Love the tag! Whether people admit it or not, there are those who are liberal with its use and those(although they may deny it) who will “think” it. How, where and what was the inspiration behind your street-name.
I seem to use the word a lot when I speak. The name itself also dissuades the art community from trying to recruit my services etc (parasites!)
Your work can scale the size of a building through to the tiniest stencil that would go almost unnoticed by the bulk of the non-street population.What provides the stimuli : whether it be words or extraordinary pieces as with “Best We Forget”
Good question. I sometimes wonder what motivates my work. When I first started I thought I had to conform to a certain style or path: big stencils & vanilla art. It’s only in the last year I feel that my work is a truthful. eg: I’m totally cynical, so my work is a reflection of this. I’ve always had strong anti-social tendencies and a history of playing the role of Devil’s Advocate so when I see a proliferation (at least in my own opinion) of cute and safe street art then I can’t help but react and try to do the opposite.
When you see images being posted online by photographers like myself, how does that gel with you as an artists or is it merely a case of “job done…NEXT”
Not quite sure if I qualify as an artist. I have a backlog of about 30 stencils and another 10 sites to hit, so yes ‘NEXT’ would be an apt description.
Do you find our two worlds collide (ie: personal family man vs street-artist)
Vary rarely, although it can be a pain when I’ve been out til late and my son decides to wake at 7:00am every morning, but I usually forgive him since he’s so goddamn cute!
What would be one of the more profound reactions to a piece that you have had to date
The best reaction (although may be not so profound) was when some random girl showed me her tits and she found I was the person behind the CB paste up
In terms of profound reactions, I think my own are the most important. It’s a good feeling when you see your artwork being copied in various locations around the world. It’s also amusing to realise I am more renown internationally than within my own country.
all images are copyrighted to janie d photography and may not be reproduced without express permission
all art work remains the property of the artist FUKT and may not be reproduced without express permission
What was your initial entree to street art and can you give a rationale in regards to your tag name
I guess I started a few years ago when I was doing a bunch of live art shows around Sydney for free drinks. I enjoyed the speed of it all and wanted to start playing around with spray paint so I could start using more colour at speed.
I met Bafcat and Resan (a couple of painters) earlier that year and ended up going to some abandoned factories to hang out and have a paint. I really enjoyed using cans, learnt a bunch of little tricks pretty and have been hooked on painting since then. OX comes from the fact that I always had a hard time telling people my last name. Not that’s it particularly long or weird or anything; just having a semi-English/Australian accent people seemed to get it wrong in a variety of bizarre ways.
i wanted to go by something incredibly simple and something that was symbolic above just letters. I like how both the symbols O and X are used in so many different contexts other the letter format. I have always preferred images over the written word, so I think OX represents my work well. There are a bunch of other reasons but I won’t go in to them as they probably equally as boring.
What drives your creativity
Not sure really. It’s just something I do, something I enjoy working hard at and exploring new ways to create.
Art in whatever medium has always been attractive to me. There are no rules, no wrong answers and on one who can stop you from doing it. It can be incredibly difficult and especially financially unrewarding at the best of times, but no matter what I do, there is always an element that is predominantly positive.
It’s important to me that I’m never going to be able to master what I do, I’m never going to reach ‘that point’ where I’m finished. I’m always learning and there will always be something that I’m just going to suck at. I think that probably what drives me most: just trying to do work that’s better than my last piece. I want to be a grizzled old man one day who still worries over his filthy painting.
Some of your work is incredibly complex with specific reference to the first shot I took at PM3 (below)
Is there a specific “story” for each creation, or is it almost a continual work in progress to the point that while you may personally never be 100% satisfied with the finished product (“it needs a tweek here”), others perceive it as a perfection
Improving my techniques is definitely what drives my work, but in each piece I try to tell an ambiguous story I guess. Most of my work is character based and I have a background in animation which is where the story-telling element of my work comes from. I like to give people a character that they can imagine a story for: in that way the viewer has a role in the creation of the work as well.
Do you prefer the freedom of wall or the restrictions of design
I like elements of both. I enjoy being able to take as long as I want in the studio trying to perfect whatever I am working on at the the time getting lost in illustration really chills me out, but after a few days I start to get some serious cabin fever. So that’s when I really like getting outside and painting with some mates for fun; it’s really the only environment I can make art and be social at the same time. It’s fast and takes me to new places that can only be compliment endless hours in the studio.
In a perfect world where do you see yourself as the artistbeing within (say) the next 5 years
I would like to be illustrating and painting full time. Having enough clients that I can life purely off selling my own art and doing illustration work that I really enjoy. The freedom of that kind of work would allow me to travel around and do more mural work than I am capable of doing at the moment. AND the opportunity to exhibit my work overseas more often.
