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Interview: Frank Plant

Frank Plant is a Barcelona based American artist who creates drawings out of sculptured steel. There are really no words to describe how talented this person is. I'm amazed by his ability to consistently create quality metal sculptures whether its two or three dimensional. Anyway, in this interview, Frank talks about his background, inspirations, creative process, and future projects. When words fail in an introduction, we always have the rest of the interview to figure it out right? Ok, enough. Here we go... p Honey: Hi Frank. How has your day been so far? Frank: There is a bandit fly in the house and he's driving me a bit nuts... Other than that it's all good, Barcelona in August is although very sweaty not such a bad place to be. It's quiet to be honest. Honey: Can you drop some knowledge about yourself for those who have not been exposed to your work? Frank: I'm an American creative type based in the Mediterrenean city of Barcelona. I do what I refer to as drawings in steel. The subjects of said drawings are sometimes objects that i like for their composition, sometimes people. The subjects can range from the banal to the provocative. I broach social and political subjects on occasion. Sometimes I'm vulgar in that sense. I believe there are moments to make suggestions and others to make statements. A time for poetry, a time for prose and a time for pulp fiction. Even pulp non-fiction for that matter.... p Honey: Where were you born and where did you grow up? Frank: I was born in Baltimore, Md but didn't stay there long and spent formative years in Washington DC proper as well as in PA and VA. I consider myself a child of the mid atlantic seaboard. Honey: Describe your childhood, what were you like growing up? Frank: Ummm... Those documents are still classified. Suffice to say that I was one of those sensitive yet rotten types. But I turned out kinda normal and that's due to one hell of a single mother. p Honey: Why choose steel as the main sculptural medium in your work? Could you share with us how that came about? Frank: I first got the opportunity to work in steel at the University of the Arts where I went to school and I was immediately attracted to it for a number of reasons but primarily it's sense of permanence and durability. I also very much like the techniques one uses to manipulate it as well as it's expressive qualities. Honey: What goes through your head when you are about to start a new piece? Could you tell us about your process? What does your work flow look like? Frank: A variety of things but I pretty much run all new instincts/ideas through a battery of tests to see if they are really worth realizing. I have to have a visceral reaction to the idea before I will realize it, if my enthusiasm ebbs after a few days or weeks it's doubtful the piece will be realized. If not I put into motion the necessary steps to conceive it. Some pieces are immediately crystalized in my mind and others require a bit of touch and feel as you go. Which is a bit of a balancing act. But I will say this that once I am in the process it is very much the richest place to be and where a slew of new ideas come from. Almost all my new work stems from a precedent set by a previous piece. o Honey: Were there any challenges? If so, what were they? Frank: Challenges of getting my head around the technique of working with metal was just patience more than anything and if anyone knows me they would know the size of that challenge. I compare it to learning a new language, at first you speak in the present tense with a limited vocabulary and slowly you add more possibilities solely through increasing one's awareness and familiarity. It just so happens that with working with metal there's a few burns and scrapes/cuts etc... along the way. Honey: "Living with Ghost" is one of my favorite piece you've made so far. Can you talk a bit about that one for us? It's stunning. Frank: That piece is a bit particular and actually stems from a dream I had, I have never, never made a piece based on a dream. At least that I can remember. Anyway the dream took place in an abandoned industrial sight/building where I happened to be living. It didn't take long for me to notice that there was something peculiar about said building and then I realized as you do in dreams that i was living/sharing the building with a family of ghosts. This came as a bit of a surprise but in the end we actually got on quite well and I felt that somehow it was quite extraordinary. Enough so that I made the piece, I think that I still have some things to resolve with that piece but I have a lot of affection for it. p Honey: Was anyone in your family an artist? Frank: There was some great great grandfather that formed a part of the studio that carved the lions on the facade of the San Francisco Art Museum but beyond that no. He died of smoke inhalation putting out fires during the great earthquake there in the early 20th century or so I've been told. Honey: Where do you get all your ideas? Frank: Various places but the poetry of everyday actions and movements is of late the primary source. As I said before, in the process of creating things is the place where i generate the most ideas. It somehow feeds upon itself. p Honey: Who would you say your biggest artistic influence? Frank: Different artists/creatives had had a different influence at different times so I'm not sure if there is one person. If I reflect on it though there is a thing and normally you wouldn't think of it as an artistic influence but it is in every sense of the case in point and that is my economic state (normally bleak). I doubt anything has had a larger impact on my artistic growth and in creating the everyday parameters of what I'm capable of doing. It's curious to think of that as a determining factor but for better or worse I can't think of any that has had more influence. Honey: Is there anyone you'd like to work with creatively in the coming year or so? Frank: I spent a few years working with the french artist Thomas Charveriat of Island6 Arts Center, all of the interactive work, Awkward Moments nos. 1 and 2, F2T, The Last Supper etc... were all done with him as well as an ever changing group of people that brought various special skills to the mix. Working with people requires a tremendous amount of sacrifice, you get a lot of growth and broadening of horizons out of it though, at least in the best of circumstances. I think I've moved into the selfish pig stage of my artistic development although it is nice to chat with folks about art now and again. I'd really like to get voice lessons from Erykah Badu though, if that counts as artistic collaboration I'm all in. In reality I'd settle for any vocalist in the Barcelona area. So anyone interested in voice lessons for welding lessons please contact me. p Honey: Complete this sentence: You can never have too many ...? Frank: .. meters of 3 and 4mm steel bar, light bulbs, friends, patrons, cutting discs, bottles of CO2 and Argon, late night dinners, Sunday afternoons with televised sport, cleaning rags... not necessarily in that order, the list goes on and on. Honey: If walls could speak, what do you think they would say? Frank: There is a great quote from Edmond de Goncourt "An artwork in a museum hears more ridiculous opinions than anything else in the world". Walls most likely as well, but I guess it depends on the location of the wall. Just to tout Monsieur Goncourt who was a very insightful being a bit more he also said this ; "If there is a God, atheism must seem to Him as less of an insult than religion ". p Honey: Are you working on some projects right now which you can leak some info about? Anything you are working on at the moment that you are excited about? Frank: I'm in the process of incorporating Flock into my works and this is very very very exciting (e.g. Something for Everyone on the Blog), well at least for me. And I just did my very first series of 15 which was a new experience that was very rewarding. Hopefully coming to galleries near those of you based in Amsterdam, Madrid and Dusseldorf soon... Honey: Thank you for participating in this interview Frank! Anything you'd like to add? Frank: Thanks for sharing your platform which does a really good job of digging up hidden gems that otherwise I would never have access to. p Links here: http://www.hierroglyphic.blogspot.com/ http://www.flickr.com/photos/32547672@N08/ http://www.sweet-station.com/blog/?p=3631

