Tim Hans shoots… Trek Matthews


Trek Matthews is a young Atlanta-based artist whom I have had the pleasure of getting to know through his work with Living Walls. Through complete coincidence, Tim Hans ran into Trek on a Brooklyn rooftop earlier this year. Tim photographed Trek for the latest in our continuing series of photo-portraits of artists by Tim, and Laura Calle met up with Trek back in Atlanta for an interview. – RJ

Laura: Let’s talk about your experience as an artist who  also works on the streets. How did you start painting outside?

Trek: I’m gonna tell a short story to answer this. Basically one summer, when I recently had moved into this city, I think it was the second year of Living Walls but it was the first year that I heard of it. There was a call for volunteers and I got involved and it was rad. I assisted for Gaia and Nanook and Sam Parker and it was super super rad. I had seen their work before cause I had always been passively interested in seeing what they were doing at that time. I decided to keep going with it, and kept hanging out and trying out new things. At that time I was part of the graphic design program at a university, and then shifted the focus to drawing and started to bring that to a certain direction, with no intention of painting, until Living Walls approached me with a project. Until that point I had not done anything large at all, I hadn’t painted on a wall, or at all. I started practicing and experimenting anywhere I could, then I did my first wall a couple of weeks later. So it pushed me really quickly. Then I tried to adapt my aesthetics to different situations and aspects.

L: How do you think you participate in this contemporary movement, which going outside to the streets art, do you see yourself as an illustrator, a street artist, none or all of the above?

T: Yeah, I kinda just try to do a mix of anything instead of being a purist on any intent and that tends to include doing things on paper that I can push myself personally on a small scale and then how that translates to the public realm, whether its sanctioned or illegal, it’s always sort of interesting, to see how things aesthetically adapt to the public environment, or conceptually adapt to the public environment. So, with personal pieces I tend to go more with memory based objects or things that are purely based on what I have experienced or things that I remember, whether they be memories or fractions of memories, and when my work goes into the public I tend to look at how that area has progressed in a very subtle level. So it’s about my personal memory and what I experienced in that area even for the short time that I have worked there. So with things like public transit, public infrastructures, I try to see how they change the specific spaces I come across. So I like putting things both on paper or any sort of material, but I think the ability to react with the public is really good and to have a conversation with people that aren’t ‘art people’ and how they see things, how they react to things, especially now that I am pushing more towards a minimalized and abstract aesthetic.


L: How has your style evolved in the past few years?

T: I was trying to focus on illustration and basically straight up drawing things, drawing anything from an animalistic approach, I liked that a lot at a certain point. I had basically not painted at all so I have always enjoyed deconstructing things and re-drawing them how I’d like to see them, but still pretty simple. I didn’t have too much concept so I tried to look into cultures in my area, the descending cultures of where I was from, and tried to branch out into other cultures without re-appropriating it too much. Just to keep it personal but try and still exhibit a culture that was here previously, so I kinda wanted to keep doing that for a while and got interested in color, cause I was just doing black and white and I wanted to do more color based stuff, therefore I had to start to focus into paintings or pushed ink. So that changed the subject into people and transportation and the process of moving in general. So I tried to make it more dynamic and minimal, I guess I started doing that earlier this year. I’ve been bouncing between doing things large scale and small scale, so I would go to location, like when I was in Spain I’d sketch something and then go and see how that it fits into the space, then bouncing that into paper and adapt that by adding more depth and trying to increase my speed.

L: Does the setting of where you’re working influence you?

T: To an extent, I like to have the composition fit what it’s on to a certain extent and then trying to base it on the loose history of that area, without getting to apparent or in your face, I like to keep it fairly loose and conceptual so that people can give it their own personal narratives or a narrative of that area. So if it’s not sanctioned, they are kind of just compositions that adapt to the area that I’m working on, but I just wanna quickly put it up. But if its sanctioned I want it to be relevant to the area, for example the piece I did in Bushwick in March, I wanted it to relate to the area and how it’s changed. I learned that the spot that I was working at was an area with high volumes of violence towards prostitutes, so I kinda wanted to look into that and keep it very loose, but with that I wanted to make it more powerful on the feminist approach. When I was sketching it, I was keeping that in mind, so the concept that I was going for and the composition reflected that local history.

