By Kieran Webber
Street art and graffiti has been on an ever growing curve of popularity due to the shift in thought towards the often controversial art form. In the past decade (or so) there has been an increase of the art form across the country, with cities like Bristol and Brighton becoming hubs. Of course artists such as Banksy has helped escalate the art from into main stream medias, aiding in creating an acceptance for the art work.
It cannot be denied that some graffiti and street art is beautiful and the hard work that goes into it is unparalleled by some modern artists today. However, there is still criminal attachment to the art and some examples of it could be considered a nuisance and not artistic. But maybe that’s why it is so special, it’s a fuck you to the viewer and at its core pretty anarchic. Maybe you’re supposed to be pissed off by it, maybe it is just a nuisance. Either way it is a form of expression and that is something that we should relish. Everyone will always have a preference within the graffiti community and outside it.
One artist that has caught our eye recently is Si Mitchell whom recently won the UK Illustration Championships. He was at this years NASS Festival laying down some epic pieces across the festival. We caught up with him to chat about his influence, how he got into art in the first place and about that time he saved a boys life!
CLUNK: Hey Si, how are you? How are you finding NASS fest so far?
Si: Tiring but amazing, I love this festival so much, it’s the best skate festival I’ve been too. If I’m not into the music I can go over and watch some skateboarding, bmxing, spray painting.
It’s such a nice, chill vibe and everyone’s really happy, obviously we had the football on yesterday, when England won everyone was very very happy, I’ve heard “It’s coming home” a lot (haha).
CLUNK: So how did you get into creating art and what was it that drew you to the particular style of street art?
Si: I’d always drawn when I was a child but when I was about 17 to 22-years-old, I drummed. When I cut my hand open and couldn’t drum anymore, the doctors literally had to put my hand back together and I had to do physio for 3 years, by that time I was so off my game with drumming – I had to find something else.
As my other hand still worked and I loved drawing I thought I’d go to college. I went and worked in a factory to save money for a year to pay for college, from there I went for it.
CLUNK: What is it about graffiti and street art that you find so attractive?
Si: Back in the day, I loved painting, graffiti was always a ‘no no’, a naughty thing and I always liked that, I used to be in a punk bands so I’d go against the grain. It got to one point when I wanted my pictures to be huge and this is the perfect thing to do. I’ve had pieces as big as a house, it’s amazing and I still want to go bigger.
CLUNK: Have you always done street art or was it something you discovered and got into?
Si: Strangely enough, one of the reasons I was gravitated to graffiti was because I grew up on a farm and had to paint the numbers on the sheep with a spray can. I use to steal the cans and secretly spray in my grandad’s barn, looking back now it’s quite funny.
When I went to college and then onto university, they had all these out of date spray cans that they kindly donated and so I was able to choose whichever I wanted and do a big painting.
CLUNK: How would you describe your art style to people?
Si: Cartoon and Comic.
CLUNK: How do you draw infuence for your work? Where does it come from? Does it vary between each piece?
Si: I’ve got a lot of influences from Looney Tunes, Judge Dredd, Marvel, DC – amazing art all over.
CLUNK: How did it feel to win the UK Illustration Championships? Did you feel you had it in the bag or was it a surprise?
Si: It was unbelievable, I didn’t even think I would get through to the next round, from the state of what I drew, I just didn’t think I would. Luckily the judges liked the concept, when I got into the next round, I just kept going further into the competition and ended up winning, it was such a surprise, shocked me.
CLUNK: How did you prepare for the Championships?
Si: You couldn’t prepare, you were given it and then you had to draw, I had no idea what I had to do. In the championship it was a quick 60-minute drawing competition so you had to be quick. They gave us stories from around the world, silly headlines which you then had to draw; ‘America bombs giant killer tomato in the sea’ ‘Man smuggles drugs in art’.
CLUNK: Why do you think some people don’t understand or like street art?
Si: It’s scary, for the older generation it’s not such a usual thing but for the younger it is, as generations move on you will get the older generation not understanding what the younger ones are doing – Such as tattoos, I’m still looked at as a freak wherever I walk, just because I’ve got so many.
CLUNK: Lastly, we always like to end our Q&A’s with a story, so can you tell us about a something weird, gnarly or funny that has happened to you?
Si: Recently, a kid got knocked over by a car, I’m first aid trained so when I saw it happen I ran out and made sure he was ok, got him to the side of the road and that the driver was ok, when the paramedics came out I told them everything that I needed too and left.
Then two days later I’m having a picnic and then from nowhere this woman comes up behind me, grabs me and starts crying – It was the mothers kid, apparently she had been looking for me all over, going round all the shops to ask who I was, I was just happy I could help.