Interview: Christabel Sevilla

Suddenly finding yourself with hours upon hours of free time? Feeling strangely compelled to do something constructive? Well, screw that. Here's Christabel Sevilla unplugged. Featured on Sweet Station a month ago (link here),I slowly developed a man-crush on her line art. Yes, I know it's weird but that's how we like it here. It's amazing what you discover when you get to know the artists behind their artwork. Thus was the case with Christabel. She's what I would call a "stealth artist on the rise". Here she talks about her humble beginnings, her love of the ISAW (bbq chicken intestines), what makes her tick, and how she plans to keep on doing was she does best -- which i imagine would be drawing lots of sexy half-naked ladies (yes, I said it). Without further ado, I think she's ready to take on the world. p Welshie: Who is Christabel Sevilla for the uninitiated? Christabel: I was born and raised in the Philippines. My mom's half-Spanish (this should answer the question most people ask me. No, I am not German or Norwegian. I am Filipino....with a whole lot of freckles.) I graduated from *drumroll please* The Royal Pontifical University of Santo Tomas, College of Fine Arts and Design (Major in Painting). I always thought I'd be painting houses for a living, or something similar to it, but thank God I ended up working as a graphic artist for an IT company. :) I couldn't wear messy over-alls there, though. :) When I'm not working, I am either daydreaming, stuffing my face with anything edible (then wishing I never did afterward), making lists of anything and everything ("to do" lists, "to buy" lists, "to draw" lists, "to kill...er...), roaming the metro in search for the best isaw (UP is still at the top of my list), taking pictures, drawing on any surface as long as no one will sue me for vandalizing, wasting my money on things I don't need. I've often been asked what my art style was/is and up to now, I still have no specific answer for that...it just continuously evolves whenever I pick up something here and there. I love searching the web for new artworks and art styles and try to learn as much as I can by looking at them for hours on end. Right now, I am obsessed with trying to color over the lines. I can't say I'm doing a good job, but it's teaching me to be more patient with all of my works. I tend to leave artworks unfinished and this new style I'm trying to familiarize myself with is really helping me up my level of patience. I'm really trying to drop the alla-prima style. :) p Welshie: When did you know you wanted to do what you do? As raised by traditional Asian parents, how did they take it? Christabel: I'd love to say things like I grew up in a very culture-rich environment and such, but my love for art started out simply because I was bored most of the time, when I was a kid. I easily got jaded during classes when I was in grade school and I loved daydreaming my time away. Most of the time, I'd put all my dreams on paper and draw myself on clouds with sheep in bow ties. Paint the stars green, coming up with reasons as to why we shouldn't all think they're yellow or white just because it's what we see or what storybooks tell us. I'd say most of my talent was innate (which, at that time, I was completely unaware of) and I haven't really discovered I was an artist until I decided to take up an art-related course for college because i couldn't see myself doing anything else. They never questioned my decision. I thought they'd make me take up some boring course like medicine or law but, apparently, this art thing made me a genius in their eyes too! :p (My parents have always been supportive of me but they never liked it when, back in grade school, the guidance councilor would call them in and show them my notebooks with drawings instead of notes. LOL) Welshie: Aside from practicing consistently, what have you been doing lately to better improve your artistic skills? Christabel: I've been taking on freelance projects. I used to have too much restrictions on the projects I'd take. No macho men, no morbidity, no mechs, no machines, no excruciatingly detailed backgrounds etc. Basically just good looking men and women. So I decided to scrap all the restrictions out cuz I figured, I'll never learn will all those rules! tabsie3 Welshie: Art is subjective. Opinions vary from person to person. How do you handle criticisms of all kinds when it comes to your work? Christabel: Everyone is entitled to his/her opinion. Now as long as they aren't saying anything that can offend others, I'm fine with my work being heavily criticized /bashed. :) I actually often learn from them! Welshie: I'm a foodie myself, and misses isaw terribly. How many isaw do you consume in a day? Christabel: I don't get to eat as much isaw as i want simply because the stalls are closed once I get home from work. but when I DO catch them still open, I'd eat no less than 3 of each kind a day. :) p Welshie: You primarily work in digital. Could you tell us a lil' bit about your process? Christabel: I basically just use Adobe Photoshop CS2. From sketching, inking, coloring to details. I. AM. A HERMIT. and know nothing at all about the other programs! I envy those who know how to use Sai, Corel, Open Canvas and other software proficiently. They are able to do a lot more with their art. I simply do not have the time to learn new programs because of my day job... I tried to use Open Canvas once and I love how you can turn the canvas around so you can ink properly...but I never got to try coloring with it. Welshie: Your art is heavily influenced by anime/manga, yet your style has subtle differences that separates yours from the pack. Was this something you picked up in college? Christabel: Well, not really. As I've said, my style is continuously evolving. I'd say now it's a bit of a cross-over between anime and realism. I think I got that from playing too much Marvel Vs. Capcom. :p tabsie8 Welshie: You've collaborated with Joe Ng, one of Udon's superstar illustrators. I must have devoured all the Street Fighter/Dark Stalkers comics primarily because to their artwork. I'm really jealous. How did that come about? Christabel: Oh yes! I've always loved his works. I put on my never-say-die face and asked him through DeviantArt if we could do a collaboration and, well, to my absolute surprise, he agreed!!! A few days later, he emailed the artwork I was supposed to color. It sat at my hard drive for months!!! I really didn't know what approach I was going to do. I was afraid I wouldn't do it justice. Until one day I finally just started coloring and...good God I didn't want to show it to him for fear of getting a reply that would seem like he was just being nice...but when I finally did, I was relieved that he loved it! :) It was such an honor! :) tabsie_ken Welshie: You've done comic panels in the past. Is this something you'd like to pursue in the near future? Christabel: Of course! :) I've always wanted to be a comic book artist but it's just so time-consuming and I could never find enough time to sit and really draw, you know? I'm working on a one-shot story with a friend of mine and I'm keeping my fingers crossed. This is supposed to be released in an event this October. I really hope everything goes well. She's written a fantastic story and I can't wait to get it published! I'm finally given another shot at making this one dream come true. :) Welshie: If you weren't an artist today, what do you see yourself doing? Christabel: erm...fishing? I honestly don't know. I'd be lost without my art. tabsie star trooper Welshie: You're gradually building up quite a following. What's in store for your fans? Do you plan on producing limited edition prints? Christabel: I'm really, really grateful for all the support I'm getting from the DeviantArt community. I never thought my works would get so much attention from people. I just did what I loved doing. It's just so heart-warming to see how much they love my works. It makes me want to get better at what I do. I'm not planning on producing limited edition prints or anything like that at the moment. I think there are a lot of artists who are more deserving and I think I still have a whole lot to learn! The best I can do for everyone is practice and deliver better artworks everytime I post so as not to disappoint them...and myself of course. :) Welshie: Who was instrumental in your life growing up? Christabel: My mother. I can't stand her at times, but, gosh I can't live without her. :) She was the one who really saw my potential. During family reunions, she'd go around telling people I'm a Monet in the making. It just makes my heart melt, seeing her overflowing with pride for me. :) She was also the one who enrolled me in painting lessons with Fernando Sena. AND my first ever oil painting set was from her. tabsie_mom Welshie: Everything seems to be going well for you. Where do you see yourself in 5 years or so? Christabel: Still drawing. Still coloring. Still eating isaw. Preferably in the comfort of my very own gallery/library cafe. :) Welshie: If you had to do it all over again, what would you have done differently to get to where you are today? Christabel: I'd start working on my patience earlier. :) Everything else is as they should be! :) p I had so much fun asking Christabel all these questions. She's very talented AND humble, can't you tell? Thanks Christabel. The future looks bright for you. Not enough to satisfy your Christa-cravings? Then check out these links: http://karaiwashi.blogspot.com/ http://ladyfish.deviantart.com http://edibleimaginings.blogspot.com/

