I took advantage of the release of Get Rowdy by Rowdy from Bristol to ask him a few questions about his book, his work and his city.
– Can you present yourself? How did it all begin?
Well attached is the 1st actual Rowdy piece I did in Bristol in 1992 taken from someone’s (graffarty) instagram . I had different tags from 87 up until this point.
– Get Rowdy book is about your works from the last 7 years. You started in the late eighties. With such a long carrier, haven’t you been tempted to show your earlier works?
Of course it would be nice to show earlier work, much of which was actually destroyed due to a studio fire back in 2010. I was looking for narrative and wanted to show where my head is currently at, in terms of being a creative.
Has it been difficult to select the photos ?
It’s frustrating when you have done a cool piece and the photo’s don’t quite cut it. I think for this reason it was absolutely integral for the book to have Alex Ellison on board his work is mainly focused around London being the modern graffiti archivist he is very meticulous in his endeavors and captures a phenomenal amount of writers transient work and his night shots are stunning.
– Cats, rats and birds are popular animals on the walls. Do you remember how your obsession with crocodile started ?
Playing & painting in Quarries was the catalyst, dwelling in the underground space gets you thinking about creatures like fossils and crocodiles. Given the fact these vast clearances of the land pave the way for our roads and Cities helped me focus on the Ancient V Modern. Initially I decided to paint various creatures on some of the large remaining boulders one of the 1st being a Crocodile circa 2003. I went on to make several installations in different quarries during the mid naughties and not long after this I took the Croc to the streets.There were already cats like La Mano and Pez doing the logo bombing thing not to mention Keith Haring way back plus characters had always been a big part of my repertoire during my graff years. I just wanted to connect with a different audience whilst retaining a fairly hardcore graffiti aesthetic what’s more the quarry work wasn’t getting the attention of the usual graff watchers and I liked this, it was a great time as you know so much was happening and practitioners were pushing our beloved art form in all kinds of directions back then, and I didn’t feel to cynical about it as I do sometimes these days.
The shared experience of being wild and having fun is such a buzz. It helps set you free from the mental torment you have to endure on your own as an artist in say the studio or the business world. The crew helps validate each others work.On the other hand when alone there is the chance to really get in the zone see how far you can push things, this particularly applies to my abstract work.
– In the book you present some abstract works I didn’t know from you. This is really different than your graffiti work. Have you ever thought about painting such pieces outside?
On a couple of occasions this work has appeared outdoors and maybe I will revisit that idea again at some point ultimately I just wanted to keep something back for myself that couldn’t so easily be ripped,buffed or written over. To have some longevity in the contemporary art world as well as in peoples homes, slightly more conventional I guess but there again try being an abstract artist in Britain?
I’m also interested in some of the parallels between wildstyle graffiti and abstract art, many don’t like their street art too complicated so in a sense it provides a nice counter balance to my Croc work.
– Bristol graffiti scene has always been known worldwide thanks to 3D featured in Spray Can art book, and of course more recently because of Banksy.
According to you has all this attention to Bristol graffiti scene been a good thing ? (Little story, a colleague who has absolutely no particular interest in graffiti or graphic design went to Bristol last summer. He told me the best thing about his holidays was the Bristol street-art tour he paid…)
Bristol has a fantastic history and it’s a shame 3D’s pieces never got the same Banksy heritage status but how could they given the times, I guess for me that’s why the book is a form of preservation. Jon Nation who works on some of the tours is undoubtedly a recommendation as far as I’m concerned as he’s a proper Bristolian and been around for time and a big supporter to all concerned. So yeah I would suggest it’s well worth a visit and the pound is now weaker due to Brexit. There are types trying to regulate our scene having never come from an Art/ Graffiti background offering up walls that are looking some what watered down or trying to hard in their approach . Generally it’s a good mix here but as property prices rocket we need more Artist lead projects if we want credible art in the City and hope the vandals don’t get caught going about their activity.
– If you could explore and paint anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
I’ve still not been to Lisbon, I think a spell in Canada could be nice. Many of my abstract works are a form of travel, fictional and imagined locations I’ve never been to like Franz Kafka’s vivid description of an America he never visited.
– What do you do when you’re not painting?
Think about painting.