protected by copyright – even if it was produced in an illegally on a wall.

Moral Rights

Copyright law aside, this isn’t the only recourse that street and graffiti artists have in protecting their work. There is also the little thought abut “Moral Rights” that an artist retains on their artwork. This law is just as important as copyright law, because the people who actually sell these cards break pretty much all the time.

Moral rights over your artwork, as classified as a mural, means that no one can actually take your artwork and display it in any way, or reproduce it in any way, without actually attributing you as the artist.

Moral rights do apply in a separate way to copyright, as you can never actually sell your moral rights, they stay with the artist. Although moral rights can be waived, you as the artist and creator of the mural always retain the moral right to be named as the creator.

In terms of the law itself, breaching the artists moral rights is in this instance defined by the Copyright act, and your moral rights consist of the following:

“If an artistic work has been subjected to derogatory treatment of a kind mentioned in paragraph (a) of the definition of derogatory treatment in section 195AK that infringes the author’s right of integrity of authorship in respect of the work, a person infringes the author’s right of integrity of authorship in respect of the work if the person does any of the following in respect of the work as so derogatorily treated:

(a)  reproduces it in a material form;
(b)  publishes it;
(c)  communicates it to the public.” [6]

The Australian Copyright Council has a fair bit to say on this matter, as outlined in their response to my queries below:

“Artists have moral rights in their work. We will deal with these three rights in turn. There is a general defence of consent for all three rights. There is a defence of reasonableness for the rights of attribution and integrity.

These rights are:

  • the right of attribution
  • the right against false attribution
  • the right of integrity.

Attribution

Creators of copyright material have the right to be attributed when the work used for various purposes. If a creator has not stated the way in which he or she wishes to be identified, any “clear and reasonably prominent” form of identification may be used.

This means that someone receiving, seeing or hearing the work or adaptation would be aware of the creator’s name.

There may be a practical problems in attributing graffiti or street artists that chose to remain anonymous, or make their work available under pseudonyms.

False attribution

Creators of artistic works have the right not to have the authorship of their works falsely attributed.

False attribution means:

  • crediting the wrong person as the creator of the work; or
  • crediting the creator of a work that has been altered without acknowledging the alterations.
  • It is also an infringement of this right to knowingly deal with or communicate a falsely attributed work.

Integrity

The right of integrity is the creator’s right not to have his or her work subjected to “derogatory treatment”. “Derogatory treatment” means doing anything in relation to the work which prejudices the creator’s honour or reputation.

This could include:

  • distorting, mutilating or materially altering the work in a way that prejudices the creator’s honour or reputation; and
  • in the case of artistic works, destroying the work or exhibiting it in public in a way that prejudices the creator’s honour or reputation.

Defences – Consent and Reasonableness

A creator may consent to their moral rights being infringed. However, it may be difficult to obtain consent from street and graffiti artists for the reasons discussed above  under the heading “In practice”.

Reasonableness

A failure to attribute the creator, or a derogatory treatment of copyright work, does not infringe the creator’s rights if the action was “reasonable” in the circumstances. The Act sets out a number of factors to be taken into account in working out whether the action was reasonable.

These include:

  • the nature of the work;
  • the purpose, manner and context for which it is used;
  • relevant industry practice;
  • whether the work was created in the course of employment or under a contract of service; and
  • if there are two or more authors, their views about the failure to attribute or derogatory treatment.

It is highly likely to be reasonable not to attribute anonymous graffiti and street artists. Where the street or graffiti artist is known or works under a pseudonym, it is less likely to be reasonable as there is a growing industry practice in art world to attribute graffiti and street artists. Moreover, the work of graffiti and street artists is gaining credibility and a viable economic market in the art world.

To avoid any risk in infringing the moral rights of a graffiti or street artist, attribute them with their pseudonym, but ensure you do not falsely attribute an artist.”

Interpreting the advice by the ACC above, it also means that your artwork can never be used in a way that will affect your integrity. If use of your artwork this inflicts on your moral rights, say an artwork is done and put in an exhibition then the public might take it incorrectly. Also, if an artwork is reproduced for someone elses gain, morally you have the right to deny its use if you do not agree with said use – this means that if someone is reproducing your work, even if in part on a card or somewhat, even if its “not even in context” you retain the moral right to refuse its use! In some ways,t his can even rump copyright – if your work is on one of these cards, and you morally object to its use, it is not allowed to be used!

Not only are these people infringing copyright, but they are reproducing it, and not attributing the artists. This infringes upon the moral rights, not only that, but to me, if someone is reproducing my work for personal gain, then that to be is treating my work in a derogatory manner – ie “I don’t want to support the mass production of street art for someones personal gain, and I am offended by it and find the use of my work in this contest derogatory.

So in this case, I believe that even if the photo of your work is taken, and it is “incidental” to the actual photograph or image itself, Moral Rights still apply. The artwork has been reproduced, and therefore the artist has to be named, and has to be informed as to its use. If the artists is not named in the reproduction, even if the piece of artwork is very small and incidental to the overall composition of the piece, the artists moral Rights have been breached if the person responsible for the image has not named the artist or obtained a waiver from the artist to utilise it in a public display. A public display could also mean, displaying it at a market, for sale.

Someone selling your work can also be met with objection by way of misleading or deceptive conduct. If you as an artist are well known enough, then it may be misleading as he people selling your work may be seen by others to be “representing” you, when in fact no such relationship actually exists between yourself and the seller.

Copyright, Moral Rights and Your Right To Consent And Notification At Having Your Work Destroyed, Mutilated Or Altered

Oh, just as a little bonus, and I’m just going to throw something in here that the artists don’t actually realise that also applies with moral rights – you ready for this?. If you produce a mural, and the work is slated to be destroyed or changed of buffed over, did you know that this also violates your moral rights? Did you know that the artist MUST be informed that the artwork is going to be destroyed, mutilated or altered, or if it is going to be used for any reason that may be and prejudicial and reputation. If the artwork cant be moved, then the person doing the renovation or changes of building MUST seek out the artist and inform them, and consult with them, before doing anything to the artwork.

“Under Australian law it is not an infringement of moral rights to change, relocate or demolish a building of which an artistic work forms part, provided that the property owner:

  • gives the artist notice; and
  • allows the artist to access the building to make a record of the work and consult with the owner about the change, relocation or destruction.”  [7]

Interesting huh? This is also actually the law that 5pointz was actually trying to utilise, and which is why there are now legal queries as to whether the building owner was able to legally buff his property.

But, anyways, I digress from the main point of this article, and that is the protection of your work from the people who seem to think that it is legal to reproduce them.

In Conclusion

Lastly, I’m going to state, once again, that I am not a lawyer and I am not qualified to offer legal advice. This article is for the purposes of steering you in the right direction, and to also point out to people who are illegally selling reproductions of artists work that they are indeed, more than certainly, breaking the law by selling their cards/prints whatever.

To get real advice, there are many resource that you can use – the best is the Australian Copyright Council, and, to a lesser extend, ArtsLaw Australia (who I did receive a limited amount of advice from before they wanted me to subscribe to their service).