Photos by Tim Hans

Tim Hans shoots… Brian Adam Douglas

Photo by Tim Hans

Brian Adam Douglas aka Elbowtoe is one of New York’s best-loved street artists, but he also has also developed a healthy and equally well-regarded studio practice. This week, Douglas’ largest and most significant solo show yet opens at Andrew Edlin Gallery in New York City. “How to Disappear Completely” will feature drawings as well as Douglas’ famous cut paper paintings/collages. I’ve been eagerly awaiting this show for at least a year, and now it’s almost upon us. The show opens on Thursday evening (6-8pm) and runs through October 26th.

Earlier this summer, Tim Hans met up to Douglas at his studio for the latest in our continuing series of photo-portraits of artists by Tim, and I asked him a few questions over email.

"The Last Jackalope And Other Fables Of The Reconstruction" by Brian Adam Douglas. Photo courtesy of Brian Adam Douglas.
“The Last Jackalope And Other Fables Of The Reconstruction” by Brian Adam Douglas. Photo courtesy of Brian Adam Douglas.

RJ: What can you tell us about your upcoming solo show?

Douglas: This show, at least for me, has been grappling with the end of things.

My close circle of family has been through quite a series of challenges over the past 2 1/2 years, and these struggles have had a profound effect on my psyche. My show is a series of events of great calamity, more often than not after the fact. The protagonist most often rises to the occasion and grapples with the changed environment, though there are occasions that they stand in awe of the devastation before them. The images are on first glance an illustration of destruction, but in actuality are metaphors of redemption.

Though the initial seeds for the images came quite quickly, I have been working out the compositions slowly over time, letting elements slide in and out of focus.

A majority of the work is made of paper, though there is a series of drawings that compliment the cut paper works. I took it as a challenge to make drawings that in their starkness could hold their own against the complexity of the cut paper.

Photo by Tim Hans

RJ: What goes into making one of your paper paintings? Can you go through the process from beginning to end? How long did the pieces in this show take you to make?

Douglas: For most of the works in my current show, I developed the ideas while taking long walks. My goal is to be a vessel for my imagination, so I am very open to whatever my mind throws at me. Once I get a set of ideas, I begin to research what the significance of the signs, gestures and relationships might offer. This often leads to troves of new information that in turn yields more imagery. My goal when coming up with the images, is to step as far back from the process as I can and literally take notes at what my imagination throws at me. When I have the inklings of an image, I run through a number of studies, and once I find the composition that works best for the image, I get to work on the final drawing.

These drawings can take days, and sometimes weeks to execute depending on the level of complexity. Many of the structures I have in the show are built using old fashioned perspective techniques. The more complex the structures, the longer the study takes. I have one piece with several shipwrecked frigates that I built each with their own vanishing points. They become like scale models. After the drawing is complete, I make a very detailed color study, to establish the proper relationships in terms of light effects and atmospheric effects as well as color and value.

A huge influence on my process is an unfinished painting by Dürer at the Met. In it one is able to really see him working things out. I took his process of the very detailed under drawing from that work in progress. Once I transfer my drawing onto the panel, I comb through my vast collection of paper in search of paper that will build off the color study and other reference that I have gathered. If there are colors that I am unable to find I will make the colors. This is particularly the case in areas of large solid color.

I then attack the image like I would a painting. There is not a set method to the application of the paper. It is a very organic response to the studies as well as all the reference I have gathered. I will say that my “brush marks” are as closely aligned with drawing as they are with paint. I think that the two are inseparable.

When I varnish the pieces, I tend to rub the varnish in, like I am polishing a table. I find this part of the process to be the most stressful. I use a rag to apply the varnish, and I build it up in several thin layers. The difficulty arises from the texture of the built up paper. The surface creates ledges and crevices that the varnish can build up on/in.

The smaller pieces in the show take somewhere in the ballpark of 2 months to execute. The largest pieces took almost half a year in execution, but almost a year for all the elements to accumulate and ferment into the appropriate image.

