Sakumzi and Msindisi Nyendwana: painting a brighter future on the walls of Motherwell

by Kelly Macbeth Mackay

“I want to inspire anyone reading this article not to lose hope. I am who I am because of hope, love and passion” – Sakumzi Nyendwana

Creative expression is a fundamental human need, yet art supplies and funding is a privilege that can be taken for granted. Imagine if the tools you use as a creative outlet were stolen from you. What measures would you take to get them back?

Sakumzi and Msindisi Nyendwana, brothers born in the Motherwell Township in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, watched funding donated by an international donor to build an art centre in Motherwell be absorbed by greed and money laundering in their community.

Their response? Create their own home into a gallery for their community and open it to travellers from all over the world. They moved their personal belongings into one shared bedroom and used their main living space to showcase their artworks to inspire the community themselves.

As my sister and I sat listening deeply to the explanations of each intricately detailed piece – art which both embraced South Africa’s challenging past and empowered its future- we absorbed the stories of pride and strength explained for each piece, both sat entirely in awe of the creative precision yet the breadth of passionate expression these brothers demonstrated within their work.

“We openly welcome any support that can add value to the success of our community development work. We want to put Motherwell on a world map in terms of attractions and beauty, and the tool we trust is art” – Sakumzi Nyendwana

Their dedication to bettering their community is something everyone should be devoted to. If we all adopted this mentality then not only would we live in a sustainable world, but we would share the collective ambition of simply doing better.

I spoke with Sakumzi directly about how he started and where Hand-in-Hand Visual Arts Studio is today.

When did you and your brother start Hand in Hand Studio?
I started the love of art in 1994 at grade3 in primary school and continued in high school but couldn’t progress because there were no art classes/subjects at school. But I didn’t lose hope and continued making bucks out of signage because I was unemployed, so to further my skill I joined an art culture organisation called Arp which was funded by an international donor to uplift potential talent, but I couldn’t complete the fine art course because the place was disbanded due to maladministration. In 2012 I managed to transform my own room into an art studio and named it Hand-in-Hand.

Is funding often stolen from the community?
There’s a lot of maladministration through our communities because we are living in a sad situation where there’s trash all around the streets. There’s always an annual budget allocated for waste control and arts and culture, but nothing ever comes from it. So yeah, there’s a lot of corruption.

Why do you do what you do?
I do what I do because I love art and am passionate about it. Art is a good therapy to heal wounds and also educate the nation. As someone who meets people from different cultures and destinations on a daily basis, I can say that art is an international language. Art means a lot to us because we are who we are today because of it; this is not just art but a way to communicate, heal and educate.

What’s the response from your community?
As people who grew up in the Motherwell township, it was not easy for us to pursue art as a career. We were overlooked and taken as lazy, crazy brothers but through passion, perseverance and hard work we managed to gain respect, love and support from the community through using art as a tool to transform communities. So it’s a great achievement to educate that art is a dignified career and we can change the stereotype if we can work together in educating and beautifying our communities.

Any other creative projects going on in Motherwell?
We’ve got plenty of talent but there’s a lack of motivation. The only project that strives for change and skill exchange is Hand-in-Hand concept that was developed by me and my bro in order to work with anyone who has a vision for change in order to bridge the gap where necessary.

What’s next for Hand in Hand?
Our next step is to make international relations and opportunities because our future outlook is to exhibit and create murals around the world.

What would you do with paint donations?
I will archive the dream of creating a mural or artistic route that carries our past, present, future. The best part of this project is the fact that it combines children and adults within the community’s development because all the work we do is to educate and exchange the skill of storytelling via art with the mission of beautifying communities, transferring and building self-worth.

What are your hopes for the future of Motherwell?
In 5 years I wish to see Motherwell on a world attraction map and to see a lot of development in terms of skill development and education.

Who have you collaborated with?
As you know, our studio attracts mostly people from abroad and we have a session whereby we walk around the township and visit all the nearest creative people for them to share their story and also showcase their craft. We do a walkabout around the community and show the paintings on the walls created during an art Exchange project together with Luc and other local creatives.

