Ed is an illustrator and graffiti artist who uses bright, bold colours and lines to create huge pieces that can be seen dotted around various locations from Paris to Preston. He is also a musician who releases work under his own label “Invisible Spies.” With so much going on we couldn’t resist making him our LomoAmigo and finding out a bit more about the man behind the can.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’ve ran with the name Kid Acne since I was a spotty teenager. I currently live and work in Sheffield, South Yorkshire.
How would you describe your life in two sentences?
Full of regret / Full of surprises.
Where did your interest in Graffiti art begin?
I remember being 9 or 10 and seeing the street artists in Leicester doing big chalk drawings on the pavements. I already liked drawing so I think that inspired me to give it a go on a larger scale. Shorty after, I stole some chalk from the teacher at school and drew pictures on the playground floor during lunch-break. I thought it looked really good, but I got into trouble and was forced to clean it off.
A couple of years later, someone brought in the books — Subway Art and Spray Can Art to class. I was 12 by this point. The fact that all the paintings were done with spraypaint had an immediate appeal. That weekend we stole some carpaint from a local garage and wrote our nicknames on disused walls and old railway bridges at night. Over time it’s evolved into doing more of my own thing. I wouldn’t say that I really did graffiti these days, it’s more of a hybrid between street art and illustration, but the roots lie in graffiti.
What materials do you choose to use and why?
Pretty much everything I do begins with a drawing. Whether it’s with a pencil, marker, roller or spraycan makes no odds – they’re just different tools for different types of mark-making. I tend to go for materials that provide a raw, handmade aesthetic with a graphic sensibility. I like solid line and flat colour, so I really enjoy screen-printing for example.
Do you think attitudes towards graffiti artists have changed in the last few years?
You know, I don’t think people’s attitudes have changed too much, despite all the books, documentaries, exhibitions and hype of Street Art in the past few years. I still hear the same arguments about “Art vs Vandalism” I did as a teenager.
The general public tend to like the ‘big colourful pictures’ but don’t like ‘the messy scrawl’, which I think is understandable but it’s no more understood than it was in it’s inception.The only real change in attitude I’ve seen has more to do with the potential money that can be made from graffiti and street art, as oppose to actually engaging with the content of the work. I’d say it was the same with any scene — the more accessible stuff has the mainstream appeal, whilst the slightly obscure stuff remains with the enthusiasts. It wouldn’t be graffiti if it was fully accepted. So in that sense, there’s something for everyone. Unless of course you hate all of it.
What have you been up to in the last year?
I’ve been working on a few exhibitions, both here and abroad, putting out fanzines sporadically and painting murals when I find the time. I’m currently working on a short animated series, due for broadcast later this year as well as collaborating on a couple of other projects with some graphic designers and photography friends of mine.
You also run a record label “Invisible Spies”, how did that project start?
Invisible Spies started at a loose collective in the mid nineties for the DIY stuff me and my friends were doing. This included making fanzines, records, super-8 films and gradually evolved into a label in it’s own right. We’re still putting out vinyls, albeit few and far between.
What did you shoot for us on the La Sardina?
I tried to shoot a bit of everything. I used to have an original LC-A years ago, but haven’t shot on 35mm in ages. The results were pretty hit and miss to be honest but once I’d figured out the possibilities (and limitations) of the camera, I really enjoyed the process. The end results are still a pleasant surprise, but I like the moments of serendipity. It’s a fun way to document stuff and has providing me with an interesting visual diary of the past few months.
If your photos could have a soundtrack, what would it be? (3 songs, title and artist please)
Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man – Bob Seger
High Pressure Days – The Units
New Big Prinz – The Fall
What does the future hold for Kid Acne?
Either a secret handshake or a P45.
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