Interview: Askew One on the Post Graffiti Pacific group show – Sydney

In the lead up to the Post Graffiti Pacific group show, curated by Olivia Laita at Ambush Gallery, we had a quick chat to Askew One as they prepare for the opening of this monumental break through show.

‘Post Graffiti Pacific’ group show
Where: Ambush Gallery, Sydney
Opening: Thursday 16 July

We are super excited that this exhibition is being held in Sydney. Why did you choose to have the show here and not somewhere else?

To be completely honest, Bill and John at aMBUSH are the first people to extend an invite for us to showcase this movement, it’s that simple. Olivia and I were out in Sydney a bit late last year to work on a project they organised and during some afterwork drinks one night we got into a really in-depth conversation about what how we see ourselves as artists or more specifically how we want to define ourselves, what is our legacy?

PGP group show Ambush Gallery

It seems like the core topic of this show is on the minds of ALOT of artists like yourselves. How does this new term or definition effect you as artists, and also how did the old way of being pigeon holed as “graffiti” or “street artists” effect you?

Yeah exactly, it has been a big point of discussion amongst us, especially as we have all deviated away from just painting graffiti in the traditional sense and started making work that the public can only perceive as ‘street art’. I guess for us, that term irks us a bit because in the 90’s it seemed like a term that was born to create a distinction between us – people who painted more letter-based work which the public hated and another set of artists who started working on the streets as well. From our point of view, the streets were where we did all of our learning and developing and it seemed like a lot of people suddenly came from art schools and the comfort of their studios. The street artists often made something more public-pleasing than us, more identifiable to the average person and did so away from view rather than taking the risk to create in-situ like us and so there was this divide. Obviously this divide is way less apparent today, it’s much less defined because so many people from traditional graffiti writing have evolved to consider themselves artists in a broader sense and make more varied work. The current big trend is towards studio practise and large scale muralism and a lot of the people really thriving in that movement come from a background of painting trains and streets, still not from an art school background. Furthermore, we come from Auckland which is a true Pacific city and the Polynesian capital of the world. Our upbringings, influences and attitudes have been shaped by this very unique experience. As we explore this more it weaves it’s way more and more into our work. We feel this gives us another vital point of difference in the global context.

PGP group show Ambush Gallery

Graffiti is obviously a big part of who you all are. Is there ever a part of you that would like to leave it behind? Is that even possible?

I think we all have different outlooks on this, for example I think some members of our collective stopped painting graffiti in that way earlier than others. For me personally it’s still a huge part of who I am, who I know and how I’ve experienced this world. I’d never turn my back on it completely but I have had to shift my focus a lot. Whereas I used to be concerned with painting graffiti everyday, I’m OK with doing a lot less now and channeling that energy more into my studio practise. It’s just the stage in life I’m in. this deserves attention, I find it engaging and in some ways I think graffiti is much more honest from a younger person. There’s a lot of angst, bravado and energy when you’re young that is hard to maintain forever. I also feel some attitudes in graffiti are very rigid and stifling to creative and personal development, like a strange form of conformity that I find doesn’t adhere with how I view the world anymore. I used to hold some really passionate viewpoints that I laugh at now.

PGP group show Ambush Gallery

Does the actual work in the show and that you produce currently still represent your past graffiti, or has it evolved into something completely separate?

I think it’s different once again for different artists. I think the likes of Misery and Elliot Francis Stewart have made that transition in a way that still clearly adheres to their outdoor work. Although I’ve seen the progression of Gary Silipa, Benjamin Works and Berst’s art personally and know it’s connection, to someone that just knows them from their old pieces it could be seen as a much bigger jump. Route52 has always been shooting photos as well as painting graffiti. I think with my stuff I used to keep a much bigger separation being the two but my studio work has been influencing my outdoor work more than vice versa.

PGP group show Ambush Gallery

Does being located in the Pacific region of the world, more specifically New Zealand, have an effect on your work and process?

Oh absolutely. It’s something we probably overlooked a lot when we were young because our view was always so outward looking. We basically looked everywhere for influence but our own backyard for a long time. When we really reflected on this collectively and asked each other a lot of questions about what was distinctive about our scene, a lot of the powerful stuff can be seen in the documentation of our outdoor paintings. It wasn’t motif or thematic elements, it existed in our surrounds and the people mostly – the stuff we took for granted. Once you turn the microscope on that you find it much easier to understand what makes us different.

