Last month, New Jersey-based artist NDA arrived back in his city from an extensive trip across four countries: Norway, England, Spain, and Portugal. This was is first time painting in Europe. With as many memorable encounters as walls, he shared these recent adventures through a series of anecdotes and photographs.
Initially he was invited by artist Nipper to paint at a local high school in Halsnoy, Norway. During the trip, a few requisite big cities were painted, including London and Barcelona, however it was painting in the smaller cities where he found the biggest rewards. Here his work was able to breathe, unencumbered by looming buildings. In Norway, a lush landscapes surrounded the loosely painted characters.
“When painting in smaller towns you begin to realize that the work can be a huge contrast to its surroundings. I felt like some of the murals and street art that I saw in these areas had a greater impact than perhaps some of the work in NY because it wasn’t over saturated. In parts of Brooklyn you can’t turn around with out seeing a mural, wheatpaste or what-have-you. Some times the work can get a little lost in the shuffle. But when you turn the corner of a small town and see a large mural standing alone against beautiful scenery, it can really smack you upside the head! The context is so dramatically different that your impression of it has to change as well.” said NDA of his time in Halsnoy. I was curious to ask NDA how the police reaction in these suburban areas stacked up against our ever-paranoid NYPD and Vandal Squad. The artist said, “Everywhere I went to, the cops were just waaaayyyy more relaxed! I think it’s no secret that NY cops are often turned up to 10. Even when you’re painting legal walls here, you’re likely to get some hassle. It was nice to not feel that stress.”
After staying with Nipper and a stop to check out famed festival Nuart, the artist hopped a plane to London, where the NDA’s one negative experience on his excursion took place. He recollects, “The one wall I had a problem with on the trip was a legal spot in London. I was given permission to paint a wall of a canal. 10 minutes into sketching it out a woman in the houseboat facing the wall came out and said that it would be too much for her to see this everyday. Instead of going on I agreed to stop and she power washed it of the wall. This was a first for me. I was pretty frustrated at first but it was a good lesson to have: Not everyone wants your shit!” However, not all of NDA’s experiences in London were so fraught with difficulties. Nearly all the passersby NDA heard from enjoyed the 30-foot long wall on Hanbury Street that he painted thanks to Ben Slow.
The finale of his trek came while visiting Vulpes Vulpes in Leiria, Portugal, where they collaborated on several pieces. The artist recounts, “Vulpes Vulpes and I were doing an unauthorized piece on an abandoned building in Leiria. We turned around to see all the students from the beauty school next door laughing and waving at us from the window. A few of them came out to chat and it was all so nice and casual. At the end they gave us a round of applause. The whole thing was incredibly positive and I don’t think the topic of legality came up once.” Now back in the metro-area after his extensive travels, viewers should watch to see how the natural landscape affects the artist’s imagery going forward. I, for one, look forward to some Halsnoy-inspired flora to liven up the cold winter ahead.
Photos courtesy of NDA