Interview: Julian James

A few years ago, Julian James was known as that "kid [who] has lots of artistic potential". Now, he's the guy behind WhyIsBox, a successful online creative studio, New Sugar, an online art magazine expanding beyond its reach, and a DIY geneticist who manage to clone half of himself. He is now recognized by "the grownups" who used to tell him that "doodling will make you go blind". And if his upcoming project Monstar, which is a book based on a pen-and-paper game that lets you express your mad art skills with a twist, blows up with critics and fans alike, his cover may be blown forever. Welshie: Hi Julian thanks for doing this interview. In a nutshell, who is Julian James? Julian: Currently this is me although when my clone is finished it may be him. Welshie: What's new with New Sugar? Julian: Basically it is an online (PDF) magazine created to showcase untapped creative talent from around the world. And man, there is so much good stuff out there! I get excited on a daily basis looking through my inbox at new subs. Blurb stolen directly from the NewSugar site (oh the joys of cut and paste): NewSugar is a fresh new PDF magazine with a difference... it's not so much a magazine as it is a gallery, or a street wall or maybe a glimpse of the future. Whatever it is NewSugar promises to make you weep with delight and have your mind-box releasing endorphins in profusion*! *Weeping and release of endorphins not guaranteed. Welshie: You've been publishing New Sugar for 6 months now, what was the motivation behind creating an art magazine? Julian: NewSugar started off with a desire for a self-promotional project that would give me an opportunity to get my teeth into something juicy design wise, and, network with other creatives from around the world. So far it's delivered on both of those desires fantastically! Welshie: I would imagine that publishing a magazine (whether online or offline) is a laborious and stressful process that requires strong leadership along with super organizational skills and patience. How do you manage to keep it together? Julian: Yup, although, I'm not so sure about the strong leadership! It's only me working on the mag and I hardly ever do what I tell myself to do. I've already had two verbal warnings. There is certainly a lot more to do than I initially thought but I'm getting a method in place now which has sped things up no-end. And, in terms of keeping it together... if I had strict deadlines it would be a mad struggle. I try to get a mag out about every 6 weeks and that basically floats to fit around my paid design/illustration work. It makes the process a bit less hectic but I still usually worry about how long it's been between issues. Welshie: From the 1st issue down to the latest one, we're really liking the art direction New Sugar is heading. Do you collaborate with other graphic designers at all before deciding on an issue? If so, what have you learned in the process? Julian: Not really although a few of the more recent covers have been collaborations. I am having them created by different artists with no brief other than space for me to add the logo and artists etc. There is definitely no shortage of offers either but I am pretty sure everyone wants to design a cover at some point! Maybe I should do a mag completely made up of covers? [Editor's note: Julian's lightning quick update. He answered his own question.] I jokingly said 'maybe I should do an issue made entirely out of covers'. Well, I twittered the idea and the response was good so I made a new page on the site with a brief and re-posted it on Twitter... Madness followed! The post has been re-tweeted all over the web and I made about 150 followers in a couple of hours... so, the short of it is thanks to the interview  there will be a special edition 'Covers' issue. :) More here: http://newsugar.co.uk/covers Welshie: New Sugar is a free downloadable PDF file for now. Along with running Whyisbox, publishing a magazine takes a lot of time and energy. Is New Sugar going to remain free in the foreseeable future or do you have plans on monetizing it eventually? Julian: I am already looking at several possibilities for NewSugar not least the next generation of its new website. Its future holds loads more 'sticky' content, artist profiles, games (like the Monstar! project we are currently running) and social network elements. Once NewSugar.co.uk is a place to visit daily, rather than just a portal to access the magazine, there is more potential to get sponsors involved. I'm not ruling out ad revenue but the key is to make sure those ads or links add some value to the magazine and its brand. You won't be finding any McDonalds adverts on there for sure. The mag itself is also prime real estate for advertising and it's is an avenue I am looking at but again value is key. I don't want people not reading the mag because a single ad spoils the nature of the project. I would say though that the mag will always be free! Welshie: Since New Sugar is freely available for download, how do you track your subscribers? Julian: Stats are totally key, even as a self promotional project. There is not much point if no one is looking at it. Too much work involved for that. I use several methods (Google Analytics/server side analytics etc.) and I absolutely love checking how many people are viewing issues. The fact that tens of thousands of people over 100 countries have done so to date just astounds me! If there was ever an argument for digital over print... an instant global market is a pretty strong one. Welshie: You're also the founder of Whyisbox, an online creative studio, which has been growing steadily in recent years. Business is good, would you say? Are you now able to quit your day job and concentrate on Whyisbox and New Sugar full time? Julian: Whyisbox is my day job anyway but NewSugar has started wrestling more and more of my attention recently. You never know, maybe NewSugar will be my day job eventually and Whyisbox the side project. As long as I am working on creative projects, whatever they are 'it's all good' as they say. Welshie: Okay, it's time to shine, Julian. Let's say I'm a potential client, pitch Whyisbox to me. Why choose your services over the competition? What can Whyisbox do for me and my business? Julian: Well... basically Whyisbox is made of about 84% magic and 16% awesome. It actually says on the box that "Using Whyisbox will boost your kudos... guaranteed". Granted, I wrote the box but it's probably true. On a less serious note I hope the design/illustration work speaks for itself, but, the end product is only half the story. My clients keep coming back because the process is enjoyable too. I am always the consummate professional but creative projects should be fun and working with me is an honest, exciting and pleasurable experience. *This information was also copied from the box. Welshie: You've featured and interviewed tons of wonderfully talented artists on New Sugar already. If there's any one artist you're looking forward on having on the future issues of New Sugar, who would it be and why? Julian: Maybe someone globally famous who hasn't actually been discovered yet... It would be nice to say 'you saw them here first'. If you are that person... send us your subs! Welshie: What has been the best advice given to you while pursuing art that you can share with our readers aspiring to become graphic designers/illustrators? Julian: "I don't like it..." Man, that phrase just made me want to prove a point. Not that it's advice really but the most useful tool in my motivation box is 'jealousy'! There is so much great stuff around in the creative world to be jealous of and the more I see work that makes me wish I had done it, the more I want to drive myself. It's a kind of positive jealousy. Welshie: Like all things artsy, graphic design is an ever changing field. Change is good but not necessarily easy to deal with. How do you keep up with the times when clients ask for a new style and at the same time staying true to your own style? Julian: I don't really suffer from that it's probably fairer to say that I struggle with repetition. If a project comes up that doesn't inspire me to create something unique it's much harder to focus on. That's not to say that I won't give 100% but it's the challenge of pushing my style that makes it all worthwhile. Or, maybe I just suffer from an over active boredom gland? Welshie: Sometimes, things don't always go according to plan. With deadlines on your projects looming and unwanted distractions vying for attention, how do you cope with situations like that? Julian: I find it more difficult if I have only got a few things to do. It's the crazy deadlines that get me working effectively. I definitely need a little panic to get things done. I'm starting to see a bit of a pattern here! Welshie: Does talent run in the family? Julian: Lol, talent eh! You old silver tongue you! They might actually read this so I'm going to say... No.  Welshie: You primarily work in digital medium. Satisfy our geeky curiosity and tell us how your studio is set up. What gadgets do you plan/wish on getting in the future to ease your work flow? Julian: PC based is right. I've used Mac's but they are back to front. They sure do look real shiny but all the functions are in the wrong place... *Please send all pro Mac complaints to Bill@microsoft.com On top of my PC I use a Wacom tablet which I use for everything. In fact I may have forgotten to use a mouse it's been so long. As far as future gadgets go I basically want everything that's coming out about a week before it does. To say I am a gadget freak is understating it slightly. Welshie: What's your goal for New Sugar in the next 3 months, 6 months, 12 months? Julian: 3 months = New NewSugar website launched. 6 months = Awesome sponsors and monetisation. 12 months = Buy Vogue and include it as a NewSugar fashion supplement minus the adverts so it should only be about 4 pages. Welshie: What's next for Julian James? All shameless promotions is welcome. Julian: Who knows... and that's half the fun of it! In the very near future I have a bunch of interviews and articles coming out in several blogs and magazines; like Computer Arts and Computer Arts Projects which I am chuffed about especially seeing as they are the same mags I read when I started out. NewSugar has some exciting stuff in the pipeline including a book for the 'Monstar!' collaborative project we are running on the site; submissions still welcome. I am also hopefully putting together a joint one off issue of the mag with a print zine called Middle Boop. At the moment it's still at the planning stage but I'm pretty excited about that. There are also a couple of NewSugar events to look out for. More info on future happenings will appear on the new site, my blog and twitter (where I practically live these days - @newsugar) when they are confirmed. Then there is my clone to finish too. :) Well, there you have it. We'd like to thank Julian James for taking time out of his ridiculously busy schedule to do this interview. Don't forget to head over to New Sugar to download a copy of the latest issue. Links here: http://newsugar.co.uk/ www.whyisbox.com www.newsugar.co.uk/monstar/index.html www.newsugar.co.uk/covers

