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Styles not Skills

Back in February 2024, I wrapped up a significant project for a private collector based in Dubai. It was a piece titled "Future World," The artwork I'd recently painted onto a doorway in Penge, London. The collector really liked the piece and wanted to own the canvas rendition of it. This artwork, entirely spray-painted onto linen, measured 1.5 meters by 1.5 meters. To ease its transport, I fixed the canvas directly onto the wall in my studio. This way, once finished, I could roll it up and pop it into a tube for delivery.

One thing I love about translating my street art onto canvas is the luxury of time it affords. When I'm out on the streets, there are always factors like time constraints, limited materials, or even the weather that can affect the outcome. And inevitably, there are parts of the piece that I wish I could tweak or improve. But with canvas, I get to take my time, pondering over every detail. It's a solitary pleasure, just me, my favorite tunes, or the latest podcast episodes, lost in the act of creation. This is the dream I've been chasing—a career where I get to paint on canvas for a living.

I've spent a good chunk of my career doing commission work to make ends meet, schools, restaurants, etc. It's been a practical choice, keeping a roof over my head and food on the table, but it's also kept a can in my hand and has given me valuable skills. But deep down, I've always wanted to be known for my own style and ideas. And that's no easy feat.

I tend to gravitate towards the weird and wonderful, the dreamy and the sci-fi, realism and surrealism. It's not always the most popular choice, especially in the world of street art, where quirky illustrations, quickly executed stencils, or politically charged pieces often steal the spotlight.

But lately, I've sensed a shift in the air. Street art festivals and town councils that used to play it safe with colorful geometric pattern murals are now taking a chance on the strange and fantastic. Maybe it's the influence of AI and our tech-driven world, but whatever it is, I'm happy about it. I've been painting street art for over thirty years now, I've seen trends come and go like the seasons. And I've learned a lot along the way.

I used to chase after whatever was popular, trying to keep up with the times. But I soon realized that painting what's hot only leaves you playing catch-up or worse, out of date like a stone-washed denim jacket that was once cool. I've been lucky enough to have the skills to paint a variety of subjects and styles, this can be both a blessing and a curse. So I took a long, hard look at myself and my art about ten years ago. What makes me happy ? What do I want to say with my work? And whether it's in vogue or not, I decided to stick to what made me unique.

Sure, there were times when my style fell out of favor. I went through a phase of painting the grotesque and the downright bizarre, festival invites dried up real quick. But I kept at it, tweaking and refining my style until it was uniquely mine, yet still acceptable for public display, And I'm finally starting to see some progress.

It's been a long road, with its fair share of ups and downs. But I've stayed true to myself and my vision, and I might just be on the cusp of making a living from my style, and not my skill.

Thanks for reading.


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