â€œGood art is all in the eye of the beholder,â€ tells REKA ONE, a graffiti artist based in Australia. â€œYou can however, definitely tell the difference between mediocre art and good art. Whether itâ€™s not executed correctly or lacking style or direction, it usually stands out.â€
At the age of 24, REKA ONE is one of Melbourneâ€™s most infamous graffiti writers and is making big impressions around the world with his Japanese anime-inspired pieces. With a foundation in throw-ups and tagging, REKA ONE, now, shows in galleries and is a part of an artist collective Ever Fresh Crew, a group of eight artists from Australia.
â€œGraffiti as a sub-culture is a mixed bag. Not everyone does it to progress in style but to create awareness of who you are and as a competition,â€ says REKA ONE, adding â€œitâ€™s healthy to have all kinds in this scene. It keeps things interesting.â€ Through Ever Fresh, REKA recently released the Blackbook, a behind the scenes look of a working street art studio, â€œWeâ€™re offering an insight into the lifestyle and progression of our work.â€
â€œI think the Pixar style graphics will date very fast and people will get over it. Iâ€™m over it already!â€
Format: You started getting up over five years ago, and since your style has changed from tagging and throw-ups to full murals and gallery work. If you could describe your evolution as an artist in one word what would it be and why? REKA: A Journey. I can tell you I had no aspirations of being an artist and having solo exhibitions five years ago. Things change. Old doors close as new doors and opportunities open up. Involving myself in Melbourne’s healthy graf and street art scene helped a lot.
Format: Youâ€™ve described anime as one of your strongest inspirations. With these constantly changing trends, where do you see the future of anime going? REKA: I think a lot of people think the next stage is this whole 3D computer generated animation crap. I think the Pixar style graphics will date very fast and people will get over it. Iâ€™m over it already! I think the next stage will be revisiting hand drawn animation but with more originality and at a different angle. Hayo Miyazaki, of Studio Ghibli, is the king. He knows how to keep it real.
Format: How many trains do you think youâ€™ve bombed? When you bomb what are your techniques of out-running the cops? REKA: My artwork and my illegal work are very different these days. They are under two different names, too. I don’t really want to go into too much detail about trains, but running from the cops is an experience. Personally, if the shit hits the fan, breaking up from the rest of the pack is the way to go. Cops can get you a lot easier if youâ€™re all in one big group. Preparation and communication is important. Prior to going on a mission make a time and venue to meet at, if things go pear shaped. Doing trains is a whole different ball game to painting a wall. In the end, I’ve never been that into it, to be honest.
Format: As an artist that uses todayâ€™s technological tools like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, how do you feel that technology has enhanced the world of art or even diminished some qualities?
Reka: Computers are great finishing tools, however, I think art needs to be hand done. I use computers a lot, as Iâ€™m also a graphic designer, but I still know the importance of the initial stages of sketching. A lot of people, these days, are forgetting the art and craft of drawing. Drawing, for me, is the most important stage of any finished piece. You evolve a lot faster and get way more concepts and ideas.
Format: Stencils are becoming common. How do you feel about graffiti writers that use them for larger murals?
REKA: Stencils are very effective and, once cut, very quick to use. Graff writers take pride in the fact that all their work is hand done with no extra tools, such as stencils. They think itâ€™s a cheating way to get the final product. A lot of my friends use stencils, but itâ€™s not really my cup of tea. I like to keep my art created entirely with my bare hands.
Format: Melbourne art has come into its own. How has Melbourne influenced your style over the years? How do you feel that you have influenced Melbourneâ€™s street art?
REKA: Melbourne street art is up there with some of the best scenes in the world. Stencils are still quite popular, but, these days, the focus has slightly moved across to characters and the like. Through involving myself in the scene right from the beginning, it has helped me evolve and change my style over the years. Like graf, street-art is competitive and I benefited from this fact through pushing myself to come up with different ideas and trying to outdo myself with every new piece I did. I feel I have influenced other street artists to create their own characters and open their eyes to different methods and mediums of getting up. Iâ€™m sure someone else could answer this better than me though!