PGP group show Ambush Gallery

What can people expect to see at this show?

I’m really proud of the show, so proud of Olivia for curating this and blown away by what my friends have created. Everyone has produced very well realised and finished works, each a progression and distinct leap forward from their last. We are stoked to have the opportunity to show this in a great space and with people like aMBUSH who through their understanding and appreciation have enabled us to do this in an ambitious and grand way.

PGP group show Ambush Gallery

Will all of the artists be in Sydney for the opening, and have you got any other events or projects lined up for while you’re in town?

Nothing else lined up so far. All of us will be there in person except Misery and Berst who have commitments here in Auckland.

PGP group show Ambush Gallery

PGP group show Ambush Gallery

Interview: 5Fingers

Following the interesting arrival of new abandoned art installation, The Opening Hours caught up with the mysterious pair behind the 5Fingers project. Adapting a ‘run by thieves, worn by vandals’ mentality, it seems this local label have a lot more to offer than just fine threads.

What is 5Fingers and how did the idea originate?
We were kicking back over a few drinks, having a rant over some clothing companies and how they plug the same shit just to earn a few dollars. 5Fingers was created not as a business idea, but as a way for us as artists to express our creative side and inject our art into wearable threads. 5Fingers is a clothing line, however as artists, we want to play around a bit and keep our hands on the street by creating innovative installations and art projects.

Give us a run down of this installation.
We just wanted to do something different. We’re so used to the usual street art medium of paper and painting on walls in a 2D form. So to try something new, we’ve thrown up a 3D installation. We used multiple layers of sticky tape to form the letter structure then strategically placed small LED lights to help bring the letters to life. We want to push graffiti down new paths.

Is it still on display at the abandoned mall?
Yeah, it’s still on display and we don’t plan on touching it. It will be interesting to see how it’s doing down the track. We encourage people it to have some sort of fun if they come across it. Change it up, do what ever you want with it.

Describe where you live.
In a government controlled police state, a place we like to call Brisbane.

What do you love about your city?
I guess we love the ignorance. Brisbane is set back in the past with a lot of its infrastructure, trends etc so when people see something new and completely different, it’s fresh and makes a big impact on them.

What’s your background in ‘the industry’?
Growing up both of us got caught up in the street culture. Graffiti, photography, hip hop, skateboarding… It became captivating and I guess we’ve both never really left the scene.

Any other mediums you’re looking to explore?
We want to start pushing the boundaries with new mediums. We have some plans down the track to create an installation using natural elements. You’ll have to keep your eyes peeled for that one.

What can we expect from 5Fingers in the future?
A full range of clothing, along with an integration of cool installations and art projects that provide a new and different perspective on street culture. I guess you could say we don’t just want to be known as just a clothing line.

5Fingers will be launching their website and online store later this month. For more information on the label and their projects, head to their Instagram account, @5fingersclothing.

Interview: Lachlan Hansen ‘Everything Beautiful’

In the lead up to ‘Everything Beautiful’ by Lachlan Hansen, we caught up with the Queensland based artist for a quick chat. Click below for the full interview.

“Everything Beautiful” by Lachlan Hansen
Opening: Wednesday 30th July
The Tate Gallery

Lachlan Hansen

So, Lachlan, How’s the work for your show coming along? what can we should expect to see?
Really well thanks, I have been working on a bunch of illustrations some fast sketch style stuff and others are slightly more considered water colour works but all are free hand works done quite quickly. I’m also working on some things with material and canvas paintings. I’ve decided to have a broad focus and work across mediums for the show and most of all enjoy myself in the process.

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INTERVIEW: Patrick Martinez

Patrick Martinez has been steady walking the path of street life in LA and producing gallery based works that reflect that. I caught up with him briefly to have a chat about all things rap, street violence and shiny lights

This is how it went down at Carbon Festival 2014

MD- So you live in LA what’s that like and how does it affected your work?

PM-  All my inspiration in terms of my artwork is taken from my surroundings and the people in the landscape. Its everything like all the little in-between nooks and cranny’s. All the places you don’t really hear about inspires the work. It could be objects, people, places and the physical landscape I mean its great i love living there. I love travelling but i always look forward to going home and hanging out with friends and family.

MD- So you have a history with graffiti and hip hop. Is that something that you value and think is important within your artistic career?

