Thursday, 14 February 2013

Off The Wall

An Interview

In the beginning there was Graffiti - yep you read it right, over thirty thousand years ago mankind was leaving hand prints and painting animals on cave walls. So the impulse to make a mark is in our DNA and is as old as mankind itself. These days, painting on walls can be just as knarly but it's now loads of fun and with modern day methods like using low pressure spray cans, paint pens, inks, paste ups and so much more, it has certainly stepped it up a notch…

Of course some people are better at throwing pigments around then others, we take a look at a prolific artist named CoLor who uses mostly spray cans to get his message across. Chef by day and graffiti artist by night he is a whizz with a can and has been commissioned to paint not just walls but, cars, pianos and beer kegs, dumpsters, skateboards and the list goes on. 

We caught up with CoLor for a chat and followed him on a spray mission, here's how it went…

RDC: Hey CoLor, it's ace to finally hook up, where are you from and where are you living now please?

I grew up mainly in Hebden Bridge in West Yorks. I've lived in Sheffield, UK for nearly ten years though, so it just about feel like I'm from here.

RDC: What media do you use?

Spray paint and peeling plaster. Occasionally stencils or pens for adding detail. If I'm stuck in the house I spend a lot of time sharpening pencils and wearing down rubbers. I also like to make things, custom toys, jewellery, clothes, i'm quite handy with a needle and thread. I know, GANGSTA. I'll pretty much use anything though. I've made pieces out of sponge, lichen and bar stools to name a few.

RDC: Can you describe your art for us and are you self taught?

Mostly I tip out some imagination to put smiles on people faces. I'd describe the majority of my work as lowbrow surrealism. Yes, self taught I did art at GCSE and a 3D GCSE at college for fun but I've not been to art school. I think drawing is just about looking carefully at things, it's a bit like playing spot the difference. Anyone can do it if they put some hours in. Learning to paint with cans is still ongoing. I think its the easiest medium to make a mess with but I'm gradually getting better.

RDC: Tell us how your love of graffiti began, was tagging walls the start or was there more to it than that?

Pretty cliche, got into bombing as a teenager but had a few close calls so by the time I was 20 I pretty much just painted pieces. I get just as much of a buzz now out of finding a new spot as I ever did out of the adrenaline you get painting streets

RDC: You have a lot of various shaped characters in your illustrations like happy faces and worms on varying backgrounds, can you tell us where the inspiration for those came from?

Ha where do I start. I have a few series based projects running so at the moment, worms, eggs, bulbs, and pigeons all feature heavily. The worms are just stupid. I like the idea of things emerging out of places. That's it really. That and lots of objects like pipes, girders, archways all lend themselves well to being 'turned.' The eggs are part of a series called 'All Ova'. Eggs have lots of connotations, take your pick. For me though they're about that old idea of being up. I like to put at least one at every spot I paint at. The bulbs are called 'Bright Ideas', or sometimes... ha. 
They're about making people look twice. Finding something interesting where you thought there was nothing. And the pigeons are the work of a one man 'crew' called DPF (Dead Pigeon Fanciers) of which I am the founder and only member. I think the bestiality/necrophilia double header is off-putting for new recruits. Basically, as I'm sure a man of your experience knows, most good urbex sites have a fair number of deceased residents. I once went to a place that conspicuously had none so I was forced to paint one to keep me company. Since then I've been adding them anywhere that's lacking one!  

RDC: Do you prefer working from pictures or making up your own characters?

If you want things to look like what they look like, photo is the best way for me. But you can't take a photo of the inside of your head so I paint mostly from sketches. If its something I'm confident with I'll freestyle it. 

RDC: What spray paint brand do you enjoy using the most and why, also are you sponsored by anyone?

I grew up on Hardcore and Hycotes but now I only really use 94. It finishes soft which suits my pieces, wicked colour range, all matt, low pressure, stock caps are bang on, smells like pear drops ha. I'll sometimes use Alien if the colour matches better but I'd say 99% 94. I'm not sponsored but I'm looking to get a deal with Country Choice Cider. If anyone from there is reading this - if you sort me a 4 pack for every piece, I'll drop you mad shouts.  

RDC: You spray on tons of various surfaces and items, we know you have hit on cars and pianos recently, what other items have you sprayed on?

Erm I'd say the most interesting thing I've painted is a tank. I'll try anything that finds it's way in front of me really though, beer barrels, bins, JCBs, tree stumps, Russian dolls, the list goes on...  

RDC: Have you got a favourite City to paint in?

Sheffield obviously. I'd rate the urbex(urben exploration) here as some of the best in the world and I'm not the only person making the most of it, so the urbex art here is thriving and varied. I visit Barcelona often too though and the scene there is so good that I always like to leave a little part of Sheffield there.

RDC: Some artists use an outline technique when they start an illustration, others just jump in and start filling in block colours straight away, which one are you?

I'm the sit around smoking and pour out something weird type. My drawing style wouldn't feature in any lessons. if I'm stuck for ideas i play that game squiggles with myself. I've always liked trying to make something out of an odd shape, a lot of my impromptu pieces are based on the same idea.

RDC: Is painting your day job?

I don't push making money out of painting so I have to have a real job part time to make sure I've got the bills covered. I think as soon as you turn your favourite thing into your job, you're bound to have to compromise on exactly what it is you do and it has the potential to get annoying. As soon as someone is paying for something, they have control over what its going to be like, which is fair but I prefer being skint and doing what I want.

RDC: Are you a hat on the head person or hair on free flow?

Ha well I've always got a hat on, but what's under it is pretty free flowing.

RDC: Have you got any words of wisdom to inspire new artists?

Hit books before you hit any walls. Don't care too much what other people think. Please yourself. Watch your feet.   

RDC: What  shows, events or commissions have you got coming up?

I've got various live paint events coming up, few jams lined up for later in the year and I have semi permanent gallery shows in any derelict building I can sneak over the fence to.

RDC: A big thank you for the phat chat and for letting us tag along CoLor, it's been a hoot ☋ 

For more from this artist look at the links below...

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