"The Center Cannot Hold" by Brian Adam Douglas. Photo by Brian Adam Douglas.
“The Center Cannot Hold” by Brian Adam Douglas. Photo courtesy of Brian Adam Douglas.

RJ: You seem like you are always one of the busiest people I know and you spend a lot of time in your studio. What drives you to work so hard?

Douglas: There was a period of time in my life that art was the only stable place I could be. During that time I forged a deep love of the solace of the studio. Since then I have never really been able to shake it. My wife has always been very driven by her arts as well. I think her passion encourages me to work even harder myself. But probably the greatest driving force of my time in studio is that I am always trying to raise the bar on myself with everything I take on, and that just means more work.

RJ: How do you see street art fitting into your practice these days?

Douglas: Sadly I don’t have much wiggle room for street art these days. It has certainly not been for a lack of desire. I have a stack of prints in my studio that we printed this summer, that I have just been waiting to get out. Honestly with any spare time I have I want to spend as much as I can with my twin boys.

RJ: Has having kids changed your art?

Douglas: I don’t know if it has, at least in terms of subject matter. I know it has meant less time in the studio than I used to take. I used them in a street piece. And I made the decision that any time I do any work with them I will make it as off-kilter as possible, find the troubling or unsettled moments. I hate sentimental art, and any time one uses children in art, the artist runs the risk of sentimentality. Having children has certainly made me take a hard look at my practice. I don’t want to waste any time making art that is not worthy of the time I take away from spending with them.

Photo by Tim Hans

Photos courtesy of Brian Adam Douglas and by Tim Hans

Tim Hans shoots… Remi/Rough


Remi has been a friend and an artist I’ve followed closely for many years, one of the artists putting some fresh energy graffiti with his abstract style, so I was glad that Tim Hans could meet up with Remi Rough at his studio in South London earlier this year and that Rhiannon Platt could interview Remi for our continuing series of portraits by Tim Hans. – RJ

Rhiannon Platt: For those who may not be familiar with your work, when did you start using spray paint?

Remi Rough: I did my first piece in 1984. Paint was different then, as were the styles, techniques and obviously the fan base, which hardly existed at all except in the younger generation.

Most of the artists, paint brands and the pieces themselves don’t even exist anymore.

It’s quite funny to think of something I was part of as a kid being considered historical now!

Rhiannon: And how has your work evolved since then?

Remi: It became a lot simpler. In the late 90’s and early 00’s I stripped back a lot of the chintz in my graffiti pieces and lettering. Colour, background and periphery became unimportant to me. I guess things continued to simplify and become more minimal from there. Now the colour has regained a key importance in my work and the line and shape is just a conveyance for that. As long as I can create a similar tension in my paintings to the graffiti pieces of my youth, then I’m doing something right I think.


Rhiannon: What does abstraction mean to you?

Remi: Abstraction is all about questioning what you see. Graffiti was and still is abstract right from the very beginning. The entire concept of Wildstyle is completely abstract. the fills, the outlines and the backgrounds. Taking basic type forms and abstracting them into a more stylised version of the original product is as about as abstract as it gets.

Abstraction is keeping your feet firmly planted in reality whilst your head is in the clouds of imagination.

Rhiannon: What keeps you going creatively?

Remi: Many things to be honest. Good coffee, amazing people (of which I think I’m lucky to be surrounded by a lot of the time), great art of any kind, good food, my family and most of all I guess I manage to find new challenges for myself on a constant basis.

Rhiannon: What projects are you working on right now?

Remi: I’m off to Detroit in November to work on a very large mural project, which I’m quite excited about as I’ve never been there before. I have also been working on a collaborative show with Shok1 and I have a couple of solo shows booked in for next year already. Lastly I have a new book available next month called #roughsketches it’s a huge book of sketch work dating back from 1996 until now. It marks my evolution into the style I work with now and has a good few hundred outlines in it. There’s only going to be 100 editions tho, plus 25 special editions! It’s my Seventh self published book and I personally think it’s my best one so far…


Photos by Tim Hans

Tim Hans shoots… Swoon


Caledonia Curry aka Swoon has to be one of my all-time favorite artists. Her wheatpastes have inspired a generation of street artists, and her work indoors and outdoors touches hearts in a way that many artists aspire to but few achieve. Earlier this year, Tim Hans met up to Swoon for the latest in our continuing series of photo-portraits of artists by Tim, and I asked her a few questions over email.


