Amok Island Living Walls Interview
Posted In: Amok Island, FORM Gallery, Living Walls, Perth
Comments: One Response
After 25 good years of living in the heart of Amsterdam, his love for everything tropical has led him traveling through Asia and Australia. Switching between both digital and analog media, Amok Island believes in the power of simple shapes, natural balance and a minimal but powerful colour palette. Having a weak spot for vintage graphic design and typography, nature is a limitless source of inspiration for Amok Island’s work.
Amok Island‘s Living Walls Interview
What’s your background? What drew you to working in the street?
I have a photo of my parents and myself as a 1 year old in front of our house in the centre of Amsterdam, full of tags. There were tags everywhere you looked in the early eighties. I even remember as a 6 year old asking my dad why people were doing that and what the meaning of certain names were that I could read. He said he had no idea, haha. I was always drawing and painting as a child and graffiti seemed like a logical choice.
Could you describe your process creatively?
I used to think that for getting inspiration and good ideas I should immerse myself in that what I am inspired by. For example, when I lived in Amsterdam I dreamed of visiting far away tropical places, I always went on holidays to tropical countries and I always took an sketch book with me, thinking I would be inspired by the surroundings, sketching all the time. I always went back with an empty sketchbook. I found out that the most inspired I get is when I am doing something completely opposite. Alone walking through the city, doing the dishes, watching a boring TV show. I think I need to immerse myself in stuff that I am interested in painting, take everything in, and the good ideas will seep out slowly over time when I am not expecting it like waiting for the bus half a year later. I get a lot of ideas in my head when I am waiting for something. That is why I do not have an iPhone. I think waiting a little bit here and there and being alone with the thoughts in your head is good for you.
How do design considerations affect your work in the street? And how does your fine and street art practices differ?
When you work outdoors the wall is something you can not change, it gives you limitations. You have to adjust your design and composition to the wall and not the other way around like when doing a canvas for example. I love that about doing things outdoors, I love using the wall as an element of my work and keep large areas of it exposed. It makes a clean canvas feel like such a soulless and boring surface. For some works I have tried to replicate the look and feel of a weathered wall on canvas but it is never the same. I am very happy working on a decaying wall with lots of wear and tear, old faded graffiti, old decaying concrete with big rust marks, plants growing in the little cracks. In Amsterdam I have spent quite some time trying to find hidden and forgotten walls like that to paint on. Finding the right balance between clean lines, colour and shapes and an old and weathered wall can create such a nice contrast. But of course the luxury of working with any shape of perfectly stretched canvas has its advantages too.
Has the precarious/illegal nature of graffiti affected your practice? And if so how?
As a kid you have little money of course, so when you can only choose a couple of spraycan colours with your pocket money, it is very important that you choose them well. How to make something look as good as possible with limited colours, limited time and limited detail. You are pushed to think about simple shapes, composition and colour combinations. I still believe in the power of using simple shapes and a limited amount of colours, to me it is all about finding that right balance.
What is your take on the criminalization of graffiti?
The whole charm of graffiti is the illegal part. I think it is only logical that that is illegal. If I would own a house and somebody would draw something on it, good chance that I would not like it. A city with a good amount of graffiti in the right places is how it should be. If graffiti would be legal it would be everywhere and that would make it boring.
Do you think that tagging is an entry point into more adventurous artistic expressions for young people? Or is it just an egoistic assertion of identity on public places?
Both, different people do graffiti for different reasons.
Do you have any advice for aspiring artists?
The classic: believe in yourself and work hard.
Photo courtesy of the artist
Connect with Amok Island
Website - http://www.amokisland.com/
Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/amokisland