Interview: Lunar

I think Zagreb residents are the luckiest because they all get to share a city with the seriously talented Slaven Kosanovic more commonly known as Lunar whose work delights me to no end. I caught up with Lunar to discover more about his life and work. I believe you will find this interview to be intelligent, informative and nothing but inspiring so get reading, there is a lot of solid information to take in. p Honey: Hi Slaven, how's it going? For our readers, can you tell us a bit about your background? Tell us what you do. Lunar: What's up Honey, it's all good :) My 9-5 work is graphic designer. I work at an advertising agency where I create visual part of campaigns for various clients. It's team work including interactions with the clients, and I barely put results into my portfolio. This is a place where I'm focused on visually good execution in first place. After work I'm getting to a more open field which allows me to create freely. Honey: Where did the name Lunar come from? Lunar: As a kid in primary school I was playing a game Jetpac on my old computer ZX Spectrum and I loved it. Once I went to my neighbour Mario who had same computer and another game from this series of 2, called Jetman, with small Lunar written above it, to announce where the scenario was happening. It was nearly the same game with a bit different mission and I saw it only once but fell in love with the name so I adopted it instantly. Even if it was probably subliminal then, I think if you choose life of a graffiti writer, you should have a short recognizable name which sounds good and is easy to remember. In the field where I work my daily job it's known as branding. Beside developing a good style I think a good and original name, with some meaning if possible, is crucial if you want to achieve graffiti fame. And if you decided to write your own name in a variety of shapes and colors you definitely look out for a fame, no matter what some people might say. Honey: What is it like being a graphic designer by day and graffiti artist by night, do these two worlds collide? Lunar: Earlier I thought that these worlds are so much more like each other.. When I stepped into graphic design seriously I was horrified that it doesn't mean nothing if you're good at one and expecting to maintain same level in another. It doesn't have much in common, not at all. Positive thing about design is that it's logical, clean and well organized. Positive thing about graffiti is that it's spontaneous and natural, elements are playful and relaxing and it keeps you fit, you're walking, climbing, carring stuff, always physically active. Negative things about graphic design is that it's cold, conservative and hurts your eyes + makes your body inactive and graffiti again could be not well thought, dirty, unorganized and harmful for your health. Both could be driven by enormous amount of egoism. So there must be much thinking and working to overcome these.. Mixing good stuff from each is good sometimes, enriches it. Honey: What's good about the art and graff scene in Croatia? Lunar: I'm not very familiar with art scene here. I love the work of old masters like for example Vlaho Bukovac, Josip Racic or Celestin Medovic and from living authors Mirko Ilic is one of the names whose work amaze, even though he is a graphic designer and illustrator and not painter, his works could hardly be compared to any other artist of recent times coming from my area. Among painters the late Edo Murtic is my favorite in recent times. Art and graffiti in Croatia doesn't have much in common. I don't even know art scene so well, only few people so far. I'm not very much fan of circles of people who gather around same interest. I prefer Intelligent and good-hearted individuals who have their own opinion with solid basis, no matter if they are heavy metal musicians, sportsmen or doctors. About graffiti scene here, after almost 20 years I'm pretty sure who's men and who's mice now so I'm trying to deal with good people only. Honey: How would you describe your work? Lunar: Maybe the most recognizable stuff I do are simple black and white characters painted on red background. Non-colors give them shape and the red background is the one who gives them life. Besides that I do illustrations, graphic design and paint classical graffiti pieces. Graffiti is my first love and will remain so. Honey: You had a show at the Galerija Vladimir Nazor recently.. how did everything go? I would have really loved to have seen that. Lunar: It would be nice if you have been here! On two walls of 56 square meters I put 9 canvases 1x1.2 meters and then applied the sketch and worked out the entire picture. Cats and birds shown both depict humans, predators and prey. You see that not all the prey is looking really as prey and not all predators are looking as they should, considering their nature, but same as humans, everyone has its own scale within, which shows amount of good/bad. And for the opening, a lot of people attended, atmosphere was good and DJ-ane Iva Starkova did great job playin' some good electro tunes. When I'm here in Zagreb, I see my exhibitions as private parties at my crib and I want to make people feel comfortable and have fun while they look at the stuff I did. Honey: In terms of influences, is there anyone or anything that inspires your art? Lunar: My work is inspired by simple things which surround us. Landscapes, buildings, human behaviour, nature, music, people like Nikola Tesla... It also depends on the mood who or what is going to inspire me. If I'm down it's rather Depeche Mode, Massive Attack or Rammstein, criminal, war or negative things in politics, if I'm up it could be Duran Duran, Faithless, wife, family, friends, belief in better tomorrow above all.. These moods may vary from very deep negative feelings, being convinced world is definitely going to hell soon and the population deserved it big time and on the other hand, I see all those who do no harm, who work hard to ensure their kids better prosperity for future... Than again, their kids might grow up and in the whirlpool of circumstances become football hooligans or drug dealers and their parents spent their life for nothing. Life is a gift and a curse at the same time so I guess one should not try to play God but live and let live. p Honey: Who was the most influential person in your life? Who is your mentor? Lunar: Probably most influential people in my life are my parents. Being intelligent, well-educated and modest, who put their egos aside and completely devoted their life to their three kids. In art I never actually had a mentor, I was hard-headed. Honey: What are you trying to express through your work or what is the main message you are trying to send the people who see your art? Lunar: My personified animal characters are humans actually. I put them in context of doing regular things that humans do. I just simply put them in position to show as much with very little drawn. Some are lazy, some are crooks, some are just regular Harry, Dick and Tom with their own little satisfactions which will cost them life one day, like smoking or drinking. For some we feel sympathy, some are getting on our nerves, some are ugly, some are nicer, some we'd like to hug, some to kick their butt.. Graffiti are thing I naturally do since I was a kid. I always loved to play with letters. Since most people cannot read them I find it a play among the writers, like a video game with collecting points. As you evolve and grow, you find more efficient ways to put your name up. The writing which I sometimes put next to my pieces shows the way I felt at that time.. Sometimes might be some harsh sentence from a rap song, sometimes a thought from Russian literature which I might have liked. Honey: How long have you been painting/writing? What keeps you interested? Lunar: First time when I grabbed spray was in 1989. At that time I was finishing my elementary school. My loving grandfather died. His stories were a huge fuel for my soul, when I was kid seeking for an adventure. Life wasn't pampering him but he remained cool and friendly, life-loving person who kept on being that way until cancer caught him. It was my first horrible experience, to see a strong person like him, losing the struggle of his life. At the same time I met my best friend Kreso Buden, later knows as 2Fast. War was about to start in ex-Yugoslavia, it was getting obvious what was going to happen from the media. In this atmosphere Kreso and myself were just kids who were trying to find a place under the sun. He was already attending art-school and sketching first graffiti, I was just doodling on papers, making some ugly comics+photo comics and video-sketches with several friends from school. Graffiti sketches occupied my attention big time and since I had too much energy and too little experience it didn't need much couraging to start painting in the streets. In the first time a flavor of adventure mixed with inner urge to express myself visually was what made me do it. What I love the most about graffiti nowadays is the medium which allows me to transfer small sketch to big wall and develop it there. Same as on paper or canvas but on bigger space and ability to cover all the imperfections on the wall with a layer of paint and make it disappear. Letters again give you unlimited opportunities to change their shape and remain readable, add elements or cut them out, enrich the painting with adding new medias to it, I guess the only limit might lay within one's head. i Honey: How have you handled the business side of being an artist? I know that not too long ago, you and some of your colleagues were featured on Forbes magazine. Can you also talk about that a bit for us? Lunar: I always felt that serious graffiti should be treated with respect, not only from other writers but from regular people. Maybe to somebody graffiti could be just a weekend fun for several years until finding a regular job, up to anybody to decide for him or herself. I witnessed so many times that people are considering graffiti kiddish fun, done by those who doesn't have nothing smarter to do in life. I don't know what they thought was smarter, perhaps watching a soccer game at home and drinking beer, moving things in garage from place a to place b or playing cards? I think that's a complete waste of time. How to fight against such people's opinion? By enjoying your life and getting paid of course. I just kept doing what I loved and never cared what people said, just being honest to myself. I was doing public projects, organizing graffiti jams, doing exhibitions, supporting entire Croatian scene at the beginning and later only the ones who I thought deserved it. Media started recognizing what I was doing and slowly they started asking about it. I kept on answering those questions, getting into serious conversations with some, explaining my points of view and time showed it raised some interest among media and clients as well. That's one of the reasons I kept on working freelance all the time since mid-90's and from early 00's I decided to get a full time job as well, cause I wanted to have money at the end of each month for sure, to pay the bills and cover my costs and I don't have to accept any projects (which I had to do when doing only freelance) but chose the ones I liked and do them the way I wanted to. It gave me freedom in creativity but also cut my free time in half from one side and give more opportunities and connections at studios where I was working on the other hand. Forbes magazine contacted me after our last group exhibition, initiated and organized by Darko Bekic, Croatian ambassador in Morocco, who loved graffiti and wanted to have a collection for himself and promote it properly. He wanted to make a 10th anniversary of first official graffiti exposition in a gallery in Zagreb and brought together same artists who exhibited in 1998 and some fresh blood along. Forbes was making a theme issue called 'Croatian dream', about people who run their private businesses and some known creatives like us and they contacted me to ask me whether I'd be interested in giving an interview to them about what I do, illustrating their cover and recommending several other important graffiti artists who successfully transferred their graffiti energy into new fields. Session was done quite professionally, editor, art director, journalist and photographer showed up and done a good job but we didn't really know our faces will be on the cover on the magazine so it was quite a nice surprise to see it. I guess it's pushing a boundaries of graffiti a bit forward. p Honey: What do you hope to get into as your career progress? Lunar: I hope to become fully independent artist someday. I also hope to have a constant intake of interesting project, in Croatia and internationally. I'd like to live comfortably from my own intellectual property and therefore have absolute freedom in what I do. Some clients sometimes make you really feel irritated, I'd absolutely like to skip that part in future and work with people who know why they chose my work and not someone else. Honey: What is your definition of success? Lunar: Living a happy life, being fulfilled, living in peace. Sharing with your loved ones. Material possession means nothing unless you share it with someone. If you're the one who exclusively enjoy what you have, you could talk about your good experience with your mirror. It will be the only one listening to you carefully. Honey: What other artists do you most admire? Lunar: Mode 2 or Os Gemeos to name a few with graffiti roots. Picasso or Edo Murtic to name few painters. Honey: Any favorite childhood memory? Lunar: Thanks to my family I had a childhood which anyone could wish to have. To neutralize the shock of growing up and having to deal with real life and sharks somehow I refused to grow so I still find all I do just a play. Many memories from the earlier childhood, it would be hard to pick up one which is better than others. Honey: What else besides art do you like to do? Lunar: Reading books is my soul food. It takes a time nowadays to read the book due to insuficience of time but I use every free moment to relax by reading. Also regular stuff that people enjoy; sex, music, travel, theatre, cinema, interesting social communication, good and diverse food and good relations within my family are my main fuels. Honey: Top 3 websites we would find in your favorites bookmarks bar. Lunar: Wooster Collective, Sweet Station and Style is king Honey: Can you fill us in your upcoming shows and/or projects you are looking forward this year? Lunar: Now parallel with 'Bird watching' in Zagreb, there is an exhibition 'Spray 1387' in Tehran where I participate with two paintings. Next project is a part of Hope Box activities (the humanitarian international project by Rienke Enghardt, based in Amsterdam) and it should take place in March and May in Zagreb, with some of international friends participating. New good festival is taking part in Split/Croatia in May, so after 11 years from last big one there it will be pleasure to attend again along with the rest of my crew. In April, Nina and myself we plan a small tour around Holland and Belgium and for first part of 2009 that would be quite enough, the rest of the year is still far away :) Honey: Finish this sentence.. " Life is short, so remember to .... ". Lunar: ...walk with your senses open but keep your ratio included. Keep the balance. Honey: Alright Slaven, thanks for taking time out to take part in this interview and good luck with everything. Any final words? Lunar: Thank you for the opportunity to show my stuff and I wish you all the best. God gave us two ears and one mouth, twice more to listen than to speak. I didn't see that many people noticed this :) p Links here: http://www.lunar75.com http://lunar.boonika.net http://www.myspace.com/lunar75

