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With our upcoming exhibition, 'Alphabet Soup' only one week away, we catch up with exhibiting artist and OG Melbourne King, MERDA to talk the future, formative years and the changing direction of graffiti.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR STYLE?
Someone once described my work as a “Clean line, subtle colour, organic manga vector spaceship”.
IT SEEMS LIKE GRAFFITI WAS A BIG PART OF YOUR LIFE GROWING UP, WHAT MOTIVATED YOU TO START PAINTING?
I started at a new school in 1985, (aged 15) where I crossed paths with GS38 (Grand Sorcerer Thirty Eight), one of Melbourne’s early graffiti pioneers. His work and what he exposed me to then definitely inspired my work to change direction and focus more on lettering styles.
HOW HAS THIS MOTIVATION CHANGED OVER THE YEARS?
I find with getting older, there is an increased amount of responsibilities in life which can sometimes make it a little more difficult to pursue things artistically.
YOU WERE PAINTING WELL BEFORE THE INFLUENCE OF THE INTERNET. HOW HAS SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCED/IMPACTED YOUR WORK SINCE?
It hasn’t really affected my visual style, but it has definitely changed the way I connect with the viewer.
DO YOU THINK SOCIAL MEDIA HAS INFLUENCED THE GRAFFITI SCENE AS A WHOLE? AND IF SO, HAS IT BEEN FOR THE BETTER OR WORSE?
The original concept of painting illegally was a method of exposing your artwork to others. Social media does the same thing, but instantly. Everyone is hunting for the next best thing, it’s a revolving door which will never stop. We validate success by the amount of followers you have, and not by artistic merit … is that a good thing?
CAN YOU TALK US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS?
There’s pretty much four steps - A thought, rough sketch, refinement of that sketch and a finished artwork. It all starts out with an idea or subconscious thought, which is drawn on a piece of paper and then refined into a better drawing, which is then taken to the finishing stages either by hand or by using a computer.
WE SEE STRONG DIGITAL INFLUENCE IN YOUR STYLE, HAVE YOU EVER DABBLED IN GRAPHIC DESIGN?
Yes, I started designing for clothing companies in the late 80s and was eventually offered a job which got me into computer graphics around 1995. A lot of my work back then was hand drawn, first using a rotring pen then scanned and vectorised for colouring and separations.
ARE THERE ELEMENTS OF AEROSOL TECHNIQUES THAT HAVE INFLUENCED YOUR DIGITAL WORK?
Not so much the medium, but theme of using lettering has certainly remained a very strong part of my work.
WHO’RE YOUR FAVOURITE WRITERS, AND WHY?
Back when I started writing, Zephyr was definitely one of my favourites. Also TCA (The Chrome Angels) from the UK because of their flow in lettering styles.
WHO’RE YOUR FAVOURITE CONTEMPORARY ARTISTS, AND WHY?
Contemporary artists I admire would be Constanze Zikos, Howard Arkley and Frank StelIa. I’ve always liked the fact that an artist can still inspire after death.
YOUR WORK WILL BE FEATURED IN OUR UPCOMING GROUP EXHIBITION, ALPHABET SOUP, CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT WHAT YOU’RE CREATING FOR THE SHOW?
Something three dimensional with shadows, tones and depth using graphite.