What are you currently working on?
I’m working on creating an event in celebrating youth day. The theme of the event is “Art in the Park” and the vision is to create a platform for artists and crafters to exhibit or showcase their work. The park will form a part of the artistic route that will start from our studio to the nearest area and end at the local primary school where I went to school. I am passionate about giving back to them because it was where I realised I was an artist, and often hold workshops with the school.

Who are Hand-in-Hand?
We’re a group of people working to collaborate, create and share beautiful, vibrant art with the community and the world. So far we’ve transformed two illegal dumpsites into major attractions within our township and have done many murals around Port Elizabeth. We have also been featured in exhibitions and galleries as well. Currently, we’re working to create a walking tour within our township filled with amazingly unique art and murals that portray our culture and history- past, present and future.

“I never imagined that our project would get this far and I will never stop creating art and exchanging the art skill in order to educate and also prevent the youngsters from getting bored and doing drugs.”
– Msindisi Nyendwana

Get involved!
“We would really appreciate any assistance from those reading this article on our biggest mural yet. It is approximately 40 meters in length and 2meters high. It is a blank wall outside of our community rugby and cricket stadium and will conclude the tour and history walk if the township. We would really appreciate any assistance in co-hosting a beautiful piece within our township for the community and visitors alike to be able to learn and grow from our culture and history through art.”
– Sakumzi Nyendwana

Get in touch!
Email: sakumzinyendwana@gmail.com
Trip adviser: Hand in Hand Visual art studios
Facebook: Sakumzi Nyendwana
Facebook Page: Hand in Hand visual art studios

Interview with Alexander Blot

Using the urban landscape and forlorn buildings as his muse, Alexander Blot employs a sympathetic approach to create playful site specific art works. In this interview Russian artist Blot speaks to us about his process and techniques!

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Please tell us a little bit about yourself! 

Alexander Blot. I’m 27. I live in Penza, Russia.

How long have you been making art? How did you start?

I started drawing as a child, at first I used paper. I made my first drawing outside in 2008. It was a kind of experiment for me, I wanted to try something new: new surface, new space. Since that moment I have thought that the streets are the best place for art.

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Painting on the street is a lot different to paper – how did you make this transition?

Mostly I draw without sketches because pre-made sketches do not always fit the wall or space. This is why I always find a certain place for drawing first and then make up everything from there. However I do prepare sketches and ideas for festivals and big projects beforehand. It is really important for me to complete my work on the streets with only my thoughts instead of planning and destroying the work’s authenticity. I do not only work with walls, I like to draw on objects found in the streets, on building offsets and other elements of urban space.

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Do you do legal or illegal pieces?

 In fact, I draw illegally. However I am not a vandal. I do not want to get approval for my ideas. This is why I search for calm places where nobody can disturb me. Forsaken houses, unusual lanes and alleys, ramshackle buildings with interesting patterns.

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Who do you paint for?

I draw for myself and for everyone who may appreciate it now or in the future. The creative process and its result are very important for me. But street art is supposed to be seen, you know, the streets have an audience. The audience is very receptive creature, it has a certain reaction. The artist and the audience have a kind of communication through art. It is a wonderful process.

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What styles/materials/techniques inspire you?

I like different art mediums and mixed media painting techniques. Every art medium is really unique and one-of-a-kind. Currently I’m focused on using spray paint and adding some elements with the help of an art brush.

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How does location affect how you work/what you paint?

My ideas for drawings are often influenced by the place, because I always look for harmony and coexistence between the art and the place. The approaches of drawing I use stay the same.

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If resources were no issue, what would you create/do?

I would like to travel all around the world. I want to meet interesting people and street artists with plenty of guts. I think that we would probably create interesting works together. There is a kind of creative idea and energy exchange and the possibility to inspire each other.

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Where is the best place in the world to be a graffiti artist?

The world is a huge place for art. I think that there are unique and atmospheric places for street art in every city. The uniqueness of such places can inspire in different ways, making you think of new themes and ideas for your drawings.

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What else have you been up to recently? What are your plans for the future?

 I want to join great big projects, make ambitious drawings, communicate with interesting people, tell my street art stories, and experiment with canvas and paper in the future.

Thanks Alexander !

