Stronger Loving World

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Friday, September 23, 2005

Dear Summer

Originally uploaded by Yanatonage.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


D*Face is among a cadre of street artists whose goals are neither egotistical or political, but conceptual. How else to describe the distinctive style of his pieces—which resemble drug induced dreamtime interpretations of Disney or Fleischer Studios characters? Whereas urban dwellers may have grown tired of the repetition and redundancy of some stencil artists, whose endless reproductions of logos and names may be making Walter Benjamin smile in his grave, D*Face is more like a stylized cartoonist whose characters are too alive, demanding and confrontational to be secluded to television sets, canvases or drawing boards. They’ve completely escaped the pen of their creator and are repopulating the walls of London, transforming the streets into a hyper-cartoony landscape of slit-eyed spheres and sharp-eared gremlins. D*Face is hallucinating in 2D and he wants us all to hallucinate along with him, as the hum of gramophone jazz clangs disastrously in the background. I was going to make a Fantasia analogy, but those dancing broomsticks always scared the hell out of me.

*First off,how did you first get involved in street art?
Jeezzz, we'd have to go way back to get to the root of that one, it
really stems from my childhood, when I first got the book 'Subway Art'
and 'Spray can art', I saw those pages as eye candy to a visually
starving kid, they were a huge influence right then and there, I
dabbled with trying to draw out pieces like I saw in those books, then
try and paint them, my attempts were beyond bad. It never gelled, but I
continued to draw and doodle my way through school, I got heavily into
skateboarding and used to pick up second hand copies of Thrasher
magazine from the older kids at school, I saw all the board graphics
and thought, this is the kinda work I want to be doing, but at that
point couldn't figure how or who produced them and how you'd get into
doing that kind of work.
I pretty much flunked my way through school due to my skateboarding
curriculum, but continued to draw and dabble with graffiti, both of
which have the similar vain of looking at the environment differently,
I managed to blag my way onto a design/illustration/animation course
which gave me the first glimpse of how to combine all the things that
had made an impact on me as a kid and also showed me that there's a
possible career in producing my artwork. Around this time I became
aware of the 'Obey Giant' stickers, this kinda linked everything
together for me, unlike the hard Russian style graphics that Shepard
employed, I liked the idea of propagating my dysfunctional characters,
releasing these creatures into the public domain for all to see,
question, appreciate or dislike... I loved everything about using
public to propagate my work... that was then and this is now.

What kind of an experience do you think it offers that other forms of
art do not?
Total freedom of expression within the environment. There's no
limitations to who can use the public domain to express themselves, you
need no formal training, all that is needed is a passion and
commitment, and from this a whole wealth of people who share a similar
passion and enthusiasm for working in this way. Like minded individuals
from all over the world.*Where did you grow up, and how did that environment shape your work?
Where do you live now?
I grew up in London and still live here today, London has played a huge
role in the shaping of me and my work, from skateboarding to graffiti
to just the general environment, it taught me to 'see' and not just
'look' at your surroundings, things turn around so quickly in London,
that blink and you miss it, there's so much visually going on, a media
saturated environment. So with my work, I wanted to create a subversive
intermission to this. To stop people, to get them to question their
relationship to these characters peering down at them from every street
corner, to put a smile or frown on their face. People have become so
media aware, that they wash over many of the typical methods used to
advertise products to them, revealing campaigns for instance, the
public now expect an answer to what they are seeing... 'oh, what's that
image I keep on seeing' two weeks later 'oh, I see it's an advert for
the latest, Volkswagen car', or a new drink etc. I never want to give
people the answer to my work, for that matter there is no answer, it's
just a relationship formed with my characters. I keep on using new
methods and mediums to change their perception and what they expect to

*How long did it take before you received any kind of recognition,
either from other artists or from galleries?
I never went out to get recognition, it was just a passion and creative
release for me, I was unaware that anyone was paying attention to what
I was doing and I guess it wasn't for about 2-3 years having constantly
battered various cities with my work that people started to say 'oh, you
do that, I see that everywhere'. That kinda took my be surprise and
still does today. Really in the last 2 years everything started to drop
together in terms of galleries and collaborating with companies on
products and projects. But that was never my goal, it's just a by
product of what I do... and I'm ever in awe of this.

