When did you start the Toaster project? Is the Toaster a collective or a single person?
Myself and two others started the Toaster project on New Years Eve, 1998. We put our first stickers up the next day, January 1st 1999.
For the last 2 years it’s been just me doing it. It was a naturally progression as I was always the one doing most of the painting and art anyway. We were all cool with the decision.
Did you write letters before starting the Toaster project?
I wrote ‘traditional’ graffiti from 1985 when I was a young kid. I watched the film Style Wars and saw the book Subway Art and it essentially changed my life overnight. I carried on painting graffiti until 1997 but gradually I was deciding I wanted a change of direction. I still loved getting up but wanted to be more conceptual and to stimulate more questions from the public as well as other writers.
What keeps you still painting? Can you ever feel tired of the Toaster project? Do you see yourself still doing it in 5 or 10 years?
I’ve honestly never got bored of the Toaster image I paint. Rather than it being restrictive painting the same thing I found the initial repetition quite satisfying. Once the image was up in many cities across the world and people knew about it, there was a natural progression for me to deconstruct it and paint pieces with abstracted elements of the Toaster. People still see the Toaster within these pieces but it’s also a way of me going full circle back to my graffiti roots. I’m painting walls that feel like graffiti pieces, with shadow, bold colours, graphic lines and shapes forming letters but it’s all done with me using parts of the Toaster.
I’ve got plenty of ideas to push these pieces further, to go more complex or strip them back to be more minimal so yes I’ll defiantly be painting the Toaster in 20 years let alone 5 or 10 years! I’ve been doing it for 17 years already so why not.
You painted several times with Zime from Eindhoven. Do you frequently collaborate with other artists?
I try and find a balance between painting in isolation and painting collaborative walls. You can learn a lot from both. I often take an element of my last wall and inject it into my next wall. It’s a natural timeline and progression. I’ve painted with Zime a lot the last 10 years. Firstly he’s a good friend but I also respect him as an artist. He’s very precise in his technique. He also likes using only 2 or 3 colours and I enjoy having to adapt my piece to complement his. I’ve also painted walls with Will Barras, Sektie, Space3, Erosie and Roa to name but a few. Also we organised a big Toaster show in London in 2009 with 15 artists. Each painted a Toaster collaboration piece with me and the other Toaster guys. That was sweet.
In the early 00’s in France there was someone named “Krisprolls” who also painted toasters. Do you know him or his work? What is the deal with Toasters?
I don’t know the Krisprolls guy personally but yes I saw his work years ago. Sometimes people would email me asking if it was me but I only paint the one type of Toaster!
When us 3 guys started the Toaster project it’s wasn’t because we were really obsessed with an electrical toaster! We simply wanted an image to get up on the streets. It had to be already recognizable so the public asked ‘why?’ not ‘what is it?’. Also we thought it would be cryptic to put the image of a household object on the streets. It would seem slightly bizarre and get folks asking questions. Finally we choose the Toaster image as an insular concept. Like I said at the start of the interview we came up with it on New Years Eve 1998. We were at a house party but as ever we found ourselves away from the main party. We always hung out in the kitchen. Yes it is where the fridge is which means we are nearer the beer, but also we didn’t fit in so much with the main party. We wanted to talk about graffiti in the kitchen while others wanted to dance in the living room. So we thought ‘let’s choose a kitchen object to represent us’! I loved the idea then and love still getting it out there nearly two decades later.