WEI aka SILENT HOBO
I first used spray paint when I was 17, I had a friend who lived on a boat that he was fixing up, he was ex Navy and used to be stationed on submarines, we used to drink and get high after working our kitchen job. I have always been into drawing and picked up some car paint from somewhere. I must have been thinking about doing it for a while as I bought it all to work with me, I was hyped after hanging out with my mate and hit a local Grammar School. My Tag was Red, I painted up a
wall in the school, really badly and then a wall out side the school. It was about 1am at night and I saw some head lights , bearing in mind this was a sleepy village in Kent, I figured it couldn’t be the police. But it was and I got arrested, given a caution and made to clean off the graffiti during the day whilst all the kids where at school. My friends mum was a teacher there and I re-member her laughing her face off. I soon moved to Southampton and I remember being around some guys who kicked a toilet in at a Kebab house, The police were called and when they pulled up my name they told me
to watch myself as they had a record of me, It pretty much stopped me from doing any graffiti for a
long time, it was probably good in a way as I got better at drawing..
How do you feel about street art in your current city/environment? do you like it? How does your work stand out from the rest?
Bristol is amazing for Graffiti and street art, I keep hearing it’s the graffiti capital of the UK, but they would say that! It’s such a vibrant city known for it great music, art and free parties. There are loads of places to paint and loads of places to get paint from, whats not to love about that. Its got a great community vibe and once people see that your gonna stick around they are su- per cool with you, invite you to come for a paint, invite you to paid gigs even if you hardly know them.Im sure theres a graffiti writer living on every street in Bristol. A lot of the guys are super humble, super friendly which is cool and let their work do the talking, like if you are going over someones work make sure you do a better job, so there are new paintings popping up all the time and always something that catches your eye.
What is the best thing about creating art on the street? And the worst?
It is what you make it, You can paint on your own or with a whole crew, It can be social or a way to get something off your mind. I personally like to see a piece I painted a few days later, thats when I get a buzz, that 'yeah I did that’ feel. Be- fore hand, for me, it’s a lot of planning, having the right colours, a decent sketch, a spot and while I’m painting there are a lot of thoughts about how your gonna make the sketch look as dope as you can, with the time you have. One of the first guys who I painted with “Logoe” painted so fast that I’d still be on my sketch up, while he was already done. He was definitely a purist, loved his fat caps and had no time for pens, stencils or brushes and painted sick pieces. Definitely influenced the way I approached painting. It made me speed up loads so when I paint in the streets I get it up as quick as I can with no faffing, its more fun that way. With commissions and stuff I take my time a bit more, and use different mediums and get into more detail. There are also lots of positive comments from all sorts of people when you get it right, which in itself feels good and street art makes the shabby places look colourful. I think the worst would probably be the weather in the UK, I think it takes a special kind of person to consistently paint in the winter when it’s raining.
Who is your favourite contemporary artist? what do you use from their work/thoughts/inspirations to create your work?
Favourite artist is that guy who created Akira, Katsuhiro Otomo.It blew my mind when I saw that film, I read the graphic novels and I was there in his world.The artwork , the line drawing and the emotions he gets out of hischaracters is so good. Vaughn Bodes Characters and line work were super stylish but the stories he told were funny but depressing at the same time. I also love Jamie Hewlett’s comics from tank Girl and the way he was mixing photography with illustration so seamlessly later on. Eastman and lairds Ninja turtles, Judge dread, Garfield, Calvin and Hobbs, I pretty much loved anything that was drawn From Bristol I love Cheo’s work, he’s been painting in Bristol since the 80’s, he is like a ma- chine and has a crazy work output, pretty much creating something new daily, super inspirational guy to paint with even though he wouldn’t think so himself. But yeah I love seeing people I know succeeding in what they love doing, it gives that insight that you can do it too if you don’t give up.
What do you want people to see when they look at your work?
Mainly my work reflects what I’m into, and people who I know. I do it in a style that people can recognise, and associate with Silent hobo I suppose. I think that was my aim from the beginning, not to do the same thing over and over and be recognised for that, but paint different characters interacting with different scenes just to keep it fresh for me. All the time I am trying something new, be it photo realism or limiting my colour pallet to certain tones or concentrating more on the backgrounds, as I said it keeps it interesting for me to try out new techniques all the time, but generally I like to paint something which is colourful and uplifting and has style.
In your opinion has graffiti succeeded in attaining a unique position in the institutionalised contemporary art?
I'm not sure really, I don’t really take much notice of what happens in ‘Institutionalised contemporary art’ I tend to focus on what I’m doing today or next week. All I know is that when I was younger I tried getting work in galleries and they wouldn't give me a look in, so I did it on the streets anyway and I suppose through perseverance I managed to make a living out of it that way, If you think about it when you paint on the street , it’s like a massive billboard, you get plenty of people seeing it during the day and people can look you up on the internet if they really want something from you. It’s a proper DIY way of getting about it and thats what graffiti is to me , no rules ,do what you want and make it up as you go along like skate and BMX culture. I would definitely take note of what any of my peers said over some professional art critic. If I can make a living out of what I love doing and at the same time it has a contemporary art status then I suppose thats cool. At least work won’t dry out for a while... so yeah thats’s dope, I love it!
Who are your main influencers in the world of Graffiti?
The main peeps in the graffiti world that in- fluence me are those who I see killing it locally. In no par- ticular order I love seeing these guys stuff, Cheo, Will baris, Jago, Sepr, 3dom, Haka, Logoe, Xenz, Paris , Dicey , Feek, Reaf1. Poster1 , China Mike, Disa, Kesh1, Paintsmiths, Voy- der, Jody, Zase, Rowdy, Sorce, Lokey, Hazard, Flx, Spzero,Mr Riks, Demo, kid Crayon Erna
How do you achieve that interaction between form and content? Do you usually think about the message youwant to convey first and then search for the adequate image for it?
Generally if a theme is discussed I get images in my mind of how it could look, I think it’s from reading loads of comics as a kid. I would sketch it down real loose on paper and draw over it until proportions etc are right, If i have- trouble thinking of how a cow looks I will just google cow and an image is there. Before smart phones it was a photo reference from magazines or photocopies from the library. I think in my head I try make the composition of an illustra- tion look like how I think an amazing photo would look or a scene in a film would look. A lot of my personal artwork that I sell is like still shots from memory but made into a comic scene
Have you never felt disheartened as you witness the process of destruction of your creations?
Not really, its part of the culture and I knew that going into it, its all about the photo I got told, when I started, if a piece stayed up for a week, that was good, now they are staying up longer then that, so I can’t be that bad. I always had a desire to draw, at school it was the only thing I got proper praise for, so if it wasn’t street art id be do- ing illustration or something visual. There happens to be a lot of demand for my work at the moment so I will ride that wave for now and if I can make a living out of it and support a family then I will keep it up. I would paint even if it didn’t pay, thats how I started, it’s a great way to meet people and also leave a little temporary mark in the world
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