RJ: You always seem to have a lot on your plate. What projects are you working on at the moment?

Swoon: Today I am gonna finish a paper cut out that’s hanging on my wall and needs my attention… what else?

I have a big installation coming up at the Brooklyn Museum that I’m pretty excited about, it opens in April 2014, along side Ai WeiWei and Judy Chicago, so I am honored to be in such good company, as well as just excited to create a big project in New York again after all these years.

And then besides a few other small projects in the works, the rest of my energies revolve around the big 3 that have dominated my life for the last couple of years – Konbit Shelter, sustainable architecture in post earthquake Haiti. Braddock Tiles, restoring a formerly abandoned church in Braddock, Pa to become an arts based learning center. And Dithyrambalina, musical architecture for New Orleans!

Whew! I get tired just thinking about it all!


RJ: You just finished a community mural with Groundswell, right? How does that process compare to your usual public art or street art projects?

Swoon: Actually the mural is still in progress. We will be installing a version of it together on the Bowery wall in Manhattan in October. What I love about groundswell is the thoroughness of their process. Everybody benefits from a groundswell mural, all of the youth artists that are involved, as well as the community members who get an awesome colorful mural that they helped to inform and create. It’s been amazing watching them work.

RJ: So many of your projects (Miss Rockaway Armada, Swimming Cities, The Music Box…) seem to be able inspiring people to be creative themselves. Why is that such a focus of yours?

Swoon: I’ll answer this one in a story.

So, one night in New Orleans we had an event to introduce our ideas to community organizers from various neighborhoods. There was a woman there named Linda Jackson, a resident of the Lower Ninth Ward who has been working tirelessly to bring her neighborhood back since the storm. This woman was fierce and I really admired her. She came up to me and said “Whatever I have to do to welcome you to into my community, I will. I got your back if you guys decide you want to work in the Lower Nine.” I asked her a bit about why she thought a project like musical architecture could be good for her neighborhood and she said “You know, it’s gonna really help these kids. We have kids with no parents, latch key kids, and kids whose parents are addicted to drugs, and in that situation creativity can save a kid’s life.”

Right then a light bulb went on in my head.  I don’t know why I had never put this thought together until this conversation, perhaps I had been avoiding it, but all of the sudden I understood something about my own life — and perhaps something about why I do the work that I do — and I said, “It’s true, my parents were hardcore drug addicts and my mother stayed an addict for the whole of my life. When I was 10 years old, and I found painting, it absolutely saved me.”


RJ: What is it about block printing that keeps you interested in the medium after all these years?

Swoon: I was just saying this the other day, that I find it funny that no matter how many blocks I carve, each time I start to carve one I get excited to begin it. I just love the process. I love the transformation that happens to the drawing through carving, and I love the permutations you get to experiment with when you have a bunch of different prints to work with.


RJ: What was the last great book you read?

Swoon: Hmm, well, I just watched a documentary and started on a book I found from watching it, and to be honest the documentary was only barely watchable, and the book may or may not turn out to be great, but both of them are on a subject that is so incredibly important that I dearly hope they keep up their work.

The doc was called Punishment: A Failed Social Experiment, and it centers around the way that the prison system, and indeed the idea of punishment are both dysfunctional in philosophy and in practice, and then tries to highlight the work of some people like the psychiatrist Bob Johnson who worked for years in the maximum security prisons in Britain and believes that even the hardest criminals can heal psychologically given the proper help. It’s a whole mind shift toward the idea that retribution is barbaric and unacceptable, and that our only real goal is to help people heal and to stop violence from continuing in our communities. Seems a really promising direction.