Interview: Juan Carlos Bravo

I had the great privilege of interviewing the amazingly talented Juan Carlos Bravo. JC was born in Ica, Peru and moved to Uruguay for a bit before landing in Florida. In this interview, JC talks about his background, inspirations, creative process.. and near the end, he tells us what he would wish for if a genie offered him 3 wishes. Ha! Now onto the interview! p Honey: Hi JC. What purpose do you think art serves in our world? JC: I believe art is the celebration of life and its purpose is to enlighten by teaching and inspiring. It is a form of communication where we can learn from one another. Besides entertainment, art should be an instruction manual on the human condition. Honey: What led you to be an artist? Do you have any formal artistic education? JC: It wasn't until college that I considered becoming an artist. I could always draw, so I took an elective course in drawing and the professor recognized my talent and encouraged me to consider a career in the field. She told me if I practiced an hour a day, that I could make it. So I decided to give it a try and I switched my major from Psychology to Visual Arts. I studied painting at Florida International University. Mainly my professors taught me about conceptual art and how to apply it in my creative process. Technically, I learned to paint on my own, through trial and error. I also have traveled to museums to learn from looking at master paintings. Honey: How would you describe your work? Tell us about your style. JC: I describe my art as tragic comedy. My work may be characterized as absurd and comical, sensual and spiritual, with a streak of the unconscious showing through and always bearing a deeper meaning. I rely on beauty to portray the darker side inherent in us all. I make beauty out of ashes. I term my style as Sensualism. I use the surrealist technique of automatism to establish my compositions and then develop it to a sensual finish. In other words, it is a form of sensual surrealism. p Honey: Can you describe to us your process of creating a new piece? JC: I always begin in my sketchbooks. In my sketchbooks, I work out my ideas. Once I have a concept or an idea that inspires me, I move to paint. I work intuitively, trying to create a vision on canvas. I get pleasure in being able to create figures from my imagination and making them come to life through my work. Sometimes I use references to add realism and details. I paint in oil, applying thin layers of paint. Since oil takes a long time to dry, I try to work on several pieces at one time. While one canvas dries, I focus on the next. I rarely work on one piece exclusively. Honey: How are the reactions on your work in general? JC: The first thing most people do when they encounter my work is laugh. At first they don't know what to make of it. It's painted so beautifully but it depicts disturbing scenes. The tension is broken by laughter. Honey: When are you most productive? JC: I am most productive when I have peace of mind. I work best during moments when I am not thinking of responsibilities or temptations. There is so much one can do besides sitting by your easel and working that it is difficult to concentrate. Going to exercise or surfing at the sunny beach are a constant temptations. p Honey: From where do you most like to draw your inspiration? JC: I get my inspiration from daily life, observing others and experiences. Sometimes I get ideas from dreams or memories. Technically I get inspired by other artist works. Especially the old masters. Honey: What do you think are some of the greatest challenges artists face today? JC: Artists are being persuaded by so many forces that it is a challenge to find your own artistic voice. There are so many choices two dwell into that it becomes problematic. You can do conceptual art or illustration or low brow or movies or graphic design and photography and comics. The challenge is to find your artistic voice. Honey: What's the art scene like in Miami? JC: The Miami art scene is flourishing. A few years a go the Miami art scene was weak. There were a lot of vanity galleries and a lot of decorative art. Our most celebrated painter was BRITTO. But all that is changing with the emergence of Art Basel. Once a year, Art Basel comes to town and Miami becomes a carnival of art. We get to see high caliber work and art celebrities. This event has ignited the art scene and now we have serious galleries and quality emerging artists. We also have one of the best collections in the Rubell's Family. p Honey: What were you like growing up? JC: I was very spoiled. I was the youngest of five children with three sisters and a brother. I was always surrounded by women. As a child, if I didn't get what I wanted I would bang my head on the walls or floor. I lived in Peru for the first eight years, when I moved to the US, I became withdrawn and rebellious. Displacement was hard on me but things got better once I learned the language. But I was a bit of a trouble maker and an occasional brawl or two kept things exciting. Honey: Who are some of your favorite figures in art history? JC: I love Bosch and Van Eyck. There are so many inspirations but if I had to pick the most influential on my art these two would top the list. I also love Rubens, Goya, Da Vinci, Picasso, Dali, Ingres and Bouguerau. Some modern artists would be David Lynch, Joe Coleman, John Currin, Mark Ryden, Charlie White and Louise Bourgeois. Honey: If a genie would grant you 3 wishes, what would those wishes be and why? Hehe. JC: To be financially secured for the rest of my life, that my daughter grows up healthy and finds happiness and that I die peacefully during sleep next to my wife. p Honey: Any current or future projects that you could tell us about? JC: I am currently working on a new series. My new body of work deals with vulnerability and longing. My abundant landscapes have been replaced by modern interiors. I am excited about it. These canvases have a sense of modernity and newness that's refreshing for me. Honey: Final words? Anything you want to say to me? JC: I thank you for the opportunity to speak to a new (your) audience and I encourage people to visit my website and check periodically for future shows and new works. The best is yet to come!! p Links here: http://www.jcbravo.com/ http://www.myspace.com/jcthepoet http://www.jcbravo.blogspot.com/

Interview: Tim Durning

Say hello to Tim Durning (whom we featured back in April) and enjoy his work and what he has to say. It's with great joy that I bring this PA based artist to Sweet Station. Like so many others who have viewed Tim's work I have been deeply impressed with his illustrations. I'm really excited to see where his work goes from here. So please read on and enjoy my friends! p Honey: Why don't we start by telling us a little bit about your background. Tell us about where you grew up or where you are from. Tim: I was born in Upper Darby, Pa, which is right outside of Philadelphia. When I was in middle school, my family moved to West Chester- a rural area further from the city. It was a great change for me- I had hour-long bus rides, but it was through areas of beautifully wooded hills. After graduating high school, I went to art school in the city and have lived in Philadelphia ever since. Honey: When did you get interested in art? What led you to become an artist? Tim: I don't think I remember a time when I wasn't interested in drawing- and in grade school I wanted to be the best artist in class. Regardless of that, I always had an active imagination that I wanted to bring into the real world- so the one thing I was always really conscious of improving was my art. Everything else was a distraction and I wanted to make my passion my 24/7 work. My high school art teacher in particular helped me see art as a viable career and she was very supportive of me: giving me constant critiques on my notebook doodles, letting me use the materials at school, and helped me take classes in the city when our school had no courses available. p Honey: Tell us about your creative process. Tim: It starts with some loose sketching, best inspired by the source material- reading the articles, plays, background research- and trying to find a different way to get to the heart of the matter. After I'm satisfied with the idea behind the sketch, it's time to gather reference. I'm very concerned with trying to find something beautiful, luscious, and engaging to bring the viewer into the picture and empathize in some way. Honey: Do you always know exactly what you're going to draw before you do it? Or does the idea gradually develop during? Tim: Sometimes I'll have an idea right away when faced with a new piece. More often then not, it needs revision. I find that while the core of those ideas remains true to the finish, they tend to be a little superficial and lack depth. Research and revision always to make a piece multidimensional. p Honey: What materials do you normally work in? Tim: I mostly use a red mechanical pencil on watercolor paper to draw my finishes; the pencil doesn't smudge, scans easily because it's not reflective like graphite, and has a good feel on the paper. Beyond that, most of my work is done digitally and incorporates a lot of elements that are scanned in- ink wash, rough gesso on board, etc. Honey: How would you describe your work? Tim: It's a little hard to talk about my own work, but I try to make something that's mysterious, poetic, and dramatic. It's at its best when it's figurative, I like a nice strong line drawing, and I try to take advantage of light as often as possible. Honey: Which illustration that you've made are you most proud of and why? Tim: Most recently, I began a series on the Seasons for a collaborative show. With the Autumn piece, I tried a lot of new things from line color, mark making, and leaving marks be, and all of these things, coupled with a favorite subject matter, ended up being my favorite piece recently. I actually ended up using it as a promotional mailer. p Honey: What would you say most inspires you? Tim: Other artists inspire me more than anything else. Seeing someone else make a great piece of art makes me want to sit down and start working. When I look at artwork, my mind wanders to how I would do things differently, projects on my mind, or pieces I hope to make in the future. Beyond that: feeling the wind, beautiful light, clouds, tall grass, literature, a pretty face, my bookshelf. All of those things make me want to draw and give me the feeling that I should be working Honey: Which artists would you most like to see your art work alongside in an art text book? Tim: If a textbook would go to us working illustrators for art history, I'd be thrilled to be included amongst artists like James Jean and Sam Weber, who are sort of the golden children of illustration at the moment. Honey: Do you enjoy going to comic conventions? Can you tell us a fun memory from there? Tim: I definitely enjoy going to comic conventions. I've always been a comic nerd, so I blend right into the scene there. You see a whole lot of weird things come out of the basements of America when you're at a convention, but I think the weirdest and most disturbing is a man whose lengthy portfolio was based around Loony Tunes erotica. And he always had a crowd at his booth. p Honey: What are your 3 favorite possessions? Tim: Hm. Well, I’m sure I’d be in trouble without my computer, a small dish of seashells and sea glass, and if I can count him as a possession, my cat Amos. Honey: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be? Tim: I’ve only recently done any traveling whatsoever, but I haven’t found a place that entices me more than New York. I know it’s not that far from where I am now, and it might be my love of Woody Allen movies that seals the deal, but so much is accessible to you in New York. I’d love to find a place in Manhattan or Brooklyn to live and work from. Also, Scotland. Honey: What would you like to be doing 10 years from now? Tim: I’d like to be illustrating full time in my own studio and working more often in an editorial/publishing market. And, I’d like a nicer apartment. Honey: Any current or future projects you'd like to share to our readers? Tim: My future projects for the moment are a graphic novel for Powerpop Comics and a gallery show with fellow illustrator SM Vidaurri in July 2009 at Chapterhouse in Philadelphia that I’m very excited about. I have to admit that the latter is a bit daunting. I think I’m just used to images solving problems, so to prepare for the show I’m returning to making images for their own sake. It’s very exciting, but again, daunting. p Links here: http://www.timdurning.com/index.html http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=6054823

