Character is definitely style – and style of character is definitely what Hip Hop & Street Art are all about. So when it comes to character in street art, what is that? I pitched 20 Questions to SINNA to hear about his inner views on what character and style are all about.
Character is definitely style – and style of character is definitely what Hip Hop & Street Art are all about. So when it comes to character in street art, what is that? I pitched 20 Questions to a couple of character artists to hear their inner views on what character and style are all about.
When I met SINNA at a recent gallery opening, I was full of questions about how I could put character into my work. His characters reek a unique blend of style and attitude – yet out of which hat did that come from?
1. Sinna, thanx for your time. I’m gonna dive straight into this b’coz just like the chicken and the egg story – I’ve gotta know what comes first; the character or the style?
It all depends. Sometimes characters just pop out of my head and on to the page and I have no idea where they come from. Sometimes style comes through in the drawing itself and then at other times I may be influenced by a certain (influential) style for the moment or sometimes the work I am doing requires a different style than I am used to…
2. Do you, personally, have character and style? Describe your character and style in one word for each.
Yeah, everybody does. Its your personality. Er…Friendly and Beardy!?
3. What is your age?
I’m 32 years old.
4. You introduced yourself to me earlier as a ‘character artist’, why is that?
This is loosely speaking as I tend to class myself just as an artist. However, a lot of my pieces are based on cartoon characters that I have created. They don’t necessarily have a specific context.
5. What is a character as opposed to a drawing?
The character is the specific subject matter. It tends to have a personality or emotion. It isn’t a drawing, but you can have a drawing of a character.
6. What inspired you to start doing character design?
I have always loved comics and cartoons. When I was a kid I used to draw things like Garfield and Snoopy, yet it was Manga and graffiti that influenced my style as I got older. I love Vaughn Bode stuff as that seems to me to be the traditional style that influenced graff/hip hop characters that we are used to today – heavy ink lines and loads of colour.
7. What is the best advice you could give someone (who can already draw) that wants to take the leap of faith into character design?
Just keep drawing and get your work out there. There are so many more opportunities nowadays with computer games and comics etc. You can never stop learning or developing.
8. Who or what would you say was your most defining or breakthrough influence that tipped you over into doing the character design?
Learning to spraypaint about 5 years ago was one, as it meant that I could paint big characters on walls which means that more people are more familiar with my work, however, I have always loved drawing cartoons – so it has kind of been with me a long time.
9. What do you think are the essential requirements of a character?
I really don’t know. A lot of my characters are quite simple. Emotion and personality can be achieved through really simple features. I would say simplicity is the key.
10. Briefly describe your character creation process, if there is such a thing.
A lot of ideas flow through me and seem to come from nowhere. I love to create without preconception as this can keep things interesting or surprising yet this is not always best when working to a brief or doing commission work. I don’t really have a format, but other artists will first build a framework with shapes. Sometimes I just draw a line and then let the rest evolve as I see it on the page or I paint blobs or drip paint on to a page and then draw into what shapes I see. For my robots, I tend to start with an ear and then the head.
11. How long have you consciously been directing your energies into character design?
Well, quite a long time. I used to do cartoons and stuff when I was a kid, so probably since then.
12. Describe your present home environment in one word.
13. What do you do to renew your motivation or keep it going?
I seek inspiration around me all the time. I have a good group of friends that are very creative so it keeps me on my toes and pushes me forward.
14. You do a lot of your work on the street – how does the ‘street image’ affect your work?
I do some work on the street. This is kind of like urban advertising. Getting seen and giving something to others.
15. Have you ever had any problems with ‘authorities’, while doing your work?
Not really. I don’t really class myself as a graffiti-artist and putting up stickers is quick and easy. I have painted some stuff but I’m out of my league in comparison to others.
16. Why did you choose the urban environment as your canvas and would you recommend it to others?
I have always been inspired by Graffiti and ‘street art’, so the street is the canvas. I would recommend it to others who have an understanding of that scene and also to those whom have something to say.
17. Have you ever done collaboration pieces? What do you think is the best way to do collab to bring out the best result?
Yes. Collaborating is interesting as sometimes your style can merge really easily with someone’s work and it can really compliment a piece. Othertimes the styles could be really different but they will be so contrasting that they still work really well. The best thing to do with that is to keep collaborating on a regular basis, with as many people as possible and seeing what works.
18. It has been said that urban art is an evolution of graffiti and the urban subculture in general – is it possible to generalize urban artists so easily nowadays?
Urban art is graffiti and vice versa. I think that anybody that works within the street can be classed as urban art, but it all depends on how good it is and the execution of an idea as opposed to just writing your name badly or putting up a stencil. I mean where is the art in writing obscenities in comparison to someone who has developed their style and letterforms with finesse and spent time, thought and energy on what they do? There are kids on Youtube who film themselves writing tags at home and they class their work as graffiti. They have a lot to learn.
19. In your opinion, how do you see the music and street image of Hip hop as being an influence on the direction of urban art in general? Does it influence your work to any degree?
Hip Hop has always influenced my work as it is the reason that I was switched on to graffiti in the first place. It was a new thing when I was a kid so it was interesting and exciting. I have seen it grow up too and it is always their when I am working or playing. As for urban art in general, it is definitley a contributing factor, however, these days people are so much more clued up about different genres and have greater access to information that everything crosses over. Music is art anyway.
20. Is there anything else that you would like to add?
Keep on doing what you love and inspire others as well as being inspired yourself. Word to Grafik Warfare and Soopa Doopa.
Words by: ZeeZee
More info: SINNA @ Flickr