Photos by Tim Hans

Tim Hans shoots… MearOne


Robbie Conal was one of the first artists that Tim Hans met up with for his series of portraits of artists, and Robbie suggested that Tim also photograph MearOne. Since I am mostly aware of MearOne’s work through Robbie, we asked Robbie to interview MearOne for us. – RJ

Robbie Conal: I know Mear One as a whirling dervish.  Painting, drawing, piecing, print making, poster production, T shirt lines, stickers and everything else I forgot to list. Always up to making and thinking about more things than I can even get my mind  around. (In fact, after writing those 3 sentences—conjuring the Mearski—I think I need a nap.)  So….I figure you must be hooked into world history and current events, like you have a social media I.V. drip going directly into your brain 24/7. Or, perhaps you even consume information the good old, old fashioned way…like, have you read  any good books, lately?

MearOne: I haven’t found the time to read any books this past year but the years prior I was on a bit of a reading binge. I studied world history and human psychology from the writings of philosophers like Richard Tarnas, Robert Anton Wilson, Ken Wilber, and I enjoy reference books that explore the mind and place of humanity in reality. I have always enjoyed cryptic Scientific, Philosophical, and Spiritual literature from the late 1880’s through the 1940’s. My family has roots in Art, Music, Astro Physics, and this seems to be a very interesting time in the subject matter that inspires me. I enjoy Anthropology and Archeology too – as an artist I can find an endless story to create and build upon, one you don’t find in traditional public school teachings.


RC: Of course I’m interested in your reception habits and preferred sources of information, but I want to ask you about your big pieces about big subjects—you make more of them than pretty much  any street artist I know. How do you choose a subject to do a big “piece” about—like not necessarily doing a commission, but something more on your own.

M: For the work I create, my personal views and understanding of politics and humanity are worked into a extreme story that I can create to illustrate the issues that desperately need to be discussed. I search for truth to interpret this world that is insane. There seems to be a secret side of life that the average, complacent American victim has no idea about, and is partially responsible for. I believe the powers that be are mindlessly manipulating society to satisfy our addiction to greed and power. There are deeper levels of secret organization who are invested in harming upon the uninitiated and poor worldwide.

RC: Also, how did you develop (or evolve) your major pictorial form—the one (or 2 or 3) you use for the big pieces? (Which seems to me like a contemporary melding of classic social & political muralists’ heroic populist representation, teeming with images, use of deep illusionistic space and cracking open Pandora’s Box just enough to let loose some spiritualized microcosmic sci-fi galaxy spinning.)

M: My subject matter stems from what is happening right now and sometimes incorporates the past but shows how they are linked and perpetuated.  My paintings are philosophical perspectives on reality and I use real world current issues, juxtaposed with ancient myth, symbolism and my own imagination of the future in order to express a multidimensional way of conceiving of life responsibly and artistically. This is my way of looking into larger fields of time and how the human experience plays itself out. In addition, my work speaks about the unheard and lesser known ideas surrounding our culture like Social Conditioning, Political Power, The Higher Self Psychology, and The Material and Non-Material universe. I use current issues to discover their connection to past events and draft out a diagram of how time may be more akin to something like a four dimensional spherical reality as opposed to linear. There is something happening here and I want to know. There is a saying that goes something like, “If you long for ease and comfort than settle for it, but if your quest is for truth than you must search, and search you will.” And so here I am searching through my work to find what is true.


Photos by Tim Hans

Tim Hans Shoots… DALeast


With his trademark style of painting creatures and other things as though they are made up of hundreds of twisted metal shards, DALeast has launched himself onto the international street art like one of his animals launching at its prey. In our continuing series of photo-portraits of artists by Tim Hans, Tim met up with DALeast on the streets of London, where he has painted about half a dozen murals recently. I had a few questions for the artist…

RJ: Why do you think so many popular muralists right now are painting animals?

DALeast: If we’re look into human history, we can really see how much we love ourselves as we have already done so many artworks that describe human beings. I think it is the time to give more attention to the other beings before they disappear. Animals are really close to us, but we never see them. I wondering how many people have see a real pig even though they are eating pork everyday. Muralists found the chance to turn the city into a ‘jungle’, As we work in the public space – where the humans are.