Interview: Elser

Today, I bring you Elser-- an exceptional Los Angeles based graffiti artist, member of the MSK (Mad Society Kings) and ICR crew. Read on as Elser shares a few thoughts about his background, creative process and inspirations. He also talks about how hes dealing with his own transition, his own development, and the current state of LA graff scene. I'm pretty sure I'll have more to say once I pick up my jaw off of the floor. That's where it dropped while I was putting this interview together. Read on. p Honey: Hi Elser. How are you doing today? Could you please share your background with our readers who may be unfamiliar? Elser: Im good, I always try and be good. Im from New York, hometown of Brooklyn, and I grew up in North Hollywood, Los Angeles. Im a graffiti artist who grew up gang banging and going to jail and prison, and is now on another path in life. Honey: What were you like growing up? Elser: Growing up I was a very different person than I am now, I took my gangster days very serious. I think back on my frame of mind and actions and I shudder. I have been very lucky and try my hardest not to forget that. I was arrested many, many times, had my house raided, was on a first name basis with the CRASH/GANG UNITs of the LAPD, was shot twice, stabbed, I have an file under the STREET TERRORISM/ GANG act, and I probably dealt a lot more than I got. I don't think I had much respect for life, and I hurt a lot of people. Many of my gang homeboys and crew members are dead, doing life, or have one foot in the grave. The lifestyle we lived growing up led only to a few places, most of them not to nice. So I'm happy now when I can kick it with my friends who have come out on the other side. p Honey: How long have you been living in LA and how do think being in LA has affected your work if at all? Elser: I moved to LA right before JR HIGH/MIDDLE school, I was swept into LA gang culture being one of the only white kids in my neighborhood. LA street life and LA landscapes have had a direct impact on my work. I try and fuse Graffiti and Gang styles together and give it an artistic eye. I want to show rich street and neighborhood culture in my work, and show parts of life everyone can admire or relate to. Honey: What are your feelings on the graff scene in LA at the moment? Elser: To me the Graffiti seen in LA is monumental, west coast styles are leading the way, or at least having a huge impact on the world graffiti scene. There has always been east coast/New York style that we all grew from, but LA has made its impact world wide. You can see our influence everywhere these days. The LA/ west coast style of graffiti wild styles and our block busters based on our gang blocks can now be seen everywhere, as well as our handstyles and tags. There are always hot spots, New Zealand and Australia are hot right now, and South America/Brazil was hot just recently, but to me LA has been leading the way for the last decade. Honey: So why graffiti? When did you first discover your love in this field? Elser: I first saw graffiti in New York riding the subway with my grandma, it was like it spoke to me.I started drawing it all the time. It was like drawing cartoons that were letters. I think I was in 1st or 2nd grade. I never painted walls until 8th or 9th grade, I think graffiti's secret society feel drew me in, the idea of the outsiders and outcasts creating our own secret world. p Honey: How would you describe your work and your style? And could you also tell us how it has developed over the years? Elser: I'm not sure how to describe my style anymore. I think in the beginning my graffiti looked just like everyone elses, now it's about pushing the boundaries, about making something never done before. About size and content and now for me about giving back and helping kids like me find their way in the world. I try and take some of the old, mix it with some of the new, and throw in something no one is doing yet. Sometimes it works, sometimes not, but I get something out of it, and the next time I usually do get it right.I don't think anyone ever thought I would or could develop to where I'm at now. I'm happy to have out grown my own expectations of how good I could get. I always keep in mind that I want to develop more, I don't ever want to be one of those artists that top out, and stop growing. Honey: What is your favorite piece you've made thus far and why? Elser: Favorite piece, that's hard. I'm critical of all my work and always see what I need to improve. Favorite changes, I'm always trying to produce more work. Honey: Is fame important to you? Elser: Fame is a double edged sword. I grew up infamous, because of gangs and graffiti, and my graffiti crew that was feared. I now try and focus on fame helping me reach out to messed up, or misguided, or lonely kids. There aren't many role models these days, I try and be one if I can. I feel if fame can help me to do the things I want to do, and help me take care of the people I love, and make the money I want, than that's great. But I don't ever want to be one of those behind the velvet rope, VIP, stuck up douche bags. I don't want to be one of those people who falls in love with my own legend. I try and keep my feet planted in the dirt. p Honey: Any close encounters with the law? Elser: Close encounters, yeah. I have ran across freeways with helicopters chasing me, dodged, ran, and jumped off rooftops. I have been beatdown by cops, tazzered, teargassed, and riot impact gunned. I spent 4 and a half years in maximum and super maximum control lockdown prisons in California state prison system when I was 18 to 22 years old for home invasions on drug dealers in my gang neighborhood who weren't paying rent to us for dealing in our hood. After I got out I spent another year in prison on my 2nd prison term, plus there was juvenile hall, and LA county jail, etc..I have spent my time and paid my dues. I try and put it all behind me and learn from it. Honey: What has graffiti taught you? Like in what ways graffiti touched your life? Elser: Graffiti has saved me, it has reconnected me with my soul and my artistic side. I was broken and dangerous to myself and the people around me. Graffiti gives me an outlet to reach myself and the rest of the world. Graffiti has taught me to live, not survive. Graffiti has taught me to take almost nothing, like scrap house paint and a few cans of spray paint and turn burnt out, ghetto walls into beautiful murals. It's taught me to see what could be, and with determination and effort make those visions a reality. It has also connected me with great people from around the world that I normally might not ever think I have something in common with, but because of graffiti we find that common bond. p Honey: What would you say most inspires you? Elser: I try and find inspiration in memories and the unlooked at things of life. I try and bring love, or glamour, or pride to aspects of street life often frowned on. I have tried to repackage my life experiences into art that makes people look at street life and images in a different way.I also get inspired by the best and original artists. I don't care how good you are, if it's not original, or pushing into new territory, then I don't care. There’s too many really good artists producing variations of the same crap. I like to see new ideas and styles.Right now Im inspired by black and white drawings and images. Honey: This is a terrible cliche but what kind of music are you into? Elser: Music? I grew up on punk, but listen to it all. Music can really effect the artwork I draw, so I try and listen to it all depending on what Im drawing.I really like Irish folk, and folk with lyrics I feel. Beats also get me pumped. p Honey: How many tattoos do you currently have on your body? Elser: A lot of tattoos, a lot of friends who tattoo for a living. Honey: What keeps you from getting bored? Elser: I live on Union and 6th st. in the Pico Union district of downtown Los Angeles, it's one of the heaviest gang areas of LA. I moved here to work at a non profit to help kids with gang diversion and outreach and help with legal graffiti to give kids positive outlets because the school system has shut down almost every artistic avenue for these kids. I don't have to worry about being bored, ever. Honey: Rules you live by? Elser: I live by the rules of the street, now that's cliche', and by the rule of doing what's right because it's the right thing to do, not because you want a reward. Honey: Where would you take me if I came to visit your town? Elser: I love the little places, taco stands and book stores, trinket shops with cool hard to find things. I also dig the bargains you get in downtown, I hate arguing over prices and feeling like I’m getting ripped off, but in downtown, for some reason I love going back and forth and getting those deals. People always trip when I take them and get them things for rock bottom prices. I think you would enjoy seeing the real LA, not all the plastic clubs and “right back atchya” type people spots. Honey: Any current or future projects you'd like to share with us? Elser: I have a lot of projects, I'm designing signature shirts for a clothing company called SRH, I have a ELSER baseball hat coming out soon, plus a snowboard, plus shows, etc… I have a tour of Europe, New Zealand, Australia, and Japan I'm putting together I'm really excited about with an allstar line up, look for it,DIAMONDS IN THE RUFF p Honey: Got any advice or message for the next generation of writers? Elser: If there are any up and comers reading, just stick with it and shrug the haters off. Practice and don't think graffiti and being a tuff guy go hand in hand, they don;t. Be humble, try it on. If any of you graffiti heads are having problems, get at me if you need someone to talk to, there's always options and ways out. Honey: Any final words? Shoutouts? Thank yous? Elser: I would like to thank my friends, my crews, and PEAP for hooking this up. Shout out to missmess, she inspires me also. Thanks to you for asking me to do this interview. p . Links here: http://www.myspace.com/elsemskicr http://www.flickr.com/photos/24293932@N00/tags/elser/