Do you have another life beyond Abyss.607, and if so, do you feel at times it intrudes on your alter-ego?
It’s given me, I would say, more of a reason to be content with my life. I skate & play RPG’s. I spend most of my time alone drawing or painting, so what I do resonates through my art.
What is the inspiration behind your street name?
Abyss is really a visual form that’s reflective and expressive of a lot of my thoughts. Sometimes dark, but not evil; bright but not to burn, and endless with a destination only you can give yourself.
Your work is immediately recognisable and seeing it “in the flesh” (so to speak) is breath-taking. How long does it take to formulate the concept, identify a location and then complete the process. And how much of it takes place under cover of darkness?
A lot of the time I see a spot. I think first of what would be best suited for it: ie. paste up if it’s a busy spot where I’d like to put something nice, or spray paint if I have got the time to cover and do something big. Paste-ups can be really effective on different coloured/textured walls, so sometimes I will make something (specific) for the wall. My paste-ups are hand painted mostly with acrylic and do take some time to make, depending upon the size.
Pretty much all of my street work is done at night. I think I’ve only done one outside wall in Canberra where I was commissioned. Mostly I go out alone. It’s definitely not easy sometimes (eg: rooftops), but I plan out pretty much every spot I choose which will have a story (or reason) behind it. I’m sure a lot of similar artists can relate, but for me personally, it’s more than just a painting.
When you’re out there alone in the middle of the night, it’s one of the times I don’t feel suffocated by the things we are subconsciously fed and think about during the day. It’s engulfing and free. When you’re jumping into private property, risking your life climbing something, start painting, all the while trying to be quick and silent, having to hide for much longer than you paint: you’re up against so many elements that are otherwise nullified regularly. It really wakes you up and makes you feel alive. It uses your senses all whilst being creative.
Nothing beats that feeling. Although it can suck, if you’ve done something good and it’s already buffed when you go to get the flick the next day. A lot of what we express through graffiti, the general public are ignorant of and usually lost under wrongful “vandalism”
When did the Abyss come in to being: was it evolutionary or was it “bang! here it is! let’s do it”?
More evolutionary. I’ve always been drawing monsters and strange entities. The main character I do I call “Seers”. They are watchers of time and space, on the walls they guide the heart and the spirit with strength for those who view them with unchained minds.
They also stand as glyphs symbolising our demise, depicting nostalgic ancient art and abstraction warning us of a bleak future if we don’t change for the better.
If you could sum up in one sentence the difference between street-art and capping (so as to educate the uneducated) what would they be?
All I can say is the streets are unrelenting. Just stay true to yourself and whatever it is you want to accomplish: do it. See ya in the void!
When we last spoke things were pretty out there for you from challenging a somewhat famous vogue’er to grabbing a photo op with Drew Carey. Give us a little update in the world of A Nameless Force.
Ya, wow, that must be give or take a decade ago! Loads has happened since then. As you might remember I had a skate/art supplies store – World Famous Westsyde. After ten years of partnership, the three of us decided to go seperate ways: the decline in retail sales, internal conflict, and a desire to find new bigger and more exciting opportunities were my main reasons, for departing that scenario. There are some days I miss it, but generally speaking I’m not looking back. Since then I have continued my art practise, had a brief yet successful partnership in a business hand painting live orchids, and currently my business is helloyouknowthename.com : a series of artist canvas fully waterproof bags/pouches cases with a plethora of uses. I’m really proud of the workmanship and it’s always good to be back in the saddle creating new and exciting products. I’m currently in the Snowy Mountains fulfilling another long term dream: renovating my Mum’s house and building myself a tiny house and a new studio space, I haven’t had a proper on of those since the collapse of Westsyde.
There is absolutely no denying that the Outpost was a pivotal moment and a once in a lifetime experience for both street artist and photographer. What has been one of the biggest changes (good or bad) to the Sydney streetart scene
Outpost was super pivotal. It was also a time shortly after the global hype of “Exit Through the Gift Shop”, so at that time it felt like every man and his dog was a ‘street artist’. A lot of the genuine artists have moved onto other forms of art, many have just disappeared, and some people (e.g. Ian Strange & Ben Frost) have just blasted through the stratosphere. That said, Sydney has fallen off quite heavily on that front, most everyone of note either moved to Melbourne, overseas or as I said before a different sector of the creative industry in search of further and better opportunities.