Format: This might be a bit of a challenging question, but I would totally appreciate your efforts. Could you please try and describe for our readers the process that your mind undergoes through the creation of a piece?
REKA: Every piece of art, whether itâ€™s a canvas or a wall, I try and think up a concept involving one of my characters and a theme that goes with it. Often, I have sketches of characters that fit the concept, but, often, I let the piece speak to me and freestyle it. The size and shape of the piece always helps with this. From this point, I roughly sketch it up and then stand back and pick out the faults and changes that need to be done. As the piece progresses, the theme and concept changes as new ideas pop up. Sometimes my initial sketch turns out a lot different in the finished product. From this stage I apply color and fill that usually has been worked out by the concept and theme. Outlining the piece is my favorite part as you slowly see it all coming together. After the character and other bits have been done, I apply a background and touch up little bits until Iâ€™m happy. I often have to pull away from the piece so I don’t overkill it with too much detail. There’s a fine line between a piece being too simple and too detailed. A frequent problem with my work!
Format: Currently, you are working on using random objects as canvases. What is your favorite found object that youâ€™ve painted on this far? REKA: I really like painting on old framed paintings and prints I find in hard rubbish. I like manipulating the piece using the background and applying my characters to it. Itâ€™s really fun and very effective. I think found objects are a great way to apply your art to. From a buyerâ€™s point of view, I can see why a plain canvas is a lot more appealing, though.
Format: You are with Ever Fresh Crew consisting of seven other graffiti artists PHIBS, SYNC, PRIZM, RONE, MEEK, PLUSH and MEGGS. What is the common thread that links you all, other than being a member of the Ever Fresh crew, itself?
REKA: We all seem to connect really well and most of us have the same direction and thoughts, plus we often collaborate and help motive each other. In the end, we all got together because of a common thread: doing characters and street art.
Format: Does glue sniffing really get you mad pussy?
REKA: Only if you want it to! Huffing paint is also very attractive.
Format: What kinds of fresh gear and clothing are you feeling lately? Are there any hot new lines coming out of Oz? Will you ever approach the fashion industry with your work?
REKA: I have already done many t-shirt designs for a few different labels. Itâ€™s not where my passion lies but itâ€™s funny to see people wearing your shit. Iâ€™m not really feeling much at the moment from Oz. Itâ€™s sad, but most of my favorite labels come from the States. Local brands Burn Crew and the late Shadow labels are going places.
Format: Recently, you released The Blackbook with Ever Fresh, it was pre-released for the Backwoods Show in April 2007 with all copies selling on the opening night. When will it be published and distributed internationally? What can people expect to see in it? REKA: At this stage, weâ€™re looking into getting it published. The book still needs more work and tidying up, though. Iâ€™d say in the next six months we’ll get our shit together and get it done. The theme behind The Blackbook is to show the behind the scenes view of a working street art studio. Weâ€™re offering an insight into the lifestyle and progression of our work. A lot of the photos are of progression shots of walls and artwork. Most books that have been done in the past have been from an outside point of view and don’t contain these concepts and ideas that are in our book.
Format: Previously, youâ€™ve spoken about the issue of corporations and advertisements taking photos of illegal graffiti and then placing it in their ads. How would you suggest alleviating this problem? REKA: There is no solution. I think we all need to know our rights with copywriting our work. If a piece is illegal and not meant to be there then, unfortunately, there is nothing we can do about it. Check out www.youthoughtwewouldntnotice.com. A site set up for artists to upload photos of companies using their work without consent. Itâ€™s an eye opener.
Format: Youâ€™ve spoken of mediocre artwork and how itâ€™s becoming rampant in the graffiti community. What defines mediocre to you? What is good art?
REKA: Good art is all in the eye of the beholder. You can, however, definitely tell the difference between mediocre art and good art. Whether itâ€™s not executed correctly or lacking style or direction, it usually stands out. Graffiti, as a sub-culture, is a mixed bag. Not everyone does it to progress in style but to create awareness of who you are and as a competition. Itâ€™s healthy to have all kinds in this scene. It keeps things interesting.
More Info: http://www.rekaone.com