Hoakser: the Man behind the Murals

An incredibly talented and well-respected graff artist here in Brum and across the globe, Hoakser is just one of the guys behind this year’s “We’re In This Together” River Rea mural, so we sat down and asked him a few questions to find out a little bit more about the man behind the mural…

 

How did you get into graffiti art?

 

BrumSpirit - WITT-9
I’d always wanted to be some sort of artist as a kid and would always be drawing characters of my favorite stuff or making up monsters, zombies and robots..Sometime around 98,I went with some friends to check out a place called “Selly Oak graffiti park” and had my mind blown by something I’d never seen before and didn’t understand…Everywhere was covered in paintings and writing, there were cool characters on the walls and color everywhere..The main pieces I remember where by a crew called FKS..T-Bone,Korsa,Zooki,Crem, were some of the names that stood out to me that day and I knew I wanted to try spraying some of my characters on a wall.. From that point  I started seeing it everywhere and the more I practiced and studied it, the more my respect for the art form and culture grew..

 

Why did you choose graffiti art as opposed to any other medium?

 

There’s so many branches to graffiti and there’s so much to learn about it..From tagging to mural work, all of which is classed as graffiti, there’s a whole load of learning and  years of practice involved to be able to control the paint and create your own style to build your name.. The history of graffiti is a cool story full of myths and legends and as an art form developed by youngsters, mostly in the dark, it’s come a long way.. Every country and city around the world have their own scene,style, history and way of doing things so it’s always developing and inspiring new artists and techniques. When I first started I think it was how hard I found it, which pushed me to want to get better at it..Meeting other graffiti writers and going painting with them has made me some really good friends over the years.It’s kind of a social and anti social culture, where most graffiti is painted for other people who do graffiti to love or hate and can have a life span of minutes or years depending where or what it is..  Graffiti incorporates so many skills from tagging (which is like a form of calligraphy), to painting huge letter pieces (which is a kind of typography)..painting and designing characters takes some cartoon/illustrator skills and spraying paint is such a fun way to practice them all..

 

What inspires your art?

 

Most things really.. From everything I was into as a kid to the amount of paint, space and time I’ve got to work with. I get inspired by loads of artists who make me want to try new stuff out in my own way..My graffiti letters and characters have been developed over the years and their technical difficulty increases as my skills with a can improve. I used to like painting models and sculpting when I was younger, so after seeing a few graffiti artists from overseas design toys several years ago, I wanted to see my character as an object you can hold..So I did that.. I’ll always be into spraying my name on a wall but the idea of my work being displayed in collections and looked after, rather than painted over is pretty cool.. Canvas work and sculpts are approached differently to walls, but all of them kind of inspire each other in a way..

 

Do you prefer to work on big public art murals, like the River Rea mural, or on smaller canvases and private commissions? Why?

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I think I like them both the same but for different reasons.. Public murals are usually hard work but fun to paint, and it’s interesting hearing what people think before it’s even been finished.This can sometimes spark new ideas and help with the mural…It’s nice to have their support and encouraging words shouted at you from passing cars but it can take much longer to paint as you have to keep explaining your not a famous stencil artist and you did this all free hand.. Painting on the River was great and everyone was really supportive of what we were doing..Leaving such a big piece of artwork out in public is so different to working on a piece that will hang in one persons house..The fact that someone is willing to spend their hard earned money and invite a piece of my work into their home is really cool, but on a different level..

 

What was it like to collaborate with Ashekman and Zooki on the River Rea mural?
It was interesting and nice, and the wall came out really cool I think.. Having Zooki as one of my earliest inspirations in our graffiti scene makes it a pleasure to paint with him.. Over the years we’ve painted together a few times on walls at graffiti jams, so it was cool to get him involved with this mural, as he grew up around the area.His character designs and painting skills are amazing and it’s always an honor to paint with him.. Ashekman really came through and after having no sleep on day one, due to travelling, they still got busy and left us with a really cool piece in their calligraphy style..It was cool spending some time with them and hearing about what the scene in Beirut is like. It’s a shame they couldn’t stay for longer but hopefully one day we’ll get another wall done together..It was really nice to meet those guys and paint, and I think what they put up really fits in well with the message of the mural..