How have you seen yourself evolve as an artist since we last spoke
How have I evolved ? I guess in a multitude of ways, and in many ways I haven’t changed one bit. I’ve still got my fingers in many pies, just different pies. I never did my own digital before, my kid sister GG gave me an ipad pro, and I’ve taught myself how to use procreate, and how to make gifs. I’m now in the process of making a 3D model, and a series of NFT’s that I’m hoping we can launch in the Japanese market next year. We’re expanding stockists for Hello You Know The Name into every major country and continent on the planet and being based here just ten minutes from a rural airport I can be anywhere in the country very quickly, something I very much hope to be able to take advantage of in the very near future.
Are you family still a major source of inspiration
Absolutely. My Nephews are now 8 and 10, and I have a nearly 2 year old niece now, we need to invent a much stronger version of the word adorable just for her. The boys keep me on my toes! Just the other day they both gave me seperate at length and in detail lectures trying to get me up to speed with the world of Roblox and Fortnight. I had no idea that 14 year olds were making millions of dollars playing those games. So again they’ve inspired me to learn more and I’d really like to learn more about making character skins and custom immersive environments. They don’t know just yet, but the tiny house I’m building is really going to be their teenage retreat complete with giant 4k screens surround sound and a ps5: shhhhh ha ha. Renovating Mum’s house has inspired me on a different level. They all contribute to my creative menace. Probably the biggest thing family wise thats happened in that time, or any other time in my life is I finally found my father. I’m very very different to my other siblings and it was always a case of ‘am I crazy, why am I so different’? At 35 I finally found him and am eternally grateful for the brief time we had together before he suddenly passed away during what was meant be a routine day surgery only three years after we met. That brief moment in time taught me more about myself than any other period. I think it was the worlds longest nature versus nurture experiment: on day one we were finishing each others sentences, he was a brilliant artist in his own right, multiple time world ice carving champion, and in his later years a brilliant oil painter. He was also an entrepreneur, constantly having new ideas and charging at them with the same manic drive as myself. Only months before his death, he was working on patents for a painters desk and developing a website to connect and educate artists worldwide. I would have loved to have finished those projects for him, but I’m just not ready to work at that scale just yet. In short, we were the same soul in two different bodies, and a result any self doubt is now non existent.
If you had a chance to speak to your younger self, what words of “wisdom” would you give, and would that person in fact listen?
I would tell myself to be less reactive, I’d tell myself to drink less, I’d tell myself to listen to my partner and not blow all my relationships by being a jerk, I’d tell myself to focus on the things I do have rather than those I don’t, I’d remind myself that success is not measured in dollars and possessions but rather a rich tapestry of different experiences, I’d tell myself not to associate with the 99% of humans who would disagree with that, I’d tell myself to buy a shit tonne of bitcoin. No, that guy was a different person to the man I am now, he most definitely wouldn’t have listened, he would have told me to go fuck myself.
XUFUX is Rudolph Herdiman aka ELECTROFUX (name as a musician) Indonesian born who lived in Bali and moved to Melbourne 3 years ago. It’s taken from the FUX of ELECTRO but I found it too vulgar; and if I google FUX it’ll go to a porn site so I reversed the word to XUF. I tried to put my ig name to @XUF but there’s some Asian chick who already uses the name, so @XUFUX became my instagram. I started art since being a kid, but I thought I was just so so. It didn’t stop me from creating stuff like making a legit flying cardboard plane from an adidas sneaker box to doodling Eddie, Iron Maidens mascots on my backpack because I couldn’t afford an Iron Maiden patch.
your work seems to be a contrast (or merge) of traditional and pop culture with an underlying theme of dance. has this been a predetermined style or one that evolved to where it is now.
I tried stencil 2007, again it’s just so so because I don’t know the technique to do until I met Quin, a street artist from Jakarta, a good mate. Quint showed me how to photoshop a design and what to print. I became a stencil artist overnight. I kept on making and pasting my work in the streets of Bali for 8 months. I was broke as fuck for doing stencil; sometimes I would skip a meal to get few more spray cans, until one day I got a call from a friend asking me to come to this restaurant call La Favela. It was still under renovation. Turns out I was pasting my art next to the owner’s villa wall, he offered me to be the art director. With no background of an art director, I delivered it perfectly and it became one of the best clubs in Bali.
I have a lot of style when I learn to make a design, there are so many good stencil artist nowadays. I try to blend anything that you might not see in real life. I love the posture of a dancer and blending pop icons dancing in a ethnic dance. but some of my stencil are patterns or optical illusions cuts and sprayed. I have so many designs sometimes I post it on ig before i start doing it because sometimes when you are thinking of a design suddenly I’ll see someone has done the same design that I thought was mine, even though I have never met the person. Now, ever since I moved to Melbourne and the pandemic struck, I rarely do art plus I have a son and I’m primary carer so I’ll be back at it again.
what draws you to the streets?