INTERVIEW WITH ADOR

The Parade Balade et Distorsion project, initiated by Ador and Semor has been running since last year, and finally came to an end this month.

With the completion of the project came the opportunity to finally speak to French artist Ador about his last year of work, as well as finding out more about himself and the inspiration behind his work.

Enjoy!

Where are you from and when did you start painting?

I was born in Nantes, France. I painted my first scene in 2005 but I started drawing when I was kid. I tried tagging a bit before but I never enjoyed letters because I was so bad at it!

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Why do you paint?

I don’t really know. No one drew around me but I did. I don’t really enjoy anything else, except throwing stones at ducks but that’s not a job. Drawing is a way to never feel bored, even after visiting a bad exhibition or when watching bad movies, I mean everything can be a source of inspiration.

Tell us about the Parade Balade et Distorsion project you have been working on with street artist Semor. How did the project get started? What is the aim of the project?

We just really wanted to enjoy painting walls and drawing for a while.  We are drawers first, and we saw a decline in our universe, especially with the amount of different media there are. The first step of this project was an exhibition in Nantes in 2016, with the same name. We built a sculpture in the same way we draw. You can see it here:

The second step was a series of murals, here is the video:

Step by step we found partners, and this idea turned into a journey through Nantes city, painting walls in districts where there are often no artistic events.

We were interested in the link between showing work in a private and a public way; indoor and outdoor; murals and exhibitions. We kept trying to build and tell stories through different murals in the public space.

As we are used to painting outside and meeting people randomly, we wanted the organisation of this project to  involve he people we met. This is what we did, and we build ideas through getting in touch with people living in the area we wanted to paint.

Even though the general idea behind the pieces weren’t directly given by the people, we introduced a lot of details and anecdotes picked up from meeting them. We wanted each wall to have some context to locals, as well as to have people discuss the piece before, during and after the realisation of the artwork.

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What has been your favourite part of the project so far?

Behind each piece there is a lot of hidden energy, a lot of ideas from different people, a huge will and a lot of pretext to talk about. For example, in “Le Chateau de Rezé”, we painted a penguin “Le Voyageur” with a big backpack. He is eating a banana and he’s standing on an electric wire like a swallow.

I’m not saying he’s my favourite piece, but it was the first wall we did for this project and there are a lot of stories behind his backpack and in what he carries. Parade, Balade and Distorsion talks about migration, travel, and this animal was built with a lot of people who don’t carry borders, no matter what they look like.

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What has been the affect of the project to the city of Nantes?

As we come from this town, it was important for us to invest several places and districts here. We had already done few projects in Nantes, but this time it is a city-scale project.

How important is it to work with young people and locals in street art projects like Parade Balade et Distorsion?

It’s important to use the pretext of painting to generate a buzz and great an energy. Getting ideas, sharing the vision of things, staring at the surrounding and contributing to a will to imagine. Young people are more spontaneous than us, and picking up ideas from them and locals means we can make something happen together.

We don’t wanted to arrive, paint, and leave.

I hope painting a wall can be seen as a novel behaviour nowadays, and can incarnate an alternative process to be alive in our epoch and society.

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What’s the story behind your three-eyed characters?

There are a lot of symbols in the third eye, I don’t know each of them. I’ll wait for people to help me if possible! Maybe three eyes are better than two! Whatever the meaning, we will never have enough eyes to see!

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What inspired you to choose the style you paint?

Everything that surrounds me, inspires me, just as much as other artists do or a simple act as taking the metro.

How important is a location for you when it comes to your street art? How much does the place affect your pieces?

I think we consider each location on a case by case basis and it’s often surprising. Sometimes we can imagine something and we try and deal with the place. Each context can affect and influence our painting and it depends on the ambience and the people we meet. We try to leave the vision of the piece till we see the place and we improvise for each realisation.

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What has been the highlight of your career so far?

No one thing especially, each event is as important as the last one and makes envy growing. So there’s not one special moment but more all of them together. I am glad each time I get to paint and tell my stories.

What’s the public perception of your work?

I expect reaction, but I don’t have the right answer for sure. The worst is if nothing happen. One time a woman said “Wow, how ugly it is, I love it!” or “the world doesn’t deserve it”.  Sometimes people simply like colours.