They do have a  good website and they do have several templates for sending to people who are breaching your rights, Copy or Moral – they are:

You can find these here:

Copyright Breach - http://www.artslaw.com.au/info-sheets/info-sheet/copyright-infringement-and-letter-of-demand/

Moral Rights breach - http://www.artslaw.com.au/info-sheets/info-sheet/moral-rights-infringement-and-letter-of-demand/

Also, read the copyright laws - http://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/C2010C00476/Html/Text#param686

The Australian Copyright Council are also damn fine at providing information, contact them and they will give you some great feedback (thanks ACC!)

In summary, if you come across one of these people who are reproducing artwork, send them a cease and desist notice. Send them here, to this article, and get them to read it to understand exactly how they are breaking the law. Sometimes, they genuinely don’t realise that they are breaking the law by doing so – because they do seem to think hat taking photos of street art and selling their own photos of it is actually legally.

Contact the Copyright Council, ArtsLaw or someone else suitably qualified, but you don’t have to do that in order to send them a letter asking them to stop – it is legal and within your rights to do so, and you probably have a great legal case against them. Oh, and send them to this page – people really need to be educated about these matters, and these myths need to be dispelled.

At the end of the day, if they keep selling your work – take them to court, the chances of you winning the case are very high. Don’t think to yourself “I can’t afford to take them to court” – there are plenty of lawyers out there that will help you out, and as your chances of winning are high, well, then you probably wont pay any fees at all in the end.

If you are one of those people who reproduce other peoples street reading this now. If someone has pointed you here to read this article and you are one of the people selling these cards or prints or whatever at markets, or on eBay – what you are doing is NOT legal.

You are almost certainly breaking copyright laws, murals are assuredly protected, but, most importantly, you are also breaching the artists moral rights and it is quite likely that you are breaking the law.

This article is an interpretation of research on Australian Copyright and Moral Rights issues. carried out in April 2014. As this article is intended as a informative article only, and is only an interpretation of the laws governing street art and copyright/morals rights,  Invurt cannot be held liable for any errors , inaccuracies or omissions to the article above. If you do notice any inaccuracies or errors, and are a legal professional and have issue with any information in this article, please contact us.

Note: As was pointed out to me in the comments, there are laws governing Fair Use that are also a deciding factor in terms of copyright of graffiti and street art. I’ll be researching these and looking into them – I’ll do some minor updates to this article to reflect them, but may save the bulk of it for another article as its a pretty fundamental issue – for example, would we even have so many street art books, magazines and documentaries if it was strictly enforced in those mediums? Personally, I see a big difference between a self published book on street art showcasing others works in support of the artists, where the author almost never makes his money back on it and its a labour of love, to one produced by a massive publishing house, or someone selling prints and crap on eBay for their own personal gain … but that debate is out of scope at the moment, and we’ll address it further at a later point.

References

[1] Street Photographers Info Sheet - http://www.artslaw.com.au/info-sheets/info-sheet/street-photographers-rights/#sthash.wPrb4xau.dpuf
[2] Snapping In The Streets - http://www.artslaw.com.au/articles/entry/snapping-in-the-street/#sthash.QmTdMNMF.dpuf
[3] Maine Law Review - Art Crimes - http://www.mainelawreview.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/8-Davies.pdf
[4] Can Art Navigate Legal Pitfalls - http://www.artslaw.com.au/articles/entry/can-can-art-navigate-legal-pitfalls/
[5] Sharon Givoni – Street Art: Another Brick In The Copyright Wall (Illustrators Australia) - http://www.sharongivoni.com.au/articles/2013-StreetArtCopyrightWall.pdf
[6] Copyright Act 1968 - http://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/C2010C00476/Html/Text#param686
[7] Graffiti Artists Argue Building Destruction Is Contrary To moral Rights - http://www.artslaw.com.au/articles/entry/graffiti-artists-argue-building-destruction-is-contrary-to-moral-rights/

5 Comments Continue Reading →

Through The Lens With David Russell – March 2014

So much happens on the street in one month, my lens only captures a fraction of Melbourne’s ever changing walls.

To start the month we had Adnate with his amazing seven storey mural, towering over Hosier lane, I also managed to get a car-less shot of Conrad’s piece in  Artists Lane.

One of my favourite pieces was Mayo’s piece for the Park Street block party, I also got down to Trunk where Lucy Lucy was live painting, I managed to get a shot of Dvate’s piece at the Jam Factory.

And to round it off  a couple of mad pieces by Shida & Rsume, till next month guys.

 

 

IMG 3788 2 500x259 Through The Lens With David Russell March 2014 in street art genres photography genres art event photos paintups urban art painting genres melbourne inurban graffiti genres artist feature art urban art

Hosier Lane

Leave a comment Continue Reading →

Interview – Silk Roy

The work of Silk Roy (aka Kid Silk) caught my eye a couple of years ago – and from that point onwards I was hooked on his work. As an artist whose first exposure to graffiti was, like many others, riding the train network of Melbourne back in the 90s, his passion ran a familiar course from bombing to piecing, and over the past decade or more he has consistently expanded his skills and outlook to further his craft.

There’s a lot of beautiful abstraction in the linework and colouring of Silks works – from his extruded lettering to some of his Miro-esque works on paper and canvas, he is an artist that doesn’t shy away from experimenting and pushing his style – which he acknowledges with his love for the Graffuturism movement. Vibrant colours interspersed with the familiar graffitied calligraphic signings, not only portrays his current skills as an artist, but also gives way-markers as to where his style may evolve to in the future. This is an aspect that isn’t always seen in an artist who already has a definable style. Often, these artists hone themselves further and become increasingly technical in their approach, whereas with Silk, you get the feeling that what he has already produced is just a brief stopover from where he is going – and that is a pretty fkn exciting element to see in an artists work.

This is one of the reasons why we love his work – and one of the reasons why we really wanted to interview him ahead of his duo show with Putos. Silk Roy is one of the definitive examples of a modern Melbourne artist – open to influence, mindful of the past, and always reaching towards the future.

Check out all the low down on him and his work below, and enjoy …

1941312 622694267801963 307316765 o thumb Interview Silk Roy in street art genres painting genres melbourne illustration genres graphic design genres graffiti genres artist interviews artist feature

So where did you start creating artwork? Has it always been something that you’ve been interested in, or did it come to you at a definable moment in life?

Art became a driving force in my life after my introduction to Melbourne’s Graff scene. I moved here in 98′ and was instantly taken by the power and energy of it all.

It wasn’t too long before I was running around with a marker, but over the years that enthusiasm shifted to painting big walls, and now Graff really serves as my artistic foundation and influences everything else I do as an artist and person.

1451487 550048608404122 1832886172 n thumb Interview Silk Roy in street art genres painting genres melbourne illustration genres graphic design genres graffiti genres artist interviews artist feature

So, where did you get the moniker “Silk Roy from? Tell us a bit of the story behind the name :)

I used to write ‘Sure’, one day a friend was over and she asked if she could have a look at my book, she couldn’t read any of it so I asked her to look a little closer and try to decipher it, she was flicking through until she thought she had it and finally said … uhh Silky Fox?

After that, people started calling me Silk and later I added the ‘Roy’ which is part of my last name.

SR SEMIWILD3 thumb Interview Silk Roy in street art genres painting genres melbourne illustration genres graphic design genres graffiti genres artist interviews artist feature

In terms of aerosol work and stuff you do out on the streets – what is it about painting walls that you love, and what parts of the graffiti and street art culture do you particularly identify with?

