DURING THE SURFACE GALLERY'S ANNUAL STREET ART FESTIVAL, THIS YEAR LUCY MUSSON HAS BEEN INTERVIEWING THE ARTISTS ABOUT THEIR PRACTICE, WHAT STREET ART MEANS TO THEM, AND QUESTIONS SURROUNDING THE GENRE MORE BROADLY.
To finish our INTERVIEW SERIES, IS THE FINSBURY PARK DELTICS...
Tell me a bit about yourself and your artistic background. How did you get into creating art and/or Street Art?
I’m an utterly untrained dabbler (some might say they could tell), and I’ve been drawing ever since I burst forth from an NHS bed into England. I’ve always found creating art relaxing, satisfying and more than a little cathartic. It’s been a constant saviour and friend at my shoulder.
In your opinion, what is ‘Street Art’? How would you define it?
To make myself appear more knowledgeable in answering this question, I naturally went straight to Wikipedia, where street art is defined as “unsanctioned visual art created in public locations, outside the context of traditional art venues.”
I think street art has morphed into something much more than tagging on a wall now, though. It’s a term which seems to capture anything outside the so-called mainstream, which originally couldn’t be defined (or appreciated) by the art establishment. Now, of course, such is street art’s cultural reach and potency, the aforementioned art establishment (and wider establishment) is all over it like a cheap suit. When David Cameron presents Barack Obama with a Ben Eine piece, it’s time to move on. But the inclusive, proletarian ethos of street art, the idea of art by anyone for everyone, will and does live on (as can be seen by the rise of Outsider Art I think). And thank the Lord for that.
Why do you create art and/or Street Art? Why is it important to you?
Answer (1) - I create art as a way of trying to understand and contextualise the craziness that envelopes us all, and me personally. When putting something down, I can feel myself relax with each passing second, and to make the first mark on a fresh surface is one of the best feelings in the world. It’s also very much a therapeutic endeavour for me, helping me through some very dark periods and making them feel less so. The fact that people also like and appreciate it I find extremely humbling.
Answer (2) – I just like drawing pictures.
Do you have any key influences (for your work in general and/or the specific body of work in this exhibition?
I’m usually influenced by the last thing I’ve seen on a wall. Seriously.
What does your creative process look like? How do you go about creating your work?
I generally try and interpret what’s flying round inside my head like a wall of death, on whatever medium it happens to be. I don’t do sketches, working drawings or anything like that. It just goes straight down and I blunder through, making several mistakes along the way, after which I pretend I meant them all along.
Street Art can be used to make a statement about topical issues. Are the pieces you’ve submitted for this year’s Street Art Festival designed to make a statement about society? If so, what are they?
Four of the pieces I’ve submitted can be split into two distinct types.
Yup (I Wake to Find this Nightmare is Real) and Stable Genius deal with Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump respectively, by way of line drawings. I’ve created the shading in each drawing by smaller drawings conveying the chaos of the regimes, the resultant culture and feelings of impending nuclear disaster.
What are You Looking at? and Something Exciting is Coming Soon deal with the marginalisation of ordinary people by distant and contemptuous elites (or at least they’re meant to). People about whom nobody cares until a block of flats goes up in flames.
Ultimately, though, whatever the viewer takes from my work is just dandy by me.
As well as the societal and public content of Street Art, it is also can be physically located in a public space. I’d love to know, how does your personal expression as an individual artist work with the civic character of the art form? How does the personal and the public manifest itself in your work?
My art can be both intro- and extrospective I think. When I try and interpret the world around me, I guess the work would have more of a natural resonance, if you like? After all, we all experience those things together; communally. Which I suppose fits in with the whole idea of street art?
But, even my work of a more personal nature (those which deal with mental health issues for example), I still think is worth getting out there, so some who, perhaps, are suffering themselves realise they’re not alone. I’ve had people come up to me at shows who have said that what they see in my work really resonates with them, and conveys exactly what they’re feeling. And that means the world to me, it really does.
Street art is everywhere: from LA, Egypt to Moscow, and it’s also one of the Surface Gallery’s most popular annual shows. What is it about Street Art in your opinion which makes it such a popular art form?
Its inclusivity, communal nature and near total absence of self-righteous art twats.
And finally, if someone wanted to get into creating art or even Street Art specifically, what tips/suggestions/words of wisdom would you offer?
Do what you like, when you like, how you like. Otherwise, there’s no point.