Interview with Be Free

Be Free. Photo by Rowena Naylor

Be Free is one of my favourite Melbourne street artists. Like many of Melbourne’s street artists, I noticed Be Free just appear out of nowhere a few years ago. Since then it’s always a pleasure to stumble upon a new piece while walking the streets.

Be Free uses real playing cards, string, and other props (even a table and chair) which makes the pieces even more visually exciting and makes them come to life. The pieces are unique and innovative and adds a much needed breath of fresh air into the street art scene, bringing something new and different…

I caught up with Be Free and this is what we talked about…

LM: Tell me about your background. How did you get into street art?

Be Free: I grew up in Adelaide, Australia and then moved to Melbourne to get into the art and music seen. I always liked seeing art on the streets, whether it was tags, pieces or characters as long as it said something to me and made me feel something. So I guess I just really wanted to be a part of the culture.

Be Free. Photo by Rowena Naylor

LM: What does your name mean?

Be Free: I write ‘be free’ as a reminder to myself to stay young and really spend all my time doing what I love and want is important to me. Also as a statement to others that many need to hear those words.

LM: What do you enjoy most about the whole street art process? The creation, the night missions etc?

Be Free: The process is very important for me because it’s quite timely and is the perfect head space, I can really lose myself. The street side of things is the opposite, I feel so alive going out on late night stealth missions.

Be Free. Photo courtesy of Be Free

LM: Who or what inspires you? 

Be Free: So many things but basically I just want to have fun with life. I love dirty gritty walls or spaces that are too plain and they just need to be messed with. Taggers inspire me because their ability to climb up to the top of a building and leave their mark, I always know it’s possible to climb something if there is a tag up there.

LM: Which artists are you into at the moment? Local and International.

Be Free: There are a good handful of artist that I love which are; Shida, Lucy Lucy, Suki, David Choe, Sam Keith(The Maxx), David Mack(Kabuki), Toggs, Mio and Elbow Toe there are to many…

LM: Where do you work from and what is your studio space like?

Be Free: I wish I could afford a studio space, I just live in my art it’s a bit chaotic but it works for now.

Be Free. Photo courtesy of Be Free

LM: What is always in your “toolkit”?

Be Free: Markers, Liquid nail, paste, a bunch of different knifes, cans, gaff and a pack of cards.

LM: What has been the highlight (or highlights) of your career to date?

Be Free: Not sure, the whole thing is a highlight… I just love dripping paint from high places. It’s also amazing to see how people interact with the work. There is one piece I did with the Be Free girl sitting at a table drinking peppermint tea and someone sent me a picture of their little girl drinking tea on the other side of the table with their own tea cup, cute as!

Be Free. Photo by Darcy Gladwin

LM: Tell me your pieces and the use of cards/string/props etc in your work.. I love it! Where did these ideas come from?

Be Free: I got the idea with the cards from a friend in Adelaide, he use to have cards scatted on his walls. A bit of an Alice & Wonderland fan, I loved hanging out in that house and so I just start using that idea with the little girl. I like to think of ways I can try to bring my character in this world, so I like using 3D props like winding string around objects and making little tables and chairs. I love using all kinds of different mediums.

LM: What’s coming up in 2012 and beyond for Be Free?

Be Free: I’ve just started a collaboration project with an amazing artist ‘Erin Greer’; it’s a relationship between a bunch of monsters and a girl. We are going to be painting in the streets & warehouses. We will see where it goes…

Be Free & Erin Greer. Photo courtesy of Be Free

Photos by Darcy Gladwin, Rowena Naylor and courtesy of Be Free