 

How does the mural tie in with the central messages of Brum Spirit?

 

As one passer by said while we were working on the piece “We’re in this together For peace on Earth is so fitting for the state of the world right now”.. That probably says it all.. It was cool to see some of the local kids who can read Arabic working out what Ashekman’s piece said and as a collaborative cultural exchange it came out really well.. It can be difficult coming up with a wall concept and designing it into something we can all work on while keeping the public,council and everyone else happy..Especially when you’ve never met the people you’ll be painting with. But as always, Tessa’s hard work and theme choice made it all click together and we managed to paint something that’s had nothing but positive comments…

 

What other community projects and public art murals have you worked on?

 

welcome to kings heath mural
There’s the Welcome To Kings Heath wall that we worked on 3 years ago for BrumSpirit with Ficore from Brazil.Then the year after I was lucky enough to be able to paint the front of PST nightclub in Digbeth with RCF1 from France for Brum Spirit.. In Acocks Green at Millennium Green there’s a long wall I was asked to paint around a nature reserve/dog walking area..It’s a quite a long wall and fun to paint because it has all four seasons, goes from day to night and includes almost every animal you might see there. Another favourite from last year is a school I painted in Selly Oak.. It’s not really public as it’s a school, but the 40ish walls I painted around the outside of every Porta-cabin classroom around the grounds,definitely brightened the place up..They were a depressing grey before, and now they have lots of color and helpful learning phrases with positive words etc suited to each lesson and classroom..I can imagine that would have a huge impact on any child, especially one with learning disabilities and it’s cool to think how lots of kids over the years might remember something, because they saw it on a painting every day..

 

What do you hope people will take from your work, particularly your public art murals?

 

It’s nice to be able to change peoples perceptions about what they might have thought graffiti was or can be, before seeing something they can relate to and understand..I hope it inspires some people to try and become artists and it’s a weird feeling when you’re on a bus going past something you did and you hear a kid say “coool” and start pointing at it..They all kind of serve a different purpose and it’d be nice if they appeal to people if different ways..
What does this year’s Brum Spirit’s theme, “We’re In This Together”, mean to you as an artist?

 

As a theme for a wall it had so much scope to where we could have taken it. As I said in another answer, a passer by commented on how fitting it was for the state of the world, I think we started painting this a few days after all that Brexit madness..As someone who lives in the area we painted the wall, which has lots of nationalities and religions living side by side, it’s nice to leave a positive piece up for everyone to take something from which will always mean something, depending on how you decide to read it..

 

Where can we find out more about your work?

 

My website hoakser.com which I build myself has all the important links and info on… I use Instagram @hoakser  and occasionally twitter @hoaksergraffiti .. and i have a facebook page https://www.facebook.com/hoaksercom-214180528665043/?ref=bookmarks  which you should like to catch up with me on there 🙂

 

You can check out more pictures of the “We’re In This Together” River Rea by Hoakser, Ashekman and Zooki here.

The Real Junk Food Project Brum

Amongst our packed programme of global talent, including live music, visual arts, dance, photography, film and more, we’re also lucky enough to have the awesome team at the Real Junk Food Project Brum with us at this year’s Brum Spirit! They’ll be serving up a whole lot of pay-as-you-feel treats, so to whet our appetite, we sat down and asked them a few big Q’s to get to know more about what they do…

 

When was the Real Junk Food Project born?

TRJFP was founded in Leeds, in December 2013. TRJFP Brum was founded in October 2014.

 

What does the Real Junk Food Project aim to do?

We aim to abolish all avoidable food waste. Along the way we’d like to REALLY Feed the World!

 

How do you go about achieving those aims? TRJFP

Everyday in Birmingham over 650 tonnes of food is thrown away, most of this is perfectly edible. We take a small faction of this food and feed it to people, on a Pay-As-You-Feel basis. Since our inception TRJFP Brum has intercepted over over 30 tonnes of food and fed over 8,000 people!

