Tearing a finer shade of gobsmacking into some seriously stunning walls, Australian born, Glasgow based artist Smug is a man on absolute fire. Harnessing phenomenal can control into outrageously well defined characters bursting with life, love, laughter, rippling pathos and an electro magnetic radiance, his jaw dropping photo realism has hit a new gear of total awesomeness. Real rockets through hints of surreal, rips up some bad boy biznizz on the fly, ram raids science fiction into a concrete star system, skids into a grinning wink and lovingly slides down liquid sensuality on the shadowy curve back into the human form. From the richly animated to the nano weighted his precision characters and devilishly honed visual spaces take on a gloriously unpredictable whirl of subjects, all impeccably finished to hypnotic standards of funky excellence...
How did you initially start out in Australia
I originally started out by skating and hanging out on the streets at night with a group of mates just being kids and writing our names on walls and listening to Hip Hop. Graffiti was very much a part of that culture, so it all came together. I was living in a very small town at the time with only really 3 other graffiti artists so we pretty much had to build our own little scene ourselves with influences coming more from magazines and then the internet than other artists. The longer we painted we started travelling to the nearest city, Wollongong, which actually had a quite a strong scene with people doing work that even to this day I would stop at and think – wow - what an amazing wall. Crisp and clean, amazing letters, and full on productions with backgrounds and characters, so that was a heavy inspiration to me. But the scene there now doesn’t seem to be as strong – it’s much more about bombing today, but at the time, there was so much mind blowing stuff going on that it gave me a big, big push.
Was it always Smug – obviously it’s got connotations – how did that name stick
Mate – I have no clue. Everyone’s got these funny stories about how they got their name, and I simply don’t remember –probably found it in a dictionary or something. I had a number of tags in the first few years of painting. Unfortunately it was SMUG that stuck…
How did you start developing into characters and more figurative stuff
Well for the first couple of years it was just bombing – no dubs or throw ups or anything like that – just dedicated tagging without even having picked up a spray can. But as soon as I got the can in my hand, I started to really become part of the local scene and my development started to accelerate as I began doing my letters almost straight away. It was a natural progression from tags into throw ups and on into Wild Style pieces, but I’d always had this feeling for characters. Even as a kid back in school, I’d be the one spending 3 days drawing up the title page for a my history book or something and so while I won’t say it came naturally to me years later – it was always there on some level. I was doing all the usual B Boy stuff and a lot of Manga when I first started out, but as I got better with my use of the can and continued evolving past that cartoony feel, it just took on its own momentum. At first it was just flat colour with a bold outline, and then I’d start cutting back that outline and making it perfect - then blending my colours and moving up and up and up, continually challenging myself. Even to this day, I think that photo realism is the hardest thing for me technically – letters are tough too because I’m never completely happy with the outlines, but every single time I do photo realism, it’s seriously challenging but then, I do love that drive to keep pushing myself.
READ THE FULL INTERVIEW LSD MAGAZINE ISSUE 8 (Free)
READ ALL BACK ISSUES
LSD MAGAZINE (FREE)
Click Me or Drink Me Now!