Sunday, 24 February 2013

Artist Profile: Cave

Cave is a young artist from Iran. His artwork can be seen on the streets of the capital Tehran and he is now based in London. We had a chat and a paint in the Graffiti Garden. Here is what he says...
What inspires you to paint? 
Daily life inspires me to paint, we live in an urban atmosphere. I find painting a way to express my surroundings and how I feel and get rid of the negative stuff that happens to me with listening to music and spraying. music is the key thing, never forget.  
How differant is graffiti culture in Tehran to the U.K? 
Graffiti in the UK is like a grown up man but in Iran its like a child learning how to stand and walk. We have some professional artists as well who go out and paint on a regular basis but they are not too many. The good thing is we have developed Farsi graffiti using Farsi letters. Also we don't have free walls back in Iran so we have to be careful and choose good spots.  
Did you study art? 
Yeah but when I came to the UK. back in Iran I did art and graffiti as a hobby but now that i'm in the uni studying it, its my main thing that's why I came to the UK . 
Where do you want to take your art? 
To be honest i'm not looking  to be famous. Of course its not a bad thing but my main focus is to keep practicing and working and try to show my country's art to the world and help Iranian graffiti improve. Also because of the hard situation in Iran, when I can stand in a free wall painting a piece not in rush and not getting into trouble it feels to me that my art is being taken somewhere already. Also I had the chance to meet writers from different countries and backgrounds, that's satisfying for me. 
How important is drawing? 
I think its really important, it doesn't matter with pencil or charcoal or whatever. Drawing is like practicing and its a good practice for sketching graffiti or drawing characters. It makes you more confident because the movement of your hand is the same its just the medium is different. I can feel the difference when I came to the UK because I started drawing and practicing a lot. 


Thursday, 21 February 2013

Artist Profile: Mr Cenz

Artist Mr Cenz has been active within the London Graffiti scene for over 20 years. With his painting and heading up the company Positive arts his work reaches across communities. We had a talk with him during a painting session recently.
What inspires you to paint?

Well firstly I have always had an intrinsic need to paint- otherwise I would go crazy! I am constantly motivated and inspired by the need to improve and achieve more and to intrigue and excite people visually with my work. 

Is drawing important in the beginning?

For me drawing is fundamental. Especially if you are painting letters and trying to do something different and unique. I try to spend alot of time drawing and if I haven done enough I can notice in my work. But as always drawing is just a starting point and ability and freedom to freestyle, change and adapt your idea whilst painting is of equal significance. 

what was the inspiration behind positive arts?

I come from a youth work background and have always felt the need to share my skills with others. It is important for young people to have guidance, support and inspiration from professional artists, especially where they have yet to discover their talents. At positive arts we plant the creative seed in young people and hope that they grow and remember their experience. Also an important part of what we do is to enhance, empower and inspire communities to work together and revive redundant grey spaces. Positive and colourful murals can make huge differences to peoples everyday lives!

Where do you want to take your artwork?

I am always striving towards developing my unique style and letterforms and fusing my abstract and graffiti art together. For me being different is always at the forefront of my mind. Also a graffiti artist there is always a natural progression towards painting bigger and bolder.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Artist Profile: Jestr

Artist Jestr is currently in London from his native South Africa. His art reflects his passion for urban exploration and it was only right that he came down to Notre Dame and painted a piece whilst we talked about his art. Check out his work on
 What are your favourite spots to paint?

 I enjoy painting spots where I can paint with out consent, and where the environment is as obscure as the painting itself. Spots that no other person in their average life would ever go, but are a direct reflection of their context in time. Storm drains, tunnels, river bridges, abandoned houses and reservoirs have been my favourite over the last year or so. In South Africa, these type of spots have a tendency to act as refuge for those who live and grow up on the streets and know no other life. Living on the street means you are continuously in public space, and therefore you have no 'personal space' if you will. These spaces are often occupied by these people as a result, who have no regard for it other than the purpose it serves. These spaces the  act as a window into the lives of the people who once occupied it as there is always reminisce of it's tenants, past and present. Since I like to freestyle the majority of my personal I often use the environment as inspiration for my pieces. I feel this is imperative with graffiti as you cannot remove a piece from the environment in which you paint it, so it is only right that the piece does the environment as much justice as the environment does the piece. This is the fundamental thought for good spots. Also, I do not like to bothered when I'm missioning to paint by myself so that will also influence my preference for these spots.