 

What is the idea behind the “Pay As You Feel” scheme?

PAYF is a revolutionary concept – we don’t pay for the food waste we intercept (although we do have overheads) so we don’t charge people to eat it. It is criminal that, in the 21st century, in the UK there are people who cannot afford to eat a healthy, balanced diet. We feed everyone, regardless of whether they have money in their pocket. However, we do not give the food away for free – we ask everyone who eats with us to contribute in whatever way they can: tell a story, sing a song, help with the washing up or (more recently) help us grow the food we will serve in one of our grow sites.

 

How does the Real Junk Food Project tie in with Brum Spirit’s message?

TRJFP Brum is aiming to rebuild our communities around food – we welcome all to our cafes and hope that we can engage the audience to participate with our project for their own and their communities health and wellbeing.

 

Has the Real Junk Food Project Birmingham ever collaborated with other similar projects in the city?

We have supported numerous community events and festivals including: Birmingham Community Food Festival, Springfield Park’s “Big Gig”, CoCoMAD. We run a regular event for Digbeth First Friday in partnership with Naked Lungs and Digbeth Community Garden

 

Where does the inspiration for the meals you create from intercepted waste come from? 

the real junk food project takeover

From our volunteers – we run an open kitchen where everyone is encouraged to voice their ideas and opinions. Oh, and sometimes Google!

 

Where can we find the Real Junk Food Project regularly in Birmingham?

We’re at Ladywood Health and Community Centre, St Vincent Street West (B16 8RP) every Wednesday (12-2 & 6-8pm) and Friday (12-2 & 3:30-5pm). We’re also at The Haven Centre, 54 Rilstone Road (B32 2NR) every Monday 12-4pm. We have regular (monthly) pop-up’s at ORT Cafe, Balsall Heath, on the 3rd Saturday of the month and Digbeth Community Garden (as part of Digbeth First Friday) We also pop-up all over the place so check out our website or Facebook for more details.

 

How can people get more involved and volunteer with the Real Junk Food Project?

Come dine with us! Fill in our volunteer registration form here.

We’re In This Together: River Rea Mural

Have you been passed the River Rea recently in Basall Heath? If so you will have seen our latest public art mural, We’re In This Together!

The mural called on the expertise of the team behind the well known ‘Welcome To Kings Heath’ mural, created back in 2013 by local talent Hoakser, who at the time teamed up with visiting Brazilian artist Ficore.

river rea mural

This year our commission has transformed an over-looked wall on the banks of the river Rea when Hoakser team up with Lebanese duo AshekMan.

Hoakser’s work ranges from public artworks to private commissions, which are currently held in collections in 13 countries across five continents. Most recently he was called on by Ebay to feature in a short film about his work.

Birmingham graffiti legend Zooki grew up in Balsall Heath, the site of this years Brum Spirit mural. He has been painting for well over 20 years, and his style is very distinctive.

For those who know their graff culture, Zooki is in FKS, NHS and INS crews to name a few.

His sharp style contrasts smooth graphic lines with old school references to graffitis roots, with characters straight out of a Bronx block party transposed into brightly contrasting everyday settings. Collectors can currently get a hold of his prints, T shirts and canvases at Graffiti Artist, in the heart of Digbeths Custard Factory.

ashkeman

Ashekman traveled to Birmingham from Lebanon for a flying visit to bring their well know Arabic Calligraffiti style of work to the mural.

AshekMan are identical twins and are most known for commissions for the likes of Nike, Coca Cola, MTV, and even celebrities such as Snoop Dogg have purchased pieces!

Ashekman have their featured character the Grendizer at the centre of the mural with the words ‘Peace on Earth’ in arabic, which is the 2nd most spoken language of the area. 

The theme of the mural is to honour people across the world who have made Balsall Heath their home, and to celebrate what the local community have achieved together.

We were able to pull Ashekman away from the wall for a couple of minutes to get a couple of words from them:

 

Have you ever worked in Birmingham before?

No but weve visited lots of places in the UK before. Weve been to London, Liverpool, Manchester all over really apart from Birmingham!

 

Whats it like being in Birmingham? What do you think of the city so far?