Interview: Askew

Elliot O'Donnell better known as Askew (previously-blogged) is a top notch graffiti writer who is quickly taking over the world. And like so many others who have viewed Askew's work, I have been deeply impressed with the style and execution of his pieces. His work are truly eye catching. The graffiti world is in good hands if all writers are creating work as outstanding as this guy. Askew was kind enough to field a few questions about his career, his work, thoughts, life.. read on.. I'd listen to anything he has to say. Note: Photos courtesy of the artist. p Honey: Tell us about yourself. Askew: I'm a 29 year old writer or graffiti artist based in Auckland City, New Zealand. I consider myself pretty active across a lot of areas related to our local writing scene and aside from maintaining my enthusiasm for this for over 15 years, I have made an effort to promote, push and elevate the movement out here as much as I can. Honey: How did you choose the name Askew? Askew: Initially I chose the name just on face value more than meaning. I liked the balance of the letters and how I could create symmetry between an 'A' and a 'W', an 'S' and an 'E' and the 'K' could sit in the middle to break it apart or be the unifying character. Of course the words actual meaning lends it self nicely to doing certain things stylistically but I don't often take it there. Honey: What got you into writing graffiti? How did it all start? Askew: I was born in a small city in the lower North Island called Palmerston North. My parents were into punk rock and had me in their mid to late teens. My upbringing was pretty different to a lot of children's to say the least and I spent the first 5 years of my life being the talkative little kid in the punk flats that thought he was one of the adults. For those first 5 years of life I couldn't say I was really aware of any graffiti or Hip Hop culture until 1984 when we moved to the inner city suburbs of Auckland where it was all going on. Style Wars had just screened as the TV One Sunday documentary and all the kids in my area were spinning on their backs on bits of cardboard wearing Adidas Stirrup pants and Bata Bullets and crews like Smooth (featured in Spay Can Art) and Fly were painting the neighborhood walls with their interpretation of NYC subway art. I was an impressionable little guy walking the train lines to school and taking it all in. I think subconsciously it all really made an impact and shaped me some how. In my first year of High school, tagging after drunken nights out with my friends was just a part of being a teenager in my city and almost a rite of passage. I'm not sure at what point it began to become all consuming for me but I know by about 16-17 it was pretty much all I did. p Honey: On average, how long does it take you to finish a piece? Askew: That really depends on the circumstances. Anything from 7- 8 minutes to a whole day. Honey: Do you think graffiti is always self expression? Askew: In some way, yes but to varying degrees. Sometimes the act of tagging impulsively or doing a quickly executed freestyle can seem more expressive and a better outlet than a meticulously constructed masterpiece. Over all though, any artistic endeavor is a reflection of you as it's creator and that makes it expression. Honey: Is contracted graffiti still graffiti? Askew: By definition, no. It moves into the realm of graffiti inspired art, which is still OK in my books, especially when done by someone that has paid a certain amount of dues. Honey: Would you mind if someone tagged your property without your permission? Askew: It really is a question of motivation. I have a commercial studio space with shop front on a main road and from time to time it gets tagged. I don't really get upset unless it's directed AT me intentionally, then of course I get insulted but if it was just another surface amongst many on a nights spree then I don't get so upset. It's the same with my work too. It often gets tagged out of ignorance, which is better than when it gets dissed by someone that knows better. p Honey: If you could meet one famous artist, who would that be? Askew: I really don't know. So many come to mind for different reasons. Honey: What makes you happy? Askew: Outside of art, hanging with my girl, playing with my animals, TMD BBQ's and strong espresso. Within art it's pushing myself on all levels. From getting over without being caught, improving my style with time, Pushing myself conceptually, engaging an audience, documenting my work well and generally just evolving as a creative person with something to say. Honey: What accomplishments in your life would you say have given you that most satisfaction? Askew: I am never totally satisfied with anything I do, that's how I keep motivated. I have always set goals and more or less achieved them from early on. I'm ambitious and still hungry after all this time, that's who I am. There's a lot I've done within NZ but it's a big bad world out there and I would like to spend a decent amount of time in other places and trying to learn more and then in return make some impact on those places somehow, That's how writing works I reckon. Honey: If you were on a deserted island, and you could choose 3 items to take with you, what would they be? Askew: I hate questions like this! Haha. Maybe my Macbook Pro, because my music and photos are on there, an endless supply of good coffee and an espresso machine. p Honey: Tell us something funny that happened to you lately. Askew: One Sunday afternoon a few weeks back, some friends and I were painting some freights near a famous gay cruising spot. We became aware after a while that there was a rather large Islander standing in the bushes behind us watching us paint. He was jerking off! Honey: What have been your favorite projects to date and why? Askew: Disrupt The System jams between 2000 - 2005. Disrupt Magazine, InForm the book, Watch this Space show with Misery and Elliot Francis Stewart and my website. Honey: In your own opinion, what do you think is the most important thing that artists bring to the community? Askew: Soul. p Honey: Where do you see yourself and your work go from here in the near future? Oh and also, what are you working on now, if you care to say? Askew: I'm working very hard to bring more message and purpose to my work and to convey that even better with the way I document and present that work to the world. I'm very interested in developing this idea I have for a big show/body of work that could really capture the energy of the street and present it in a gallery setting and also bringing that intellectuality into my street work without forfeiting true foundations and letter style. I have a big fear of becoming a street artist rather than a writer if I do that and finding the balance is important for me. Currently I am working on another book, it's focused on the last 2 years of my work and shows all the working processes, inspiration from current events, action shots and journal entries with the stories from the missions and travels. It isn't like 'The' book of my work or an anthology because I'm still young and not done yet. It's just a window into what I've been doing in the past 2 years in what I would consider a really pivotal stage in my career and development as an artist. Honey: Any message or advice to anyone that may be reading this interview? Askew: Just to find an honest voice in whatever you do. There's a lot of talented people out there and taking influence is easy but taking the plunge and settling on how you want to make your specific statement is hard but vital. Honey: Final remarks? Anything you wanna say to me? Askew: Keep doing what you do! p Links here: http://askew1.com/ http://www.myspace.com/askewtmdsuk

Interview: Mr. Hooper

I am extremely pleased to introduce artist extraordinaire Mr. Hooper, whose work I really admire. Mr. Hooper lives and works in Nashville, Tennessee. He is an artist you will want to keep on your radar for sure. I was instantly inspired when I saw his paintings, so, last week, I asked Mr. Hooper a few questions about inspiration, his body of work and how he goes about producing it. Here are his responses.. p Honey: For our readers, could you tell us something about yourself? Mr. Hooper: My name is Tim Hooper and I am a life long resident of Nashville, Tennessee. Yee Haw! I have operated under the pseudonym “Mr. Hooper” since 1996. I started signing my work that way in college as a joke, but it kind of stuck after a while. Honey: Why are you an artist? Mr. Hooper: I think I always wanted to be an artist, though I took a long and winding path to get there. I far back as I can remember I was always drawing. I emulated the funny pages, as best I could, when I was about 5. Basically, I can’t think of anything I would rather do. Honey: What can you tell us about the basics of your artwork? Mr. Hooper: Basically, I work with acrylics and a variety of found scraps of paper. My work is informed by pop culture and somewhat inspired by southern folk art. Honey: Tell us about your creative process. Mr. Hooper: I rely on anything and everything for inspiration. I am self-employed and my living from creating and selling my work. I like to get up really early in the morning, usually around 4:30 am. A lot of times dreams are fresh in my mind. Often I combine memories with dreams to advent narrative scenes. p Honey: What are you trying to express through your work? Mr. Hooper: I tend to think about paintings as visual narratives. So, what I am trying to do, more than anything else, is to tell a story. I create a world where these characters exist and I illustrate their lives. In turn, I am trying to tell you something about my life. In my work, these bears, robots and bunnies usually represent actual people I have known. Honey: What is it that you love about your artworks? Mr. Hooper: I really enjoy painting. I like to have fun with it. Even when I am on a heavy subject like addiction, or temptation, I have a playful approach. I like to pull in lots of odd-ball references that are, more or less, things that make me laugh. I spend many hours alone in my studio every day. So, I think a person would have to enjoy being alone with his thoughts. Honey: How long have you been painting? Mr. Hooper: I painted my first painting in 1998 right after I graduated college. I actually studied printmaking and never had a painting class in college. Honey: What were you like growing up? Mr. Hooper: A complete knucklehead! I was a terrible student all through school. I was constantly playing practical jokes and involved in some sort of mischief. p Honey: How does one learn to be as talented as you are? Mr. Hooper: That is a nice thing for you to say. I am not sure how talented I am. I like what I do and work awfully hard at what I do. Honey: What's the best thing that happened to you today? Mr. Hooper: I woke up next to my wonderful wife. Honey: What would you say your best virtue? Mr. Hooper: My work ethic. Honey: What websites do you find yourself regularly visiting then? Mr. Hooper: I like to look at artist friends’ web sites a lot: www.kevintitzer.com www.bloodle.com www.dolangeiman.com Lately, I have been on Wikipedia a lot. I guess I am kind of late to the Wiki craze, but I have been reading bios on a bunch of bands I liked from the 80’s and 90’s. p Honey: How would your life change if you were no longer allowed to make art? Mr. Hooper: I hope that never happens. I guess I would hope to be creative in something other than visual arts. Maybe I would finally learn to play the banjo. Honey: Future? Upcoming shows and/or projects, etc..? Mr. Hooper: I am heading to Memphis next weekend for an art festival called River Fest. I will be doing a show with some friends of mine in Atlanta December 6. Honey: Thank yous? Shoutouts? Anything you wanna say to me? Mr. Hooper: Thanks for asking me to do this. I would be happy to talk to anyone who is interested or has questions about my work. I am hoping to have my new web site up and running by early next week. So I will invite anybody who is interested to come by and visit. p Links here: http://www.mrhooperart.com/index.html http://www.myspace.com/mrhooperart

