September 12, 2012
This is the last of 3 interviews with the artists we’ll be posting this week. Today’s interview is Elliot Francis Stewart answering questions from both Gary Silipa and Askew.
It’s been five years since you’ve exhibited work properly, other than just small group shows, why is that?To be honest, I can’t be bothered to.  I’ve just been doing drawings and that’s all.Drawings for other people?Yeah.  Every time I approach a large painting, it’s for someone and hasn’t been too much of an enjoyable experience.  I have large paintings and heaps of other projects I want to do, but on the day that I have time and can be creative, the chances are I’d make a water colour, a poster, a comic book page, or something along those lines.  There’s no prepping a large piece of whatever I’ve found and spending a long time making something.There’s definitely a demand for your work though.  You’ve always had good sales and a good response at all your shows.  Do you feel the pressure that when you do your next show it has to be grand?I feel a little bit like that but at the same time, I do not feel any pressure at all.  I feel like there are moments where something will come to me, like an urgency to paint something but I just let it rest, I know it’s not time yet.  That’s kind of how I operate [in general] as well.
So how do you feel about making a show like this where the work is created fast but is a small and achievable goal to create a volume of work?I love it, it’s cool.So what sort of stuff have you been painting for the show?I’m doing close-ups on things and a lot of weird shit man.  Lots of it is autobiographical when I look back at it and then some of it is just things that I want to draw, like hitting a letterbox [laughs].Is there anything specific that you like about the ONEFIFTY concept?I like making fifty paintings, it’s an awesome feeling and it’s cool what comes out.  It’s a sweet as, easy, achievable challenge.  It’s not SUPER easy but it’s perfect.  It’s perfect for me right now, this is correct y’know?

In the past, why were you so attached to using graffiti-esque mediums that were easy to get your hands on like vivid and spray paint?I like using bics [pens] and vivids because they’re just your run of the mill, regular fuckin’ thing.  It’s not your art shop specials and it kind of feels correct.  For me, to use my nice inks and my brushes, even if I wait a day, I still can’t help but value what I’m working on.  However if I pick up a vivid and a shit beer box, there is no fear at all and I prefer that because it’s more honest.  What’s important is that it looks good. For this show, each canvas is so nice, the products, the red, black and white.  For most of these I’ve put black on it with an absolute clear mind and no problem but then if I get a really clean looking one in front of me, I’m so scared.  I have to smoke 10 cigarettes and walk up and down the hallway before I’ve built up the courage to fuckin’ paint it.Do you have any favourite canvasses that you’ve painted so far?Yes and no.  I like all the titty ones man, they make me laugh and I never do anything like that.  I like trying to be more simple cause I’m a flick-flack kind of guy, I like doing little flicks.  It’s finicky and painstaking but it’s engrained in me.  Then I have one that has a simple strong movement that says, this is THIS image. It’s hard because you have to think about how you’re going to do it first.  I never think too much.  I do a sketch of what I think I’m going to do and then I’ll draw something completely different but with this show, I have to think, this area is going to black, this area is going to be white, this area is going to be red.So what do you prefer as far as the outcome, which process do you think is making better work?Both are good.  The last thing I painted which was an actual canvas was shit and I just went about it wrong.Do you think that it’s much nicer to be in a situation where, more or less you have creative freedom to create what YOU want to make versus trying to interpret what people want you to make?Yeah I like it so much more.Will you pursue it more consistently now?Yeah, it’s the starved path.  I have been painting all this stuff, in sketches and small things for ages.  I just haven’t developed it into something huge.  I know compositionally where things should sit and shit like that.  You really figure out what you’re doing, especially when you’re doing fifty paintings.You’ve grown up loving comic-books.  What comic artist in particular do you think has an impact on your work?One dude, called Eisner, stylistically he’s amazing.  Jamie and Gilbert Hernandez, they’re two Los Angeles guys I think, they do fuckin’ cool work.Is making a comic-book still an aspiration of yours?Totally but that’s just so far away for me.  I know it is because it’s going to take the time to write a story and I don’t want to write a shitty story.  I hate other peoples stories and I hate reading them.Are you curious to see how people react to the show?Yeah I’m really curious.  I love that it’s on Ponsonby Road cause it’s near Video Ezy and that’s the best spot ever.Why?For me my Ponsonby’s different from anyone elses.  I grew up as a teenager hanging out with my mates Joss, Vincent and my gang around there.  My brother and sister worked at Video Ezy, my sister-in-law worked across the road at Glengarrys, my buddy worked at SPQR and everybody I knew was working in this area, this little area of shops and it was rad.  It was free pizzas, free videos, free taxi rides, everybody’s hooking everybody up, a little alcohol shop and a nice little chair to sit on in the heart of Ponsonby, [laughs], I love that place.If you could have ONEFIFTY of anything, what would it be?ONEFIFTY houses in Grey Lynn.

This is the last of 3 interviews with the artists we’ll be posting this week. Today’s interview is Elliot Francis Stewart answering questions from both Gary Silipa and Askew.