The best is when people express that they can see life in an novel way, and continue to teach me new things.

Many thanks to Ador for taking time to speak to us!

Check out more of his work at Global Street art!

Artist Interview with Kram

I love discovering new artists, especially if I didn’t know I already knew them! As I’ve been compiling the Global Street Art book I found that several of my favourite pieces were by Kram, a Barcelona-based artist whose funky characters contain the right mix of funk and form! Kram’s website describes what he does as street art, graffiti and illustration. You can tell! There’s an effective influence of illustration in Kram’s street art and graffiti, and an effective influence of graffiti in Kram’s illustration. We find out more!

How long have you been making art (any art) and how long have you been putting your art onto the street? When / how did that come about? What else should we know about your background (where you’re from, etc.)?

I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember. When I was a child I was always drawing in sketchbooks and reading comic books; I used to say I would be cartoonist. One day when I was 12 years old I was walking down the street and I discovered a group of young people (older than me) painting on a wall. I was amazed watching what they were doing, and from that day I became interested in graffiti.  Some months after when I was 13, I started tagging my city and a few years on from then I started to paint walls.

For the first few years I used to do just letters but then began to do characters and I forget about letters for a while. During this time I was studying art and especially illustration, in Barcelona- the city where I was born and where I grew up.

How did you get the name Kram? 

I discovered the name from writing my name in reverse… it’s not a brilliant or original idea, but when I was 13 I thought: “it looks good and it sounds good.”

Some years after I discovered the meaning of “KRAM” in other languages, and some of the meanings were right for me.

What is the meaning behind your art? Who are your key influences and what did you learn from them? 

I try to create a personal, original world full of different characters; sometimes they explain something and sometimes they are just there. I want my paintings to be like dreams because reality is too boring.

I’ve been influenced by a lot of different artists from graffiti, comic books, cartoons and academic art history. I’ve tried some different styles throughout my life, from realism to abstract, and I still like to do different styles and investigate new methods and forms; you can always learn something new, specially when it’s something totally different. I am influenced by any artist who works in a personal way with an original style; the kind of artist who can do whatever and create a recogisable piece of work.

Ideas, influences and inspiration…

When I started searching for my own style after doing realism for a long time, I took the African mask style to create my new characters. I began to draw in geometrically rounded forms (similar than African primitive forms), using holes as eyes, etc.

Where did you get the ideas for your characters? Why so many mice/rodents (and other animals)? What about your more human-like characters? 

At the beginning it was always humans, but most people think it was robots or masks because they never had legs and they were always flying…

I began painting just humans because I was learning how to do it in my own way. Before then I was doing realistic portraits from photos. It was strange for me painting from no reference, and sometimes it’s easier trying to explain something using human characters…

Actually I used to paint animals or fantastic creatures where I mixed all animals forms together. Most of the time I used to paint rats to talk about humans life in the city… I guess I get bored of painting humans, and I needed to search for new forms and possibilities using different characters..

Is it fair to say your characters often have a quite menacing feel (e.g. sharp teeth, tough facial expressions)? 

Yes, could be… maybe it’s to try to do characters with personality, with imperfections, vices and bad habits… like humans in real life. I like to play with the personality of each animal to use them doing human activities…

Did you study art/fine art at university/college?

Yes I did, I have studied Fine art and illustration in Barcelona, between 2000- 2004…

How did your art develop and what art do you make today (Graff, illustration, etc.)? How do you balance your indoor and outdoor work?

Well it’s difficult to balance, but I try to paint every weekend in an outdoor space, and do indoor work at my studio during the week. But plans can always change suddenly…

Where do you paint and what is the graf/street art culture like there (how do the other artists, public and police/authorities respond to what you do)?

Apart from street art festivals and commissions, I used to paint walls on the city’s Hall of Fame, in abandoned factories and in the river canals out from Barcelona.  Actually I try to find “new” unpainted old dirty places, I’m a bit tired of the typical Hall of Fame photo…

Unfortunately there are not so many places to paint in the Barcelona city center, it’s a difficult time for street art here… so we paste up handmade painted papers on the city center instead.