PM- Yeah the graffiti and rap and hip hop that kinda subculture is, its kind of embedded you know. Its just something i find in my tool box and i use it sometimes because it familiar and its part of me so i take it out and i use it as ammo for  some of the work. I can speak honestly with it because its always been around and i know the  culture, I follow it still and i do listen to other music i do obviously look at other art but its still kinda resonates and its creeps out often in my work.

I don’t physically do graffiti anymore  but i went through that in my early teens and it was kind of where i started. I picked up a spray can before a paint brush, that was kinda strange to me now looking back. Those are some deep roots so i cant deny that and i cant deny the soundtrack to my upbringing with rap music and understanding the hip hop culture and the subcultures and shit.

MD- Yeah in Australia we are so far detached from the world that those cultures were such an external inspiration for us. Its something that if you grew up here you had to really hunt for it if you were into it, was it something that you were always into from the start?

PM- You know its just what everyone was listening too, My brother would be bumping it in his car like spice one, too short and that gangster rap shit and from then i was like submerged. All the kids in my neighbourhood were listening to that you know what i mean. Those guys were older and already driving and so they would pick me up from school and i would be always surrounded by it. Then i got into graffiti and i started getting into other sub genres of rap and that underground shit like freestyle fellowship from Los angeles. I was just trying to get a good range of rap music, it was always around so it made more sense when i started applying it to the graffiti, then i figured about  shit like wild style, style wars and it kinda just clicked but it was a different version on the west coast.

MD- We got that a little bit later, so when we saw it the music was kinda about but the visual side came after it.

PM- Yeah the visuals were different, on the west coast it wasn’t like people were burning on trains and shit they were doing freeways and walls and yards and you know there was a mixture of gang graffiti and like gang culture. A lot of my friends started with graffiti, i started going to yards with them and doing buses and writing and then they became gang members and then ended up in  prison and what ever. I continued on and now some of them are also gallery artists so its a different dynamic i guess.

MD- A lot of your phrases and images are related to LA street life, whats the craziest thing you have witnessed on the streets of LA?

PM- I used to live in Lincoln heights, its the east side of Los Angeles and i had a loft studio and it was off a main street. At like 230 am on a saturday i heard gun shots further back, looked outside and i saw somebody shooting at some else. I don’t know if he shot him but he unloaded the whole clip on somebody or something. I just ducked because i though he was going to start shooting up at my studio but the never did and it was a crazy night. i was so tripped out i couldn’t sleep. wasn’t a good thing.

MD- whoa

PM- yeah

MD- Alright on a lighter note, where did the use of neon light start as an outlet, why do you think its important?

PM- I’m not trying to use it as an aesthetic to grab people attention, I use it more as a concept of like being inspired by Los Angeles as a whole, and the objects in its city. The signs already exist in the east side of Los Angeles. Divorces, Income Tax, Open, Closed those types of neon’s that already exist, I took that format and i’m remixing it to where i’m connecting with people with messages and phrases in that format. thats where the concept kinda originated from, you know the weird thing about Los Angeles is that in the day time its so congested and the afternoon there is so much traffic and the night time is so dead and desolate you can get anywhere in like 15 minutes. So night times real still and those are when the neons start shinning and that was the inspiration, driving around and seeing them. they are almost like dialogue like someone trying to speak, so i took that and remixed it and i been doing it since 2008 just putting out different phrases and trying to connect with people.

MD- yeah run me through that, how do you come up with the phrasing that your going to use?

PM- The first one was “selling out is the new keeping it real” and that was like just something i said  and it just kinda came from the gut. If you were in the 70’s or 80’s and you had a collaboration with nike you would be a sell out but now its like “oh thats the shit, oh your doing a collaboration with somebody thats dope”. Especially a corporate brand its not looked down on as  a bad thing now its a positive thing. A lot of my artist friends are doing that and i never judged it. I just said thats just where we are at. These brands and the people that are working for them are understanding what the arts about and just kinda wanting to work with different artists in certain situations.

Its was just a phrase i kept on saying so i decided to put it neon, just direct. That’s how it is, its just something when me and my friends are talking shit and you find that there is something with guts to it and your like fuck that hits the chest and rips your guts out or it makes you think a little bit. you gotta investigate it. so i put it together, let it sit for a couple weeks and if it keeps resonating with me i will use it and put it out.

MD-Your paintings are detailed and well executed. How do you feel about creating your neon work compared to your paintings?