It’s been five years since you’ve exhibited work properly, other than just small group shows, why is that?
To be honest, I can’t be bothered to.  I’ve just been doing drawings and that’s all.

Drawings for other people?
Yeah.  Every time I approach a large painting, it’s for someone and hasn’t been too much of an enjoyable experience.  I have large paintings and heaps of other projects I want to do, but on the day that I have time and can be creative, the chances are I’d make a water colour, a poster, a comic book page, or something along those lines.  There’s no prepping a large piece of whatever I’ve found and spending a long time making something.

There’s definitely a demand for your work though.  You’ve always had good sales and a good response at all your shows.  Do you feel the pressure that when you do your next show it has to be grand?
I feel a little bit like that but at the same time, I do not feel any pressure at all.  I feel like there are moments where something will come to me, like an urgency to paint something but I just let it rest, I know it’s not time yet.  That’s kind of how I operate [in general] as well.

So how do you feel about making a show like this where the work is created fast but is a small and achievable goal to create a volume of work?
I love it, it’s cool.

So what sort of stuff have you been painting for the show?
I’m doing close-ups on things and a lot of weird shit man.  Lots of it is autobiographical when I look back at it and then some of it is just things that I want to draw, like hitting a letterbox [laughs].

Is there anything specific that you like about the ONEFIFTY concept?
I like making fifty paintings, it’s an awesome feeling and it’s cool what comes out.  It’s a sweet as, easy, achievable challenge.  It’s not SUPER easy but it’s perfect.  It’s perfect for me right now, this is correct y’know?


EFS

In the past, why were you so attached to using graffiti-esque mediums that were easy to get your hands on like vivid and spray paint?
I like using bics [pens] and vivids because they’re just your run of the mill, regular fuckin’ thing.  It’s not your art shop specials and it kind of feels correct.  For me, to use my nice inks and my brushes, even if I wait a day, I still can’t help but value what I’m working on.  However if I pick up a vivid and a shit beer box, there is no fear at all and I prefer that because it’s more honest.  What’s important is that it looks good. For this show, each canvas is so nice, the products, the red, black and white.  For most of these I’ve put black on it with an absolute clear mind and no problem but then if I get a really clean looking one in front of me, I’m so scared.  I have to smoke 10 cigarettes and walk up and down the hallway before I’ve built up the courage to fuckin’ paint it.

Do you have any favourite canvasses that you’ve painted so far?
Yes and no.  I like all the titty ones man, they make me laugh and I never do anything like that.  I like trying to be more simple cause I’m a flick-flack kind of guy, I like doing little flicks.  It’s finicky and painstaking but it’s engrained in me.  Then I have one that has a simple strong movement that says, this is THIS image. It’s hard because you have to think about how you’re going to do it first.  I never think too much.  I do a sketch of what I think I’m going to do and then I’ll draw something completely different but with this show, I have to think, this area is going to black, this area is going to be white, this area is going to be red.

So what do you prefer as far as the outcome, which process do you think is making better work?
Both are good.  The last thing I painted which was an actual canvas was shit and I just went about it wrong.

Do you think that it’s much nicer to be in a situation where, more or less you have creative freedom to create what YOU want to make versus trying to interpret what people want you to make?
Yeah I like it so much more.

Will you pursue it more consistently now?
Yeah, it’s the starved path.  I have been painting all this stuff, in sketches and small things for ages.  I just haven’t developed it into something huge.  I know compositionally where things should sit and shit like that.  You really figure out what you’re doing, especially when you’re doing fifty paintings.

You’ve grown up loving comic-books.  What comic artist in particular do you think has an impact on your work?
One dude, called Eisner, stylistically he’s amazing.  Jamie and Gilbert Hernandez, they’re two Los Angeles guys I think, they do fuckin’ cool work.

Is making a comic-book still an aspiration of yours?
Totally but that’s just so far away for me.  I know it is because it’s going to take the time to write a story and I don’t want to write a shitty story.  I hate other peoples stories and I hate reading them.

Are you curious to see how people react to the show?
Yeah I’m really curious.  I love that it’s on Ponsonby Road cause it’s near Video Ezy and that’s the best spot ever.

Why?
For me my Ponsonby’s different from anyone elses.  I grew up as a teenager hanging out with my mates Joss, Vincent and my gang around there.  My brother and sister worked at Video Ezy, my sister-in-law worked across the road at Glengarrys, my buddy worked at SPQR and everybody I knew was working in this area, this little area of shops and it was rad.  It was free pizzas, free videos, free taxi rides, everybody’s hooking everybody up, a little alcohol shop and a nice little chair to sit on in the heart of Ponsonby, [laughs], I love that place.

If you could have ONEFIFTY of anything, what would it be?
ONEFIFTY houses in Grey Lynn.