 Do you have any art education?

 I was fortunate enough to have a good schooling where the art curriculum was engaging and concise. Once I left school I studied Information design at the University of Pretoria for two years, after which I dropped out to just paint full time which I have now been doing for the last year.

How are you looking to develop your art?

 By developing myself as a person. You cannot separate any creation from the hand which created it, and therefore we can assume that any true artists work is some how a direct reflect to the artist and his world-view. With this understanding, it is clear that the only way to truly develop your art (beyond the technical aspects of the craft) is develop and grow as a person. This can only be achieved through conscious living, and engaging in all spectrums of life with as an objective view as possible, as the circumstances we get into provide the answers that we learn life from. A great artist can only truly be great if he/she is a great person.

 Do you prefer letters or characters? 

 I do prefer characters due to my strong fine arts background and influences, however the last year I have been playing with letter structures (though I still struggle quite a bit and therefore tend to shy away from it when I freestyle). Also I am a much better illustrator than what I am as a designer so I have a natural tendency for the characters.   
 Jestr in Notre Dame
 A blank canvas
 Marking out
 Colour is added

 Up close
 Heads ain't ready!
 Almost done
 Mission complete

Artist Profile: Maser

Maser is an artist hailing from Dublin and has been a key figure in the Irish Graffiti Scene. We caught up with him when he paid a visit to Notre Dame Estate to work on a collaboration with Bonzai and asked him a few questions.
1) What projects have you been doing in the last year?
Working on a number of different projects. I've been traveling to the States quiet a lot the past year, painting walls and having small shows. Have also spent a lot of the year renovating a large space in Dublin, converting it into artists studio and photography area. I've spent a lot of years working from small spaces, resulting in small work. I want to go bigger with my work so decided to build a big work environment. A place for other people from different disciplines can use and share.

2) What inspires you to paint?
So many things, good and bad. The fear of not being remembered, the urge to create something new that has never been done. To paint as a reflection of appreciation for what I love and the people who inspire me. It's actually a really tricky question because painting isn't a separate identity form my life. You are asking what inspires you to live, get out of bed everyday? 

3) Do you draw your ideas first?
Most of the times no. I have a note book that I jot down in words ideas, occasionally a small doodle wit it. If its a large mural yes I'll do a few outlines sketches but most canvas work will have been derived from a few works and a 1 minute doodle. It's already in my head, no need to repeat it. Playing with the elements while painting is also an enjoyable creative process. If everything is laid out already, designed, that fun process is eliminated.

4) What is your biggest project?
The biggest I've under took was the 'They Are Us' project.
I approached a local musician Damien Dempsey about using his lyrics to spread positive messages around Dublin.
It was a 2 year endeavor, exploring the history of Dublin sign writing, people of Dublin, both the rich and the poor. It got me understanding about the homeless, even spent 3 weeks in prison experiencing prison life.
The 20 odd outdoor pieces resulted in an exhibition that raised 30,000 euro for a much needed medical van for the homeless of Dublin.

5) How would you define your style ?
I like the idea of a messenger rather than an artist. So I use typography to communicate my message. I also have a love for clean lines, contrasting colours. The idea of interrupting space. Its a constant journey, frustrating at times but mostly enjoyable.

6) What are you working on at the moment?
Getting ready for my trip to the States next week, photographing some models in the studio for source material for the next mural I'm painting in Cincinnati. The idea is based on 'Falling down but getting back up' Will also be taking a short trip to NY to drop a quick piece.

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Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Wet paint

This weeks tasks included finishing the hub cap flowers to be placed in  the Garden as well as producing a series of comic inspired boards. Visiting artist Jesta from Pretoria dropped by to paint a small piece to add to the collection of artwork which we aim to exhibit.
The heads also got a lick of paint and these are currently 'works in progress'. Stay tuned.