People are very welcoming here, the people are very cool. We come from a city between Beirut and Dubai, and its a concrete jungle, but Birmingham is the opposite. Its actually very relaxed and quiet here. We love how Birmingham culture is one big melting pot, theres so many different religion and races all living in harmony, and thats what its like in Beirut.

 

Whats it like working with Birmingham artists?

Very cool! Our styles are quite different our style of art is caligrafitti, is inspired by Arabic, which weve been doing for 10-15 years, but Hoakser and Zookis art is more like old school, traditional, pure graffiti, so our work is completely different to theirs and its a nice contrast.

 

Whats the inspiration behind the mural?

The mural is inspired by the city and the people who live in it. Where we come from, we write messages on the walls thats our main mission to spread a positive message –  so Hoakser wrote in latin were in this togetherand we wrote in Arabic For peace on earth.At home, we use the image of Grendizer, the Japanese manga superhero, who has become a good guy icon.Its important to mention that lots of people might think its vandalism, but its not, its about spreading peace and positivity.

RIVER REA MURA

Meet the Artists: Rebecca Belcher

Bringing their craft workshops and exhibitions to Brum Spirit ’16, Made Welcome will be showcasing the amazing work they do for Birmingham’s refugees from 10am on Saturday 23rd July. Ahead of the weekends cultural celebration, we had a chat with another of the seriously talented artists running Made Welcome workshops at the Old Print Works, Becky Belcher…

 

Name: Becky Belcher

Workshop: Sun Dragon Pottery

 

What is your occupation?

Ceramic Artist

 

What medium do you work in?

Clay

 

What does Made Welcome mean to you?

An opportunity to meet a diverse mix of people from all over the world. After the first session I had met so many people from all over the world, it’s an amazing experience. For the participants, I think it it gives them an opportunity to get involved, to meet other people in a similar situation. Particularly the mothers, and talking about legislation and what happens when their children turn 18, it’s a place to share knowledge and experience.

 

What do you cover in your workshop?

We covered all sorts, from the beginnings of playing with clay to pot making. We are making pots, and a few people tried the potters wheel, some have painted their finished articles. It’s been really lovely have been painting vases, with many using colours from their culture. We have faced challenges with the time frame and having to incorporate the process. We give them space to combat the negative messages in the media and concentrate on things that are beautiful and useful.

 

Where are you from? How long have you lived in Birmingham?

I’ve lived here most my life.

 

What inspires you as an artist?

Personally, the microscopic and the microcosm, patterns in nature and microscopic images of virus.

 

How did you find out about Made Welcome?

Through Tessa Burwood, and being a part of the Old Print Works community.

 

Why did you want to get involved with Made Welcome?

I believe in it, and what it wants to achieve. I don’t watch the news, as I am aware that it is mainly a propaganda vehicle, and I cant listen to anymore negative and ignorance towards asylum seekers.No one talks about what we have in common, its only our differences pointed out. I want to talk about what we have in common.

 

What skills do you hope to teach the participants?

Well not just working with clay! The whole idea of self reliance, that if you need something you make it or trade for it. If you want to start selling something then you can make something and sell it. And that their are support networks open to them.

 

How have you found participants have received the workshops so far?

Some people are really enjoying it, but some find it dirty, although they are all really proud of what they have made.

 

How has Made Welcome benefited you as an artist and personally?

It’s reinforced things that I already thought…people have a genuine reason for being here, and we should make them feel welcome, not punish them. We are all human beings

 

How can we find out more about your art?

The Pottery have Facebook, Instagram and a blog. You can find out more about the workshop here.

 

Check out Becky chatting more about Made Welcome on Big Centre TV!

Meet The Artists: Melanie Berman

Another awesome project has come to The Old Print Works, making us proud once again of our fine city! Made Welcome is a series of workshops run by a group of passionate, skilled and hardworking creatives from right here in Birmingham, which has set out to equip and empower the refugees of the city with a whole range of useful, creative life skills. So without further ado, let’s shine a spotlight on our first featured artist, the incredibly talented Mel…

 

Name: Melanie Berman

Workshop: Embossed book covers, covered metal boxes and mixed media mirror frames

 

What is your occupation?