PM- I work with a lady in Los Angeles and we kind of create it together, i design it and if theres a painting involved i have to sit with her and kind of run through it and help her with the process and bends and stuff like that.

Its kind of like a two part process i have my studio and she has her place of business and i’m always back and forth. I’m there sitting with her doing the design and drawing it out and making sure its right because were they are coming from is like there just hammering out neon signs for businesses, there not use to anything different even though i’ve been working with them for years. 

The reason i started doing it is i wanted it raw and direct. I want that neon to be just popping onto my artwork, its not about finessing it so much or making it look likes its finessed it needs to be more direct like you just ripped it out of the f#ckin front window of a shop and you just f#cking threw it on top. its not about “oh that looks great and that looks beautiful”  its like damn what the fuck is that? is that an advertisement or is that a sign or something. they work really well with me and they are were i want to be in terms of the aesthetic of the pieces im turning out.

MD- so we are called the opening hours  and we ask this to everyone, what is your favourite hour of the day?

PM-  I would have to say right now its the night time like i like to go out when its about to hit sunset. ill go for a hike and kind of hang out and watch the sun go down until the night. Go home shower up and and attack the night. go to the studio or go out with friends.

Interview / Studio Visit: Steve Tierney

Our good friend Steve Tierney will be returning to his hometown for ‘HABITUAL’ – a solo exhibition of new works at The Tate. We caught up with Teagues at his temporary home in Oaxaca, Mexico before he heads back to Sydney next week to setup the exhibition. For those of you that don’t know Teagues, this interview will give you an insight into his life, his artwork and his contribution to the Australian skateboarding community.

TOH: For those who don’t know you, tell us about your upbringing?
ST: Well I grew up south of Sydney in what was a fairly typical Aussie family. Lots of camping, lots of BBQ’s and definitely pretty sports focused, but also very supportive of creative pursuits. I played footy when I was real young, but never really got into it. I’m a very passive person, so I always had a lot of trouble with the whole tackling idea and the aggressive side of the sport. I definitely had more interest in art and music. Then when I got into high school I discovered skateboards and from that point on was always heavily involved in that world.

TOH: How much influence has skateboarding had on your life?
ST: That’s been the biggest one for sure. It’s still a huge part of my life now. Since I was 13 years old I don’t think a week has gone by that I either didn’t at least think about skateboarding or was actually out skateboarding. I’m 37 now, so yeah, it’s been a pretty big influence. As an artist and designer it’s been an influence in my life in other ways too, cause I’ve not only been riding skateboards for 25 years, I’ve also been creating graphics for various companies since around 1994.

TOH: When did you first get into making art?
ST: I’ve always been drawing and making art, even as a young kid. For as long as I remember I’ve been making images and drawing cartoons or whatever. In high school I studied and majored in art and then went on to study graphic design and illustration and I’ve consistently been making art in various forms since then.

TOH: You have made a strong contribution to the Australian skateboarding scene through your graphic design and illustration work. Tell us about some of these contributions and have you been working with any skate brands lately?
ST: I figured out the other day after talking to Andrew Currie from HOON skateboards that we’ve been working together for about 20 years, making him my longest consistent client. I first started making graphics for skate brands in high school when I designed the logo for Omni boards, which I hand drew cause I didn’t know how to use computer programs and didn’t own a computer. I later designed and illustrated all of my own pro graphics for Omni throughout the early 90’s. While I was studying graphic design I was also art director for TIME Skateboards and Draft Wheels. That was pretty huge for me having not actually graduated yet, but already working fairly regularly. I was basically learning how to use programs to create the graphics I needed at the same time that I was creating them. In the late 90’s I started my own skateboard company and did all the graphics for that, then in the mid 2000’s began working for HOON when it was just a wheel company. I still do most of the design for that brand now that they do boards and other products, and as well as that I do some graphics for Amnesia Skateboards. I’m now living in Mexico and since arriving here I’ve managed to tap into the scene pretty easily. I recently just did a series of graphics for a brand here in Oaxaca as well. I’ve also been skateboarding a lot more than I have for years. The scene here is pretty big and there’s a lot of good spots.

TOH: Your artwork definitely has a design influence, can you tell us about how your graphic design background has crossed over into your art making?
ST: That’s something I just can’t really help from happening, it’s not a conscious thing. I’ve worked in lots of different mediums over the years and every time I create an image it has a strong design influence. Even when I sketch and paint, the final image becomes very stylised and designed. My obsession with cigarette packaging definitely comes from a design aesthetic. I’ve never been a smoker but the physical packaging and the designs of the branding appeals to me for some reason. I’m interested in other aspects of the irony behind smoking itself, some of my previous work has covered those themes. But I’m not really anti smoking, I just have a lot of interest in how stupid humans are.

