A few days back, I posted a video of a talk given by the accomplished artist Askew One, which, among many things, touches upon the differences between “Street Art,” and “Post Graffiti” in his opinion. So I’m thrilled to follow up on that today with a new interview with the talented NY-based New Zealander artist. Considering I’ve been working to help facilitate large scale public murals for the last few years, I’m extremely interested in his thoughts on the complexities of the scene, whether or not it’s called “Street Art, where graffiti fits in, and so on. I hope you enjoy reading Askew’s thoughts on this space as much as I did!
Where are you today? I’m currently based in Brooklyn, NY.
What are you doing/working on? I’m juggling a few things – some commercial illustration stuff to pay the bills, some paintings and helping my friend Berst out with his Real Time Web Series which is like a process video meets podcast series on his YouTube channel.
Sounds interesting! What was your introduction to art? Really it was something omnipresent in my life. From the earliest age my mother encouraged me to do art as it was the cheapest and most effective way to entertain me.
Are you self-taught or formally educated? I would say self-taught in the sense that I never went to art school but plenty of people have taught, influenced and shaped my practice.
Did you decide to make a career of it at some point? I’ve worked a lot of other jobs and never felt completely happy unless I’ve been doing my own thing. About 3 years ago I genuinely started pursuing art full time but it’s still been hard and from time to time I’ve done illustration, design or video work to keep afloat.
Have you had any lucky breaks or big challenges along the way you’d like to mention? Too many to list. It’s just a perpetual string of breaks and challenges – that’s life I guess!
How has living in New Zealand influenced your style? It’s influenced me a lot in style and as a person. I have a lot to thank the city of Auckland for, particularly due to the influence of the cultures there. I grew up in a distinctly Pacific place, that has informed basically everything about me.
How has living in New Zealand influenced the content in your work? Same as above really – that mix of isolation and all the cultures finding their way in a post-colonial meets globally aware city has shaped everything I do.
Your recent exhibitions include Detroit, NYC, and Germany. What is the most interesting place your art has taken you? The above and more. Detroit and Tahiti hold very special places in my heart. I’m enjoying New York a lot right now.
Great! Is there a sort of holy grail destination you’ve not been to that you’d love to paint at? I wouldn’t say Holy Grail but as much as I’ve traveled I’m yet to really explore Africa, the majority of Asia and South America.
It seems you’ve been doing a lot of talks that touch upon the differences between graffiti and post-graffiti (also called “street art” by many), how did you get started on the talk circuit? I’m a natural born talker – the hard thing is getting me to shut up haha! I see Post-Graffiti as something separate to Street Art and I’ve been vocal about it. My journey took me a very specific path to making the imagery I paint now and I was never a street artist.
Many artists don’t seem to like the moniker “Street Art” – in what ways does the term fail to describe your experience making public art? Because Street Art is really it’s own genre, with it’s own pioneers, heroes and villains. At heart I’m a graffiti writer, that was my experience and my journey into art. Everything I make now is post-graffiti, not a bi-product of the street art movement.
Do you have anything coming up that your fans can look forward to? I’m out here in NY getting as busy as I can doing all types of projects – some quite commercial. It’s all to fund the art I really want to make which is about to take a big leap. I’ve had some dramatic life events in the past couple of years and hit a sort of existential crisis of sorts. I’m out the other side now and very inspired.
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 read a lot about Pacific history – the last thing I read was The Struggle For Tāmaki Makaurau which was about pre-colonial Māori settlement of Auckland. I haven’t seen many movies lately but looking forward to seeing Moana this weekend. Music wise, I listen to my friends SWIDT all day every day!