Meggs is a violent hit of spray-paint, a shock wave of colors, and an explosive result. And that’s not saying much, seeing the way in which he breaks the unestablished rules of graffiti, to the point of reconciling abstract, realism and consciousness. He creates a kind of harmony and flow between the different textures and the imagination found within his supersized artwork. It’s as though a balance has been established between pop and street-culture, and we can clearly see the authors’ emotions that have pushed him to travel the world. A modern day fight, which not only consists of inserting an artwork within an environment but also of delivering a powerful visual message. His talents led him to work and collaborate alongside some of the biggest brands such as Stüssy, Nike and New Balance. We asked a few questions to this unruly child of street art.
Jacker / I recognize your name was influenced by Jimmy Bancks, a pioneer in term of contemporary comics. What was the reason for this ?
Meggs / Jimmy Bancks created the iconic Australian character “Ginger Meggs”, who is a red-headed mischief maker kid, a representation of the beloved Australian “larrikan” nature, an anti-authoritarian symbol of rule-breaking for the right reasons. I owned several of these comics as a kid, and having red hair, it seemed a fitting nickname/street name to adopt when painting on the streets.
J / Where are you living and working nowadays ?
M / I’m currently living and working on the West Side of Los Angeles, USA.
J / It’s always hard to describe somebody’s own work as an artist, but at least, you might talk more about a guideline.
M / Essentially my work comes from a design and illustrative background, which is then combined with my love for the abstract. I’m on a constant search to find my own unique balance between form and abstraction. I like to combine elements of comic-style illustration, fine art, painting, abstract strokes and movement in a way thats like capturing a surreal moment in time. It implies a social message, in a very dynamic and expressive way. My work has always stemmed from the notion of duality, which is reflected in the form vs abstraction, but is also my search from answers as a personal struggle.
J / What has been your influences and inspirations ?
M / My influences and inspirations come from all over. Essentially in the beginning. I was very influenced by sci-fi, fantasy art and movies, comic books, graffiti art and cartoon artwork. That grew into more fine art influences from abstraction to portraiture and Renaissance art. It’s hard to name names as there are so many artists that have inspired me over the years.
J / When did you leave Australia for the first time because of your art ?
M / I travelled a lot on my own dime during the mid 2000’s, and painted in various places such as Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, London, Paris, Barcelona, which was purely street art and graffiti related - with no specific “work” purpose in mind, just travelling, meeting people and painting. I guess my first official “paid” painting trip outside of Oz, was to Singapore in 2008 to paint a collection of pieces for a nightclub.
J / What would you describe as your main motivation when you paint a wall or a canvas ?
M / My main motivation when painting walls to create a piece of work that I feel represents the culture and place the mural is in as well as imply an inspiring message. Murals are a way to contribute to community pride and spread the appreciation of art in a way thats free and for the people. My canvas/studio work is more personal in the way that I explore issues and ideas that matter to me and reflect the way I’m feeling and experiences and emotions I’m dealing with at the time. The two continually cross over and influence each other, whether it’s in the message or in the techniques. My studio work is now becoming even more an exploration of abstraction, which is something that will be coming out more in my murals from now on.
J / You are painting a lot for non-profit organizations, can you talk more about this with us ?
M / I’m a firm believer that art is a powerful tool which should contribute to positive change in our world. I work with organizations and people who are championing issues that I believe in, such as social justice and equality, sustainability and ocean preservation. For me its very rewarding to make work that helps a cause as well as beautifies our public space. They are somewhat one and the same, but I’m proud to paint a more specific message for a cause that I believe in.
J / We can see lot of pop culture, animals, nature and cultural issues in your artworks. What’s the meaning and philosophy behind this mixture ?
M / The mixture of elements in my work represents all the influences, issues and natural beauty that inspires me to make art. I’m very much a pop-culture influence person, growing up suburbs and the city. But I have always had a love of nature, the ocean and animals. Originally my art was much more pop-culture driven and more self-reflective, but as I get older I found theres certain social and environmental issues that are more important to me, and I can see my work more as a way to hopefully contribute to positive change and inspire others to do so.
J / Have you ever been a vandal graffiti writer ? Any story to tell us if so ?
M / I come from a street art and design background, was never a “graffiti writer” but I had to put up a lot of illegal work over the years. From stickers to tags, paste-ups/postering, throw-up characters, graffiti characters (and some pieces), roller pieces to larger murals. My time in the Australian collective, Everfresh, exposed and influenced me to put up work in a variety of techniques and style, which much of the afortementioned is technically considered vandalism. Essentially it’s been a journey of experimenting with different elements of street art and graffiti to develop and find my own voice as an artist. I have a bunch of stories which involve dodging police, being arrested in Tokyo, running from spots, exploring abandoned and weird places, meeting crazy people, crazy parties and so on, which I won’t elaborate on here just yet.
J / What do you consider as your masterwork ?
M / Thats a tough question, because with murals, I feel I’m always improving in some way. My largest mural to date (6000sq feet) is the “Rise Up” tiger mural in Detroit. Which I’m still really proud of for its size and execution and that it was painted unpaid, with assistance from local crew who are passionate about bringing life and positive change to their city. I am very interested in the progression of self-sustainability and community over profit driven industry, which is why I feel inspired by the potential of Detroiters and a city which has lived through the highs and lows of American capitalist culture.
J / Last word to our readers ?
M / Question the status quo. I read somewhere that the role of an artist is to “Disturb the Peace” which resonated with me, as the means that which art has the power to present social and environmental issues and inspire people to make change.