RJ: What has been your favorite thing about London?

DALeast: I found out that I haven’t been changed by that city after I left.


RJ: Do you feel like you’re at the point where you can paint things the way you want to paint them, or are you still to reach that point with your technique?

DALeast: To reach a point of technique has never been a part of my game.

RJ: What makes you want to paint a particular wall or not?

DALeast: Fate.

RJ: Where else will you be painting soon?

DALeast: Excitement for the unknown.


Photos by Tim Hans

Tim Hans shoots… Run


I’ve been a fan of Run‘s work for many years, but I’ve never met the man and never really knew much about him. All I knew were his men, creeping around the walls of Hackney and Shoreditch. Earlier this year, Tim Hans met up to Run for the latest in our continuing series of photo-portraits of artists by Tim, and I asked him a few questions over email.

RJ: Who are the people in your paintings? Anyone, or group, in particular?

Run: The people that I paint show an evolution of episodes and experiences. They are ‘nobody’, they are the portrait of ‘nobody’, they are not even a race (some people said that they have black features) but they have not, they are a template to demonstrate actions, feelings and thought. Sometimes they have a totally blank expression, but others are completely awake and aware. I guess that on the deepest level any artist tries to reproduce him or herself; we are just trying to survive and perpetuate ourselves in order to not disappear. Where I cannot go, or where I cannot reach, “the people of my paintings” can.


RJ: What do you look for when choosing a wall to paint?

Run:  The urban environment is so diverse and exciting to look at that sometimes it doesn’t need any other information to be added to it. We should carefully consider whether to add a painting, it really is a delicate matter. Graffiti has such a strong and random statement, that for it to appear it doesn’t need to ask permission and it is totally beautiful and spontaneous. If you look at cities like Rome or Madrid, Buenos Aires or San Paulo, graffiti is everywhere and is not inscribed in any closed area. It is the skin of the city that changes constantly like a snake.

What I do is a bit different because it is not horizontal or vertical but expands with the shape of the building, squashing the architecture around the drawing. I can’t always ‘choose’ a wall but I guess that when I can, I go for the wall that gives me the most options for creating what I want. Also I go for a wall that gives me the chance to be organic with the city and with the architecture/habitants/anthropology of the area. Other reasons for choosing a wall are more basic – I look for a smooth, comfortable, high up, wide, visible wall an possibly facing south.

RJ: You do a fair bit of traveling. What have been your favorite places to visit?

Run: Traveling it will never be enough. West Africa has been my latest destination and is probably now on the top of my list of places to go back to. It was a self organised and planned trip and I had the backing of a few amazing people (two above all, WideOpenWalls (Gambia) and Yattal Art (Senegal in Dakar)). I moved through the countries by land (and boats), to have a closer view of the culture and nature. People over there don’t care about ‘street art’ or who you are as an artist, but the person that you are.

The most astonishing places to visit for me were where the nature is virtually untouched and where really there’s nothing to paint.

Other than that I try to concentrate on organising my trips, and luckily I’m getting better at that. Maybe now I feel that every trip is such a special opportunity, nothing should be underestimated or taken for granted.


RJ: What is your goal with your art?

Run: Control my time. Inspire people and get inspired. Keep my rebellion always consciously aware and exercised.

RJ: Can you explain your recent fascination with phones? Seems like a completely different subject matter.

Run: When I was in Africa I wanted so many times to communicate with my friends overseas, but it was almost impossible. Sometimes there was no electricity or water, so imagine the internet or mobile phone networks!

Art is projecting magic into the world, so the phone-box was like a dimensional door, you know, it gave me confidence that someone was on the other side of the line ready to listen to me. It’s magic, it really works!

Yes, it makes more sense in a wild area with broken networks, but it’s funny and I like it, kids like it too and I bet adults do as well.

I remember the first couple of phone-boxes that I painted in villages in Africa, the kids called them ‘mobile’, of course, because they have never seen a public landline phone before. I like to keep this phone old fashioned, but I think that I will only paint phones for this year 2013 and then I will stop.


