Interview With Skulk

Skulk navigates street and studio, exploring movement, traditional cartoon images and the art of a finely pressed skateboard.

With a fine art degree and active profile in street art, your practice is really diverse. How would you describe the relationship between the street and the studio?
For me, the street is a reactionary place: it moves and moulds ideas, so you work quickly, and often push yourself to explore new things on the endlessly changing canvas.

The studio, or gallery, is the direct opposite. Although there is plenty of energy in my studio work, the environment is one of study and contemplation. The canvas is restricted, and ideas are refined, so the push and pull of ideas occurs at a more focused pace.

The relationship between street and studio is the art itself.

I understand that you are now making and screen printing your own skateboards!? 
Yes! It’s quite an epic undertaking, but I have hand-built my own hydraulic skateboard press from steel and concrete. I have started Inner West Pressed, a small business specalising in hand-crafted skateboards; each with a silkscreened graphic transferred directly onto the board.

Making my own equipment has given me an edge in the market, as I am currently the only person in Sydney pressing, shaping and printing boards in this way. Each board is unique, hand-made, locally pressed and made from highest quality Canadian Maple.

How did you get into screen-printing?
I studied Printmedia at Sydney College of the Arts, and found screen-printing to be of the most interest to me at that time.

What is the most inspiring place you’ve ever visited?
I clearly remember visiting the Saatchi Gallery in London. It is just so massive. The walls and rooms of the gallery are huge – at least 20 metres high. I’ve never seen such large-scale artworks, or truly grand paintings. That’s the size I want to work in

What is the first piece of art you remember making?
Lots of Star Wars and dragon-ball Z… I was the kid who could draw, so I drew stuff for other people, mostly other kids at school.

There are many references to motion – specifically, the idea of the figure in motion – that find their way into your work. What motivates this decision?
The fluid, fun and wacky style of characters from early animation allow for versatile transformation and motion. The characters are often hopping, walking or rolling along in very over-the-top gestures and rhythmic movements. This play with the figure and line comes directly into my work.

The appearance of these qualities in my work is quite natural. Comics, cartoons and characters were part of my life from an early age because my mother was a cell-animator. She was always hand-painting traditional animation sequence. British comics such as ‘The Beano’ and ‘Dandy’ were a staple diet as a kid. Traditional animations always trumped The Simpsons in mum’s book!

What has prompted you to explore abstraction in your recent work?
I had grown uninspired by the direct and literal nature of images in my work (i.e. a man, in a field, with a bowl). The closed notions of this kind of work frustrated me. I wanted freedom to explore new ideas in a fluid way, and allow for a more reactionary process when creating.

One way I did this was modelling with clay. Being able to explore ideas in 3D changed my perspective greatly and led me to literally mash faces, objects, plants and characters into each other, creating abstracted forms.

The abstraction appealed to me so much I began to explore this on paper, filling sketchbooks with fast, fluid and free-style work.

I am still refining and exploring new techniques in this approach, but feel I have achieved a balance of the old and the new styles.

Outside of your day-to-day art practice, you’re involved with youth programs. How did you start doing that?
I worked as a volunteer with City of Sydney and WEAVE Youth Services for a year, running a variety of workshops. I now work with local schools, youth services and councils, running classes on skateboard design, programs on murals, and other creative workshops.

You’ve also recently created a zine. Has the process caused your practice to evolve or change?
The other way around actually, I made the zine to showcase the recent evolution/change in my work.

Tell us about how we can get our hands on a copy?!
I will be showing a selection of new works, and launching a limited-edition zine on the night…Come along to get one, and enjoy a drink! The show is at Black Listed Gallery in Surry Hills, July 22nd 6pm.