EFS2

1:47pm
  
Filed under: ONEFIFTYPRESS 
September 11, 2012
Today Gary Silipa turns the focus back to Askew and asks him some questions about the One Fifty show and it’s format.
Tell us about ONEFIFTY and what is it all about?
ONEFIFTY is pretty much just a format.  We wanted to do something that’s going to make an art show a spectacle again!  We’ve agreed on a format that makes the work affordable for people our age and younger and for people that might want a little piece of what we do but can’t quite afford it generally, and we’ve put a time limit to create a sense of pace and urgency.  People have to be really invested in it to come and get the piece if they really want it and that’s exciting y’know?, that’s the type of show I’d like to go to.


The last time you put so much work into a show was your solo exhibition at the beginning of the year.  Were you waiting for something to put more work into again?
I didn’t think that I was going to exhibit again this year and probably not locally, unless I could think of a way to make it work for people locally.  I think that’s why this kind of format was born.  I’ve seen other galleries doing it and I thought it was a really awesome idea but I don’t think any of them have taken it as literally and as far as we have.  My show was a small body of work, big paintings, but there weren’t heaps of them, it was just comfortable for the space, but I also wanted to do something where you have the impact of walking in and seeing heaps of work as well.  It’s pretty much the total opposite to my solo show.


You have 50 canvasses to paint, personally, what are you enjoying about painting these 50?Just being able to have fun with it and communicating heaps of more concise ideas rather than developing an idea for months.  The works from my other show, the process was quite time consuming and slow.  I don’t want to invest quite that amount of time in each one so the ideas have to be quick off the mark.  The result is a more humorous show which is good.


You had some ideas beforehand, as you go along, are new ideas coming about?
Oh yeah I’m already holding back on ones that I want to get stuck into until I’ve done all the ones that I drew out.  I drew out 25 in advance so I knew exactly what I was going to do.  There are some ideas running through all of them that pull them all together but they’re also little blips and insights into how my mind works.  Some of them are quite autobiographical too.


You can definitely tell a lot about your character by looking at what you’ve currently painted.
It’s quite a good depiction of where I’m at in my head at the moment, especially the dick and balls.I know that sounds so stupid but It’s tongue and cheek. I was just thinking about universal symbols that people kind of tend towards in public space.  I thought about bathroom graffiti, It’s so accessible and it’s one of those instinctive things that everyone will have a opinion of or feel something about it if you drew it.  It’s quite a powerful symbol in a lot of ways.  I have a real simplistic sense of humour. [With] pop culture, I have the ‘1989’ smiley face, a star, a halo and a crown, real graffiti symbols, I have flags in here because there’s been a real resurgence of flag art that my friend Saber really led the way with.  I’ve incorporated U.S and the English flag into my work a lot in the last year and a bit because I’ve been talking about cultural influence on New Zealand and they were the two most dominant, pop cultural forces that had a lot of influence on my experiences growing up.  [With} music and art, my generation saw a transition with NZ having a real heavy English dominance to a very visible US influence which changed us.  Considering where we are, our countries history and the people that live here, we have this outside beacon of pop cultural influence which has shaped the way we live and do things. Some of it is my cynical slogans about living here, quite NZ-centric.  There’s a little bit about nepotism and big business and the way the world works and how we perceive that as people that don’t have much, trying to still get our slice in life and live, with so many cultural gatekeepers. Those are kind of the main themes of my work.


What are your thoughts behind the chosen colours, black, red and white?
I really enjoy stripping things back.  You learn to accept what’s important and it becomes more of an exercise in emphasising and strengthening the form.  I’ve always enjoyed that and I think that’s something that has come from graffiti and graphic design, the backgrounds that I have.  They’re powerful colours, through history they’ve always been the colours used in propaganda and graphic design, it’s always easy to make something stand out and catch your eye.  Limiting your pallet in general is smart.



What do you think the audience thinks about the show ONEFIFTY?
I don’t know what people currently think coming into the show, but I know how interested I am to see how they react when they get to the show.  That’s the experiment in a lot of ways, what sort of atmosphere it has, how people react and interact with the work, which [paintings] they’re drawn to.  The fact that we aren’t exhibiting as three separate artists, we’re jumbling the work up and keeping an amount of randomness, yet there’s uniformity in the format so I think, as a viewing experience, it’s really going to compel people to act on their immediate gut-reaction on what they’re drawn to.  You’re going to see people come in and they might not start at the beginning, they might walk straight to something that resonates with them.  That’s the kind of reaction I want to see.  I want to see people smile and laugh and people to get excited about an art event.  The fact that they can come in and it’s cash and carry, they can literally pick something and walk away with it, it’s kind of cool.


Is this a one-off show or are there future plans ahead for ONEFIFTY?
We’ve talked about it a bit and it would be really cool if it was an ongoing thing.  For the time being it’s a show that would enable us to travel to a different city quite easily.  Make work in a fairly short amount of time, exhibit it and move on.  I like that because it’s a very different experience to doing a show generally, you will know within ONEFIFTY minutes if it was a success or not. I’d definitely like us to take a show to Wellington in the span of this year, then maybe Melbourne, Los Angeles and New York in the horizon.  Maybe modified slightly to a THREEHUNDRED, we’ll just play it by ear.  I’d like this weekend to be a success so that we can keep doing this, it’s pretty much the most fun art experience I’ve had.