Photos by Tim Hans

Tim Hans shoots… Pure Evil


Pure Evil is one of the familiar faces of the British street art scene both for his own art and for The Pure Evil Gallery that he runs in Shoreditch. Tim Hans met with Pure Evil at his gallery/studio for the latest in our continuing series of photo-portraits of artists by Tim, and Caroline asked Pure Evil about art and his gallery.

Caroline: Do you think it’s important for artists to have a sort of trademark or logo? 

Pure Evil: No, I think artists who stick to the same recognizable thing and just do it again and again are being boring. This is ironic because I repeatedly draw bunnies everywhere. I don’t see that as a logo, it’s a tag. I was watching a film about David Bowie the other night and I got this from it which is very good advice. HOW TO BE A GREAT ARTIST – Change the diversity of what you do at a mind boggling rate. Be prodigious and act as a lightning rod for your time. Bowie did it, I want to achieve something similar, just by doing a whole bunch of crazy different stuff.

CC: What inspires you to create? Where do your ideas come from?

PE: They kind of bombard me from everywhere.. its that whole ‘being a lightning rod’ idea…There’s a flash and then it’s embedded in my cranium.  It might be a sentence in a book I’m reading. It might be an image on Tumblr. It might be something I misheard but decided the new form of the phrase is interesting. It might be from a dream. It might be something that I saw and then promptly forgot and then later on thought of it as an original idea.

I just did a check through my history to see what I have been looking at in the past week :

CC: What was it like being raised by a father who is an artist? 

PE: He only took me to the cinema once, to see “LIVE AND LET DIE” which was awesome to watch as a kid, but boy he took me to a lot of art museums and we saw a lot of celtic standing stones all over Europe. It was great being surrounded by Picasso’s and Pop Art when I was growing up. I loved seeing how he never stopped painting EVER. It’s really inspiring… he’s probably painting right now.


CC: What was starting your own gallery like? 

PE: It was totally inspired by Aaron Rose’s Alleged Gallery. That was the blueprint, that and Santa’s Ghetto… Just get a space, paint the walls white and hey presto! You have a gallery. I didn’t even think of keeping it going for more than 2 weeks, but it just seemed like fun. Finding a whole basement that could be used to make art and music was a bonus, and the area is smack bang in the middle of street art central which is pretty cool. I call myself the accidental gallerist though, working out how to actually run it and make it work in the long run was a bit of work, but I just looked at Leo Castelli and what an amazing job he did with Pop Art in the 60’s… he’s a bit of a guru. Read Leo and His Circle. It’s an eye opening book.

CC: Your creativity is pretty multifaceted. Could you talk about the different mediums you use in your artwork? Or about the projects you’ve worked on besides visual arts? 

PE: I like spray paint quite a bit. Right now I’m having a lot of fun doing freehand spray stuff and layering OCD tags on top of each other to make randomness. I also like using Krink which moves so beautifully. Then there’s neon which is bloody beautiful to look at and because it comes from signage it’s a perfect medium for street art, which is street signage. I’ve got a neon in a contemporary auction in Paris which is quite humbling because it’s in there with complete legends like Victor Vasarely and Kenneth Noland. Making a genre jump is pretty exciting. Being stuck in one box is tedious. My baby sits in a little brightly coloured doughnut for about half an hour and then she just gets bored and wants some boob. Street Art is the doughnut, Contemporary art is the boob.

I’m quite into making films, just short shonky stuff, and I’m looking into using 16mm just because it’s beautiful and analog. In the basement we have an amazing music studio. It kicks ass. Here’s the music stuff. I’ve got an album called A NEW DAWN coming out in July and another coming out soon after called THE NATIONAL ARCHIVE. All art movements have a soundtrack and were making ours in-house.

CC: Any upcoming projects we should look forward to?

PE: No. Fear them all. Actually I had a baby called Bunny recently and she is going to be something….

