TNC Archive 2016
Vents137 & Miha Kosmac
Originally published in 2016
Vents137 is an illustrator and aerosol artist who's work explores the rich history of his decade and a half involvement with the graffiti culture. From his early beginnings photographing trains with his father, to his obsession with 1960′s and 70′s comic illustration. We spoke with Vents137 ahead of the exhibition to talk about his work and what we can expect from the new show.
Hi Vents137 thanks for talking to The New Current, how's it going?
Hi, thanks it's good, busy, busy in the studio, but this is a nice excuse to take a coffee break and do something other than procrastinate on instagram.
Your new exhibition opens in February do you ever get any nerves before a new show?
Not especially, to be honest I relish the opportunity for new shows. Working to a deadline makes me focus a little more. I'm quite lax when it comes to producing painted pieces without a set date. I tend to spend all my time sketching on paper, or just out painting street pieces. It takes an upcoming exhibition to make me really get into the studio and fully develop those thoughts into finished works, I guess I should have a couple of black-book exhibitions too...
What does it mean for you to be be able to bring The Wanderers to Proof Gallery?
I'm really excited for this show, both for the work and as it's the first time I've had a chance to exhibit at the new gallery. I know the guys there really well and they're doing great things, so this is our (Miha and I) chance to show that we appreciate the support and can deliver interesting and unique new pieces.
This is going to be a two man solo exhibition with Miha Kosmac how does to feel to be able to share the space with another great and respected artist?
Like I said, I'm really excited for this show. Miha is a great artist with a serious talent. I'm a big fan of both his gallery and street work and the fact that he has such a strong passion for trains which shows through in his pieces, it couldn't have worked out better for us to have a show together!
Tell me a little bit about The Wanderers, how did it all come about?
When we were discussing the title for the show we knew it was going to be based primarily on trains and Miha suggested the name. The title immediately reminded me of the song by Dion - 'The Wanderer' which was used in Seen's part in the classic 'Style Wars' documentary, Miha's exact reasoning for the title! The quintessential train graffiti movie and I guess a reference point (dare I say visual-Bible) for us!
"As an artist you'll never be completely happy with a piece, that's what keeps us going, that eternal strive for perfection that ultimately we know we'll never reach."
What was the inspiration behind your new work?
My new works for this show are focussing on my heritage, I've selected specific trains and their liveries based on local lines, both past and present. These elements are mixed with cartoon characters adding playfulness but also an underlying mischievous facet representing both my inner child and graffiti writer.
How did it feel seeing it all come together?
At the moment we are both still getting busy in the studio, so I'm feeling confident that come the day we'll have a unique body of work to show. It's quite difficult to work together on studio pieces in preparation for the show as we live in different cities, but the week before the show when we hang everything and set the gallery, seeing it all as a unified entity, is what makes it all worthwhile.
Does it ever get easier to hand over your work to audiences?
I never really look at it in that way, I produce my work for myself, each piece being a visual representation of my experiences and thoughts. A chance to push myself and explore new avenues and techniques. If people like what I do that's fantastic, but I'd still paint it either way. I think that writing graffiti for 17 years has helped me look at producing work in a different way, it can be viewed by a multitude of people and yet each interpreted in differently, some people may love it and others loathe it, that's the beauty of art!
Looking back would there be anything you would do differently going into this exhibition?
I'd perhaps give myself a little more time to prepare, the opening date was only really finalised at the end of last year. Whilst I like working to a deadline, there's always nuances in the creative process which mean a finished canvas may deviate from the original plan. I can't allow my brain to run too wild or I'll go so far off on a tangent that I run out of time to complete the pieces I first set out to do.
Had you always wanted to be an artist?
I was constantly drawing from the moment I could hold a crayon, but I always wanted to be an architect, my childhood hero was Isambard Kingdom Brunel, strange I know, maybe I was a weird kid... My maths was ok but my physics let me down so I ended up doing Interior Design. It wasn't until I went to uni and hung out with illustrators and other graffiti writers that I started to focus more on that side of things. Then again, 15 years ago, being a professional graffiti artist wasn't really a career choice...
What does VENTS137 stand for?
When I got in to graffiti in the late 90's everyone in my area seemed to have 5 letter tags, usually with a 'Z' instead of an 'S' at the end. I just sat down with a black book and started writing joined up letters on pages, trying to see what letters flowed into the next the best... The Ventz part was pretty much trial and error, it was the letters I was most happy with. The 137 was the last 3 digits of my house phone number growing up. Cliched or not, I'd read about taki183 in subway art and how the New York kids would put their street number at the end of their tags, being from the UK we don't have street numbers so that was the next best thing...
What was it about art that first appealed to you?
As a child I don't think I could pin point a specific starting point but I used to read comics and watch a lot of cartoons and just drew what I saw, I guess I never imagined that in my mid thirties I'd be still drawing those cartoons...
How much has graffiti culture inspired your work?
To be honest probably 99% of my work inspired through experiences and friendships made through graffiti. The more detailed or perspective elements in my work are from an educational background of illustration and technical drawing but the themes and visuals represented are most definitely from graffiti, there's no escaping that really.
What has been the best advice that you've been given?
Is this the bit where I reel of some profound quote from years ago...To be honest I'm not sure, all my friends are artists and they constantly push me to do more and create more, admittedly mostly through criticism and abuse, but they all have the same view, work hard and never give up!
Do you have any advice that you'd offer an emerging artist?
Probably what I said just there, no one is going to hand you an art career, so just keep working hard and pushing forward with what you are doing. As an artist you'll never be completely happy with a piece, that's what keeps us going, that eternal strive for perfection that ultimately we know we'll never reach. Just have fun along the way and learn from the mistakes in each piece to better the next.
And finally what do you hope people will take from the exhibition?
I want the viewer to be able to have a glimpse in to my persona, to see the things that inspire me and the things I feel so passionately about. Maybe to reminisce about train journeys as a child, to get back that youthful, 'face pressed against the window' feeling that as adults we just dismiss.