I can honestly say I love all of it. I love the entire process, starting from scratch and building yourself up, learning new techniques, constantly pushing your style, catching walls with other artists, being constantly inspired, it’s nice to have something you wake up thinking about!

IMG 5952 Medium thumb Interview Silk Roy in street art genres painting genres melbourne illustration genres graphic design genres graffiti genres artist interviews artist feature

How about style? What got you inspired at first, and what continues to inspire you, in terms of other artists, today?

At first just seeing graffiti from the train on the way to school inspired me, but now I draw inspiration from all over the place, my surroundings, people, travel, music, the list goes on.

I’m constantly inspired by anyone who pushes their style in their chosen art form, I know that’s a really boring answer, but guys like Barry McGee and Smash137 really do it for me at the moment.

You do a bit of graphic design work, how does the commercial side of design intersect with your artistic creativity?

Graphic design was the logical step as a career choice, of course its a bit different when your dealing with clients with particular requirements, but the way I design is heavily influenced by my artistic background. I’m also getting into digital illustration which is a particularly enjoyable avenue of design.

IMG 5991 Medium thumb Interview Silk Roy in street art genres painting genres melbourne illustration genres graphic design genres graffiti genres artist interviews artist feature

Melbourne is one of those cities that just oozes creativity and inspiration – in what ways does it influence you? What other locations have had an impact on your work?

Simply put, I wouldn’t be where I am or doing what I’m doing if I hadn’t moved to Melbourne.

There is a definite creative vibe here, obviously the graff scene here is a constant inspiration, there’s talent and competition everywhere which definitely keeps me working hard. I’ve also been lucky enough to paint in places like NYC and LA which were incredibly powerful experiences.

sr set thumb Interview Silk Roy in street art genres painting genres melbourne illustration genres graphic design genres graffiti genres artist interviews artist feature

You’ve had a couple of group shows in the past, but how about solo endeavours? You have a show coming up with Putos, how does the work for this relate to the shows you’ve been a part of before? Tell us a bit more about it all.

As far as a solo show goes, that’s something I’ll be keen to do, but I’m not in a rush. Ill be taking my time on that front. Group shows with Studio 615 are a lot of fun, everyone in the group is accomplished in different media so coming together and being exposed to different thought processes are really beneficial to all of us. I use my involvement in the studio setting to develop work with a more experimental, abstracted vibe, more inline with Graff Futurism.

My Seasons Of Change show with Putos coming up lets me indulge in the graffiti side of things, and its a real honour to be involved with a series of shows that has showcased work by Melbournes best.

silk seasons thumb Interview Silk Roy in street art genres painting genres melbourne illustration genres graphic design genres graffiti genres artist interviews artist feature

Tell us a bit about both the negative experiences you’ve had, as well as the positive experiences in pursuing your creative passion? what drives you every day to continue doing what you love – it isn’t easy out there these days to push yourself forward, in what ways do strive to better, and hone, your skills?

It can be frustrating, there’s definitely days where I question myself and my style, but its necessary if you want to move forward. Passion is what keeps me moving, especially after those bad days its what gets me to pick myself up and go hard. As long as it feels right, Ill continue to do it, theres nothing like producing work that your happy with.

Tell us a bit about your work with the 615 crew? where is everything with that at the moment, are you guys still doing collab work together?

615 is myself, Sam Octigan, Michael Danischewski, Marcus Dixon and Doug Aldridge, we are a collective of creatives involved in different areas of art and I think that’s what gives us our edge, we can come together and really create something different, something I think our Time Flies show last September really reflected. At this point we focus on collaborative projects, we are in the beginning stages of putting together another group show set for the latter part of this year.

bsg set hi thumb Interview Silk Roy in street art genres painting genres melbourne illustration genres graphic design genres graffiti genres artist interviews artist feature

So, after this next show, what do you have planned for the rest of the year? What other projects are you aspiring to get done during 2014?

After this show, as always I’ll remain open to anything really – if its a creative outlet inline with what I want to do, I’m in!

Shout outs to everyone who continues to support and follow their passions!

Peace!

putosilk seasons thumb Interview Silk Roy in street art genres painting genres melbourne illustration genres graphic design genres graffiti genres artist interviews artist feature

Check out more from Silk Roy here!

Leave a comment Continue Reading →

Interview – Phoenix The Street Artist

Everywhere, thats where you’ll see his work. Phoenix, the street artist, is one of Melbournes most recognisable fixtures – no matter what laneway you have walked down, no matter what corner you peer into, there you’ll see one of his instantly recognisable works – cutouts and paste, collage and glue, entities hidden in the corners and staring out at you with text and schematical leanings.

I’ve known Phoenix for many years. He is at all the shows. He comes along and checks out all the paintups. He’s a fan, and in turn his work has also garnered him fans – in cyclic nature, akin to some of the various philosophies of his work, Phoenix embraces the diversity of the streets, cadging statements and espousing his creativity with abandon (though, thoughtful abandon).

When you look at one of his works, you see the surface – you see an image that  catches your eye. It might be witty. It might be playful. Hell, it might not even make any sense to you whatsoever – but herein lies the beauty of these pieces, the more you look at them, the more you ponder, the more the layers unravel in your mind and its themes work their way into your subconscious.

This isn’t limited to singular pieces, either. The more you see, the more the puzzle begins to lay itself out before you – there are themes. There are repetitive motifs – what the hell does the earth mean in that context? Whats with the Dali images? What the hell is the spiral? It’s like a labyrinth of words and images, some of it decipherable, some of it seemingly an inner joke that perhaps only Phoenix really knows.

I admit. Sometimes I get his work – and sometimes, I just don’t. Sometimes I feel like his statements are obvious, at others, I feel like I need a decoder ring – but this is why, unfalteringly, I enjoy his work. It’s not always simple. Its not always just pretty. It isn’t always within my own ability to always “get”.

This interview has been a long time coming – I’ve been meaning to dig into the mind of Phoenix  for quite some time – but for some reason, it seemed, not a daunting prospect, but something that I had to actually think about, the timing had to be right to do it. I wanted to know all these things – I wanted to get handed at least, if not some of the answers, the fkn decoder ring – so I could keep trying to work it out for myself!

Well, I can say, he happily obliged, and provided us with a really great, highly comprehensive response that I absolutely loved. But, you know what they say, be careful what you wish for, because, I have to say, I probably now have even more questions than when I started  …

1. The Fire That Made Phoenix.

The “Phoenix” name was in response to the March 2004 fire which destroyed my home studio, most of my collected works from the previous 20 years, and a large part of my collage library and processing system.I had been making my collage and copy art since the middle 80s – although most of the works I made were ones made for special occasions for family and friends – and it was only during the early 2000s that I began to gather art for a future exhibition.

1 500x375 Interview Phoenix The Street Artist in street art genres pasteups genres paper art melbourne collage genres artist interviews artist feature

The fire started in a power board right at the back of my home studio – in front of the red-brick wall. The intensity of the fire caused the roof to collapse. After the structure was rebuilt at the end of 2004, I named it Phoenix Rising Studio - a name that in 2009 inspired my street art name.