Artist/ Carer/ After school care assistant

 

What medium do you work in?

Pewter sheeting, paint, fabric, and paper.

 

What does Made Welcome mean to you?

I gain pleasure from giving ability and knowledge to people who think that they ‘can’t’….. Giving empowerment to people of all backgrounds and abilities and working with people who derive pleasure in seeing a beautiful end result.

 

What do you cover in your workshop?

I teach the fundamentals of metal embossing and how it can be used to adorn everyday items.

 

Where are you from? How long have you lived in Birmingham?

I’m from Cape Town, South Africa, but I’ve lived here for 22 years.

 

What inspires you as an artist?

African art, nature, embossed silver books and old buildings.

 

How did you find out about Made Welcome?

Through being at the Old Printworks..and through Tessa!

 

Why did you want to get involved with Made Welcome?

I enjoy delivering workshops and working with people form different backgrounds, and Made Welcome seemed like an especially worthy cause.

 

How do you think Made Welcome will benefit the participants?

I think it will give them the empowerment to use the skills they have learnt to start something of their own one day, maybe!

 

What skills do you hope to teach the participants?

How to emboss metal sheeting and how to use it to enhance everyday items. Also to give ideas on how to make one’s own items, for their own homes/uses.

 

How have you found participants have received the workshops so far?

All participants have enjoyed the course!

 

How has Made Welcome benefited you as an artist and personally?

Teaching adults has given me a different perspective on the way I usually teach – I am used to doing children’s workshops!

 

Have you previously worked on any similar community projects?

Yes, in South Africa, but with children as opposed to adults.

 

Has Made Welcome made you want to get more involved in similar community projects?

Yes!

 

How can we find out more about your art?

I am currently not on a website, but as soon as I have broadened my horizons, I will be on Facebook under ‘Chameleon Crafts’

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You can check out more from Made Welcome on Facebook here.

Made Welcome

Gaia’s Garden is Open!

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On Saturday, we unveiled Gaia’s Garden at the Old Print Works at the official Launch Day, and it was a huge success!

It was awesome to see so many smiley faces come down to check out the new space, meet new people, enjoy the food and music, and of course, do a bit of gardening!! The site is already really starting to take shape, and we can’t wait to see it develop and transform into a thriving garden for the whole community to enjoy over the coming weeks and months.

We’d like to say a huge thank you to all of the Gaia’s Garden volunteers for their hard work and much-needed donations which will help the garden grow, and give an especially big shout out to Ciaran from the Old Crowne and Jamie Begg at Seed Furniture for the pallets, Luca Pau for building the beds, Jenna from Ort Cafe for the delicious food, Hoakser for the sign and for digging a tonne of soil, Balsall Heath Forum and Martineau Gardens for the plant supply, Dan Burwood and Darryl Georgiu, DJ Silence and Onira for the soundtrack, and finally, a massive thank you to Grow Wild and the Old Print Works!

Gaia’s Garden will now be open every Saturday for local residents to use and enjoy, so come along and get involved. It’s a great way to get some fresh air, meet new people, and make a positive difference in our community, and you don’t even need to be an expert gardener! The space will be open from 10am-3pm, so please invite your friends, family and neighbours, or come alone and make new friends, whilst getting your fingers green!

You can check out some photos from the Launch Day below, and remember to give us a like on Facebook here for all the latest Gaia’s Garden info.

Gaia’s Garden Launch: 14th May

Gaia's Garden header

 

Join us on Saturday 14th May at the launch of Gaia’s Garden! Come down to the Old Print Works between 10am-3pm to check out the new space, green your fingers and meet new people!

For those of you who don’t know, Gaia’s Garden is a community garden that will be used to build raised beds out of up-cycled pallets, and grow fruits, vegetables and useful plants, for everyone to enjoy. We will also be planting native wild flowers throughout the area to brighten up our back yards, balconies and public spaces, with the help of Kew Gardens’ Grow Wild scheme.