Most of the people like it because I paint animals or funny characters. I like to paint with a lot of colours and society prefer characters and paintings than graffiti letters that they can’t read or understand…

Authorities have no mercy, though. They don’t care what are you doing, if you’re painting without permission and they catch you, they will have a problem…

Where else have you painted (countries/cities) and how was the culture different to home? Also what were your experiences there? 

I have painted in New York, London, Berlin, Amsterdam, Utrech, Portugal, Italy, Mexico, Copenhagen, Sweden, Casablanca and around Spain.

In each place it’s a different experience as each city has its own rhythm and peculiarities according to the society’s personality. The best parts of painting far from home are discovering new places, meeting new people and seeing what other societies understand about your work.  It’s great when you get back home with new photos of your “stuff” in a new context, and with some new stories to explain.

What are you planning/hoping to do in future? Where do you want to take your art?

I want to travel more, paint big walls and meet new people…

I want to paint more canvases and maybe do a solo exhibition out of Spain…

I would love to go back to New York,  go to London soon,  and travel to somewhere in Asia to paint something big…  Let`s see !   😉

http://www.kram.es/

@kram_es – Instagram

Interview with Pichiavo

PichiAvo, the Spanish-based artist duo, are recognised worldwide for their ability to ignite relationships between art, sculpture, architecture, space and social contexts. Their work is distinct in its ability to combine a variety of styles, combining techniques to create a truly unique art form.

With their upcoming show opening 11th August 2017 at Unit London, we grabbed the opportunity to talk to them about their artwork, as well as their upcoming show.

How did you meet?

We met painting in the streets of Valencia over 10 years ago and have been working collaboratively since 2007.

What made you decide to work together?

We didn’t decide, it came naturally, we both have different graffiti backgrounds, but our artistic thoughts were similar and through painting, we realised that we could do even more together, forgetting the artist ego and instead focusing on the final painting.

How do your styles compliment each other?

We can’t really say as our separate styles have developed into one over the years, but when we first started, yes our styles were different because of our artistic backgrounds but complimentary.

You’re known for painting mythological figures, what made you choose this as your focus?

We are known for our style, graffiti and classical art together to create a piece of art, most of the classical pieces are based in mythology as we found that we could tell and learn a lot from history.

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What made you choose to paint these mythological figures as images of sculptures?

We started our style thinking we should bring everything we know about art together and adding graffiti to help bring classical art back to life.

The best way we could think of to do this was by working with classical sculpture, sculptures that today are white but people don’t realise they used to be covered in paint, so our painting the figures with the graffiti is our small tribute to the classical sculptures that have marked many historical recognised artists.

Can you explain the importance of combining the graffiti style art in your work?

We started there – although, through the years we have worked in different styles of graffiti, learning the various techniques but at one point we were losing the essence of graffiti, the letters, tags, colours, spontaneity… so after trying many different styles we were finally able to do very realistic things with spray paint.

We wanted to go back to our beginnings and add our other passion, classical art, to the mix. Now, we feel more comfortable with what we do and we have the freedom that we didn’t have years ago, painting real figures, but also reinterpreting them by using graffiti, creating something untouchable, helping us bring together the classical with graffiti so everyone can see and appreciate ART.

Tell us more about your upcoming show?

Our upcoming show at Unit London is an opportunity for us to be able to show people what we can do in a gallery space. We spent all of 2016 working on the collection of works based on the 12 gods and goddesses of Olympus and our personal representation of them. People will find each painting different in terms of their colours and treatment… but for us that means each god or goodness has a personality of their own that people can see in the work.

We are also exhibiting our new sculptures, mixing classical with graffiti, drawing attention to the contrast between the white of the sculpture with the colours of the graffiti and more surprises both inside and outside of the gallery that we won’t share just yet, because we want people to come see the exhibition and discover our world.

What future plans / projects to you have?

We are always working and try to keep a balance between the time we spend painting in the street and the studio, but we have a full schedule this year with projects at international festivals like Pow Wow and Kaaboo (San Diego)… but we have a few other projects we are working on, big and small, that we would like to keep secret so they are still surprising.