The loss of these works in the fire, an inferno sparked by a faulty power board which took four fire engines almost an hour to put out, was significant to me because of the works lost – but even more so because of the destruction of my collage system. My collage system was, and is, designed to facilitate multiple and radical juxtapositions – mining the coincidence of combination along the lines of the traditional Dadaists’ cut-up collages or Bowie song lyrics. William S. Burroughs, an avid practitioner of such methods of making art, suggested: “When you cut into the present the future leaks out.”

My now restored (and far more evolved) collage system allows things to fall together and create visual, textual and visual/textual poetry.

On that hot March morning in 2004, as a result of the five metre high flames and the water from four fire engines, a significant part of the past drained away – but in the alchemic turnaround so aptly represented by the metaphor of the Phoenix, a whole new future eventually leaked out – in my case, literally rising from the ashes.

In subsequent days, I combed these ashes and other debris in my devastated studio, salvaging what I could and laying it out to dry in the sun.

2 500x500 Interview Phoenix The Street Artist in street art genres pasteups genres paper art melbourne collage genres artist interviews artist feature

This piece is a charred transparency copy of what was both a collage element storage sheet and collage work: Cloudy Beginnings (1997). Stored in plastic pocket folders, many of these sequential and indexed A4 card-mounted element sheets (of which about 100 went through the fire) burned and melted largely around the edges – fusing to the plastic and paper layers incorporated in them as can be seen here.

 3 500x381 Interview Phoenix The Street Artist in street art genres pasteups genres paper art melbourne collage genres artist interviews artist feature

The Momentum of Circumstance (1992). This piece – a collage of a junk-mail envelope, a diagram from a children’s science book, and card-mounted versions of the original Column (copies of which inhabit many of my subsequent works), and a hard book cover. It sought to depict the wave of circumstance rippling out from its source – with its inevitable reverberations.

I created some folders and boxes to store these salvaged items (wrapped in plastic to lessen the retraumatising fire stink) in my rebuilt and rechristened Phoenix Rising studio – but apart from continuing to collect found collage materials and to create physical storage spaces within the space, for the next 5 years I directed my creative urges into writing, storytelling, music, and dialectical philosophy.

In March 2009, the collage urge resurfaced and I began to make new works. In the November of that year, I went on a street art tour through Fitzroy by Melbourne Street Art Tours – on which the possibility of being able to collage onto public walls first dawned. When I shared this with Doyle, one of the leaders of the tour, suggested: “Why don’t you give it a go?”

And the name Phoenix seemed the perfect choice for such adventures.

4 500x320 Interview Phoenix The Street Artist in street art genres pasteups genres paper art melbourne collage genres artist interviews artist feature

My first ever street art piece: Her Godot Was Worth Waiting For - in Hosier Lane, December 2009. Ironically, this is one of the few pieces of the several thousand I have installed in various places around Australia and Spain that I have some regret about. It was a plastic tray of collage elements melted into position by the fire; the only addition was the photocopied face of Samuel Beckett. It was prised off the piece of wood across the bars of a window and souvenir’ed; it would have been much better archived as a piece in my Fire Salvage collection.

With my first installations, it was like an enormous door had been unlocked and a whole new world of creative practice suddenly opened up to me. I have pursued lots of different creative practices in my life – but I know that door will never again close while I remain capable and breathing.

Inevitably the new demands of making and installing street art then began to shape my practices of making and thinking about art. Traditional collage is quite constrained by the availability of the found source materials used to make it: if originals are used, they cannot be reused. In the street art context, if a piece is given to the street, and subsequently capped or taken, it and the originals used to make it are gone forever.
My losses in the fire heightened the significance of this – driving me to find ways to create reproducible art which could be put out on the street while the masters used to make it were kept safe back in the studio.

A sort of breakthrough in this came in mid 2010 while playing with multiple transparencies – and the beginning of my DalíesqueSeries. The Dalíesque Series contains works generated out of possible permutations and combinations of a transparency images of a single Tshirt-framed photo of Salvador Dalí.

This began with the overlapping of multiple copies of the Tshirt framed face – creating images like the one seen below – but also led to the pivotal breakthrough of using the photocopier to colourise my works. I began to create monochrome masters which could be photocopied onto different colours of paper; by cutting out and pasting different elements in the various colours, making highly coloured objects in many different forms.

5 500x415 Interview Phoenix The Street Artist in street art genres pasteups genres paper art melbourne collage genres artist interviews artist feature

Double Dalí Tees (Centre Place) July 2010. Solid plywood plaque with PVA-coated coloured paper and fluttering transparency acetate moustaches. The yellow edge of the Tee follows the ripped outline of a Ghostpatrol pasteup.

With the initial work in this series, The Elephants of Dalí (Rutledge Lane, June, 2010), two further very important things crystallised for me.

Firstly was the idea of layer collage - a way of making art by layering coloured papers photocopied from monochrome masters as described above. I continue to explore this method of making art to this day.

Secondly, and more importantly, with this came the idea of structuring my overall body of work into Series, defined by specific rules. The Dalíesque Series has since been joined by The Voice of the Blue EarthSilent  , Tools of Phoenix, TEXTing, NeoSoviet, In the Land of the Blind, EPHEMERAL, MonoChromatic, not aNOTher street art CliChé, YGen, The Resurfacing Project, Iconoclasm and COPYing Series.

Following through on and learning to bending these rules brings to life an endless creative playground. I have made many works which are simultaneously part of several Series –  in fulfilling two or more sets of rules.

6 500x666 Interview Phoenix The Street Artist in street art genres pasteups genres paper art melbourne collage genres artist interviews artist feature

KEEP ME IN YOUR ♥ (A4 Sticker, Granada, Spain, September 2012). This piece fulfils the rules of both my Silent ♥ and Voice of the Blue Earth Series. The Silent ♥ series consists of text-based works presenting messages about the Heart in which it, and/or other significant iconic elements and parts of the message, are only represented in image form; in the Voice of the Blue Earth (La Tierra Azul Dice) Series the Earth takes various metaphoric forms in order to deliver a message to Humankind – here, with Spanish subtitles.

2. Most Ambitious Works.

You have asked what are my most ambitious works – of which two come to mind (apart from those still fermenting away in my imagination and or Works In Progress Box):

Firstly, my HARD NUT TO CRACK - a solid 3D relief plaque board piece for the refurbishment of Union Lane in July 2010.

7 500x496 Interview Phoenix The Street Artist in street art genres pasteups genres paper art melbourne collage genres artist interviews artist feature


HARD NUT TO CRACK -  Solid 3D plaque relief on board; 1.4 x 1.4 m, Union Lane, July 2010. This featured a cracking and Bandaided solid Stars and Stripes Nutcracker trying once more to crack the Afghanistan nut. In the bin are broken Soviet and British Nutcrackers.

 
I really enjoyed the technical challenges of making this piece and installing it securely in its alcove.

Secondly, and in a decidedly double-sided way, my The Little Diver Resurfaced in Cocker Alley in April 2010 was a distinctly ambitious work. I would see it as conceptually and technically ambitious – a restoration of and commentary on a controversial street art piece; I know others have seen it as ambitious in another way: as a form of ‘biting’ -seeking to ride the coat-tails of Banksy’s almost singular and clichéd popular appeal and bankability.