Over the last few weeks, we’ve been busy planning and designing, clearing out the space, recycling waste, and salvaging existing plants to transform the factory courtyard into a soon-to-be thriving garden in the heart of Balsall Heath. So far, we’ve worked with all kinds of amazing local people and groups to make the project happen, including sustainability activists and community artists, and we want you to get involved, too! We need volunteers who aren’t afraid of getting their hands dirty (literally!) to help out, so if this sounds like you, roll up your sleeves, dust off your wellies, and dig out your garden tools from the shed! You don’t have to be a pro to get involved, as we’ll be sharing top gardening tips and leading all kinds of workshops as the project develops.

We’re also after donations of plants, broken tiles, pallets, kitchen scraps, old tools, seeds, potting soil, mulching material, wood chip, plastic & clay pots, wood, child sized hand tools, labels and manure, to help Gaia’s Garden grow. If you can spare any of these materials, please drop them off at the Launch Day or Ort Café in the Old Print Works. All donations are hugely appreciated!

Gaia’s Garden will be open to the public every Saturday from 10am-3pm right through to October, so if you can’t make it to the Launch Day on the 14th, be sure to come along to enjoy the space and get involved at a later date!

For more information and to volunteer at Gaia’s Garden, please contact Tessa on tessa@professionalincredibles.com or 07815 490 796, or message our Facebook page here. And don’t forget to like our Facebook event page here for all of the latest information!

GARDEN-CALL-OUT-EFLYER

Big News From Cordão de Ouro Birmingham

Cordão de Ouro Birmingham have opened a new studio! Big congrats to those guys!

It is with great pleasure that we write about Brazilian martial arts movement Cordão de Ouro Birmingham‘s new studio – Arch 32 Water street, under Snow Hill’s archway, check out the precise co-ordinates here.

With the new studio CDOB can now provide Capoeira classes, workshops and events that suit your every need, AND now is the perfect time for your first class or perhaps make a overdue return to your training, as they just so happen to be running a special introductory new studio offer – find out more here 

 

So to mark this great news we are joining forces with the talented folks at CDOB to bring you  Tamojunto –  ‘We’re in this together! 

Not only is the new studio a  perfect place to learn, create and socialise, we also think it would make an ideal venue to throw a big ‘moving in’ party.

We’ll be mixing it up in classic Brum Spirit style, so expect an eclectic soundtrack from hip hop and funk to traditional Brazilian rhythms, and throw in Brazilian food and drink, forró, capoeira and breakdance taster sessions, all for just £5 on the door. Bargain!

Come and have an awesome evening with us, and catch performances from the likes of:


Capoeira Cordão de Ouro Birmingham 
Professor Mascote 
Irineu Nogueira 
DJ Silence (Open Circles Hip Hop Entertainment)
DJ Feva 
Sticky Joe 
Forró in Brum

Find out more and grab your tickets here!

Q & A With Jez Collins

Jez

As part of our Brum Spirit Q & A series we were fortunate to catch up with Jez Collins to talk Birmingham, Brum Spirit and all that’s in between.

Jez is a social and cultural entrepreneur who works as a researcher in the Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research at Birmingham City University, he is also the founder of the Birmingham Music Archive, which was was created to recognise and celebrate the rich musical heritage of the city, built by users who share their tastes and stories through music, and is also the Co-Director of Un-Convention, the UK based global music network and development agency.

 

Name: Jez Collins

Occupation: Researcher / Founder

From: Birmingham

Live: Smethwick

 

Tell us about your job? 

I’m an academic researcher at BCU where I research the music industries and popular music history, heritage and archives.

I’m also the founder of the Birmingham Music Archive, an online resource that seeks to capture, preserve and celebrate Birmingham’s rich music heritage.

I’m co-director of Un-Convention a global grassroots music network.

 

How and why did you get into doing what you do? 

My academic work was by pure chance as I started doing some temp work at BCU whilst I had my own bar – Atticus. My contract kept getting extended to the point of getting full time employment.

I’ve worked in and around the creative industries in Birmingham for over 25 years, mainly in music. This gave rise to starting the BMA as a way of celebrating and remembering my own music activities as well as my friends. From there it has grown and grown.