Photos by Tim Hans

Tim Hans Shoots… Jack Murray


The work of Jack Murray aka Panik ATG as a cornerstone of my early experiences looking at graffiti in London in 2008, and I’ve continued to admire and follow his work since. Tim Hans met Murray in London for Tim’s continuing series of artist portraits, and Murray and I caught up a bit over email.

RJ: Why the decision to start going by Jack Murray instead of / in addition to Panik?

Jack Murray: It’s all about growth. A lot of my studio/gallery work these days doesn’t really reference the world of graffiti so it doesn’t seem right to pull it back into the Graffiti scene by referring to myself as Panik. I like to make artwork that reflects my thoughts on the world, or era’s from the past, I also like to write and take photos. All of that stuff comes from my mind that has developed as a person from birth and not necessarily as my alter-ego that has grown up within Graffiti. Naturally sometimes these worlds cross over but when someone is looking at my work in a gallery etc, I prefer to shake off the direct association with graffiti as it can change people’s perceptions of who you are and remind them of a world that may have little to do with what they are viewing. I’ll always be rooted in Graffiti and people who know, know, but if you don’t know then that’s fine just look at the artwork and make your judgements upon what your viewing, don’t worry about how many tag’s I did, or if I ever got arrested etc. Hope that helped clear that one up.

RJ: For a while, you were one of the most visible writers in London. How does it feel to know you’ve left that kind of mark on this city where kids will grow up thinking of your name as part of the landscape?

Jack Murray: Having a genuine effect over your landscape is what makes graffiti so powerful, as you can battle with the adverts and everything else that fills your field of vision, so knowing at one time I had real control over the city’s landscape (and still do like any other active graffiti/street artist) was/is an ego boost of course but also a very liberating feeling. Writers that came before me were the reason I thought it was possible to do the things that I did and I just want to have the same effect on younger writers coming up. When you’re really active with the bombing you want to be that guy known for going the extra length but once you have got yourself out of that mind set and are focusing on other things, you want to see someone else going for it and soaking up the glory in the same way. Being king of your city forever with no-one stepping in would be dull. When the new writers come through and make an impact, the older heads will always find reasons as to why the newbies are not quite as certified as they are/were but secretly in the back of their minds they’re happy to have some competition and to see things moving forwards.

RJ: While you sit pretty comfortably within the world of graffiti, you paint a lot of characters, even your “P” is a sort of character, and ATG has a logo that goes beyond just being three letters. Is there a reason for that?

Jack Murray: I’m not sure if there is a direct reason for any of that, more just down to us going with whatever feels right at the time. Some people hated it when I started painting characters and just wanted to see me paint straight letter rooftops for the rest of my life, or when ATG moved into being represented as a wider movement/brand, but then others were entertained by all of these transitions. Some people are destined to go in certain directions, so while I might sit pretty comfortable within graffiti, my creative release was never going to just be traditional graffiti and ATG was never going to be just a bombing crew. Once we felt we’d done all we could do within illegal graffiti we simply looked for other stuff to engage in.


RJ: What was it like exhibiting in New York, where you don’t have the same fanbase who have seen your work on their daily commute for years? Did people respond to different things about your paintings?

Jack Murray: New York was great. If anything the fact that people weren’t that familiar with my work made them more intrigued. In general New Yorkers are pretty upfront and vocal with their thoughts which meant there was lots of good feedback from people on the opening night. Having people come straight up to you and tell you how they see your work on the opening night is exactly what you want really as it lets you know that people are properly engaging with it as opposed to just drinking the free drinks and talking about what happened last weekend. Every city has a different atmosphere with inhabitants that have different mannerisms and tastes, on the whole my work seemed like it gelled well with New Yorkers so would definitely like to do more stuff out there down the line.

RJ: What are you working on at the moment?

Jack Murray: I’m currently getting stuck into a seasonal wave of private commissions which is always good. Outside of that I am busy working on a new movement which focuses on a wide variety of things including, abandoned locations, fashion, travel, models, graffiti, photography, film and writing. There’s lots planned for this movement including a gallery show at the beginning of July in London. I’m also in the process of trying to set-up a local arts charity for young people alongside my Mum and some close friends.

Photos by Tim Hans