I’ll have to leave that to the reader – and to the punters and artists of the community – to judge.

I personally found the story and visage of the Little Diver a moving and fascinating one. Stencilled opposite one of Melbourne’s main police stations by the elusive artist in 2003, it was beloved by tourists and city burghers; given a price, a Perspex shield and an official street art status plaque by the buildings owners and city council in 2008; and capped soon after with a slow curtain of silver paint by cappers (or artists) unknown.

Noticing that between the long silver strands significant parts of the Little Diver girl were still visible, I came up with the idea of using my camera, photocopier and light-table to create two life-size images of the Diver: one the original stencil, the other the capped one. By tracing and cutting out the outline of the capping, I was able to create a pasteup which almost perfectly matched the parts of the Little Diver girl submerged beneath the silver paint.

And, one morning in early 2010 in one quiet solitary unforgettable moment, I pasted this in place on the wall in Cocker Alley – and a vision of the Little Diver returned to the surface.

8 500x869 Interview Phoenix The Street Artist in street art genres pasteups genres paper art melbourne collage genres artist interviews artist feature

The Little Diver Resurfaced - Phoenix (after Banksy), Cocker Alley, April, 2010. Immediately after pasteing.

Of course, not everybody was pleased about her return to the surface in this form – and she soon began to be again vandalised in various ways. For a while, I continued to repair her – and, once, after a particularly enthusiastic ripping and black capping, even repasted another whole pasteup using the master I have kept in my studio – before deciding to let her sink beneath the surface of subsequent rips, tags, caps – and the inevitable graffiti cleaners’ steam.

3. The Tools of Phoenix

10 500x500 Interview Phoenix The Street Artist in street art genres pasteups genres paper art melbourne collage genres artist interviews artist feature

XactoMundo (Art Lane off Leicester St, Fitzroy, December 2012) Part of my I ♥ COLLAGE and Tools of Phoenix Series - and incorporating a reproduced collage element sheet salvaged from my fire and bonded with my Xacto Hand drawing via my layer collage technique. Pink, white and silver papers.

Although I spent a lot of my childhood drawing, the collage bug bit me in my mid twenties (aka the mid 80s) – and has not yet let me go.

From the get go, I have always tended towards very immediate ways of attaching things together: blutack, gluestick, staples and tape. Issues of longevity on the street have led me to using rollered PVA as a resilient adhesive and plasticising coating for my works (in combination with ricepaste I cook up myself) and translucent silicone to attach solid plaques to the wall. In more recent years, with my use of the photocopier, reversibility and repositionability are often important to me – so repositionable gluesticks and removable tape are invaluable aides.

In terms of cutting implements, I have several sizes of scissors, a range of sizes of box-cutters, and a ready supply of Xacto knives and blades for fine cutting – aided by my 4X magnifying glasses lenses. I also use a scroll-saw to cut out heavier cardboard or plywood plaque pieces.

I have come full circle in terms of drawing. In my first twenty-five years of proper art practice (ages 25-50) I did little drawing for art purposes. My collage works through this time were based on found materials, photographs and illustrations; however the need for specific images in my Voice of the Blue Earth series and in graphically expressing my affection for my art tools in myTools of Phoenix Series have rekindled my love of drawing – and, although there are some illustrations by others which have become an essential part of my iconic lexicon, I intend to use my own drawings as much as possible from now on.

I am currently reorganising my studio to streamline my various key areas:

  • storage areas: a vast collection of fileboxes and files, pocket folders, queueing boxes, pigeonhole trays, collections of paused works, colour and monochrome works masters;
  • collating areas:  surfaces on which things can be combined together in all sorts of ways;
  • cutting areas: a light-table cutting mat as well as various sizes of opaque cutting mats;
  • my copying area: surrounding Roxie, (aka Xeroanne), my FujiXerox colour and monochrome copier printer;
  • and my pasteing areas : where it all comes together.

I am proudly non-digital apart from those functions available through my photocopier or digital camera; there is only one small element on a Phoenix piece made in early 2010 using Photoshop (lets not mention this again). I believe my adherence to this principle is at the heart of how my work looks.

I am always experimenting with different tools and processes in the studio – with a general aim to distill the best possible (easiest, simplest, most effective, and most elegant) way(s) of doing something. Some of my favourite things which have been distilled out of the years in this way are things like:

  • photocopy transparencies: wonderful things that allow complex layering and bonding together of images ; • removable tape tabs: these reusable attachers, which I make up from a combination of removable and permanent tapes, are invaluable in positioning things for photocopying – and can be left in situ, repeatedly readjusted or easily decommissioned;
  • • PVA: King of Adhesives – and like a shrink-wrap coating; and 
  • • silicone: so strong, so easy (on a flat, clean surface);
  • • trolleys: you GOTTA love ‘em.

11 500x500 Interview Phoenix The Street Artist in street art genres pasteups genres paper art melbourne collage genres artist interviews artist feature

My beloved removable tape tabs reliably hold things in place – yet are instantly repositionable and reusable. They are made by folding over a small permanent tape ‘handle’ at the end of a piece of removable tape.. Developing a master for my XactoHand Spiral, October 2013.

I am an unashamed equipment fetishist and love making up a mobile studio for taking with me wherever I go, on a trolley with a fold up table or milk crate equivalent for setting up on site, on the back of my bike, or for taking on the road. When I travelled to Spain in September 2012, I could take my mobile-studio-in-a-bag and works/materials storage folder to the dining table of my accommodation, to a café, down into a hotel lobby, or to a stationery/digital printing outlet; or onto a train. I LOVE art on the move.

12 500x375 Interview Phoenix The Street Artist in street art genres pasteups genres paper art melbourne collage genres artist interviews artist feature

Mobile Studio: Lobby of Hotel Granvia, Barcelona. The contents of my works/materials have partly spilled out – revealing works and pasteups already prepared at home, files of works to be constructed, various types of paper and card, transparency masters taken along for making new works, and new works themselves.

13 500x375 Interview Phoenix The Street Artist in street art genres pasteups genres paper art melbourne collage genres artist interviews artist feature

Hand of the Café Studio. Working on my Gluestick Hand fuelled by a Café Solo (aka Expresso) – making art opposite the Puerte Mayor (main gate) of Sevilla Cathedral, Seville, Spain.

One of the things I have been working towards in terms of my other mobile setup – the generally trolley-based kit of pasteups and street art installation tools I wheel around the streets with either specific sites or general areas in mind – is to have a very flexible set of items with which I can make improvised collage on walls.

All the different ways one can approach street art installation are potentially satisfying: a specific work made in the studio for a specific site; a folder of pasteups and/or stickers and plaques in various sizes with which to wander the streets looking for good spots to place them; or a collection of seemingly random bits and pieces which in the right space and moment of inspiration can be combined on site.

I am constantly thinking about easy ways of getting high – i.e. getting things into the High Zone. Up there it’s blissfully too high to even bother .. tagging .. capping .. stealing .. steaming .. or buffing.

4. The Double Spiral (aka The Double Whirlpool)

You have noticed my obsession with spirals in both my works and notebooks. Much of my art, personal philosophy and professional work in health practice – and even one of my signatures, is based around the Double Spiral symbol whose formal philosophical name is the Double Whirlpool.