The street is a big canvas,.. and in all walks of life I will noticed a good art or a well written words. It’s the biggest gallery. Artists don’t get paid but the joy is when your work is in someone else’s camera or on an ig or fb post. I’m not good at marketing myself, so I don’t do gallery exhibition much. I always have negative thoughts about myself, in the back of my head I always have this voice saying “who the fuck will buy your art?” … so I just stick it to the streets.
you are also a musician. is there ever a clash between art and music or does one inspire the other creatively speaking
I’ve always loved music and art but I chose to be a musicians before I was a street artist. I have been playing music for 20 years, but I started to get sick of the night life,..at the start people just wanted music to dance to but then people started to know more about genres, so they started requesting music and that’s where things changed for me. It wasn’t fun anymore to DJ because people were asking for Mariah Carey in a techno beat. So I gave up with humans on the dance floor.
what has been one the highlights for you thus far
My highlights go back to when I worked for La Favela where I helped to design another two restaurants which made it into the Top 10 restaurants and clubs in Bali.
And my life changes after I met Cara Delevingne in the club I work in. At first I didn’t even realise it was Cara. We had cool conversations and I invited her to come to my studio. Even then, I still didn’t know who she was and that surprised her. She took a lot of photos. She is really down to earth, very very humble so I never thought she was a celebrity. After hours of hanging out, she left for a photoshoot. The very next day: i will never forget this for the rest of my life.. she posted and mentioned me on her instagram on Valentine’s day.
all images and content are by janie d photography (aka the incidental photographer) and artworks by the artist @xufux are subject to copyright and may not be reproduced without express permission
So much has changed since our last conversation. Give us a little update on what’s new in the world of Will Coles.
I moved with my wife to southern Spain to get into Europe. Spain’s got some great cities for Street Art, like Valencia & Barcelona. I had to get over here to challenge myself, push myself, see more art. Once there I got to put up work in Italy, France, the UK & Germany. Hamburg clicked for me, I’ve met some great people that have become great mates.
Your works swing between political commentary and pop culture jest. With information overload now so freely available, is there a limit as to how much focus can be given to any one subject or do you simply allow the creative flow take you where it may.
I try not to get stuck on one subject but it was difficult with Trump! I think I did three or four pieces about him, it wasn’t just about him or the Republicans it’s about that information overload that is leading to a death of democracy. When the right wing control all the media then it’s almost impossible to get a real left wing party in or even get a balance in reporting . It’s no exaggeration to say that Murdoch plays the greatest role in deciding who leads the US, UK & Australia. Other times I try to do fun stuff but that’s not so easy for me, it’s so easy to do throwaway junk rather than something with a little more substance. I want my work to be confrontational, like the head of Franco I did not long after I got here. He ended up getting a lot of good publicity in Barcelona, the old hatred of Franco’s regime runs deep still there.
As you are now literally in what could be deemed as one of the leading international arts hub, why is this place such a drawcard for people such as yourself.
Everyone wants to check out London, Paris, & Berlin. It’s better to take your time. Everywhere has graff but you’ll find more Street Art in Lyon than Paris, in Hamburg than in Berlin, in Bristol than London. There’s also more acceptance of Street Art, or Urban Art as it’s more basically known, in Europe than in Sydney, Europe has much more in common with Melbourne in that sense. Places like Hamburg have about four or five galleries that specialise in Street/Urban Art. It gets respect there. Last time I looked up Sydney it still has none. Years ago I met a curator from the AGNSW & they told me it was better not to do Street Art as they don’t take it seriously (ironic considering Keith Hearing did a mural in their foyer in 1984!) The MCA has made a point of ignoring this art movement too. Sydney is way behind the rest of the world.
Human nature can be at best, trying, informative, uplifting and predictably disappointing. In your mind, how do cultural differences permeate the subconscious and is there a point where you simply have to stop, take a breath, reset and resume.
It’s kind of difficult at the moment. We should be dealing with climate change but a massive amount of people are still too selfish & dumb to even wear a mask or take a vaccine to stop a pandemic. The anti-science movement couldn’t have been predicted, if you’d told people in the 1950’s what people were like now it would sound like a shit sci-fi story. There are great people, great organisations & individuals, but there are huge faceless masses of fuckwits that are so easily lead by politicians & certain media whose only interest is increasing their own wealth at the expense of everyone else. I only did one covid related piece because so many of my experiences of dealing with people was often so negative. I’m just glad Spanish health care is so good & that the government was brave enough to do a total shut down right at the beginning – people before profit, as opposed to Binchicken who just does what the extremists of her party tell her to.
