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!
Occupation: Self employed graffiti artist
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.
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 [firstname.lastname@example.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!