The Double Whirlpool is a dialectical device I have developed to help understand processes of change and interrelationship. It represents a comparison of two Whirlpools – here a Positive versus Negative one.

Double Spiral motifs are timeless: seen in either readily identifiable forms (in Polynesian, Druidic and Celtic cultures) or in other less identifiable but equivalent ones (single Whirlpool = pre-Nazi swastika; Yin/Yang; Star of David/Alchemical Star (As Above, So Below); the Cadaceus of Hermetic traditions which persists as a medical symbol (two snakes winding around a staff). The concepts of the Virtuous vs Vicious Cycle; the J-curve, and concepts like a Catch 22 or tipping point also embody the same type of thinking.

Essentially the Double Whirlpool is about the tendency of things to turn in cycles and thus to either remain in stasis or to spiral towards a new state. Our bodies are maintained within a central balance or homoeostasis - in which changes and challenges to our state are counterbalanced and brought back to a natural centre.

Blood pressure, for example, is kept within a fairly narrow range despite changes in our posture like when we rise from bed to a standing position. This is achieved by a complex interrelated series of mechanisms in the heart, blood vessels, kidneys and coordinating nervous and hormonal systems – all of which act in concert to maintain blood pressure and therefore blood and oxygen flow. These would be represented in the diagram below by the various Events around the edge of the Positive Whirlpool on the left side of the diagram below – each of which relates to each other in a positive cycle like that shown between Events A and B.

Small to medium losses of blood can be compensated for by blood vessel constriction, changes in fluid balance and excretion by the kidneys. As losses of blood become greater, blood pressure will at first be maintained but signs of strain will appear (increased pulse rate, cooler and paler extremities); with further losses blood pressure on rapid standing will begin to show a drop and the person likely to feel lightheaded or to even faint on doing so.

If blood loss continues, the person moves towards a significant tipping point, where the system flips into a state of hypovolaemic  (low blood volume) shock. In this state, systems that ordinarily support each other will begin to increasingly disrupt and counter each other. The heart, for instance, will. because of the lowered blood pressure, have reduced blood and oxygen flow which will decrease its capacity to pump  - and to maintain blood pressure. The person in this situation is in the increasingly slippery slope of the Negative Whirlpool on the right-hand side.

14 500x282 Interview Phoenix The Street Artist in street art genres pasteups genres paper art melbourne collage genres artist interviews artist feature

The Double Whirlpool: a model of balance, imbalance … and change.

Unless this person rapidly gets a fluid and blood transfusion, he or she will soon go down the proverbial ‘gurgler’.

I have found such a model widely applicable in working in health practice: in helping people to reverse and decrease negative patterns and to reestablish and promote positive ones. There are typically key negative patterns, behaviours and dynamics – as opposed to key positive ones. The journey towards healing and the restoration of health can be mapped out and guided using my Double Whirlpool and other dialectical tools.

The same logic and way of thinking about health is also very pertinent to our fragile and beautiful planet – one of the reasons the Double Whirlpool has found its way into a number of my Voice of the Blue Earth Series pieces.

15 500x465 Interview Phoenix The Street Artist in street art genres pasteups genres paper art melbourne collage genres artist interviews artist feature

(Significant) TIPPING POINT (ahead). Detail of pasteup, Enmore Rd, Enmore, Sydney, 2011. In this piece, the Blue Earth warns us of the increasingly perilous state we are more and more leaning towards. Voice of the Blue Earth Series. The Double Whirlpool is represented within the Globe.

A very good example of a significant negative tipping point like that of the heart losing pumping power as blood pressure drops can be seen in the melting of the polar icecaps – a process represented here as in many of my other VotBE pieces. Ice reflects about three-quarters of the heat that falls on it; when it is melted to sea water, however, it absorbs more than two-thirds of the heat. In other words, the more the ice melts, it more and more (and more) it melts. HELL-O!!!… PEOPLE!! – as the Blue Earth is wont to say.

One of the key learnings from the Double Whirlpool is the importance of synergy (aka win/win; you scratch my back/I’ll scratch yours) and positivism – and the Voice of the Blue Earth Series attempts to put this into action – alternating between a black humour to point out our Human failings and vulnerabilities and a sweet optimism and kindness of a planet that does love our Species.

At this level, this Series is a deliberate form of artistic activism: some sugar to help necessary medicine to get down. I know that politically-oriented art (and perhaps even more so street art) is not everyone’s cup of tea – but what’s the point if we’re all going to Hell in a hand basket? As you so eloquently put, Fletch: “Hey! Pay attention! This shit is happening!”

5. On Being Political

Last year I was sought out for a large wall commission by one of the owners of a business who is a bit of a fan of my work. He suggested using getting me to do the wall to the other owners; the feedback was that they thought I was “quite political” and maybe not the right fit for the wall.

The work I had imagined putting up would have certainly been distinctive and hopefully thought-provoking: a muralised and illustrated depiction of my poem ‘Born Free’ – which uses the metaphor of a chained elephant learning to free itself  - suggested how we might liberate ourselves from the phenomenon of being the French philosopher Rousseau described by suggesting that “Man is born free – and everywhere is in chains.”

If I am perceived to be political in this sense, I am more than happy to be so – and to be known as someone willing to put meaningful ideas into the public space. I am interested in the politics of things like cooperation, respect, love, and spiritual emancipation.

Sometimes this is about using street art as a way of publicly promoting things that I think are important – like the attention to matters of the heart suggested by my Silent ♥ Series.

16 500x389 Interview Phoenix The Street Artist in street art genres pasteups genres paper art melbourne collage genres artist interviews artist feature

LET YOUR ♥ BE FREE - Layer Collage, Silent ♥ Series.

At other times this politics is about holding a light up to the innate darkness and negativity of those seeking control to promote fear, hate and alienation – as in my Mathematics of FEAR shown below.

17 500x500 Interview Phoenix The Street Artist in street art genres pasteups genres paper art melbourne collage genres artist interviews artist feature

The Mathematics of FEAR – Pasteup, Hosier Lane, December 2013.

Of course, sometimes my work comments on specific and topical political issues like that of the deliberate exploitation of underlying xenophobic attitudes to asylum seekers by both sides of Australian politics.

18 500x378 Interview Phoenix The Street Artist in street art genres pasteups genres paper art melbourne collage genres artist interviews artist feature

WE SCARE BECAUSE WE CARE - Pasteup/plaque combination, Hosier Lane, 2011. WE SCARE BECAUSE WE CARESeries.

They say socially- and politically-interested artists have got more material to work with in leaner, harder and more right-wing times – and boy are we all heading that way Down Under. Perhaps it has always been thus, but it seems to me we live in increasingly selfish, superficial and deluded times. One of the key and enduring roles of art is to hold up a mirror to that which lies beyond the surface reflection that mesmerises and numbs the potential Narcissus within us all.

And, as I have suggested above, issues like climate change are too pressing to ignore.

6. What’s Next?

The dawning of 2014 (already a month in) is an exciting time for me with a new photocopier and structural organisation of my studio. It is also the year in which I want to begin to establish a proper income-stream from my art. Art is a great life-choice – but surely there are other accommodation options than the proverbial garret. I am fortunate to have an alternative  livelihood – and I have no interest in becoming rich from art: but I would love for it to become a self-sustaining livelihood and something that supports me travelling the world on Phoenix wings in the next few decades I may get in this life.