It’s best to just go to my local café, next to some huge mountains, slowly get drunk on ice cold beer, cognac & whisky (it’s so fuckn cheap here), watch the world go by, talk to friends or friendly people. It recharges the positivity, that’s where ideas can grow.
Longevity has always been one of the drawcards for streetart hunters/photographers: evoking a certain whimsy when stumbling across pieces that have been in place for an impressive amount of time. On a personal level, how does that impact you as not just an artist, but an individual.
It’s weird seeing so much stuff of mine that has survived 8, 10, even 15 years. The whole point of my stuff is it’s meant to age but rarely actually gets the chance to.
It’s tough for some people, they get demoralised by having their work constantly capped by vindictive fuckwits, or they’ve got a family they have to get a serious job for & don’t have time for their art any more. There are people out there that have been getting up for a decade or more, doing illegal pieces for no money. Here I see graff artists that will travel literally several hundred kms along the motorways or train lines to do pieces or throw-ups. Those are the champions of art.
As always, it has been absolute pleasure catching up with Will and The Incidental Photographer thanks him for taking the time to be part of her world albeit for a small moment.
When and how did the world of Apeseven begin, including the tag name
It started around 2002 while backpacking/camping around Europe mainly. I was so blown away with the calibre of graffiti and street-art there I knew instantly that I wanted it to be part of my life.
Your style is incredibly distinctive. Do you like to stick with the familiar, or thrive when extending yourself in to unchartered territories
The fact that I am not a commercial artist means I get to explore, grow and evolve my works in ways that are challenging to me. Having said that, a few group shows are coming up and making me go in directions away from pop-surreal.
Is there a relief of sorts when it comes to street: free style, no rules, no boundaries or are commissions more of a comfort zone with the rigid timetables and requirements from thems who pay money
I find street and gallery work both enjoyable. I do not do commissions, I paint what I want to pain and so far have been lucky enough that people appreciate what I do and part with their hard earned money.
What has been your biggest challenge/installation to date
Biggest challenge was an animated short I made a couple of years ago…super fun but super long project at the time. It payed off and I got great satisfaction from the process….now I just laugh at it. Biggest installation has definitely been a wall I painted recently in Sydney: 22m x 4.5m.
Where does the world of Apeseven see itself in say “seven” years
Doing exactly what I do now…exploring light, surfaces, ideas and showing people my journey.
When I first started to trapse around the Inner West in my quest for streetart, I noticed the most peculiar yet incredibly fascinating paste up of what appeared to be a dog screaming like a banshee. As I continued my street pounding, this image kept coming back to me and I pondered over it (almost to the point of obsession) wondering what type of person had the creativity within to produce such a piece.
What is the genesis behind your streetname?
The name sprung from the act of pulling pictures apart. Dismembering them in a sense. I wanted a name that was a visceral word to match the violent nature of my work. I liked the idea of combining a feminine title with a very masculine word. I toyed with other names, like MzMorph or Jackie the Ripperette, but they lacked the punch of the word “Dismember”
Who or what inspires your creativity?
Music plays a role, specifically electronic music, which I think is assemblage music. Power electronics for the most part. I like the formless grubby nature of artists like Brighter Death Now & Whitehouse. I love the work of Francis Bacon, Chet Zar, Gottfried Helnwein, Chris Mars & Suzan Blac to name a few. I’m not sure they influence my art directly but I do think they inspire my need to create images. True crime docos, industrial textures, David Lynch films. Life in general.
Your images are quite complex, at times confronting, yet hauntingly beautiful. Can you explain the process of achieving these images?
I usually go through loads of magazines to find a face that grabs me. Something like the texture of the skin or the way the mouth is open to expose teeth.
Old photography magazines are a definite favourite. I never have a set idea of how a portrait will look. It’s always a surprise to see the end result.From the first snip to the last cut: it’s a mystery. I honestly don’t know where it comes from.
You do have a day job because obviously the rent needs to be paid. How frustrating does this become & does it interfere with your creativity?
Works supports my art habit I suppose. I find work take a lot of energy, dealing with the public, the commute etc. So the biggest problem would be fatigue.
I do get the best ideas from the ennui of work, but when I get home it is hard to get the scissors and glue out. But as I said, it supports my art habit.
How would you describe your art in 5 words
Image, scalpel, scissors, glue, paste-up (I’ll leave the rest up to the observer of my images)
all images and content is subject to copyright by janie d photography (aka the incidental photographer) and may not be reproduced without express permission. all artworks are subject to copy right by the artist Damedismember and may not be reproduced without express permission. all artworks are subject to copy right by the artist Damedismember