Interview with Axe Colours

What do Daenerys Targaryen, Daryl Dixon and Walter White all have in common?

The answer (of course) is Barcelona-based artist Axe Colours.

If you are one of the lucky ones to be living in Barcelona, you would have no doubt already seen the pop culture pieces by Axe Colours around the city. From Game of Thrones, Walking Dead, Peaky Blinders; Axe Colours is making his way through iconic figures that are currently gracing our screens.

We spoke to Axe Colours about his work, his style and, of course, his love for Game of Thrones.

When did you start painting?

I started painting at age 16. Like most, signing all over the place with my old firm SMAUG. But I saw that I liked painting more elaborate drawings more, which required more time. So I quickly became interested in mural painting and street art.

What is it about painting that you love?

I really like the ability it has to create and enter new worlds with different rules compared to the real world. It is also therapeutic to express what you have inside and allows you to philosophise as you draw and paint.

What made you choose to paint popular characters from pop culture?

Well the truth is that it was by chance!

A friend of a friend wanted to paint the door of his house. We got in touch to prepare a design. He told me that he really liked the Breaking Bad series. At that time I hadn’t watched the series because, as you know, they require a very large investment of time! But I finally watched Breaking Bad and loved it. So I decided to paint Walter White played by Bryan Cranston.

From there, too, the quality of the TV series increased, which made me become more and more interested.


street art axe colours walter whiteDo you think the type of artwork you create changes how people think about street art/graffiti?

Yes I think it brings street art and muralism to a lot of people.

The fact of painting characters from TV series that people recognise in different corners of their city, along with a street art, colourist and aesthetic style that produce a shocking and enjoyable visual experience, help a lot to achieve this approach.

You’ve done a run of game of thrones characters recently, is this because you’re a fan of the show? What made you choose them specifically?

Haha The truth is yes! I really like the Game of Thrones series! I have always liked fantasy, medieval, warriors and dragons (that’s why my signature was Smaug).

Anyway, beyond the fan world, we are facing one of the best series in history. A spectacular script, dialogues, performances, locations, effects. It is a series of excellent quality!

I have also painted characters from other series I have seen: Walter White (The Breaking Bad), Rick Daryl Glenn (The Walking Dead), Eleven (The Stranger Things), Tommy Shelby (Peaky Blinders), Ragnar (Vikings), Penny (Big Bang Theory) and Ezequiel (The Get Down).

Have any of the famous people you have painted been in touch with you?

Yes, Norman Reedus who plays Daryl Dixon, went to see the mural I painted when he shot in Barcelona, Ride with Norman Reedus show! Also Justice Smith who plays Ezequiel in The Get Down really liked the mural I painted him and shared in his nets.

Tell us about the technique you use to create your art work.

My style is very colourful and saturated, but I try to mix the colours in a smooth and harmonious way to get a visual experience that’s very powerful but at the same time harmonious.

The shapes and volumes are posterised which reminds us a lot of the stencils of street art, but are painted freehand.

I also like to add stains, splashes and drips to give it a wilder and stronger style.

What’s the public perception of your work?

The truth is that the public response is wonderful!

From the young to the old, from huge fans of the series to those who are not, from those who have knowledge about art to those who have no idea, from the new school to the old, it seems my work unites a lot of diverse people!

What future plans/projects to you have? Or which characters can we expect to see soon?

For some time now, I have not been able to say future plans.

As Woody Allen says: “Things are not said, they are done, because by doing them, they speak for themselves.”

Big thanks to Axe Colours for taking time to speak to us!

For more of Axe Colours work, visit his page on Global Street Art

Interview with Bustart

Combining his graff background with comics, cartoons and pop-culture, BustArt creates street art that really unites each element together perfectly.

BustArt took some time out to speak to us!

Where are you from and how when did you start painting?

I am from Basel, Switzerland, and I started painting graffiti actively in 1999.

Why do you paint?

Growing up, I was always interested in the graffiti in my city. Seeing the big, colourful paintings on the streets was the biggest inspiration to learn to paint graffiti and to do the same.

Not knowing who made the artwork gave a special kick to it. As I went deeper into the sub culture, more and more things just added up for me. It was not just the creation of a nice graffito any more, it became much more than that.