*What influences, inside or outside the world of street art, guide your
The biggest influence has been skateboarding, graffiti and the like
minded individuals that I hook up with all over the world. Cartoons and
comics as a kid have played a huge part in what I do and what I love
now. Outside of that, the cities environment and the people within are
an inspiration, to 'see' and not just 'look' at my surroundings,
absorbing what's around me.

*Which cartoons and comics influenced you?
Disney, Hanna-Barbera, 2000AD, I really LOVE all cartoons, cartoons
still continue to influence me now, from Dexters Lab, to Sponge Bob...
I guess I never grew up. As the saying goes ' I may grow older. but
I'll never grew up'.

*What kind of materials are you working with, mostly?
I like to try and diversify, why limit yourself to certain materials
when you can take on all... but things that are regularly employed are
good old pen, pencil and paper, I also love to use my computer,
particularly Illustrator, also to use spray paint for larger pieces and
screen printing equipment for the texture and quality. But I like to
have an arsenal or techniques and materials that I can pick from to use
what's applicable for that particular idea I'm working on. Recently
using wood and molding and casting to give my work a 3D aspect.

*Your trademark image is something that looks like a winged bowling
ball--what is it that compels you about this image, and do you think
of it as your "brand"?
A bowling ball with wings say what!!?? It's a dog... a D*Dog!
The idea was for my other characters to have a pet, and I figured (well
in my world I figured) that it would be a dog... with wings, the slots
are his eyes and obviously the other elements are teeth, tongue and
I never went out to create or achieve an 'icon' or 'logo' to be used in
a brand context, thats never been further from my mind, I just enjoyed
propagating these dysfunctional characters. What started as a sticker,
soon became a large paste up poster, I liked the thought that people
would see these small stickers then one day they'd spot a huge pasted
poster, it would be like 'how big is this creature' and obviously that
soon lent itself to being spray painted, its a character that can be
manipulated and altered to make it take on a different persona, it
keeps it interesting for me and I hope for the viewer. Even to strip it
down to just the wings and use those to a different means.
I actually have a whole heap of other characters that I release into
the wild using different mediums, but it seems to come back down to the
D*Dog and the square head, these characters have become omnipresent in
many cities and I guess to that point have become easily identifiable
as my work. I have a style I like to work with and I know how I want
things to appear so that they begin to hang together in a certain way,
to that point I suppose that’s not dissimilar to how brands work. But I
never want to be seen as a 'brand' and certainly don't see myself like
*What's with the Disney insignia in your name--since you are actually
re-imagining and implementing some Disney like worlds onto the
environment, is it more about homage than playing around with
I liked the play on this instantly recognizable letter style, the fact
its instantly associated with cartoons, characters etc. and that I
create these dysfunctional characters that are in the public domain.
Like fucked up Disney characters that like tagging, drippy paint and
hanging out, characters more appropriate for todays society. It's more
a homage then playing around with copyrights, although I instantly
liked that element as well.

*In gallery art as well as street art, there's been a more
two-dimensional, childish, cartoon influenced aesthetic in recent
years. What is it about cartoons; with their explosive, exagerrated
and playful aproaches to reality that is appropriate for graffiti,
stencils and murals?

For sure thats the case now, but when I look back to when I started
propagating my work in the street, there was nobody or very few people
using characters, certainly not in London doing this kinda of work,
using characters that were simple, bold and strong and putting them in
the public domain, people like KAWS and DALEK in America had already
started this lead. The London Police in Europe are friends of mine and
we shared common ground and interests with what we were doing with our
characters, we work and still 'put up' together.

Like a 'tag' for writers, I decided that I'd use my characters in a
similar context, repeating strong images that people could relate to,
characters have always played a large role in graffiti, from writers
using Vaughn Bode's characters within their work, to the b-boy style
characters that were painted in the 80's. Artists like Seen, used
characters straight from cartoons, like the Flintstones the Pink
Panther in some of his pieces, so it's not a new direction. For me it
was creating characters that came from 'my world' a place that only I
know exists and how it looks. Characters are also language boundary
free, I can put up a character in Milan, Paris, London or Sri Lanka,
all places I've put work up in and the public in those particular
cities will have their own take on my work and why it's there and who
put it there.