Interview of Enforce One graffiti artist from New Zealand. He talks about his technique, inspiration, New Zealand Scene his trips around Asia and Middle East.
Article By Peishan Chen for FatCap
Enforce 1 is a founding member of Cut Collective, an art collective in Auckland. Working primarily as an illustrator, stencil and aerosol artist, he has built an impressive portfolio across many creative disciplines and has experience as a freelance graphic designer, curator and art director. He tells us more about his practice and the street art scene in New Zealand.
FatCap : Can you tell us more about the street art scene in New Zealand ? What has evolved over the years ?
Enforce 1 : The street art scene in New Zealand is definitely still evolving, despite the lack of support from the government towards the art form. The scene will always find a way to grow even when the authority has taken on the zero tolerance stance for a while now, which means that it's discouraging for some artists to get their work up. The positive thing is that most of the artists who are enthusiastic about the art will approach building owners in the public realm. People respond to good art and there is a good sense of community when artists are putting their work out there. All the main cities in New Zealand are active in their own rights. Crews are being formed ; writers and street artists are collaborating on projects sometime. Street art festivals are starting to appear in different cities throughout the country.
FC : Some of your walls look like they are in the style of Chinese paintings, has that been an influence on your work ? What are your other influences ?
E1 : I am influenced by traditional Chinese and Japanese paintings. Mostly because of my father, he was specializing in watercolor painting and Chinese calligraphy throughout his artistic career. Apart from that, I am also obsessed with animals and portraits. They will always play a part in my body of work. I draw influences from other art forms as well, like movies and music. I believe it's important to look outside of the box to keep things fresh. I like to see as many visual styles as possible to keep my mind stimulated. I find that I can be so set in my own ways when it comes down to painting and I do have a very distinctive style, so it's important for me to stay open minded with diverse influences.
FC : What are the techniques that you usually adopt in creating your walls ?
E1 : At the moment, I am mainly doing freehand aerosol spray painting. I'm painting large-scale portraiture with a softer approach and a heavy emphasis on shading. With my smaller work, I tend to incorporate a few different mediums together. You'll find acrylic, ink, oil pastel and aerosol all mashed up in a balanced manner. I am constantly adapting new techniques all the time, depending on what I'm painting. I think there's so much to learn and I will never stop inviting new mediums and techniques into my work.
FC : Which artists currently inspire you ?
E1 : Conor Harrington, David Choe and James Jean just to name a few. Pretty much all the local artists around me who are currently active in their own practice. Sometimes it is good to appreciate your surroundings, people doing completely different stuff and get inspired by their creation and motivation. I am always researching the original masters as well, artists from a different time and place like Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, Pieter Brueghel and so many others that are dead or alive.
FC : Your roots were in Malaysia, have you done any street art there ? How do both scenes compare ?
E1 : I came to live in New Zealand when I was 11 so I didn't have a chance to integrate my art practice in Malaysia. I've been back a few times and have a few contacts. I am looking at the possibilities of painting some walls with my future visits.
FC : What are some of the commercial work you have done ? How has your street art background influenced your commercial work ?
E1 : The commercial work that I have been involved in is very broad and diverse. Most of these are executed as a collective and we work as a team. It could be an ad campaign with a corporate client, a private commission to paint the interior for an office or home, huge mural for a community, live painting for a launch and whatever that comes up that is art related. Sometimes the client will request for a specific or customized visual style ; sometimes they want my signature style. So every job is different and challenging which I enjoy. I tend to keep a balance between this work and my personal practice. The experiences and skills I have acquired can be rather useful for my own work or vice versa. The dream is to only work on my paintings but that is not realistic at this point and I accept that. It's a privilege that I can still keep using my skills and keep my passion in art alive.
FC : You have recently won the Tiger Translate art competition in New Zealand and flew to Dubai to participate in the latest Tiger Translate festival. What was the experience like ?
E1 : The Dubai Tiger Translate trip was an eclectic experience. The whole week leading up to the event was very exciting ; I collaborated with local artists and met some amazing artists from different places. I was able to observe how an event of that scale was constructed. Getting to know the people from different creative sectors coming together to work on the same project ; the actual event was an eye opener and the mixture of live art and great music really set a strong structure for the whole night. There were some great interactive activities happening throughout the event. I was glad to be part of such a huge operation and enjoyed the evening with all the friends I've made throughout the week. I stayed for another 3 weeks after the event and had the chance to make further connections with the local creative music and art scene.
FC : How has your trip to Dubai inspired you artistically ? How will you integrate it into your art in future ?
E1 : Traveling anywhere is inspiring for anyone ; I had a really good experience in Dubai. I actually painted a wall back home in New Zealand since I've been back. The wall is inspired by my recent trip ; it's homage to the Middle East. Being in Dubai made me want to see more of the Middle East. I will continue my creative relationships with the people I've met along the way. Hopefully we'll get the chance to work on some exciting future projects.