What made you choose the style you paint?

I never really had one style. I painted letters, characters, cartoons, pop-up images, and as I started with street art in 2005, I did stencil, paste-ups, installations, stickers and everything else with tons of subject matter that was in my head at the time. For me working on the streets was to express myself in every way possible. I could not just paint one thing for so many years.

However, in the back of my mind, I was searching for that one style that I felt comfortable to call my own. One day I just started to mix all the things I had painted for all those years on the street. Since I painted most of them in grey scale or black and white, I gave myself the goal to produce only colourful artworks, the colours CMYK play a big role in my artworks.

My style is a mix of graffiti, pop art, cartoons and comic. The last two are especially recycled elements from my childhood, which is why you won’t find me painting Shrek anytime soon!

How do you choose the subject matter of your pieces?

Like I mentioned before I look for the right mix of graffiti, pop art and cartoons in my artwork. The main subject of the piece fits mostly with the place I am painting or the story I want to tell.

For example, a painting that I did in Berlin shows a train, a fire extinguisher, a no entry sign, elements of the horrible window design on the subway, which everyone hates and more things that I connect with Berlin.

What techniques do you used to create your work?

Since a lot of my work is based on the 1:1 copy of the original I mostly make a raster on the wall and on the sketch. The outdoor walls are all painted with spray cans, if i go bigger than 8 metres, I paint with acrylic and roller.

What’s the public perception of your work?

Mostly positive! Kids love my work for the cartoons I include, some of the older folks appreciate the pop art elements, even older people enjoy the colours, and even some writers who hate street art like my work because of the graffiti elements.

What challenges do you face when painting?

This always depends on the location and the wall. There are always challenges, which can just be reaching the spot on a ladder with 40 cans, a bucket of paint, rollers and a 6-pack.

Which has been your favourite piece to paint?

Most of the time it’s the great people I paint with that counts much more than the piece I’m painting I have painted countless numbers of walls with my crew Multi- Syndicate and I can remember every bike ride, train travel and all the things we did whilst painting but don’t ask me where I painted which artwork!

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

There are too many to choose from! Maybe painting a not-so legal wall in Dubai 12 years ago? Or possibly when I lived in Amsterdam for almost 4 years, where I painted every day? Or the time I painted as the first non-Egyptian in Cairo illegal? Or painting a massive 20 -metre wall in New York last year? Or the massive 25 metre walls with the Mickey with throw up face, which I painted in 48 hours?

No, none of those times! It’s the day I married my love Zaire who has supported me for over 15 years now and has gone with me through the good times and the bad.

Do you have any projects coming up?

Always! The next project will be a massive wall at Teufelsberg in Berlin, then soon after there will be my first sculpture, handmade of course, in a super low edition cause I am a broke artist!

For me, as a huge toy collector, this is a dream come true!

Interview with Zabou

It’s safe to say that Zabou is a very well-travelled artist.

From Israel to Columbia, Portugal to Cyprus; you’ll find her work all over the world spreading her message of love, fun and rebellion!

Zabou was born in France but currently lives and works in London. Her artwork, both in the street and the studio, are striking and thought-provoking.

After a busy year of festivals and travelling, we caught up with Zabou to find out more about herself and her artwork.

Enjoy!

Where are you from and when did you start painting?

I’m from France, but I’ve lived in the UK since 2011. When I moved to London, I was really impressed by the street art and graffiti scene and I started painting the following year in 2012.

Why do you paint?

I’ve always been drawing and painting since I was very little, it has always been a part of my life, my self, and part of my daily activities. Creating is like breathing for me!

What made you choose the techniques and the style you paint?

At first I started with stencils because I had no clue how to use spray cans and free hand techniques seemed extremely difficult to master – it still is!

Over time I switched from strictly stencilling to free hand, I enjoy the freedom of movement and exploring its effects. I feel that my style will evolve a lot over time, who knows how or what I’ll be painting in 10 years!

I use mostly grey scale for my characters that I divide into ten shades, from darker to lighter. I combine the characters with colourful background or effects to make them pop.

You paint a lot of well-known characters like Dali, Robin Williams and Charlie Chaplin, what inspires you to paint a certain person?

