T-Files 048: MEGGS

I’m very pleased to present the latest T-Files interview with accomplished LA-based Australian artist MEGGS. He hails from Melbourne’s acclaimed Everfresh crew, along with talent like Reka, Rone, Wonderlust, and Prizm – some of the biggest names in Australian graffiti and street art. My friend Eddie Zammit schooled me on them, years ago. Having been lucky enough to meet Rone (interviewed) during POW! WOW! Hawaii 2013, I definitely tried to keep up with what they were doing in Melbourne. I remember when MEGGS relocated to the City of Angels – adding his unique street art to the cityscape, while pulling off an impressive fine art solo exhibition at Thinkspace. More recently I got to catch up with MEGGS again while he was working on his incredible three-part installation at Long Beach Museum of Art for last summer’s star-studded Vitality and Verve exhibition, concurrent with POW! WOW! Long Beach. I’m very grateful MEGGS could carve some time out of his busy schedule for this chat.

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Where are you today?
Today I am at The Container Yard in Downtown Los Angeles.

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What are you working on?
I’m working on a large interior mural – I’ve wanted to paint at the Container Yard for a minute now, so am stoked the timing worked out to paint this great spot.

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Rad! What was your introduction to art?
That’s hard to define, but I do remember loving art class in primary school and being really impressed and excited about the cool illustrations on Transformers & Star Wars toy packaging.

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Are you self-taught or formally educated?
I went to University for graphic design, but painting and mural art is self-taught.

When did you decide to make a career of it? Circa 2007 – I had my first solo show and was working out of Everfresh, so I knew what it was like to work in an art studio versus a design studio. My interest in graphic design was waning, but my passion for making art and putting it out on the streets was growing. I decided that I should spend more of my time and energy pursuing art, which evolved into doing it full-time and embarking on an “art-career”.

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Have you had any lucky breaks or big challenges along the way you’d like to mention?
Art as a profession is a constant challenge. A bigger challenge was probably relocating to the United States. I left my foundation and ‘scene’ in Melbourne to start over again in a new country.

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Can I ask how the move to LA has worked out for you, especially career-wise?
I feel like overall the move has taken me in a positive direction and helped me grow a lot more as both an artist and person. It certainly wasn’t the easiest process, but it’s allowed me to travel further and connect with a much broader network of people, opportunities, and audience than I previously thought possible. I wouldn’t necessarily attribute this to LA specifically but definitely living in the U.S. has made a lot of people and projects accessible to me. LA is a really interesting city, I can’t say I love it, but I’ve had a good run here. I am still excited about living & working in the U.S. for now, and especially about exploring and traveling America further from here!

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You’ve painted in some amazing destinations and have collaborated with some wonderful talent too, got any highlights or favorite experiences to share?
This is a tough one to narrow down. Working with Thinkspace Gallery is an on-going highlight for all the exhibitions and projects they curate and include me in. For example, the recent Vitality & Verve show at the ‘Long beach Museum of Art’ was a milestone event for the low brow / street art movement in the U.S.

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My 2015 residency with Inner State Gallery / 1xRun in Detroit was an artistic turning point and an inspiring experience. I explored this amazing and historic American city, worked on what I felt was an ambitious exhibition of new pieces, sculptures, and an interactive installation. I also painted my largest mural to date at over 6,000 square feet.

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Lastly, working with organizations such as Pow! Wow! and PangeaSeed is a highlight that has allowed me to visit Hawaii, Austin, Isla Mujeres and Cozumel, Mexico to paint for a broader public purpose. Both of these experiences have facilitated some clarity and direction to my goals as an artist who represents social justice and sustainable living.

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Some of your major work in 2015 dealt with pretty weighty themes such as police brutality and global warming – is a lot of your work driven by concerns around social issues?
Yes, at this stage of life it now feels right for me to explore work that reflects the problems we as a society face in human relations and the detrimental effect we are having on ourselves and our planet’s survival. I believe in the term ‘ARTivist’ and that as an artist in a highly public forum I can contribute to the conversation and pro-action of saving our environment and community. This is currently the dominant theme of my practice under the ongoing series titled ‘Paving Paradise.’ Some of my work, another on-going series that I call ‘Reclaimed Youth,’ will still portray some nostalgic, fun, pop-art remixes.

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Through both of these series I am consistently learning to re-asses my own values, love my planet more, and take action in my own life to live more sustainably and focus on what’s important to me. My work reflects my interests and beliefs, which are now very centered around living a more eco/sustainable and community-driven lifestyle and spreading this message with my work.

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Do you have any plans for 2016 your fans can look forward to?
I’m about to leave on a three month trip – to New Zealand for PangeaSeed’s Sea Walls: Murals for Oceans Festival, back to my hometown Melbourne for a mix of projects then to the Big Island in Hawai‘i for a mural project, and potentially Portland, LA and Florida. There’s a lot of public art in the works for the next few months!

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Wow. Finally, I’d like to ask a question unrelated to art, if possible, do you have any good books or movies or music you’re currently enjoying which you’d like to share?
I am finally now reading Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Persig – it’s basically a journey of self-discovery and an analysis of how we view the world in comparing a scientific viewpoint to an artistic viewpoint. Essentially, the two are the same but it’s the separation of them that has caused a divide. Music wise, right now I’m listening to a mix of Kendrick Lamar, J Cole, Wale style rap, and Black Keys, Gary Clarke Jr., Jack White style blues/blue grass vibes.

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