TOH: You haven’t had a solo exhibition in a while, when was the last time you exhibited your work in Sydney? Has there been a reason for the long break in showing your work?
ST: My last real solo show was in 2007, but I’ve consistently been showing my work since then in group shows and smaller solo gigs. This will be the biggest thing I’ve done for a few years though. I’ve always worked with mixed media styles of art making, but I’ve crossed over into various other styles over the years, and I felt like I wasn’t spending enough time on one particular art form. When I went to Cambodia I made a conscious decision to work on developing a stronger style and identity with my image making. So for a while I wasn’t ready to exhibit anything, and really I just wanted to experiment with a few new ideas and work hard on finding a style I was happier with and could identify with more. I think now that I have that with my work I’ll start to introduce more solid themes.  For my exhibition this month in Sydney, I really just wanted to create some beautiful pieces that explored the idea of working with found material and cut up images from old magazines and just see what happened. I was hugely inspired in design school by one of my teachers and Australian artist, Peter Powditch. His son James is probably better known these days for a few of his recent entries in the Archibald Prize. But Peter definitely helped form the way I think about my art making now in terms of thinking laterally and not forcing my image making. There’s always a thought process to each image that I make, but I also like the idea of working fast and letting accidents happen.

TOH: You have been living in Mexico for the last 6 months or so, can you tell us about what you are doing there and why you chose to head over there?
ST: My girlfriend and I have been trying to move here for a while, but we kinda took a detour to Cambodia for a few years first. I ended up coming to Mexico in March this year to work in the local art community in social development projects, as well as to work on my own art much more full time. Oaxaca is a hugely diverse hub of traditional cultures mixed with younger contemporary concepts. The city centre itself is not that big, but the main focus of the local culture is definitely around art, both traditional and contemporary. There’s a lot of large galleries and museums, and also loads of small collectives and workshop spaces all over the city. It’s super inspiring and there’s tons of opportunities to collaborate and work on different projects with people from all over the world. I just previewed some of the pieces which I’ll be showing at The Tate next week in a small collective space here called Espacio Zapata. They’re like a kind of underground revolutionist type art collective. They’re work is very political and they have a strong social conscience in all their imagery. I’ve actually been talking to them about some future projects we could do together here in Oaxaca. As well as that I literally just started a kind of cultural city walk project as something fun to do with my friends here. Last weekend we took about 50 or so people around the centre of the city to some of the more independent art spaces so they could present their projects and tell people what they do. Oaxaca has some big contemporary galleries with amazing art and artists, but there’s a lot of really interesting more independently produced stuff here that people don’t really know about because the spaces aren’t necessarily that accessible or well known. We had the idea to open these spaces to the public more as they tend to be missed, not only on the tourist circuit but even by locals who walk past them daily. So we just did our first one last week and it was pretty cool. Even people who have been living in the city forever said they had no idea what was going on behind the doors of the spaces we took them too.

TOH: For your upcoming ‘Habitual’ solo exhibition at The Tate in Sydney, you have made a large series of works whilst in Mexico. Has your location and surroundings influenced the work much?
ST: I’m sure that it has, but to look at the art pieces you may not see a strong Mexican influence. I use cut up magazines from the 30’s and 40’s right through to 60’s and 70’s as well as other printed objects, and so a lot of the ones I’ve collected here have Spanish text, as well as that the cigarette packets are all Mexican and the warning symbols are in Spanish. I think that living in Oaxaca has influenced my work in another way than just visually though. Being surrounded by such a creative community has really inspired me to work harder and focus on my art making more than anything.

TOH: Do you enjoy being taken out of your comfort zone? Has it been a challenge to adapt to another culture?
ST: Yeah, definitely. I totally thrive on getting out of my comfort zone. I’m constantly trying to test myself and put myself in situations where I wonder how the hell I got there or why the hell I would want to. But I really enjoy seeing what happens and learning from it. Cambodia was really something else and most days living there were a test. It’s a tough place to live for so many reasons, but also an amazingly beautiful place. Mexico is technically still considered a developing country as well, although on the surface and in the major cities you could easily not realise how much poverty and other social issues exist here. I think the real challenge when visiting developing countries, or any country really, is being open to other cultures and other peoples’ ideas and being culturally sensitive or aware when you are there. It’s really important not to force your own ideas onto people you want to work with, but to become a part of a community. Once you do that, then you can help create positive change as a part of that community, rather than as someone coming in to tell people what you think is the right way to do things.

