We have been watching Askew’s recent work and noticed a clear change in direction aesthetically. We decided it was a good time to reach out once again and ask him a couple questions about his new work. Here are some older images and recent images that he references below in our conversation.
GF: So its been over a year and a half since we first talked and had our conversation about style. Looking back at the work you were painting then and comparing it to the new style and direction you are taking, how would you describe that transition and the new work.
ASKEW: Yes, it’s been a huge year for me. Art wise I’ve really come into a new phase which is really just the culmination of I guess my whole career so far. If you were to look at the last few paintings of mine and stick them next to a single painting from any distinct stage, like a netch or a diamondism for example, it does look like a huge departure. If you arranged all my visible stages of work together – right back to my early childhood drawings which were influenced by comic books, looked at the various illustrative techniques in the elements around in and around my pieces, the vapor trails piece, my illustrative type pieces, the Netch, Diamondism plus the integration of thickly applied bucket paint over the past 2 years, well you kinda get more of a sense that I’ve come into my own rather than just changed to something new. A lot of this has to do with me finally finding peace with my studio work and processes and additionally working out how to bring more cohesion between those and my outdoor works. Through the long blog posts I was writing the last few years I got to really analyze my journey, my voice and reoccurring themes in my work and so what I’m doing now is very focused thematically in line with those topics. This feels great. It means that I’m no longer just concerned with the shapes of letters and the aesthetic treatment – I also have a voice now, I’m saying something. My last trip to the US was a pivotal turning point. The drive across the US with Revok, Zes and Augor – the time in Detroit, the residency in Miami and final week in LA really allowed me to gain a lot of perspective. Also my work situation and support network is really geared towards me painting about 70% of my time these days so I’m just developing a lot… A tough but rewarding year.
GF: I think you bring up some key points. One of which is hearing you talk about your voice and personal relationship to your work. As many of us graffiti artists know our culture can at times lead us to work within certain confines. When we are able to step outside of these boundaries when enlightened with a new idea or direction I have seen some of the best work being created, much like yourself. The second great point is your referencing the studio work being a key to your outdoor walls. This has been a common theme for alot of artists trying to find ways to cohesively bridge this divide. It seems like the lines are becoming blurred more and more from what is canvas or studio work to what is considered a Piece or a Mural. As we enter 2012 do you have any predictions for what might be ahead? Also as you yourself evolve into new directions, what advice do you have for artists out there facing some of the same issues you have dealt with during this transition.
ASKEW: I think the biggest problem with finding comfort with my studio work has been my battle with my own self doubt. There’s this invisible line drawn between what’s ‘art’ and what’s ‘graffiti’ that is kind of funny when you think about it. Wrestling with mediums and processes that gel between the two platforms is definitely a struggle a lot of my peers experience. I think the turning point for me personally is when looking across my various works and ideas knowing there’s a strength in the original idea – sometimes if not most of the time the most honest things come quite immediately. The other consideration when wanting to show my work in settings aside from outdoors or the Internet like perhaps in credible galleries for example, is how to really maximize everything you do so it all counts towards one cohesive body. When there’s a total separation between your art and graffiti identities you obviously split the impact in half or you may only proliferate in one aspect.
Generally speaking I’ve seen a huge awakening amongst my peers internationally, the development of ideas, how people rationalize, discuss and document their work has evolved so much. I think this the vital proponent in pushing the art forward. Aesthetically I can’t speak on where style will go – likely a continuation of the same trends: stylized letter shapes with various treatments. Whether the messages will develop is more where my interest is right now. I want to see people really express their world view and individual point of difference.