Sometimes I paint anonymous faces, sometimes famous ones. Usually that person would inspire me in some ways and I would want to pay tribute to her/him. Robin Williams and Charlie Chaplin were painted on a comedy club for example, so they fit into their environment perfectly.

It’s safe to say that women are a big part of what you paint, can you tell us more about why this is?

That’s true, I usually paint more feminine characters than male ones. I found that the female body and its traits inspire me more, and I like the aura it gives to a mural.

Looking at the festivals and events you’ve attended around the world, it’s obvious that you travel a lot – which has been your favourite place to paint so far?

I love travelling to old and new places, it’s one of the best part of the job. I’m usually on the road half of the time, especially from April until October when a lot of festivals and events take place.

Honestly, it’s hard for me to say which place has been the best, people are friendly and welcoming everywhere!

Does travelling have an affect on your work? For example, do your surroundings and experiences in different cities influence what you’ll be painting?

The environment and surroundings have definitely an influence on what I’ll be painting. If I can, I try to create a mural that takes inspiration from its social, historical or political context – or a piece that will play directly with the structure of the wall/space.

If I can’t, then I let my mind wander and create an image from scratch.

What upcoming projects do you have planned?

As we are approaching the end of 2017, and winter is here, I’m focusing more on studio work like producing screen prints, T-shirts or commissions. I don’t know yet where I’ll paint in 2018, what projects I’ll be doing and who I will meet – but I cannot wait!

Big thanks to Zabou for taking time to speak to us!

Interview with Sabek

You know straight away when you see a piece by Sabek; his distinct style, the block colours and generally the animal subject matter.

The piece below was one of our most liked images of August, so we thought we’d get in touch with Sabek to find out more about his background, his inspiration and his artwork.

Enjoy!

street art sabek woman and birds

Where are you from and when did you start painting?

I’m from Madrid, Spain, and I start to paint around 15 years ago.

Why do you paint?

Because I need it, I can not imagine my life without painting!

What made you choose the style you paint?

It chose me! It’s something that was happening over time, the theme I choose to paint and the practice of doing it, drove me to my actual style.

street art sabek Caballo chucaro

How do you choose the subject matter of your pieces?

Animals turn out to be the driving force of my work, in which fierce and entrenched values reflect on the places that we have relegated them as mere resources for food or recreation, denouncing the need for human beings to control and tame the wild to dispossess the animals in their essence.

What techniques do you use to create your work?

Mixed media of spray can and wall paint.

Who and/or what influences your work?

All our environment, the people what I have around, animals, the relationship between human and animal behaviour.

street art sabek wolf

What’s the public perception of your work?

Mostly the people who pass by the walls I’m painting are happy with my paintings, they shout things like ¨love it” ¨thank you to make our city more beautiful, but of course, some of them are not really into art or culture, or just don’t like the colours or characters I’m painting and they complain.

In something like public art is difficult to make everyone happy, actually what we do sometimes is difficult to understand, traveling around the world making our work (with the best wishes) to everyone who is living there, but most of the times is small time to understand the local culture, and there could be some misunderstandings.

But in the end like the 95% of my experiences were completely positives, meeting amazing local people which gives you a good feedback and lend you a helping hand in all aspects.

street art sabek bird

What challenges do you face when painting?

Rain, problems with the lift, bad coordination, there’s always something that goes wrong but everything has a a solution! The most challenging aspect is not having a lot of time to make the piece. Painting really big facades in just 6/7 days, sometimes you need to be very focused and active even if everything what I mentioned is working well.

Which has been your favourite piece to paint?

It’s difficult for me to choose, I was really comfortable in many places with great people which makes it a formidable experience.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

I was on a road trip in the USA, working on severals projects. It was a month and a half painting almost everyday, it was really challenging and exhausted but in the end, when I realised everything what was done, it gave me an idea of what I was capable of.

street art sabek wolf deer

Do you have any projects coming up?

Yes some, I will be traveling to Buenos Aires for Color BA and then Washington D.C for a commission project. And some more projects coming up.

Many thanks to Sabek for speaking to us! Find more of his work on Global Street Art or on Instagram.