The role at Un-Convention has also grown from my early involvement in the organisation to the point where I am now one of the co-directors

 

What is your professional highlight to date?

Sorry but to many, I’m old. Very proud of owning and running my bar/cultural space. My film Made in Birmingham: Reggae Punk Bhangra, having my work published, setting up music archives in Venezuela and Uganda, co-organising the first hip hop concert in downtown Medellin….

 

What do you have bubbling away creatively this year?

I’ve got a number of projects connected to my BMA that I’m in a number of discussions about, particularly a major project about the history of black music in the city. Also starting my PhD and a number of events with Un-Convention very excited about a potential 2 year project in Ethiopia.

 

What is the best part about working in Birmingham?

The huge opportunities that exist in the city and the ‘new’ people coming through doing great things.

 

The worst?

Some of the people who are stuck in the past and don’t want to share. The lack of innovation and foresight of some of our funding administrators and our large strategic agencies.

 

What is your favourite place in Birmingham?

Warley Woods (strictly Smethwick…) or St Paul’s Square or The Great Hall, University of Birmingham or the architecure on John Bright St, School of Art and the inner core of the city centre!

 

What makes you proud about living in Birmingham?

It’s openness, diversity of cultures and its friendliness.

 

What one thing would you change about the city?

A more coherent approach to popular music in the city and a proper integrated public transport system.

 

What one thing you would champion?

It’s musical heritage and history

 

Where do you take your friends when they visit you in Birmingham?

All over!

 

How do you see the city 20 years from now?

Through old age…but still exciting!

Q & A With HOAKSER

In 2013 we worked with the talented HOAKSER to bring you the  ‘Welcome To Kings Heath’ graffiti mural. The idea behind the mural was to develop a sense of local pride, and with suggestions from the local community  flowing in HOAKSER teamed up with visiting Brazilian artist Ficore to incorporate all the great things that gave the local community pride in Kings Heath.

We are pleased to announce our next community inspired mural will take place August 4th – 10th and will be lead by HOAKSER, in collaboration with French artist RCF1. The mural entitled People Stand Together, will emblazon the walls of PST, on Lombard street, and will depict the history, culture and local community of  Digbeth!

We caught up with HOAKSER ahead of the collaboration to talk all things #BrumSpirit!

HoakserName: HOAKSER 

Occupation: Self employed graffiti artist

From: Birmingham

Q) Tell us about your job? 

My job varies from week to week or day to day, depending what I’m working on. I’ve spent years working on walls with spray paint and have developed my own style with lettering, wild styles and characters to become established in the Birmingham graffiti scene. That was a job in itself! I’ve been practicing graffiti for around 15 years and have been self employed as an artist for 9.

My work involves so many different aspects these days, which is why my job varies so much. Most of my spray paint work comes in the form of a commissioned piece that is designed to fit the clients needs..Large scale murals, bedroom wall artwork, sign-writing on shop shutters and teaching at graffiti workshops are just some work I might be doing.

I also sell my work online which involves photographing, documenting, and marketing my creations as and when I make them.

Canvasses, prints, custom recycled spray cans, toys and sculptures are always being added to the store on a weekly basis along with one of a kind printed t-shirts and other stuff to weird to explain.

Being self employed has made me learn lots of other work roles too… things like how to make and maintain my own website, blog and online stores meant developing graphics skills and learning how to use certain bits of software. Packaging and posting sold artwork is a skill in itself which is something I love and hate doing. The two solo exhibitions I’ve had were a whole new learning experience in terms of framing, picture hanging and organising. Don’t get me wrong though, I’m still learning everything I’ve just mentioned! My job is hard work, fun, stressful, relaxing, rewarding and I enjoy it loads but sometimes hate it too.

liberty4Hoakser

 

farmersHoakser

 

Q)How and why did you get into doing what you do?

