Interview by Aaron Craig
Can you tell us a little about this piece? When was it created? What was the inspiration behind it?
The work is a self-portrait and is based on the paramilitary murals in Northern Ireland; I spent a lot of time there as a kid and the large and intimidating murals definitely influenced me. The work is more self-reflective though and deals with this country’s difficult identity and the reality behind white domination and colonisation in Australia.
Take us through your process. How long does it take to produce a piece like this? What mediums did you use?
The work took two days or around 16-20 hours, it was painted with acrylic and spray paint on paper and I use a watered down paint in a pressure sprayer to get the splatter effects.
Each character and scenario you paint seems to hold a deep secret that we are not made fully aware of. Is this intentional? What influences the content of your paintings?
I like to create works that people can question or spend time pondering, that’s why I don’t like writing artist statements that often. I feel if you are trying to create something that communicates to the viewer in a visual language why should words accompany the piece and why spoil what the viewer could take from the work.
You often work on a really large scale, like your recent pieces in Hollywood. What sort of challenges do you face when going that large with a lot of detail? Do you prefer murals to pieces for galleries and shows?
I guess larger works can be pretty time consuming and drain a lot of energy. It can also be frustrating when something isn’t working because making changes is always difficult. I prefer to paint outdoors, I enjoy doing gallery shows as well but I always feel like I get more out of working in public. Being locked away in a studio can grind me down a little because I always work alone.
You’ve recently got back from a trip to LA. What did you get up to while you were there?
LA was excellent I spent most of my time painting and eating shit food. It was a real American experience cocaine and strippers included.
What is your own art collection like? What was the last piece you bought?
My art collection is pathetic right now, I am traveling all the time at the moment and don’t have a fixed address so even if I wanted to buy works I don’t know where I would keep them. I will start collecting when I am older and wealthier but right now I am having enough trouble with my own portfolio.
You’ve had a solo show, “Storm Water” in Sydney, painted a bunch of walls around Sydney and Brisbane, and ventured over to California already this year. What else is on the cards for you in 2013?
I am going to Copenhagen for a project in June and will hopefully spend a little time in Europe after that. I am also planning another trip to the States but beyond that it will depend on what opportunities arise.
Check out FINTAN MAGEE’S new print at www.stupidkrap.com
To kick things off, can you provide us a brief history of how you got into art?
I grew up in the suburbs of Sydney, basically obsessed with skateboarding and everything related to it. I have always made art since a young age, but my love of skateboarding culture in the late 90s pulled me to experiment with many different creative outlets - photography, illustration, painting, graffiti, design, filmmaking etc. After studying graphic design I got into photography and doing web and print design, all the while still drawing and messing around with making random artworks. Then I slowly just got more and more into the artwork i was making, and wanted to show it to other people. It just all went forward from there.
Tell us a little about this piece.
This piece is part of the body of work I have been creating for the last couple of years now. Its inspired by the patterns, symmetry, colours, elements and lifeforms found in nature. The whole idea behind the works I am creating is to present different and unseen lifeforms spawned from the elements of nature, deities that should not exist… like other gods birthed from their natural environment. This concept is also one explored and somewhat created by HP Lovecraft over a century ago, he created an entire mythos around these ideas and other gods, and wrote many amazing fictional horror stories based around these concepts. All of my work is also about exploring my style further, basically trying to continually and consistently evolve my style and techniques over time.
You’re highly involved in the street art scene in Australia, especially in Sydney. Is the thought process much different when creating a large scale piece for a wall and creating a piece for a gallery or for print?
I think the thought process in terms of what I’m actually going to paint is very similar, its just the medium and timeframes that are different. I spend weeks creating a painting to sell in a gallery, but i can paint a huge mural in a day. They are very different mediums and therefore you physically approach them differently. And often painting a mural somewhere, the actual artwork can often be strongly influenced by its location, where as with works for exhibitions, you don’t have any restrictions to work around.
You work out of Higher Ground Studio in Sydney with a bunch of other talented artists. How does working around so many other creative minds influence your work?
All the artists in our studio have their own unique styles and techniques, its great to have such a diverse range of artwork coming out of there, and we all bounce ideas off each other and work really hard. I think the best thing about our studio is that it hasn’t and won’t become a hang out spot, when you are in there you work, everyone is there to work. I have been in other shared studio environment before that are much more distracting. And i don’t think we influence each others work so much, we more just encourage each others work ethic and motivation.
Which other artists are inspiring you at the moment?
There are so many artists out there creating such amazing work around the world, too many to mention. But the artists that inspire me the most would be those closer to me that I actually work with or am friends with, their advice, work ethic and mentorship has been very valuable to me and I am forever grateful - Phibs, Numskull, Roach, Vans The Omega, Yok, Trent Whitehead, Kyle Hughes-Odgers, Twoone, Ben Frost, Jae Copp…
What’s your own art collection like? What was the last piece of art you bought?
My art collection is full of works by many of my friends, actually I have pieces by all the artists mentioned above, plus I also have prints and works by some other artists I love such as Jim Houser, Dave Kinsey, Mars One, Richard Colman… The last piece of art I accumulated is a painting by Mr Penfold from his Sydney exhibition.
You have already had a show with Phibs in Sydney, painted murals at Bleach Festival in Coolangatta, Oi You! in Adelaide, The Hours Tower Project in Surfers Paradise and created packaging for Longview Vineyard’s ‘The Piece’ project. What else is on the horizon for you in 2013?
Yeah this year has been busy so far, but lots more planned including painting murals and exhibiting in Hong Kong, another solo show in Sydney in July, launching my Element Collection later in the year and then we are doing Wonderwalls Wollongong again. Busy busy, but thats how i like it.
Check out BEASTMAN’S new print at www.stupidkrap.com