Meggs has gone far in the last few years, real far, like the accelerated growth of a war clone, distinguishing himself through his profound understanding of movement and color, superimposed with Saturday morning cartoon and comic hero’s.
“Own wost enemy” is launching tonight at Don’t Come Gallery and will be on show until the 11th of October.
In a lead up to tonight’s launch, we caught up with Meggs to talk about his latest work and influences.
What were your favorite comics and cartoons when you were a kid?
With comics I got into phantom mostly because my Dad was into them when he was younger, even though when I was kid the Phantom was considered kinda lame and old-fashioned. For some reason though I really dug it and got a decent collection together and my dads friend gave me a stack of older editions from the early 70’s.
I guess batman would come close second, although I didn’t really collect that many comics, I did watch a lot of the original TV show. My favorite cartoons were He-man, Transformers, Battle of the Planets, Voltron and Ulysses 31 although I could probably go on for a while. I have to say that Star Wars was probably one of the biggest influences on my childhood for sure.
Oh yeah the Ninja turtles too. Although I was a little bit older when the cartoon came out but the darker comics were pretty sick. I collected some of the figurines, which I still have.
What was it that pulled you into the Street art and introduced you to the artists that eventually became the Everfresh crew?
My introduction to the Melbourne ‘Stencil Revolution’ was through fellow artist Meek in 2003, he just got back from living in London and exposed me to the stencil stuff that was going on there, as this was the beginnings of the Banksy phenomenon I guess. I was in a place where commercial design work was getting me down and hitting up some stencils reignited my love for graffiti and street art and I just got right into it. It was the same time that dudes like Ha-Ha, Sync, Sixten and Dlux (to name a few) were working hard so I guess naturally I was attracted to the vibe and skills of the Blender crew.
Stencilrevolution.com and events like Empty shows and DIY exhibitions helped me to meet-up with most of the street art crew who were into it at this time. Plus good blender parties!
Do you see any similarities to the energy that was going on back then and the sort of energy that emerging street artists in Melbourne have now?
There are still some similarities to that original energy I guess, although its probably more common with younger crew who are getting together and I’d consider ourselves as part of an older group now, who have formed a pretty good network already. For me there was certainly a time from say 2002 where there was a lot of people doing stencils and stuff and a kind of new and excited buzz about the whole scene, whereas it has slowed down now and people have matured into their own styles and specific collectives like Everfresh, Blender and Mitten Fortress have come out of it. It’s still cool to meet new artists that will come to our attention on the street or overseas crew who can come and visit Everfresh as a place to meet and work together.
Your new style seemed to develop rapidly over the last year, was it conscious?
It was kind of gradual; I do make a lot of visual decisions in my head so tend to progress into a style quickly when I’m feeling it starts to work for me. The beginnings of my stencil work had been really clean and controlled and I wanted to be more expressive as I love abstract expressionism and pop art. It was more a process of me having confidence in my abilities and experimenting. I wanted to break out of the controlled stencil form and was starting to hone my skills at freestyle characters so felt better about using a can and brush for free line work and textures. I just started doing some pieces that were half stencil, half freehand and my sharp edge cutback style could be pushed further with little foam chisels and more detailed acrylic textures. I’m not sure when it clicked but I realized that was a unique direction I wanted to follow and felt really right and expressive for me.
“Mission in life” selling at the Artcurial Comic Auction in April must of been a moral booster for you.
A totally unexpected bonus. It was auctioned by Flemish collector Marc Jallon and I didn’t know much about it until he brought in the catalogue for me and it was like a hard bound 250 page book with a full page on my painting. I was a boost of confidence and a sign that it can depend on the context of the art as much as the quality.
Now that its reaching completion, do you feel that your upcoming show, “Own Worst Enemy” exhibits any specific development in your style, or some kind of message about your art that you weren’t aware of before you started it?
I feel that ‘Own Worst Enemy’ is a defining moment for me, where I’m now more confident and enthused about my current painting style. It was kind of born with my first show ‘Alter egotism’ but now I’ve reached a point where it feels really right and personal for me. Its like I’ve clarified what direction I want my art to progress in and it has become a satisfying culmination of all my previous work and the different styles etc I’ve worked in.
The message for me has probably become a bit more personal as I develop, when I paint its partly a cathartic release of things that are on my mind. Preparing for this show has helped me to clarify a few things actually and be a lot more focused about my work and life in general.
How many pieces are in the show and what sort of installations and other wackiness are you putting in the space.
I’m still finalizing the final cut, but they’ll be 6 large canvas paintings, a set of four pieces on gloss coated wood, a collection of small pieces on wood and some screen prints. The installation wackiness includes a mural and over 100 He-Man statuettes.
What’s it like working from within Everfresh studio, how has the place influenced your artwork. Distractions verses inspiration.
Ha, yeah its appropriate to say ‘distractions vs inspiration’. Working in the Everfresh space has definitely had a lot of positive influence and learning opportunities for me over time and there is a competitive edge, which keeps us all moving. Its good to have people working around you to help motivation although sometimes the lack of personal space or other dudes using your shit! can be frustrating. I have to give personal props here to Rone though who’s helped me out a lot in getting my show together and generally sorts out a lot of stuff that goes on in here. Overall its awesome to have an art studio, outside area, screen-printing setup, computer room and bike workshop all under the one roof. We have a good communal vibe here too.
In November you’ll be doing a live painting show along side SheOne, what sort of technique are you going to use for live painting? A combination of stencils and freehand.
Should be awesome, I remember seeing SheOnes work in ‘Scrawl’ years ago and thinking it was dope. I would like to talk with him and yourself to sort out how we are gonna do the show, but I’m thinking I’ll use part of a stencil basis and then freehand most of it. Probably try to keep it minimal and monotone so we mesh our style effectively. Looking forward to this one.
Are you getting used to live painting? Still nervous?
Yeah still nervous, I don’t think I’ll ever not be nervous before a solo show or live painting event. But I’m getting better at it. I think after doing it a couple of times I have to remind myself to be confident in my ability and have a good time with it. I have a love/hate relationship with being the focus of attention. My paintings can be pretty loud and full on but I’m usually more reserved and quiet, unless I’ve had several too many jagermeisters that is!
“Own worst enemy” launches tonight and runs until the 11th of October at Don’t Come Gallery, Royal Arcade, Melbourne.
Meggs will be live painting with SheOne at 456 Queen Street Melbourne on Saturday the 8th of November. The night after the No Comply launch. For more information click here.