Do you think you’ve thought of everything you can to limit things to ONEFIFTY?
You could definitely keep going but I think that this is a good start.  It’s going to be tough because we’re going to have to not let people we know come in if they’re not within the first ONEFIFTY.  That’s quite harsh but just as long as people know, they got to be serious about attending and getting into this show if they want to be a part of it [so] why not?  It makes it a good experience for everybody if you get into the spirit of it.  I want to see people buy more than 1.  For the price of less than 2 paintings of my last show, you could buy every single work in this show.


That’d look pretty impressive hung up.
I’d love to see someone come in and buy all ONEFIFTY.  If there’s someone out there that does that then, that’d be amazing!, but to be honest I’d like to see ONEFIFTY individual people all have a piece of art if they really wanted it, that would be cool too.


Last question…If you could have ONEFIFTY of anything, what would it be?
[Laughs] That’s a good question, I’m not so quick off the mark with these types of questions that make me really think…ONEFIFTY free round the world tickets to be redeemed at any point of my life.  It would enable me and my friends to travel consistently around the world to experience, paint, exhibit and enjoy, opposed to being stuck here.  That would be rad!


Today Gary Silipa turns the focus back to Askew and asks him some questions about the One Fifty show and it’s format.

Tell us about ONEFIFTY and what is it all about?
ONEFIFTY is pretty much just a format.  We wanted to do something that’s going to make an art show a spectacle again!  We’ve agreed on a format that makes the work affordable for people our age and younger and for people that might want a little piece of what we do but can’t quite afford it generally, and we’ve put a time limit to create a sense of pace and urgency.  People have to be really invested in it to come and get the piece if they really want it and that’s exciting y’know?, that’s the type of show I’d like to go to.




The last time you put so much work into a show was your solo exhibition at the beginning of the year.  Were you waiting for something to put more work into again?
I didn’t think that I was going to exhibit again this year and probably not locally, unless I could think of a way to make it work for people locally.  I think that’s why this kind of format was born.  I’ve seen other galleries doing it and I thought it was a really awesome idea but I don’t think any of them have taken it as literally and as far as we have.  My show was a small body of work, big paintings, but there weren’t heaps of them, it was just comfortable for the space, but I also wanted to do something where you have the impact of walking in and seeing heaps of work as well.  It’s pretty much the total opposite to my solo show.




You have 50 canvasses to paint, personally, what are you enjoying about painting these 50?
Just being able to have fun with it and communicating heaps of more concise ideas rather than developing an idea for months.  The works from my other show, the process was quite time consuming and slow.  I don’t want to invest quite that amount of time in each one so the ideas have to be quick off the mark.  The result is a more humorous show which is good.




You had some ideas beforehand, as you go along, are new ideas coming about?
Oh yeah I’m already holding back on ones that I want to get stuck into until I’ve done all the ones that I drew out.  I drew out 25 in advance so I knew exactly what I was going to do.  There are some ideas running through all of them that pull them all together but they’re also little blips and insights into how my mind works.  Some of them are quite autobiographical too.




You can definitely tell a lot about your character by looking at what you’ve currently painted.
It’s quite a good depiction of where I’m at in my head at the moment, especially the dick and balls.I know that sounds so stupid but It’s tongue and cheek. I was just thinking about universal symbols that people kind of tend towards in public space.  I thought about bathroom graffiti, It’s so accessible and it’s one of those instinctive things that everyone will have a opinion of or feel something about it if you drew it.  It’s quite a powerful symbol in a lot of ways.  I have a real simplistic sense of humour. [With] pop culture, I have the ‘1989’ smiley face, a star, a halo and a crown, real graffiti symbols, I have flags in here because there’s been a real resurgence of flag art that my friend Saber really led the way with.  I’ve incorporated U.S and the English flag into my work a lot in the last year and a bit because I’ve been talking about cultural influence on New Zealand and they were the two most dominant, pop cultural forces that had a lot of influence on my experiences growing up.  [With} music and art, my generation saw a transition with NZ having a real heavy English dominance to a very visible US influence which changed us.  Considering where we are, our countries history and the people that live here, we have this outside beacon of pop cultural influence which has shaped the way we live and do things. Some of it is my cynical slogans about living here, quite NZ-centric.  There’s a little bit about nepotism and big business and the way the world works and how we perceive that as people that don’t have much, trying to still get our slice in life and live, with so many cultural gatekeepers. Those are kind of the main themes of my work.