I’d always be drawing as a kid and only ever wanted to be an artist. I got into graffiti after seeing some friends doing it and wanted to try it for myself. I’d always drawn stuff and copied my favourite cartoon characters on paper but trying to tag with style or draw letters in spray paint was completely new to me. When I found out how hard it was, I just wanted to get better. Graffiti wasn’t something you could learn at school, no one had ever shown me this before and the more I learnt the more I realised how much there was still to learn. There are so many branches to graffiti. From tagging to doing murals on the sides of buildings, there’s a whole heap of practice and knowledge that goes behind that. And yet it’s still called “Graffiti”. With anything, the more you learn the better you get, but for me graffiti seems to be endless. I find it as interesting now as I did when I dropped my first tag.

 

Q) What is your professional highlight to date?

Not just because you’re doing this interview..but probably the Kings Heath mural from last years Brum Spirit ( formerly  Espirito Brum )

Having lived in Kings Heath forever, it was really cool to be given such a big wall on the main high street to paint in the place I grew up in. Working with Brazilian artist Ficore who I’d never met and who didn’t speak English was an extra added challenge, without the pressure of everyone in Kings Heath hating what we painted. The mural started coming together after a few days and the public really seemed to enjoy watching it. The artwork became a piece for the people of Kings Heath and after popular demand I included local hero “Sam the Monkey Man”. The wall then made local news and it wasn’t even finished, which was cool for us and Sam the Monkey Man..

Due to the size and location of the wall, it was very difficult to paint at times. Being a busy car park, there were always cars parked where I needed to be, which again made it even more challenging but rewarding once finished.

The response, support and conversations I kept having from the passing public also slowed things down but made it even more special in terms of achieving something to be proud of that everyone supported..

On a personal note, I met so many people whilst painting that wall…One in particular was a young kid called Tame…He loved graffiti and would stop and chat on his way home from work. Tame sadly died pursuing his love of graffiti soon after we met, which was a sad time for our scene, not to mention for his family and friends. I put his name up on that wall, which is something I know he would have liked. For me that wall has other attachments other than just being a piece of art.  Also having recently moved out of Kings Heath down the road to Balsall Heath, it’s nice to know I left something decent and permanent behind which will stay there for an unknown amount of time.

 

Q) What do you have bubbling away creatively this year?

There’s always something being cooked up in the studio… I’m about to try out some more sculpted wildstyle pieces at some point. I’ll be bringing out a limited edition resin figure of my masked man character later on in the year, the sculpt for him is almost finished. There’s the new Brum Spirit project we are working on too, that’s going to be cool, and it’s happening soon!

 

Q) What is the best part about working in Birmingham?

It’s not London in terms of prices and traffic! There’s a lot happening in the city and apart from all the obvious stuff like my family and friends being around, it’s where I grew up.

 

Q) The worst?

Can’t really think of a good answer for this. Birmingham’s treated me well so far.

 

Q) What is your favourite place in Birmingham?

Kings Heath. That’ll always feel like home, along with Selly Oak, Moseley and Digbeth, that’s where I’ve emptied most of my cans over the years.

 

Q) What makes you proud about living in Birmingham?

Putting words in my mouth now… haha… maybe not our accent. I don’t know… but keep making me proud Birmingham!

 

Q) What one thing would you change about the city? 

The lack of independent shops and businesses we have in the city. We have so many empty shops and too many cheap chicken and phone shops. I’d like to see Birmingham looking a bit more like Brighton.

 

Q) What one thing you would champion?

If I had time, more custom art toy shows in the UK. We are a few years behind some of the world with this scene in terms of exhibitions and shops.

 

Q) Where do you take your friends when they visit you in Birmingham? 

Either painting, eating or drinking in no particular order, around my favourite places.

 

Q)How do you see the city 20 years from now?

We’ll probably have even more cctv, hardly any shops. Hopefully everyone will have hover boards by then, I hope I can look back on this in twenty years and high five myself for being right…

 

If you want to know more about HOAKSER then check out his website, blog, or give him a little follow here! If you would like to make a suggestion of something that gives you pride in Digbeth  you can either email directly [info@brumspirit.org] or simply head over to our competition and tell us your favourite place in Birmingham – which could also see you winning a lovely Brum Spirit T-shirt!