Trying to get ahead

From 1987 to 1992 I tried my hand at doing graffiti on running trains. I found the culture around trains hyper-competitive. I had always preferred doing graffiti on the streets because it was something you could do on your own. Graffiti is very repetitive and requires a lot of time to get your name known. From the late 80s until 2004 I wandered the streets tagging but in 2004 I started taking psychiatric medication for schizophrenia. I think I had always had schizophrenia as an underlying issue but I found ways of managing it. In 2004 it was getting unmanageable. I had turned a corner in my life. It was challenging but in the long run rewarding. It took around 8 years to stabilise and my personal life was still a bit of a mess. Once I had a few years of feeling better and no longer suffering things were manageable and I could run my life on my own. In 2004 the idea of tagging lost its appeal because I lost that obsessive drive for repetition that I once had. I was still suffering but not as often and I tried to find ways to keep myself interested in graffiti. Around 2010 or so I knew I had to improve my output. I stopped illegal graffiti in 2007 and for a few years, I still hung onto my active mentality. Active being my desire to do simple work that was fast. Graffiti had become quite boring for me and I knew I had to challenge myself. I feel that I got a handle on that by 2014. I started scaling my work up and adding more detail. I was still working fast but I layered my work and added complexity by using simple ideas. 

One of the main interests of my work is chaotic, line filled work that is seemingly uncontained. I want it to look messy but have moments of clarity and clear forms working off each other. I find contrast interesting. For example, a flat shape or line contrasting with an illusion of depth. I am never really happy with my work but I feel compelled to keep exploring and making it. I try to document and have a good photographic record of my work on walls. I mainly put what work I have recorded on Flickr as it can handle large panoramic work at high resolution. I suppose the only goal of doing this work is to be able to publish it in a book or maybe print large format photos for an exhibition in the future. Graffiti is such a competitive art form that is dominated by a lot of American and European artists. I am only a relatively unknown artist who is more in the vein of a new wave of graffiti artists who reference art other than traditional graffiti. Though my work also has references to more traditional types of graffiti as well. I tend to move back and forth between art and graffiti. Graffiti is an art form as well but traditionally it is about getting up your name. So the graffiti celebrated is from the dominant voices of getting up from the past and present. There are exceptions as some artists get up in new and interesting ways. I am definitely not getting my name up. I can only hope that my work can find a niche. It is especially hard in Australia as generally, the culture looks for cues from overseas to follow. We are a vassal state of the crumbling US empire. Unfortunately, our fate lies in the hands of other nations. 

Most artists I have known have always set their sites on going to the US or Europe. I have never left the country other than visiting China. My main collaborator has been to Europe multiple times and has made contact with many dominant graffiti artists. He mainly went to visit family but took the time to do work in Europe. This has improved his profile and his work is highly regarded internationally. Yet in Australia, he is misunderstood and rarely appreciated. Though he has a small following in Australia with some culturally enlightened types. This I suppose shows that you need official financial backers from overseas to get doors opening in Australia. At the same time, I am very aware that I would never have been able to do what I do if I wasn’t in Australia. Besides being a backwater that lacks the cultural might of Europe or the US it is a great place to create work. I am always surprised at the talent that I see over the years appearing from the 80s or 90s and beyond on social media. There has always been a vibrant graffiti scene intermingled with aggression mind you. The few backers who have come about such as Tony Spanos seem to have tried to lift the culture of graffiti but we needed more people like him to really get things moving. Now street art is leading the way commercially and in various festivals, though graffiti is not encouraged and usually turns up somewhat modified in festivals. The main thing I find working today is that people get in contact through blind ambition. Normally they will get in contact just to get information on a wall you are painting. I suppose there is both light and dark in all matters. I would like to finish by transporting you to the very top of Mount Everest. The pinnacle of the world! Where those wanting to reach the top walk over the many dead and dying bodies with the one goal in mind of reaching the highest point in the world.       

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