TOH: What techniques and mediums have you been working with for the exhibition? What can we expect to see on the walls?
ST: Well, I’m really looking at a lot of contemporary collage lately, both digital and hand made stuff. Of course, I’ve still been collecting lots of cigarette packets from the streets. Lucky for me smokers in Mexico are just as good at littering as Australian smokers. The best thing obviously is that cigarette packets here are still branded. I haven’t actually been living in Australia since they changed the design of packaging there, but I’m gonna have to really build up my collection before I ever move home I guess. As for the pieces themselves, they are all mixed media collage on wooden board with various ideas and themes. For me each piece is like a small floating world or landscape. I’ve been using this cloud shape which has become a repetitive feature and appears in all of these works. When I look at the pieces I see them more 3 dimensionally than as flat graphics.

TOH: What’s in store for you in 2014? Will you be heading back to Mexico? Or somewhere else? Can we look forward to seeing more art from you?
ST: Well, I’ll be coming back to Mexico in January. I feel like I’m only just getting started here. It takes a while to settle into a place and get involved with the right projects and people, but I feel like right now everything is really positive and happening quickly. I’ve got some ideas for a large collaborative art event here with local artists and we’ll be continuing our city art walk, which is called Trayectivo. But yeah, I definitely plan to exhibit much more frequently, both in Australia and internationally. I think as soon as I come back I will get to work on some new pieces for a show here in early 2014.

TOH: What is your favourite hour of the day?
ST: I’m definitely a morning person. I wake up and get up right away everyday by 7am, even when I’m hung over. The morning light gives me motivation for the day and helps me feel more alive and awake. If I don’t get moving quickly in the morning I feel like I’m wasting the day.

Steve Tierney ‘HABITUAL’ – Opens next Wednesday 18th December at The Tate in Sydney.

Email to request an exhibition catalogue.

Also check out Steve’s website for more info and images of his work


Interview / Studio Visit: Askew One

Askew One TMD MSK (NZ) is one of the world’s most recognised graffiti artists, and we are excited to have him here in Sydney this month. We caught up with him last week in New Zealand at his Auckland studio and again on his arrival in Sydney to talk to him about his involvement in our Wonderwalls Festival and to get more of an insight into his latest body of work created for his first ever Sydney solo show ‘The Evolving Face’ which opens at The Tate next week.

“The Evolving Face” by Askew One
Opening: Wednesday 13th November
The Tate Sydney

Askew - The Opening Hours

The Opening Hours: How have you enjoyed being back in Sydney so far? When was the last time you were here?
Askew: I’ve actually come over to Sydney a bit over the past few years – strangely, never for painting but more so for work. For a few years I was making music videos for a living and I ended up working on a few videos for Sky’high who’s based here. Usually it was a 48 hour stay and would spend most of the time hanging with Sky and her gang of mates who are all real characters. I always like coming to Sydney though, it’s probably my favourite Australian city because it has that tough city vibe.

Askew - The Opening Hours

TOH: This time round you have come here for a few different projects, Wonderwalls Festival this weekend in Wollongong being the first stop. What do you think about the line up? Some new and old faces for you?
A: Great line up! – Heaps of friends I haven’t seen in ages and a few artists I’ve been following but never met. Stoked to be taking part.

TOH: You have a 2 storey high wall to paint at Wonderwalls, any ideas as to what you are going to paint?
A: At this stage I think it’s going to be something in line with the portraits I’ve done for the show in Sydney, that’s where my head is at right now but I will assess when I get there and see what feels right.

Askew - The Opening Hours

TOH: Following the Festival, we are hosting your first ever solo show in Sydney at The Tate in Glebe. Can you tell us about the portrait works you have created for the exhibition, and about the subjects in your paintings and how you select them?
A: My gallery work is where I really get to explore a lot of the concepts I can’t easily communicate through graffiti. I love bridging the gaps between the science and anthropology topics I enjoy reading about in my spare time. I love learning about physics, the origins of life and lately I’ve been fixated with the history of the Pacific region, particularly the migration of people down through the region over the past 4000 years and all the fascinating links in language and art they share. I’m a total student on these topics, not an expert but I process and attempt to understand things more clearly through my art making process. I shoot portraits of people I meet or know well and use the form of their head as a container for the concept I’m thinking about at that time. Right now I’m thinking a lot about the transition of tribal culture from something that is pre-determined to something that is increasingly more self-determined. As the people of the world become more widely distributed across the planet and aren’t necessarily based in their ancestral home, the idea of how you identify yourself is more of a fluid and personal thing.