What are your thoughts behind the chosen colours, black, red and white?
I really enjoy stripping things back.  You learn to accept what’s important and it becomes more of an exercise in emphasising and strengthening the form.  I’ve always enjoyed that and I think that’s something that has come from graffiti and graphic design, the backgrounds that I have.  They’re powerful colours, through history they’ve always been the colours used in propaganda and graphic design, it’s always easy to make something stand out and catch your eye.  Limiting your pallet in general is smart.




askew portrait 2

What do you think the audience thinks about the show ONEFIFTY?
I don’t know what people currently think coming into the show, but I know how interested I am to see how they react when they get to the show.  That’s the experiment in a lot of ways, what sort of atmosphere it has, how people react and interact with the work, which [paintings] they’re drawn to.  The fact that we aren’t exhibiting as three separate artists, we’re jumbling the work up and keeping an amount of randomness, yet there’s uniformity in the format so I think, as a viewing experience, it’s really going to compel people to act on their immediate gut-reaction on what they’re drawn to.  You’re going to see people come in and they might not start at the beginning, they might walk straight to something that resonates with them.  That’s the kind of reaction I want to see.  I want to see people smile and laugh and people to get excited about an art event.  The fact that they can come in and it’s cash and carry, they can literally pick something and walk away with it, it’s kind of cool.




Is this a one-off show or are there future plans ahead for ONEFIFTY?
We’ve talked about it a bit and it would be really cool if it was an ongoing thing.  For the time being it’s a show that would enable us to travel to a different city quite easily.  Make work in a fairly short amount of time, exhibit it and move on.  I like that because it’s a very different experience to doing a show generally, you will know within ONEFIFTY minutes if it was a success or not. I’d definitely like us to take a show to Wellington in the span of this year, then maybe Melbourne, Los Angeles and New York in the horizon.  Maybe modified slightly to a THREEHUNDRED, we’ll just play it by ear.  I’d like this weekend to be a success so that we can keep doing this, it’s pretty much the most fun art experience I’ve had.




Do you think you’ve thought of everything you can to limit things to ONEFIFTY?
You could definitely keep going but I think that this is a good start.  It’s going to be tough because we’re going to have to not let people we know come in if they’re not within the first ONEFIFTY.  That’s quite harsh but just as long as people know, they got to be serious about attending and getting into this show if they want to be a part of it [so] why not?  It makes it a good experience for everybody if you get into the spirit of it.  I want to see people buy more than 1.  For the price of less than 2 paintings of my last show, you could buy every single work in this show.




That’d look pretty impressive hung up.
I’d love to see someone come in and buy all ONEFIFTY.  If there’s someone out there that does that then, that’d be amazing!, but to be honest I’d like to see ONEFIFTY individual people all have a piece of art if they really wanted it, that would be cool too.




Last question…If you could have ONEFIFTY of anything, what would it be?
[Laughs] That’s a good question, I’m not so quick off the mark with these types of questions that make me really think…ONEFIFTY free round the world tickets to be redeemed at any point of my life.  It would enable me and my friends to travel consistently around the world to experience, paint, exhibit and enjoy, opposed to being stuck here.  That would be rad!

1:49pm
  
Filed under: onefiftypress 
September 11, 2012
GOOD MORNING SHOW

They’re on Good Morning tomorrow. Should be fun :)

11:50am
  
Filed under: onefiftypress 
September 10, 2012
Recently I have been plugging the work of a good friend of mine Gary Silipa a lot - and on Saturday the 15th September we are showing together, along with good friend Elliot Francis Stewart in the One Fifty exhibition. Gary and I initially met through a mutual love of graffiti and naturally, because he stood out as an artist and person he became a highly valuable member of our crew TMD. I’ve shared two flats and studios with this guy and done the majority of my travel abroad with him as well. Over the years he has played such a vital role in a good number of my projects - always able to offer an alternative view or insight I may have missed. I have also watched him evolve from Ryze the graffiti writer to Gary Silipa the artist. This has been quite a journey to witness with it’s fair share of drama and inner turmoil but ultimately the works he is making today are a true testament of a life really lived. Here is a conversation he and I shared recently, talking about this journey and decoding the art work that he is making today. -Askew
I reckon a good place to start off is to try and put into perspective for people that you’re somebody that’s come from the graffiti scene and then kind of arrived at this point ‘cos I reckon that’s the missing piece of the puzzle. Heaps of people don’t know for starters like who you were in your former life. So you wrote Ryze and that obviously had a certain significance for you to a point and then one day or maybe through a chain of events you realized that it didn’t gel with you anymore and you kind of had a change of heart. What happened? What was it about graffiti that you felt like you’d grown out of?It’s not that I grew out of painting graffiti. There was just this one night where I just stopped. At the time I was dealing with a whole bunch of issues and graffiti was just part of it but there was a lot of other stuff happening in my life that the pressure from everything I was dealing with just culminated into this one crazy night where I just gave it up.