I think Einstein had the ratio about right when he talked about science being 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. There’s lots of joyful hard work for me – in my notebook, in my sketchbook, with my camera, on my laptop, in my studio, out on the streets, and in creating commercial opportunities in gallery, retail and virtual marketplace spaces.

And I’ve got plenty to work on: I am not exaggerating when I say there would be a thousand uncompleted works in my studio; summertime has been about organising a proper queueing system to move these through to finished gallery and street works and get them out onto walls – but I would be lying if I said that I won’t be more than occasionally distracted by the inevitable lure of the immediate new idea that appears on my workbench or in my diary notebook. I love working on ideas which are right at the  leading edge of the wave of process.

In particular I am interested in going up in terms of scale. I very much like small intimate pieces that find small corners to adorn – but I also love the impact that larger pieces have – and would love to be able to do some really big pasteup and/or plaque installations on a similar scale to some of my bold, big-thinking colleagues and art mates.

But, more than anything: what’s next is .. whatever’s next!

Leave a comment Continue Reading →

Through The Lens With David Russell – February 2014

Here’s what I get up to in one month, it’s some thing I am very passionate about; and I’m only to happy to share my experiences with you all.

The month started with an epic piece in Fitzroy by Adnate and Two One, producing a sick three storey mural, it was  great see the guys work together.  I’m a big a fan of both their work. A big shout out to Two One who just got married and is leaving our shores to explore the world – all the best man!!

I also got down to Backwoods Gallery to check out “Existential Vacuum”, by Jonathan Guthmann who was also doing a live paint. It was great to see the way he composed his pieces using many techniques, from airbrush to pen inks and graphite resulting in some awesome works of art.

Luke and myself also got the chance to catch up with Ink & Clog from Indonesia, who painted both Hosier Lane and Artists lane on a 42 degree day. Ink & Clog both thoroughly enjoyed their Melburn experience and were such an awesome couple.

Dabs & Myla, were both in town for Christmas refreshing some of their older pieces with SDM, around Fitzroy and Richmond.

To round off the month the  epic “PULL UP’ party at Juddy Roller.  Shaun Hossack and the crew never disappoint, with this sold out event not even 42 degrees could keep them away, with spray bottle’s in hand we partied well in to the morning, yes even me..

See you next month guys.

IMG 0874 500x163 Through The Lens With David Russell February 2014 in studios street art genres photography genres art event photos paintups urban art painting genres mixed media genres melbourne live art urban art inurban indonesia graffiti genres galleries urban art artist feature art urban art

Live painting with Jonathan Guthmann @ Backwoods

Comments Off Continue Reading →

Snapshots – Ink & Clog – Two lanes, One Day

David Russell and Luke had a chance to catch up with Singaporean artists InkTen and ClogTwo whilst they were visiting over the weekend, and during their time down in the ‘burn this fantastic pair managed to paint not one, but two laneways in the space of a one hot Melbourne summers day.

not only did they lay down a great piece in Hosier lane, but they also managed to get down to our Artists Lane space in Windsor where we held last years Aerosol Alley gig to do up a spot, which will be the first painting session for the upcoming AA2 painting jam (more on that later this month!).

Was great to see these guys down here, any time they managed to get a visit in they always bring the goods – heres to next time, dudes!

IMG 9970 500x333 Snapshots Ink & Clog Two lanes, One Day in street art genres singapore se asia photography genres art event photos paintups urban art painting genres melbourne live art urban art inurban graffiti genres exhibitions artist feature art

Comments Off Continue Reading →

Interview – Ohnoes

I can’t really put a finger on when I first met Ohnoes - I have a vague recollection of an early Secret Walls gig and getting drunk, but it could have, really, been any time over the past few years. His work has been adorning the walls of Melbourne for a while now, and his art has made appearances across a whole bunch of galleries and shows – even more so in the past year or two.

That might have to do with the fact that he now finds himself surrounded by a bastion of other creatives in the burgeoning Arts Hole studio – who give him that extra impetus to strive further with his work, or it may be that amongst the derth of “urban art” these days, his work is uncompromisingly spot on in terms of what, in my mind, he might be aiming at – a stylised depiction of imagination, graffiti, sports and underground cultures, interspersed with poignant reminders that the fantastical is often closer to reality than we realise.

Sure, there are other people doing this these days – its not uncommon, but Ohnoes is good. Real good. Honest in his interpretations, he doesn’t compromise on what he wants to put out there. He experiments, crosses mediums, is equally skilled with a can as he is with a brush, and there’s a certain stylisation to his work that is recognisable and uniquely his own.

Lets just couple this with the fact that the dude is one of the most genuine artists I know – he doesn’t talk shit, he doesn’t do cliques, he doesn’t bitch or moan or try to one up himself, he’s a humble mofo with a lot of potential to make it big, and get his work in front of the eyes of “the masses”. On top of that, well, for me, some of his stuff is out there – in a positive way, that is, in the way that you take a look at it one second and get that slightly jarring feeling of “hey, that’s not quite … what I expected.”

NBA loving, paint crashin, passionate and reliably cool, Ohnoes is one of those guys that we just love to find out more about – so read on below for the DL on this talented dude …

3 thumb Interview Ohnoes in street art genres melbourne illustration genres graphic design genres exhibitions artist interviews artist feature

How did you first start out in your creative journey? At what age did you start drawing, and how did life lead you to doing what you do now?

My earliest memories of enjoying drawing were when I was 8. I remember drawing ninja turtles and my favourite NBA players in class. I never really took it too seriously until I hit high school.

My high school art teacher encouraged me to take it more seriously and began feeding me art history, which just opened a Pandora’s box of experimentation, including spray paint.

4 thumb Interview Ohnoes in street art genres melbourne illustration genres graphic design genres exhibitions artist interviews artist feature

Do you have any formal artistic background, and what kind of identities within the art world do you believe your work most identifies with?

I don’t have any formal artistic background; I was pretty much self-taught except for the tips I have gotten along the way. I always enjoyed observing art and trying to understand how it was created, and like a puzzle tries to recreate it later.

My ‘art’ is a very mood or influenced based process. One day I could be illustrating, the next I could be getting messy with an array of different mediums or even working digitally. The subject matter also changes, from realism portraiture, pop culture, graffiti etc. I believe just like in all professions these days to have an edge and grow multiple disciplines go a long way, and if I where to align my art with any movement it would be this one.

5 thumb Interview Ohnoes in street art genres melbourne illustration genres graphic design genres exhibitions artist interviews artist feature

You obviously have a lot of influences from graffiti, illustration and hip-hop culture – but what other, random places, do you draw fragments of influence that other people probably wouldn’t realise?

I find my influences in a lot of places, none more then my peers. Being in a studio with so many different styles and methods allows me first hand to study other influences and processes, which eventually manifest into my own experimentation.

Conversations and advice also play a role into my influences. Photography, textures, old signage, lyrics in music – even found objects can also be strong influences in my work.