Interview: Geoff Budd

Geoff Budd is one of the very gifted photographer whose work I became aware of through Peap. Right away you can recognize Geoff's talent by viewing the various portraits and street scenes in his portfolio. We felt it was necessary to seek an interview with him. p Honey: Name, age, where you from and were you brought up there? Geoff: Geoff Budd, 32, west Auckland, New Zealand.. and yeah, brought up here. Peap: Could you let people know about what it was like growing up in West Auckland? People overseas don't realize parts of Auckland New Zealand is pretty ghetto at times most people think we just eat fish and chips while bungee jumping with gumboots on landing in a pile of sheep poo! Honey: Hahaha.. sheep poo.. ew. Geoff: Hahaa.. it's definitely not all gumboots and sheep poo! I love west Auckland.. there are some parts that are dodgier than others and it smells a bit like burnt rubber (tyres not gumboots) but it's hard to beat. Having beaches like Piha and Te Henga so close and the Waitakere Ranges is golden.. I've gotta pinch myself sometimes to realise how lucky I am. Growing up here was great, it's a nice backyard.. and we do have some mean fish and chip shops! Honey: When did you know you wanted to be a photographer? Geoff: I enjoyed playing around with my parents camera when I was a kid but I guess it really started when I was traveling around Europe in '99 and buzzing off all the amazing things I was seeing. I just felt a need to capture it as best I could which is when I got my first SLR. Honey: How long have you been shooting and how did you get your start on photography? Are you self-taught or did you have any formal photography education? Geoff: I've been pretty much shooting seriously since '99, for the most part self-taught. I did study photography at high school briefly and joined a camera club when living in England and I learnt a lot from the guys there.. I came back to NZ in 2003 to focus on it and take it a bit further. I've done a few workshops since and read a heap of books but for sure the best way to learn is just to shoot and experiment. p Honey: How would you describe your photographic style? Geoff: Mmm.. it's a mix I spose. I'm naturally quite curious so I tend to look for different angles and perspectives that add interest to a subject.. and hopefully challenge the viewer. I find that rewarding. Honey: Tell us about your technical process and what kind of equipment do you use? Geoff: For the work side it's mostly digital.. it just makes sense for work flow. I use a Canon 1DS for studio and a 40D for random stuff, fight photography etc.. it's a great camera for the money. For pleasure I've got a collection of old school film cameras I like to experiment with.. Lomo's, Holga, Mamiya and some other classic medium format and 35mm. my Nan gifted me her old box brownie which is cool. Honey: How has digital technology changed your photography? Geoff: It's made the experimenting a lot more affordable (without the film and processing costs) and the results are more instant.. because of that speeding up the learning process. The ability to shoot RAW is great and imaging software such as Photoshop only limits your creativity to your imagination. Peap: I know you have done allot of traveling, could you tell us your 3 favorite cities to photograph and share to us any fun project that you've had? Geoff: Wow, thats hard. 3 favourites.. Tokyos pretty mad and fun to get lost in. The architecture and history in Europe is great, Prague would be up there and burning through rolls of velvia for the Carnival in Venice was amazing.. oh and for sure New York for the constant vibe and fact that it truly never sleeps. I love that place. Ha!.. sorry. that's 4. p Peap: You have been featured in Sneaker Freaker. How many pair of sneakers do you own? And when did this obsession for sneakers begin? Geoff: Not enough! maybe a dozen or so at the moment... I like picking up trainers from different places I visit. I remember camping outside a sneaker store when I was 13 or 14 to score a pair of Jordan V's.. then living in England took the appreciation to another level, there's some amazing stores over there. Yeah, the Sneaker Freaker interview was sweet.. (www.sneakerfreaker.com/articles/Sneakers-On-Powerlines) Woody covered the Sole Intentions project I'm working on to unravel the mystery behind shoes hanging from powerlines and the exposure from his mag was huge. It's an ongoing project collecting images and theories from all over the world so I've met some incredible people along the way.. the Skewville brothers from New York are turning out some insane street art and the guys from Plexus Films in Adelaide who are putting together a documentary on the phenomenon.. we're working on getting a show over to Oz in the new year. Peap: What does it mean when a pair of shoes is hanging from power lines or telephone wires? I find this very interesting. Tell us what you know. Geoff: How much time have you got?! ;) there's been a heap of theories sent in and I'm finding out there's a lot more depth to it than I could have ever imagined. Gangs, drugs, marking of territories.. to high school bullying, drunken nights with friends.. political statements and losing virginity.. there's even alien conspiracies! Whatever the reason there's a definite art to it and I'm sure anyone who checks out the show would agree. (www.soleintentions.com) p Honey: In your opinion, who are the most significant photographers to date? Geoff: For me, the documentary work of Marti Friedlander and Ans Westra is really important.. they captured New Zealand through the 60 & 70's brilliantly and the people of that era. Their images of the Maori people and culture is something very special to our country and something I believe that will be cherished for generations to come. Honey: Who and what inspires you? Geoff: Creative people.. people pushing things in new directions and following their dreams. Visiting new places and being in a different environment is also inspiring for me. It's a rush to land in a new place with a camera in hand. Honey: In what way photography touched your life? Geoff: I think that what you do makes you who you are so it's influence on my life has been huge. For me its changed the way I view the world and trained my perception in general.. not that I spend my life looking through a viewfinder but it does help condition the eye and appreciate things that might otherwise be overlooked. On a simpler level I've become an uncle for the first time recently so the opportunity to use photography to capture my new niece has been really exciting. I feel fortunate to have been introduced to photography. p Peap: Being a full-time photographer is a dream of many. What is it like living your dream job? Geoff: Yeah, it's pretty cool... there are some jobs that are more creative than others but for someone that loves photography using a camera to put food on the table is very rewarding. I have a background in signwriting so I also enjoy working with typography and graphic design, they compliment the photography side really well. Peap: What are the very best and worst lessons you learned in the business? Geoff: Learning to work with other creative (and sometimes non creative) teams can be interesting.. keeping an open mind and making the most of opportunities no matter how insignificant they might appear at the time. No real bad lessons except maybe relying too much on technology.. backing up memory cards and keeping batteries charged is always helpful. Any lesson learned is a good one. Peap: Favorite Beer? Geoff: Moa Noir. Honey: What animal would you be if you were one? Geoff: Probably a kiwi as I'm quite nocturnal but not being able to fly would be stink... so maybe a bat. p Peap: What song best describes your life right now? Geoff: New York I Love You but You're Bringing Me Down by LCD Soundsystem. Honey: Could you live without a computer? Geoff: I'd like to think so.. but I doubt it would be as productively. Honey: What do you have planned for the future? Upcoming project and/or shows, etc.. Geoff: The sneaker project as mentioned above, I'm working on getting skewville down to this part of the world to collab on a show together. I've been shooting a lot of kick boxing fights lately so we're planning to put together an exhib on that also. Long term, there's a book project on the go and a future exhibition on the deer massacres of Phoenix Park in Dublin.. from a dogs perspective. watch this space! Peap: Anything you wanna say to us? Shout outs? Geoff: Just a massive thanks to you guys for the opportunity to spiel and for putting together such a creative space.. it's inspiring checking out other works on here and I'm stoked to be part of it. Look forward to meeting up in New York soon! ;) Yeeeaah!! p Links here: http://www.lensflare.co.nz/ http://www.soleintentions.com/ http://www.myspace.com/soleintentions