What was it about graffiti that you felt was not doing it for you anymore?It became an addiction. That’s the main reason. And when I realised it was an addiction then I thought to myself I can’t let this control me so then it was, ok, I don’t wanna be addicted to this thing, I wanna stop which was easier said than done.What sort of things were you doing as a result of this addiction you felt was negative on the rest of your life?I guess just one of the negative effects it was having on me was that I couldn’t sleep properly. I’d lie awake at night just thinking of graffiti that I found it hard to sleep. I thought about it pretty much every second of every day. It consumed me. Before I quit, there were times where I’d hear this voice in my head that’d say “stop thinking about it and get up and do it you poofter”. Then I’d sit up like a robot, I’d just get up and I’d reply back, “Im not a poofter”. So I’d sit up, put on my pants, grab my cans and then just leave the house and it’d be like 2 or 3 in the morning and I’d have to start work in a few hours. That’s when I started to realize it was an addiction man when a voice in my head is telling me to get up and paint graffiti.Is that like the worst insult you can be called?Nah, but trying to live up to an image of being a tough male or whatever, that voice definitely knew what kind of names to call me to get me out of bed.That’s crazy. We’ll get into who you think the voice was a bit later. What sort of things were you finding yourself going and doing when you’d go out?I’d go and paint graffiti. Sometimes though I’d just walk around the streets just wondering what the whole point of life was. I used to drink a lot too so sometimes I’d be riding my bike completely drunk, trying to paint graffiti but I always remember picking myself up off the ground. I couldn’t even ride it properly and I’d just keep falling off so just stupid things like that. One time I climbed onto the roof of a building and just sat there and just looked down on all the cars passing by. I sat there for I don’t know maybe an hour just watching cars go by and just thinking - What am I doing?

Thinking there’s more to life than this?Yeah, I loved graffiti but I didn’t feel there was any purpose to my life. What am I doing here?You think you kinda grew out of the whole doing something to meet a sense of what other peoples expectations of you were versus what you really want to be doing or saying?There was definitely part of that. I guess with graffiti you kind of build an image of who you are or how you want people to perceive you to be and I was so attached to this persona I had created that I was always trying to live up to the expectations of it.What was the persona of Ryze? Like what do you think that persona was for other people?I don’t know, maybe just some crazy or silly drunk guy. I got to the point I guess towards the end of my time painting graffiti that I didn’t really care about too many things so the risks I was taking were perhaps a little higher.You think the alcohol kind of like helped?Oh definitely man. When I wasn’t drinking I was a paranoid wreck. As soon as I started drinking it was nothing you know I’d just tag on anything.That’s it. But you obviously still had something you wanted to say as an artist and that was weighing on you heavily enough to wanna like eventually leave your job to focus on that full time? So you do you think that it was a coming of age sort of thing?If I look back on my life to see if there was anything that was common through all those years, it was art. From the time I was a little kid drawing pictures for other kids in primary school, to winning the school art competition twice in intermediate, to the point when I was about 15 and figuring out how to paint graffiti then doing that for 12 or so years, art has always been part of my life. I’ve always known working a 9 to 5 for the man wasn’t me. I just never realized that living as a full time artist was ever an option. At the time, graffiti was enough to satisfy me as an artist but once I stopped, now what do I do? What do I paint outside of letters? I had nothing.
So how do you think you unlocked that? Now I think it comes for you quite easy. What do you think was the catalyst? At what point did you start working out what your voice was?It’s funny because I left my job to chase the dream as a full time artist but had no idea what it is that I painted, what I painted with or what I painted on! I was so keen to leave the reality didn’t hit me ‘til the day after I left and then I was like, ok, what do I do now?Now it’s just been over a year since I left my job to do this and I’m only comfortable now with what I’m trying to paint. It’s been a year where I had to start from scratch and lot of experimenting and learning about who I am to get to this point. You’ve always had a kind of really graphic approach to doing things even as a writer. You would really take your time to develop an idea quite slowly, always quite cautious and kind of measured and it seems like now you’ve really developed your own language of symbols and icons that represent things in your life. Maybe you wanna talk about what some of those symbols are and what they represent? Let’s start with those woman’s legs?So I had the idea for a painting using the words ‘Born, Live, Die, Then’ which to me represents some sort of human lifecycle. I drew the shape of a vagina in the ‘O’ of the word ‘Born’ to connect the word to a visual that relates to it. Then I thought I’d try and relate the word to a symbol which was more obvious and I drew the black open legs.So it’s really about birth?Yeah, that’s what it’s all about. The symbol imitates the position a woman is in when she’s giving birth. I met a nurse who works in the maternity unit at a hospital recently and she told me that an increasingly popular way mothers are giving birth is on all fours but somehow I don’t think many people will automatically associate that kind of symbol to birth! What specifically about birth are you trying to say? Just that, that’s the essence of life? You’re born?Pretty much. I like how very simple symbols can represent something so powerful and giving birth to a life is one of the most powerful things. I like how the same symbol means different things to different people.So you got the other symbol that’s like gnashing teeth?So that symbol represents Hell or the ‘bad’ things in life depending on what context it’s used in. It was more of a crown shape when I first started using it since it looked more like fire with the flat bottom and the pointy top but I tried it with a pointy bottom as well and then I noticed that the negative space looked like sharp teeth and it was this symbol that related more to me with what I was trying to say.Do you think people make sense of that image when they see it or what do you think they think it is?I don’t know if they automatically make sense of it because I think you’re naturally drawn to look at the diamond-like shape rather than the negative space. I also add some pencil into the shape to draw the audiences focus deeper into it and away from the negative space.