9 thumb Interview Ohnoes in street art genres melbourne illustration genres graphic design genres exhibitions artist interviews artist feature

Tell us a bit about your aerosol work and the work you do up on walls – what is it about spraypaint that you love, and where does it sit amongst your total creative output?

In the past few years my aerosol art has been a development of stylized photorealism. With each wall I paint I learn something new too add to my process as well as a greater eye for detail.

Spray paint is without question my favourite creative output. Aerosol art has been my gateway medium into meeting so many artists and interesting individuals. Spray painting I feel is overseen for its amazing complexities. It is the most forgiving yet the most tedious medium; it covers large areas, but takes patients and attention to detail. It allows for collaborations with other artists who in most cases compliment your work and the diversity enhances the overall mural.

1 thumb Interview Ohnoes in street art genres melbourne illustration genres graphic design genres exhibitions artist interviews artist feature

Tell us a bit about your studio, the Arts Hole – how does the place help you in your creative work, and what kind of environment is it? Who there inspires you to get shit done?

The Arts Hole is my ‘happy place’. Since the day it started, my production, quality of work and discipline has grown enormously. It’s become my second family and like families it’s constantly growing. It’s an open plan studio so pretty much what’s mine is yours policy goes in there (even with food and booze). I’d like to say everyone in the Hole gives me inspiration, although having history and watching my good friend Chehehe constantly push his envelope and churn out work every time he’s here pushes me to step up my game.

Unwell Bunny has become a mentor to me. His critical and insightful conversations about art and his processes are always a good way to get inspired.

Losop is a newer addition to the studio and has been an outside the box guy. His process is similar to mine but in a completely different format and learning off each other has also helped in my growth.

Boywolf, I can’t leave this guy off the list, just knowing him is an honour. I began knowing of him and a fan of his work, now a close friend and a guy I learn from and work with on the regular has helped me not only with promotion but my confidence as an artist too.

10 thumb Interview Ohnoes in street art genres melbourne illustration genres graphic design genres exhibitions artist interviews artist feature

How about the commercial side of things? Does your day job intersect with the art that you do, and visa versa?

More and more I have been fortunate to be working more out of the studio and nothing makes me happier. I have been commissioned to create interesting murals, graphics for t-shirts and illustrations, allowing me to take ‘art breaks’ to focus on my personal projects.

8 thumb Interview Ohnoes in street art genres melbourne illustration genres graphic design genres exhibitions artist interviews artist feature

What have been some of the more interesting projects that you have worked on in the past? Tell us a bit about some of the cool shit you’ve accomplished!

The end of 2013 was crazy in the months of November and December myself and the studio were invited to paint at ALL YOUR WALLS, which was a great honour for us as well as allowing us to work together towards a group effort. David Jones commissioned us to paint a mural for them on Good Food and Wine week and we also had our first group show, which was a great success. Personally I believe growth, as a group, is a much stronger statement then individual accomplishments.

6 thumb Interview Ohnoes in street art genres melbourne illustration genres graphic design genres exhibitions artist interviews artist feature

Living, working and creating in Melbourne – how has this city itself changed the way you create art, if it has at all? what is it about Melbourne that gives you a sense of creative energy?

I have had a passion for street art since the 90s, both observed and practiced. I don’t even think there are words to describe how much it has grown in awareness and appreciation. Melbourne has always had it’s own spin to street art that separated it self from the rest of the world. That’s one of the things I love about working and living in Melbourne. Everyday there is something new on my social media feeds, every week someone is having a show and as a community we support each other. The energy is endless and truly motivational.

2 thumb Interview Ohnoes in street art genres melbourne illustration genres graphic design genres exhibitions artist interviews artist feature

What do you have planned for the rest of the year, and, indeed, the future? What projects would you like to accomplish, and where do you see yourself taking your art?

This year I am planning to have my first solo show, that’s on the top of my list. The Arts hole plans too have a couple of group shows as well as do tons of kick ass productions.

I never know where my art is going – that’s half the fun.

7 thumb Interview Ohnoes in street art genres melbourne illustration genres graphic design genres exhibitions artist interviews artist feature

 

Check out more from Ohnoes on his website, or add him over at @instagram – @_ohnoes!

Comments Off Continue Reading →

Snapshots – Alexandra Lederman – LandEscapes @ House of Bricks

Last weekend ex-Sydney and newly minted Melbourne artist Alexandra Lederman opened up her first solo show here in Collingwood, with LandEscapes. With playful abstractions juxtaposed with imaginative landscapes, this was a great showing by an emerging artist whose work we are particularly keen to follow!

Big thanks to David Russell for all the shots, and congrats to Alexandra on her first Melbourne show!
 

IMG 1187 500x303 Snapshots Alexandra Lederman LandEscapes @ House of Bricks in studios street art genres art event photos painting genres mixed media genres melbourne inurban illustration genres galleries urban art exhibitions exhibition review artist feature events

Comments Off Continue Reading →

Snapshots – We Sleep in Water – Gary Seaman @ JAPS

Gary Seaman was here in Melbourne not too long ago, and, catching up on our snapshot backlog, we have all the photos from his show down at Just Another Project Space in Prahran! He also recently had a show this week up in Sydney, head over to The Opening Hours to check that one out!

For now, take a look at what he did whilst he was here in the ‘Burn, mad shit …

IMG 9227 500x333 Snapshots We Sleep in Water Gary Seaman @ JAPS in street art genres sculpture genres previews urban art art event photos painting genres mixed media genres melbourne inurban installations genres illustration genres galleries urban art exhibitions exhibition review artist news artist feature events urban art

Comments Off Continue Reading →

Interview – A Conversation with Futura

As you probably know, Futura was in town in March for the Hennessy vs Futura bottle launch. He designed their new bottle in their latest artist collab.

This post is something a little different to the norm. We ummm’ed and ahhhh’ed about the format for ages, should we transcribe it, should we make a video, should we edit it, should we chop it into smaller clips? We ended up deciding to just post it as is (with some work on the sound levels). It was such a special experience for us, it felt like we were watching a documentary.

To start off with, we have to thank Dean Sunshine. Dean took Futura on a street tour of Melbourne the day before. As you will hear, it was the best tour he’s done to date and he really loves Melbourne. He’s also a big fan of invurt which you’ll hear about too! Check out Dean’s photos from the day on his blog here.
We were called up for our turn, waiting in club 23 (which Hennessy had booked exclusively for Futura) at Crown.
It’s funny. We planned and planned this interview, and just before we sat down we heard Futura speaking to some other members of the press. He’s such a captivating speaker. Impromptu we decided we would just sit down and have a conversation with him. And while I had my list of questions handy, I didn’t have to ask one of them, Futura covered off basically every thing we wanted to ask.
It was possibly one of the most amazing conversations I’ve had with anyone from the scene, ever. I mean this man is a god father, he’s seen it all come and go and he’s still keeping it real.
We were also blessed to hear about the person behind the artist. We spoke intimately about his family and friends and some of his other passions; photography and exploring new cities.
Anyway, you’ll understand after listening! Kick back, grab a beer, have a listen and enjoy! Also check out the mad shots by David Russell below.

img 9076 500x707 Interview A Conversation with Futura in melbourne graffiti genres artist interviews artist feature events

Futura x Hennessey

1 Comment Continue Reading →