‘What would Virgil do?’
Can you explain your obsession with American street culture and skateboarding in particular?
I’m not sure I can explain it other than that’s what excited me growing up. I prefer the darker, outsider, rebellious side of life. Punk, hip-hop, graffiti, and skateboarding all share that ethos and attitude. I played a lot of sport, but skateboarding wasn’t something I thought I could do. I thought it was sooo cool, but it was intimidating. I was more into the culture of it. I was forever listening to music and watching movies. There was a lot of crossover between music videos and skate videos with the likes of; Spike Lee, Spike Jonze and the Beastie Boys etc. I’ve always been a curious person and followed whatever path interests me. It’s a web of influences. Having some obsessions on the boil at all times is the spice of life.
How long have been drawing skateboard illustrations?
Actually, not that long. Virgil Abloh commissioned me to paint Stevie Williams as part of his Figures of Speech exhibition. I recreated INXS’s Kick album cover during my 100 Days of Watercolour Album Covers project. But it’s only in the past few months, since I’ve been skateboarding more that I’ve felt the desire to work with it as subject matter in my own art. Where do you get the inspiration from? Inspiration for my skateboard illustrations comes from watching skaters. There’s so many talented, fascinating, fun characters. I’m in awe and find it so beautiful to watch. You can see the passion in their eyes. It can give me chills and I try to capture that.
What was your strangest/funniest commission request?
Most of Virgil’s requests were pretty strange. He was very conceptual and we’d bounce lots of wild ideas around. I’d send him an unfinished painting to get his feedback. He’d love it and want to use it as is. He revelled in the creative process and made you believe anything was possible. I try to emulate him and often ask myself “What would Virgil do?”.
What fascinates you to draw with watercolors?
I started using watercolours because it was practical (dries quickly and is easy to clean up). But, I didn’t aspire to be a watercolour artist because I associated it with lame landscapes and flowers. So, I started using inspiration from fashion, music and street art. Now, I love the beautiful softness of watercolours but incorporating an edgy style. Also, I love the balance between control and going with the flow. Watercolours are transparent so you can’t paint too many layers or it becomes muddy. With skill you can confidently control the water and how it dries. But there’s always an imperfection you need to problem solve or just accept.
What does skateboarding mean to you?
Really, really attractive shoes. Because I didn’t grow up skateboarding I probably had a superficial perspective. Since taking up skateboarding last year, my perception of it has changed. I still can’t quite articulate it, but there’s so much more to it than I realised. It’s such a bliss point of scary and fun, like salty and sweet. It’s really moreish and addictive. There’s so many layers and nuances that I’m only just starting to see. I feel like I could write a thesis on the similarities between skateboarding and painting watercolours. But, I also just love the feelings you get from skateboarding and the sounds it makes. And the community has been so sweet and supportive.
If you could interview one person, who would it be and why?
Wow, that’s a really tough one. I love talking to everyone. There’s so many interesting characters in the skateboarding community. I’m not sure there’s one in particular. The first board I got was a Toy Machine one, because I’m a fan of Ed Templeton. So maybe Ed. He’d be fun and have lots of knowledge and stories about art and skateboarding. LMK if he’s keen.