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Interview with Numskull, graf artist extraordinaire

29 SEP 2010 | Posted By: Georgia

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Interview with Numskull, graf artist extraordinaire

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Numskull interview
There are a certain class of graffiti artists in Australia that get all of the high fives and bro-hugs. They're the ones that are exhibited alongside the international street art greats; the ones who weild a spray can with the bravado of a semi-automatic weapon. Sydney artist Numskull is the king of that class. We had a chat to him about all things street, elaborate hi-jinks with major art galleries, and how advertising is rotting our brains.

GFK
: Let’s do some warm up questions. What is your real name, and how old are you?
EC: My real name is Edward Case and according to a newspaper, I'm 30-years-old.

GFK: Where did you grow up, and where do you live now?
EC: I was born in Tokyo, then moved to the northern suburbs of Sydney, then moved over the bridge to Redfern for a while. Now I live near Sydney's most glamorous suburb, Kings Cross.

GFK: What made you start spraying?
EC: My brother. Everything my brother did, I wanted in on. Graffiti was so fun at a young age.

GFK: What were you doing before you became a full-time artist?
EC: I've done so many different things so far. My brother and I started an art collective style tee-shirt brand in early 2000, I was a regular kitchen-hand in cafes, I then had a four-year stint in advertising trying to make people think they want something they actually don't. This has all led me to now work and paint for myself.

GFK: How has that impacted the work you are doing now?
EC: I think the advertising part of my life had a major effect on how I think and create nowadays. Working 8-12 hour days making words exciting, logos more noticeable and the prices more enticing made me go crazy. Which is quite evident in my work.

GFK: Do you prefer doing works inside or outside?
EC: Both. Painting outside is more the fun stuff though. Painting a small 10x10 inch canvas gets boring sometimes when you know you can paint a 10x10 metre wall that will be seen by a lot more people.

GFK: We loved the ‘installation’ that you pulled off at Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art. For those in Melbourne and elsewhere, could you please tell us what happened?
EC: It was Scratching the Surface at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney. Myself, Beastman, Phibs, Max Berry and Roach painted a mural on massive 10 x 2.5 metre panels that were then installed in the foyer of the MCA. After filming the process (which took two full days), two guys dressed up as council workers walked through the VIP crowd on opening night and painted over the mural in a quick and destructive 10 minutes. The reaction was priceless...

GFK: I did a piece on the Kicks n Canvas show that you were involved in recently – are you a sneaker freaker?
EC: Not really. I enjoy certain types of skate shoes and sneakers, but I don't get too involved in the culture side of it.

GFK: What is the most non-traditional piece of work that you have done? Does it get kookier than the previous two examples I just mentioned?
EC: Myself and my brother had an "exhibition" in a hollowed out, abandoned sugar mill in Pyrmont once. We painted graffiti and stencils all over the walls and hung canvases on rusty old nails in weird places. Not many people turned up, so we ended up tagging a bunch of the walls then going home. That's about as far from a traditional gallery I can think of.

GFK: Your work heavily features superheroes and cartoon characters. What cartoons did you watch as a kid? Do you still enjoy superheroes and comic books now?
EC: Simpsons, Captain Planet, Duck Tales, Darkwing Duck, Ren & Stimpy, Thundercats, Dangermouse, The Smurfs… I still have a bunch of old comics and I still get into cartoons on TV.

GFK: Which medium do you prefer to work in now? I’ve noticed that you have started screen-printing and doing a lot more stencils.
EC: I've experimented with a lot of mediums over the past 5-10 years and I am most drawn to stencils, screen-printing, paintbrush and spray-can.

GFK: We’re big typography nerds over here at Lifelounge. You certainly have a specific style. Where has your influence come from?
EC: The purpose comes from graffiti. Getting your name or message out there as big as possible. The meaning comes from my past in advertising. The style I have is influenced by comics, sign-writing and vintage advertising.

GFK: How do you feel about the current graffiti laws in Australia?
EC: I think there needs to be less cleaning of good graffiti. Not everything is tags and scribbles. Although, sometimes they're the best bits.

GFK: What is your favourite political point/slogan/catchcry that you’ve made?
EC: "No wonder romance destroys life.” This is a painting I did a few years back, where I took five random words from different pictures and re-arranged them. I didn't realize the reaction would be so intense. A lot of people were disturbed by this.

GFK: How does your pseudonym relate to your work?
EC: My name comes from an old British comic strip called The Numskulls. It's about a young boy with five tiny creatures controlling his senses. Quite relevant now as my work explores the effect of love, hate, mystery and advertising on our senses.

GFK: Can anybody with a message and a spray can be called a street artist?
EC: I'd call them a person with a message and a spray can.

Numskull has a show opening at the newly launched Lo-Fi Gallery in Sydney on October 28th. More at funskull.com
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Comments on this Post
There are "1" comment(s) on "Interview with Numskull, graf artist extraordinaire"

New Lounger jonas
Numskull kills it!
jonas  -  4 years ago
Reply  |  Report

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