Askew - The Opening Hours
Askew - The Opening Hours
Askew - The Opening Hours

TOH: The technique you use to make these works is quite unique, can you explain how you technically approach each piece? What materials are you using?
A: Well the obvious thing is all of this work is painted on plexiglass. That has it’s own set of challenges I spent a lot of time perfecting to this point. I work in reverse on the back of the surface and use mostly graffiti mediums and tools with the exception of the white layer which is painted with a very fine brush.

Askew - The Opening Hours
Askew - The Opening Hours
Askew - The Opening Hours

TOH: Being so well known for your graffiti history, is your gallery work a separate outlet for you? Do you feel that your fine art belongs in the gallery and your graffiti work should remain outside?
A: I’m still working that out, but my gut feeling is as far as I try to divide the aesthetic choices of both they tend to come closer together and influence each other. The difference is graffiti at it’s core is still an expressive and impulsive outlet for me, whereas my art is done quite slowly in my studio away from all the excitement of the outside world.

Askew - The Opening Hours
Askew - The Opening Hours

TOH: TMD is New Zealand’s most famous graffiti crew, and MSK is perhaps the worlds most famous crew – Whats your relationships like with both these families?
A: TMD is the group of rag tag teenagers I grew up with and now we are all adults and linked together forever through a really long shared history. I started off like most people as a total fan of so many artists in MSK and eventually became friends with a great number of them. I never thought I’d ever be put down, it actually never crossed my mind. When I was asked it just made total sense though and it felt right.

Askew - The Opening Hours

TOH: What is the current state of the Auckland graffiti climate? And what’s your opinion on Sydney’s current state?
A: Auckland died a little death for a couple of years but it’s starting to creep back. There’s finally a generation emerging that I don’t really know at all which is interesting. Their influences are different too, there’s a real disconnect in aesthetic tradition that has occurred due to the buff being so heavy the past few years. Sydney has changed a lot too I reckon, it’s still a hectic scene but nowhere as violent as it was back in the day. A lot of influence trickled down from here to Auckland back in the 90’s care of writers like Metro, Mayhem, Meson, Tank, Roske and more. 

TOH: What is something you enjoy doing when you are not painting or making artwork? 
A: Eating and talking in depth with good people.

Askew - The Opening Hours

Askew will be painting and doing an artist talk at the Wonderwalls Festival in Wollongong this weekend. Check the festival website for all the program details and to download the map so you can find him down there –

Also join us next Wednesday evening at The Tate, 345 Glebe Pt Rd, Glebe (Sydney) for the opening of Askew’s first ever Sydney solo exhibition ‘The Evolving Face’. The exhibition opens Wednesday 13th November 6-9pm and continues until Sunday 17th November, open daily from 12-5pm. To request an exhibition catalogue please email 

Askew One - The Hours

Interview: Chris Shonting ( keepers of the change ZINE)

I shot through a few questions to Chris Shonting who’s newest zine Keepers of the Change was recently released via Heavytime

Keepers of the change seems like a straight up alcohol fueled wild  time? can you tell me a little about how the project came about  and  the highs and lows of being in the van touring?

CS-well i had moved from nyc to la a few months before and i got a call from tooth (natur’s drummer) and he pretty much said “hey, occvlta is coming on tour with us and so are you and you are taking photos.”

that wasn’t really a hard sell. i hadn’t met occvlta. well one member Torm i had met in norway but just in passing.

we all had the same friends though so it was bound to be fun. somewhere along the tour ed davis from heavy mental and i were texting and he said i should make it a zine.

i was just really shooting for fun but was happy to make a zine with ed.

the only low is exhaustion.  but i’ve been such good friends with the natur dudes since way before they were a band because they are the type of people you want to be around when you are up shit’s creek or totally exausted. there for really there were no lows. all highs. and with occvlta…… by the end of the first day i felt like we’d been friends for years.

it was great.

also in philidelphia legendary artist drew elliot let us crash with him and when i told him we were making a zine he offered up a couple sketches. that was very nice of him.

and as for the alcohol i dont think it would be unreasonable to say that we saved an entire beer factory from going out of business and possibly the town it was in.