Sometimes I’m always caught off guard by how for a very complex guy who’s been through a lot of very complex times in your life your mechanism for sort of coping and getting through it has been boiling it down to the most simple kind of essence. The name of your website is ‘the good, the bad’ and that’s kind of the underlying thing you pretty much play around with - positive and negative symbols. Is that really your view on life? That you can break everything in this world, in this universe down to just the good and the bad? I’ve always wanted to ask you this.I was born into a Christian family so was taught good values but I got into a lot of you could say ‘bad’ or ‘naughty’ things from a young age so then I split because I felt like a hypocrite. I felt I had to choose one or the other and I chose the other which was just living a life of doing whatever I wanted to do. Life was pretty black and white for me. Everything I did was either good or bad so the phrase ‘the good, the bad’ for me described life perfectly and it’s just stuck with me for a long time now.So what’s your game plan as an artist trying to make it?To be honest I don’t have one. I’m just taking each day as it comes. I just want to paint and put it out there. I like to think that the art will just do its thing. The last year has been so much fun that I guess what I’m doing is working. Don’t get me wrong though, the majority of the year has been really tough and I’m ready to keep grinding away for as long as it takes but since I have a purpose now, I’m determined.So do you hope that one day this will be something that will actually bring a tangible income that you can truly support yourself from? Is that the aspiration here?Definitely. Getting paid for doing something that you love is part of the dream and right now I’m still chasing that part of it.
Check out more of Gary’s work here

Recently I have been plugging the work of a good friend of mine Gary Silipa a lot - and on Saturday the 15th September we are showing together, along with good friend Elliot Francis Stewart in the One Fifty exhibition. Gary and I initially met through a mutual love of graffiti and naturally, because he stood out as an artist and person he became a highly valuable member of our crew TMD. I’ve shared two flats and studios with this guy and done the majority of my travel abroad with him as well. Over the years he has played such a vital role in a good number of my projects - always able to offer an alternative view or insight I may have missed. I have also watched him evolve from Ryze the graffiti writer to Gary Silipa the artist. This has been quite a journey to witness with it’s fair share of drama and inner turmoil but ultimately the works he is making today are a true testament of a life really lived. Here is a conversation he and I shared recently, talking about this journey and decoding the art work that he is making today. -Askew

I reckon a good place to start off is to try and put into perspective for people that you’re somebody that’s come from the graffiti scene and then kind of arrived at this point ‘cos I reckon that’s the missing piece of the puzzle. Heaps of people don’t know for starters like who you were in your former life. So you wrote Ryze and that obviously had a certain significance for you to a point and then one day or maybe through a chain of events you realized that it didn’t gel with you anymore and you kind of had a change of heart. What happened? What was it about graffiti that you felt like you’d grown out of?
It’s not that I grew out of painting graffiti. There was just this one night where I just stopped. At the time I was dealing with a whole bunch of issues and graffiti was just part of it but there was a lot of other stuff happening in my life that the pressure from everything I was dealing with just culminated into this one crazy night where I just gave it up.

Gary Silipa

What was it about graffiti that you felt was not doing it for you anymore?
It became an addiction. That’s the main reason. And when I realised it was an addiction then I thought to myself I can’t let this control me so then it was, ok, I don’t wanna be addicted to this thing, I wanna stop which was easier said than done.

What sort of things were you doing as a result of this addiction you felt was negative on the rest of your life?
I guess just one of the negative effects it was having on me was that I couldn’t sleep properly. I’d lie awake at night just thinking of graffiti that I found it hard to sleep. I thought about it pretty much every second of every day. It consumed me. Before I quit, there were times where I’d hear this voice in my head that’d say “stop thinking about it and get up and do it you poofter”. Then I’d sit up like a robot, I’d just get up and I’d reply back, “Im not a poofter”. So I’d sit up, put on my pants, grab my cans and then just leave the house and it’d be like 2 or 3 in the morning and I’d have to start work in a few hours. That’s when I started to realize it was an addiction man when a voice in my head is telling me to get up and paint graffiti.

Is that like the worst insult you can be called?
Nah, but trying to live up to an image of being a tough male or whatever, that voice definitely knew what kind of names to call me to get me out of bed.

That’s crazy. We’ll get into who you think the voice was a bit later. What sort of things were you finding yourself going and doing when you’d go out?
I’d go and paint graffiti. Sometimes though I’d just walk around the streets just wondering what the whole point of life was. I used to drink a lot too so sometimes I’d be riding my bike completely drunk, trying to paint graffiti but I always remember picking myself up off the ground. I couldn’t even ride it properly and I’d just keep falling off so just stupid things like that. One time I climbed onto the roof of a building and just sat there and just looked down on all the cars passing by. I sat there for I don’t know maybe an hour just watching cars go by and just thinking - What am I doing?

Gary Silipa

Thinking there’s more to life than this?
Yeah, I loved graffiti but I didn’t feel there was any purpose to my life. What am I doing here?

You think you kinda grew out of the whole doing something to meet a sense of what other peoples expectations of you were versus what you really want to be doing or saying?
There was definitely part of that. I guess with graffiti you kind of build an image of who you are or how you want people to perceive you to be and I was so attached to this persona I had created that I was always trying to live up to the expectations of it.

