SOUTH-AFRICA: Urban Artist WAYNE BKS

 

When did you start painting and how did it come that you just didn’t stop and even developed more and more?

I started in 1999, during my last 2 years of high school. I was living in Johannesburg at the time. Painting is highly addictive, so I just kept at it. I developed more and more, because I noticed my style was influencial and I kept trying to change it so that it would look ‘less copied’.

 

By coincidence while walking through the neighbourhood of Woodstock we found several great artworks form you on the urban walls. One of them now gets even printed on a book cover. Woodstock was a really interesting place, but you could see as well the gentrification. It is fancy and cool now. As well it is a big show. The main streets are becoming more and more expensive, the back alleys and other neighbourhoods are still covered with poverty. But still you have to start somewhere and it begins with more colour and creativity in the streets. Tell us what you think about Woodstock as the new art place and tell us where you go in Cape Town to do urban art.

Gentrification happens gradually, by the time you see it, its too late to stop. As mural artists we always find ourselves within a society we have to adapt to and try paint within restrictions. By the time this gets read, people would have found other places to paint. Woodstock has had its time, but will always be there as a highlight. Artists now are seeking more abandoned places to paint and not much on main road spaces.

 

Can you tell us more about how it is to do graffiti in Cape Town? Of course it is not legal, like everywhere, free art would be a crime. But still every day new graffiti and urban artworks get created. How do the artists in Cape Town and South Africa resist at the moment with Corona and how was it the years before? Is there a high prosecution for doing graffiti? Or is it depending on where you do it? In Europe it is very strict, it’s illegal, you have to pay a lot and it can even happen that you have to go to jail. Tell us some words about how it is to do graffiti in South Africa.

In Cape Town it is illegal, but you can apply for a permit. Most painters dont usually apply. The rest of South african cities kinda allow public graf and murals. During the lockdown murals and graf were still going up. But here we had other struggles like a ban on cigarettes and liquor. And very little government assistance. In Cape town you could get a fine of ZAR1500.

 

When I look at your paintings I can see two themes in the background. There is nature and there is structure. But in the foreground I see the characters, they are more in the front and I percept more importance about them. You have as well a lot of artworks without characters and they are great. But I think the characters and how you paint them have a special meaning and voice. What do you think about my interpretation? Tell us more about your concept of motifs.

What I paint on walls is a direct result of finding ways to paint, so that my art doesnt look like graffiti. So that it doesnt get buffed. But also since my early years after painting letters year after year i decided that other ideas can be painted too. I always leave interpretation up to the viewer. I just paint what i like without thinking too much, I freestyle most of my walls, because I draw a lot.

 

Some more about the characters, they are very comic style, mostly with long heads. It fits very well to the background structure with single lines. From the one perspecitve it looks simple, even childish, from another perspective you can see a lot of geometry and a labyrinth of lines which form structures. That’s how I see it, what do you think about it? Tell us more about the structure of you concepts.

The line work style I adopted around 2014. I liked the way lines could make up structures. The first time I saw this style was the lino cut illustrations in old encyclopedias I looked through in the early 90’s as a kid. You have to know 3d and lighting to get the structures looking right. It’s always a challenge.

 

How do you create your artworks? Which equipment do you use, which paint, which materials, which tools? Do you only spray or also paint or acrylic? Do you use brushes or even your hands? Everything is allowed. How do you paint your paintings?

I mainly use acrylic pva and brush and spraypaint. Smaller paintings I use a paint marker for linework

 

The street is the street. Of course it is special to spray outside and to give the city a little more beauty. But as well the colors can be put on other objects. You do as well canvas and had exhibitions. What else do you like to paint? Furniture, cars, skateboards or clothes? On which materials do you like to work on? This would be more the kind of work and creation you do in an atelier or work space.

I enjoy mostly digital drawings, outside of graffiti. As well as screenprinting tshirts. But very few for sale, because I print myself and its a big job on your own. So I mostly make tshirts for myself. I enjoy painting on cars too, but never often do I find people asking me.

 

And here now as follow up question to the previous one. What is special for you about going outside and doing art on the walls of the city? What do you like about doing urban art? The art on the streets is an open gallery and everybody can watch it for free. I think it is also a commitment by every artist and a great present to the hometown. How do you think about this and what do you like about doing outside art ?

Its therapy, its inspiring others, changing the landscape, giving free artworks to the streets in a way. It’s many things but probably just as simple as doing what you feel, stuff that makes you happy.

 

It is a long way to go till you can use your inner profession, your talents and your creative skills for making money with it. As well there is a huge mental part about it. A lot of people love to do art, but only a few can get it managed to make a living from it. You turned your passion into your job. That is the dream of many. But it is definitely not easy to get there and you have to work a lot for it. Tell us more about this. Because I am sure it is still not easy for an artist, like eveywhere on the world. And especially with the Corona situation the last years haven’t been very difficult.

I was in high school when I used to draw pencil portraits for family and friends, and also very young in graffiti when I did commissioned work. Even during my years as an ad agency guy I was event managing, and doing freelance work. I just had it in me to network and hustle. But yes, it’s not easy in the beginning. There are many times, when you feel you need to just get a regular job and paint on weekends. But when years pass, the industry changes. This makes it even harder to get the old job you were used to. Then you know you have to just keep at it, good times or bad. Reading books can save you a lot when learning about business, people and industry.

 


INFOTHEK

Artist:  WAYNE  BKS

Phone:  +27 (0) 813135822

Email:  wayne.bks@gmail.com

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/wayne.c.bks

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/waynebks

Dribble:  https://dribbble.com/waynebks