I interview SPZero76 also know as Keith, for Doncopolitan Magazine in 2017.
This year already you’ve been to NYC and Iceland so far. How does it feel to be commissioned to come and paint in your hometown, DTC (aka Donny Town Centre)?
It’s going to be good fun to come back to my hometown. I started this year with two New Year’s Resolutions. One was to paint in New York, which I ticked off a month or so back, and next month I get to paint Doncaster. That was my second resolution. It’s great to be one of the first ‘street artists’ to paint Donny. I know Phlegm has painted there already.
As a kid growing up, the only graffiti I saw was ‘Mandy 4 Terry’ scratched into bus stops. Ha.
I fell in love with spray can art when I discovered it, when I moved to Bristol to study. It’s great that I can help bring it back up to my hometown and hopefully introduce a new audience to my favourite art movement.
You’ve been commissioned to paint the hoardings that are currently surrounding the Corn Exchange. Can you explain your design and aesthetic, and how you’ve come up with a design that DMBC and our Mayor all dig? After all, in some places street art is still considered vandalism.
Ha. Yeah. It’s funny. If I was to create the same art with brushes it would be considered art, but I create art with spray cans and it can be frowned upon.
It’s a skill you have to learn, like painting in any other medium. I think spray cans have a stigma as they are obviously still connected to taggers [people who write their names on walls, throughout towns and cities].
But spray can art is an art form in its own right, with artists creating amazing pieces in different styles, from pattern and photo-realism through to cartoony and letter writing.
I’m trying to create a piece for the Corn Exchange, alongside Kid Crayon, that crosses between some real characters and buildings, with some cartoon characters for fun. I don’t want it to be the ‘usual’ stereotypical Council commissioned pieces from the 70s, which focused heavily on realism. I saw those types of murals as a kid and they never inspired me. I’m hoping to use several different styles and show that they work together, and hopefully something within them will help inspire other people. Hopefully.
Didn’t I hear you had family who worked on the market?
I’ve had a few family members who had stalls on the market. Mum knows more. Ha. I know Uncle Tony and family had a stall, and I think Uncle Brian had one too.
You live in Bristol now. How have you seen the street art scene grow and develop? Is it still what it was or has it peaked?
I remember the first big spray paint event I saw in Bristol was the Walls of Fire event in 1997. It featured loads of artists. These events are more frequent these days and loads of them happen all over the world. I painted at ones in Germany and Sweden earlier this year. Upfest is next month in Bristol and that’s Europe’s biggest urban paint festival.
Some people would say it has peaked, but I think it’s still growing. It’s spreading to lots of towns that previously weren’t as aware of the art form, and many of these towns are having their own street art events.
It’s great. I never understand people who say they prefer to see the bricks. For me, I love seeing art on walls.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to develop their skills in Doncaster?
First, they need to speak to Doncaster Council about sourcing them a legal wall – walls that anyone can practise on. I know spray paint can be bought in Sheffield or online. I’m not aware of any shops in Doncaster, but I’m looking to discover as much about the scene in Doncaster as I can.
For painting, it’s all about learning what cans and caps work for you. I started painting with high pressure cans and fat caps which created drips and made it impossible to paint thin lines. I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t paint with them, but the man I discovered cans and caps that worked for me.
Just practise, practise, practise. Find events nearby and watch the artists or find videos with tips online. If anyone wants to come and have a chat with me and Kid Crayon when we paint the Corn Exchange, we can give you tips.
Spzero76 will be painting the hoardings at the Corn Exchange from 16th July We’ll be hosting a welcome party on Thursday the 20th at DoncoHQ if your interested in getting involved in street art come down.