MD-Previous to this have you ever produced zines ? if so what are they  and what got you into making them?

CS-i made a couple zines in my early days of living in nyc. i was writing here and there for magazines. the zines i made were called MOTHERBITCH 1 and 2. not sure why i did it other then it was innocent fun and i loved running around the lower east side giving them to buddies in bars or on the side walk. like “look what i made!” just young and excited about living in nyc. go to max fish with a stack and party.

MD what would be your ultimate dream tour to document? with who and where?

CS-sheeeeeeit,  Keepers Of The Change reunion tour man! its gotta happen.  but i think if we could go to occvlta’s home turf of germany that would be awesome.

but hell if they want to come back here again i dont think anyone would turn that down either. 

MD- Bad question i know but can you give me a little insight into what drives you in photography,  the selection of subjects / themes?

CS-ha i hate when people ask photgraphers this question. it always comes out like “i just want to catch a moment in time” or  something overly dramatic.

whatever, i guess its all completely valid. i want to express as much fun as i can in pictures and maybe catch the occasional banger that i can refer to as a piece of art.

i wanna make you smile man!

MD- ultimate shooting session that you have been apart of so far?

CS-scariest would be getting DMX out of jail. thrilling too. and satysfying.

funniest would be shooting cam’ron. then awesomest would be interviewing lemmy kilmister and then shooting some portraits.

theres been a bunch of strange ones but those jump out in my head. shooting harry dean stanton was real weird but some of my favorite images. mags always throw me there weird ones which im greatful for.

MD- whats normally in the camera bag?

CS-as little as possible.

MD- what are your thoughts on everybody being a photographer ?

CS-sometimes i think its great, other times it makes me want to kick a dog in the head. i think myself in circles about it. but at the end of the day paying your dues is probably better then going from blogger to shooting a campaign over night.  who knows. on good days i say to myself “who cares”

MD-whats next?

– try for a road trip of some sort or maybe sit on my couch some more.

MD-favourite hour of the day?

-if i have enough rest its 5am-6am. but thats about as common as spotting a leprechaun .

MD-best place to follow your work?

CS- or or



Keepers of the Change and other great zines from Heavy Time can be purchased over at

Sign of the Times – Marty Routledge

As part of The Hours involvement in the soon to be opened The 4217 in Surfers Paradise, Marty Routledge was commissioned to paint two large font murals on the exterior of the building, establishing The 4217 as a strong supporter of hand painted signage and helping to grow the local art scene on the Gold Coast. Once again the local guys from Digital Cinematix were there to capture it all on video, and also convinced Marty to talk on camera about his artistic background and his passion for sign painting.

For more information on The 4217 please visit their website –

Video: The Opening Hours at Carbon Festival 2013

Continuing on with our gradual coverage of Carbon Festival, we are happy to present a video of our time down in Melbourne. We interviewed some of the key speakers, got a few tags, did a few tags, checked out some parties and enjoyed everything else Melbourne had for us that weekend. Big thanks to Acclaim, Diamond Dozen and the whole Carbon team. Bring on next year!!!

Barry McGee

Interview: Dabs & Myla

Next up in our series of interviews that took place at Carbon Festival, is with Dabs & Myla. We sat down with the couple and talked all things graffiti, LA, and what it’s like being a couple that work so closely together.

Dabs & Myla are former Melbourne residents, so it was a pleasure to interview this superstar duo in their original hometown. Find out more about Dabs & Myla here. Click below for the full interview.

Dabs and Myla

The Opening Hours: So tell us how you met each other, high school sweethearts?

Dabs: Noooo we don’t go as far back as highschool, more like art school sweethearts, so I guess we met maybe 10 years ago? Studying illustration, and then we just got to know each other, at the time we were both in different relationships but we just discarded them and we got together. Right from that moment we started painting together

Dabs and Myla

Myla: And he started teaching me how to paint graffiti.

D: Yeah me and Dvate used to take Em (Myla) out, cus she was really interested, so we were like you should come painting. She started maybe just painting characters, then she started learning how to paint letters, and I would be in her ear all the time, helping her along. She was sketching a lot and then Myla started painted pieces more often and getting more into it and we started painting together more.

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