What was the persona of Ryze? Like what do you think that persona was for other people?
I don’t know, maybe just some crazy or silly drunk guy. I got to the point I guess towards the end of my time painting graffiti that I didn’t really care about too many things so the risks I was taking were perhaps a little higher.

You think the alcohol kind of like helped?
Oh definitely man. When I wasn’t drinking I was a paranoid wreck. As soon as I started drinking it was nothing you know I’d just tag on anything.

That’s it. But you obviously still had something you wanted to say as an artist and that was weighing on you heavily enough to wanna like eventually leave your job to focus on that full time? So you do you think that it was a coming of age sort of thing?
If I look back on my life to see if there was anything that was common through all those years, it was art. From the time I was a little kid drawing pictures for other kids in primary school, to winning the school art competition twice in intermediate, to the point when I was about 15 and figuring out how to paint graffiti then doing that for 12 or so years, art has always been part of my life. I’ve always known working a 9 to 5 for the man wasn’t me. I just never realized that living as a full time artist was ever an option. At the time, graffiti was enough to satisfy me as an artist but once I stopped, now what do I do? What do I paint outside of letters? I had nothing.

Gary Silipa

So how do you think you unlocked that? Now I think it comes for you quite easy. What do you think was the catalyst? At what point did you start working out what your voice was?
It’s funny because I left my job to chase the dream as a full time artist but had no idea what it is that I painted, what I painted with or what I painted on! I was so keen to leave the reality didn’t hit me ‘til the day after I left and then I was like, ok, what do I do now?
Now it’s just been over a year since I left my job to do this and I’m only comfortable now with what I’m trying to paint. It’s been a year where I had to start from scratch and lot of experimenting and learning about who I am to get to this point.

You’ve always had a kind of really graphic approach to doing things even as a writer. You would really take your time to develop an idea quite slowly, always quite cautious and kind of measured and it seems like now you’ve really developed your own language of symbols and icons that represent things in your life. Maybe you wanna talk about what some of those symbols are and what they represent? Let’s start with those woman’s legs?
So I had the idea for a painting using the words ‘Born, Live, Die, Then’ which to me represents some sort of human lifecycle. I drew the shape of a vagina in the ‘O’ of the word ‘Born’ to connect the word to a visual that relates to it. Then I thought I’d try and relate the word to a symbol which was more obvious and I drew the black open legs.

So it’s really about birth?
Yeah, that’s what it’s all about. The symbol imitates the position a woman is in when she’s giving birth. I met a nurse who works in the maternity unit at a hospital recently and she told me that an increasingly popular way mothers are giving birth is on all fours but somehow I don’t think many people will automatically associate that kind of symbol to birth!

What specifically about birth are you trying to say? Just that, that’s the essence of life? You’re born?
Pretty much. I like how very simple symbols can represent something so powerful and giving birth to a life is one of the most powerful things. I like how the same symbol means different things to different people.

So you got the other symbol that’s like gnashing teeth?
So that symbol represents Hell or the ‘bad’ things in life depending on what context it’s used in. It was more of a crown shape when I first started using it since it looked more like fire with the flat bottom and the pointy top but I tried it with a pointy bottom as well and then I noticed that the negative space looked like sharp teeth and it was this symbol that related more to me with what I was trying to say.

Do you think people make sense of that image when they see it or what do you think they think it is?
I don’t know if they automatically make sense of it because I think you’re naturally drawn to look at the diamond-like shape rather than the negative space. I also add some pencil into the shape to draw the audiences focus deeper into it and away from the negative space.

Gary Silipa

Sometimes I’m always caught off guard by how for a very complex guy who’s been through a lot of very complex times in your life your mechanism for sort of coping and getting through it has been boiling it down to the most simple kind of essence. The name of your website is ‘the good, the bad’ and that’s kind of the underlying thing you pretty much play around with - positive and negative symbols. Is that really your view on life? That you can break everything in this world, in this universe down to just the good and the bad? I’ve always wanted to ask you this.
I was born into a Christian family so was taught good values but I got into a lot of you could say ‘bad’ or ‘naughty’ things from a young age so then I split because I felt like a hypocrite. I felt I had to choose one or the other and I chose the other which was just living a life of doing whatever I wanted to do. Life was pretty black and white for me. Everything I did was either good or bad so the phrase ‘the good, the bad’ for me described life perfectly and it’s just stuck with me for a long time now.

So what’s your game plan as an artist trying to make it?
To be honest I don’t have one. I’m just taking each day as it comes. I just want to paint and put it out there. I like to think that the art will just do its thing. The last year has been so much fun that I guess what I’m doing is working. Don’t get me wrong though, the majority of the year has been really tough and I’m ready to keep grinding away for as long as it takes but since I have a purpose now, I’m determined.

So do you hope that one day this will be something that will actually bring a tangible income that you can truly support yourself from? Is that the aspiration here?
Definitely. Getting paid for doing something that you love is part of the dream and right now I’m still chasing that part of it.

Check out more of Gary’s work here

1:49pm
  
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