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POW Chats: Stencil Artist, Nick Walker

AMOUR_PLATED_nick walker wood print

And again we're back! This week, we speak with stencil artist, Nick Walker about his rituals, extensive plans for the year ahead and his recently released POW print, "Amour Plated." See the exclusive Q&A below!

1. Hey Nick. You've got a lot of clout in the street art realm. How do you feel about coming up as an artist who works within the illicit art world as opposed to starting out in art school focused on canvases, for example? Do you feel there are definitive differences between the two?

Yes for sure. The street always came first; it's all about starting from a small sketch and making it big on a wall outside. No projectors, no stencils, just a sketch on a rough bit of paper and a bag of cans and in between that there was some hiding behind cars anyone drove past. Those are the foundations and if you want to take the same work to canvas you can but that came later for me.

2. You have an amazinggg solo exhibition on view at New York's Quinn Hotel currently. Can you tell me about that show and the work showcased?

My friend Darren Johnston curated it, he curates all the shows there. We'd been talking for a while about doing a show at the Quinn. I was the first artist that did a residency at the hotel and lived there for over a month two years ago, but it never ended in a show, so we felt it was time to put a body of work together. We didn't want to go too heavy on the prices so focus went on producing works on paper for a reasonable price.

3. What was the transition from street art into the gallery world like for your personally? What kind of dynamics were you met with when beginning to do full-fledged exhibitions? Did the process of creating work change for you or become more difficult?

It was exciting, I think, because I was interested to see if I could sell my paintings. I was involved with some group shows in the 80's, but it wasn't until the mid 90's that my stencil work played a bigger part in shows and that was when I started to sell works which felt good. The dynamics change for sure as you have to work within a set space and shrink down the art normally created super sized for the street to fit a canvas.

4. Where was your head at when you were creating "Amour Plated?"
I don't know love is a tricky subject sometimes- its been a crazy three years.

5. What -- if any -- are your creative rituals or routines you notice you practice before diving into a painting?

I procrastinate a ton-- always have. It's crazy what I find myself doing when I have a deadline to meet, but I am trying to be better and slightly more organized. When I get to the studio --especially my Bristol studio -- I just potter and lurk for a day or two just climatizing I guess. I end up trying to find stuff, organizing stencils--  burning some and just spending a bit of time preparing the space again so I can go into full factory mode and disappear into my work again. I work pretty late most times especially when I have a show coming up.

6. I read that when you scope out new stencil locations you start by getting a co-sign from a local, and then view images of the location to get an understanding of the space. What are you looking for when you choose a wall to publish your work on?

I've had people find walls for me in the past because I'm strong on composition and I think some works deserve breathing space.  If you want to send a message with the work you paint then it's good to find a wall with a heavy footfall, but that's not always easy to paint especially with no permission.

7. You started with traditional graffiti tools -- cans basically -- back in Bristol, correct? Tell me about your decision to begin using stencils as a vehicle for your work.

With stencils, I can go as big or small as I like, and I can play with any kind of imagery-- the choices are endless. The good thing about stenciling is the time it takes to apply it to the wall is a lot less time than it takes to paint a freehand mural.

8. You've mentioned that movie posters, NYC trains and the overall vibe of the graffiti culture is what inspired you to get involved back in the 80s. What has you inspired lately about the next leg of your creative career?

I reckon I'm still inspired by movie posters or maybe it's just an appreciation for some of them these days. Inspiration comes randomly, but with the numbers I paint I was initially and still am inspired by Jasper Johns mixed together with the dynamics of cigarette smoke.
9. What/who are you listening to these days?
I listen to all sorts of music, but if I want to jump into the zone, I'll put on recordings of a bunch of Zulu Beat shows with Afrika Islam. That was the best radio show that ever existed!
10. Tell me about your plans and projects coming up; what can we look forward to from you as the months roll out?

Firstly back to the pool-. Yoga. Move to Brooklyn . Spend more time with my kids. I have some big murals coming up this year which I'm planning as we speak. I have to get back out to Tokyo in May for a project with DJ Muro and in June, I have a collaborative show with Crash and Bio (TATS crew) in Zurich which is something we've been working on for a while. In September I have a show at Wallworks in the Bronx, and after that, not sure-- maybe a print release. To be honest, I never know what's going to happen from one day to the next so it could get hectic-- let's hope so!!