Nick Walker Interview
How did you first become involved in Art? What were your original inspirations?
I got the bug back at the beginning of the 80’s.. Snippets from music videos like Blondie’s Rapture – Malcom Mclarens Buffalo Girls and Hip Hop History which was an Arena special on BBBC2 way back when….I must of watched it a thousand times.
One of the biggest influences and turning points was seeing the graffiti artist outlining the Buffalo Gals lettering throughout the video – it was spot on – clean accurate outlines – blew me away..I got a feeling it was Dondi..
Tell me about Apishangel, what its about and the philosphy?
The name Apish Angel is inspired from learning about the Bion 11 & 12 space experiments which intended to study the effects of micro gravity and space radiation on monkeys.
It was also about creating an identity which resembled a simian arch angel – but also reflected what I was into as an artist. The philosophy is simple - treat people how you would like to be treated and never rest on your laurels. The saying about only ever being as good as your last album is true – this is true with most things – paintings-prints – your last show. The key is to never stop looking for inspiration or thinking of new ideas..sometimes it’s not easy..
Your newest works were seen at this years Nuart festival, tell me about the creative process behind this?
Before going out there I’d been working on my Rapunzel re-work for about two weeks and then spent another week cutting the thing. It’s a pretty site specific piece and Martyn Reed the organiser of Nuart & Nu music had found me a great spot for the piece – a glass lift tower on the side of one of the cities main music venues. The first piece I created was a painting called the ‘Morning After’ – I had my original stencil painting projected onto the museum wall and then got busy with a paint brush for a change. It was a well needed session as I’d been sat in front of the computer for far too long manipulating colour images of cities into black & white which takes forever.. Nuart is a great Spring board for artists and is getting more recognition each year so it’s important to produuce something that hopefully people will remember. A wise man once told me “ Failing to prepare is preparing to fail”.
Often artists are grouped within Street Culture, because of the link between art and streetwear, I’m always interested to know if artists have an interest in Streetwear at all?
Yeah totally for me it’s something that dates back to goose jackets – Lee jeans that used to sit nicely on your fat laces of your Adidas Centuries –the ones with the white stripes.
Back in the 80’s it was all about who was going over to New York next to get the belt buckle and sneakers from Canal Street…. That was just me though. Nowadays I’m still a bit of a T-shirt merchant and have unhealthy appetite for Puma Clydes & Suedes..
You’ve worked on numerous projects over the years with different artists and companies, what have been some of your favourites?
Kangol - that was a Rock’n’Roll moment – I’d been wearing their hats since I was a kid so when they asked me to design a hat for them I was properly made up!
I’ve fairly recently designed a series of six snow boards for Option all based on my Apish Angel imagery – never been snow boarding though….
And who would you still like to work with?
Boeing …but I also still want that job working for George Lucas but the trilogy is all but done now. I nearly had a job in the Star Wars art department years ago but it fell through as did my world at the very same time..
What other modern artists do you admire?
Warhol – Jose Parla – Moebius
You mentioned you were strongly influenced by people like Dondi, what do you think are the main differences in Graffiti from the US to Europe?
I find New York graffiti still has it’s old school roots about it which I love but in Europe it’s become a lot more wigged out with people bringing more quirky styles to the table.
You’ve only got to check Wooster to see the wide range of styles that are cropping up. Some of the German artists especially the photo realist guys have got their own thing going on-some of the work out there is nuts..
What do you see as the biggest changes in Street Culture, in recent years, or since you first became involved, whether that be Art, Streetwear or…?
People have embraced street culture all over the world whether they know it or not. I remember seeing for the first time an old lady wearing a pair of shell toes and thinking… Damn, shits getting out of control. In the 80’s that would have been a cartoon sketch in one of my black books. The advertising industry got hold of it and have subsequently used elements of street culture on almost everything possible – cars-phones-banks- i-pods you name it so eventually it just becomes the norm..
Graffitti used to be an underground movement with a lot more of the myth surrounding it. You had to go out and search for it and those involved. These days it’s a world wide phenomenon with big media attention and this has engaged artists who may of never taken that route and maybe stuck to graphic design.
Are there any young artists coming through in the UK we should be keeping an eye out for?
O TWO – I think his style is developing at a rate of knotts..
Thanks to Nick Walker for his time and use of imagery. More from Nick here at Slam X Hype soon. Stay tuned.