This month we were able to catch up with SPIE and asked him a few questions about himself. Check out our interview here..
How did you get started in street art?
It was 1986 in Portsmouth, UK and I was a 14-year-old introverted kid who read comics and drew a lot. Hip Hop had begun to filter through into Europe from America, when I saw a documentary on television called ‘Style Wars’ featuring the work of New York graffiti artists. It is difficult to say why it inspired an obsession. I still cannot articulate it. I just knew it was ‘it’. Unlike most graffiti artists I wasn’t interested in the music or break dancing I was only ever interested in the art. Being unable to purchase paint and being resourceful, my friends and I visited a nearby chalk pit where we filled plastic bags with coarse lumps of chalk and took them home. We began chalking our designs on the walls around the area we lived. I just copied SEEN paintings as featured in the Style Wars documentary until I started using the name SPIE and developing my own style. Inevitably it was not long before chalk gave way to watery car paint acquired by any means necessary.
Who are your heroes and influences?
They remain everyone featured in the Style Wars documentary: the pioneers. I like the work of AROE (UK), REVOK (USA), RIME (USA), LUGOSIS (ITA), PANT (SPAIN), DMOTE (AUS), SOFLES (AUS), SHEM (AUS) to name just a few.
You have very strong characters that you paint. How long does it take from inception to having the work up on the street?
Too long! I have a queue of drawings waiting in the wings and as the queue gets longer so does the timescale.
What’s the coolest thing that has happened to you as a result of your art?
I was excited when the opera ‘Einstein on the Beach’ composed by Phillip Glass and directed by Robert Wilson came to Melbourne’s Art Centre in 2013. I painted SPIE in Hosier Lane in the style of the advertisement poster. After the show the Art’s Centre posted a picture on their website with the performers posed around it. That was cool. I like how people engage in the work and get some joy out of it.
Do you think street art is a crime?
Yes and no. Yes because I am capable of empathy and no because I like it.
Would you like one day to make your art your profession?
No. I would go mad. I studied Fine Art at Northern Beaches TAFE in Sydney and went a bit unhinged waking up and going to bed thinking about art for two years. I once sent my painting teacher a wet oil painting on a pizza base via a pizza delivery service while I was off sick and stopped talking for two weeks, stuff like that. I like things the way they are currently. My day job as a Medical Laboratory Technician in Bacteriology has purpose and I enjoy it. I can paint when I wish without constraints or worry of appeasing anyone. When play becomes a profession it is not play anymore. And it feels like play.
How do you pick which streets to post your art?
I usually paint at Hosier Lane. It is unnecessary I paint city-wide to promote my work as promotion is not so important. I paint alone and I do it for me. I also like routine. I do however promote my work on social media and get a kick out of my friends and family liking it but this is not the driving force. I know artists avoid painting in Hosier Lane due to the short shelf life of their work and of course it would be nice if a painting remains unembellished, but for me the creative process begins with the sketch and ends with the photograph of the finished piece. I will be walking away already anticipating the next piece.
Why do you think Melbourne is such a hotspot for street art and street artists?
It owes everything to the Australian artists and enthusiasts who consistently push, often against the odds, to make the city into their city.
Tell us one thing the world has never seen before from the world of SPIE.
The next painting!
Tell us some of your favourite street artists?
I like an artist at the moment in Melbourne who draws cartoon faces with black crayon on walls all over the city without leaving a name. Robert is also a favourite. He sits at the bottom of the steps at the Elizabeth Street end of Flinders Street Station, drawing geometric illustrations in coloured chalk on the floor. On Monday he draws The Scream upside down from his position.
How do you see your work evolving in the future? Is there another subject or method you’d like to try?
In the future my work will undoubtedly reside in the past as it does now. I hope it does evolve but it’s a stubborn bugger.
What’s fresh and fun on the streets of Melbourne.
I am a mum to two beautiful girls and have always been passionate about art - a photographer and closet painter! I love my local backyard, so it made sense to develop