You can see Dan Kitchener’s fifth major London
show, ‘The Queen of Neon’, at 5th Base Gallery, 23 Heneage Street,
Brick Lane, from 31 March – 6 April.
refer to yourself as an urban artist – can you tell us what that means to you?
I think of myself as a street artist and an
urban artist. For me, it’s about using the streets as part of my art and part
of my creative output. I’m always thinking about where I can create work and
how it would sit within an urban environment, so painting on the street is an
important part of what I do artistically. Plus, I love that it becomes like an
open-air, free gallery for the general public. Ultimately, what gets me most
excited is the size that street-work allows me to work with – I love huge, epic
scale and dramatic murals.
did your journey as an artist begin – have you always worked in this area or is
it something that evolved?
I was two years old when I started my life
as an artist. Art is all I’ve ever done since childhood and all I’ve ever
wanted to do. My parents always encouraged my talent and art has become so much
a part of me. My work has developed and changed throughout my life, it’s been a
constant journey learning new things and gaining new techniques. For example,
the way I’ve come to better understand light, colour, form and composition - always
pushing myself to strive, develop and learn. I think it’s vital to do that – I
was always encouraged to try new things and push my work in new directions. I
guess that’s why I’m so diverse and use so many mediums and techniques. I’m
also fascinated by history, nature, science, natural and urban landscapes. I
love absorbing all the information that gradually seeps into my work.
the past few years, the popularity of urban art has grown – why do you think
I think people are now seeing this kind of
artwork as art and not vandalism, as
it once was. This is a fantastic thing – cities are becoming more active in
getting street artists to paint the town. Artists bring their life, colour,
energy and positivity to places and this can even reenergise bad areas in
cities. It’s great.
known – among other things – for your phenomenal murals. Can you tell me about
your favourite, what makes it special and how long it took to complete?
I don’t really have a favourite as such,
each mural is special and has great memories. The whole process is part of the
creation, the place I’m working in, the people I meet when I’m painting, everything.
It all becomes a mini adventure. I’m lucky to be able to travel to different
places to paint – this adds to the excitement and sense of adventure. Recently,
I loved painting in Hong Kong and Tokyo. These are my two favourite places to create
art, but each mural and location has its own special energy. I also love to
absorb the cities I paint in and then use them in the rest of my work:
cross-pollinating one city by painting it in another. I painted Tokyo in
Birmingham on a 72 feet-high wall, which was my highest so far. I think in
terms of challenge, this was a great wall in such a great place and with such
friendly people. I loved painting it!
who’s ever picked up a spray paint for the first time knows how much skill it
takes to wield it well – what tips can you give any aspiring urban artists?
Practise! Draw every day, create something
new every day. Don’t just focus on spray cans, use all mediums – paint, draw,
life drawing etc. This all then filters into your work with a can and allows you
to draw upon your knowledge, experience and skills. Too many people just feel
they can paint anything with spray paint and it instantly makes you a street
artist. You need to spend time honing your craft and having skills and
knowledge behind you to make you a fully rounded artist. I strongly feel a
solid drawing background is important for any artist – the skill of being able
to visualise in a sketchbook translates onto a wall and it’s utterly vital. I’d
also suggest people start small, then gradually work up to bigger walls and
spaces as confidence increases. And enjoy it!
I can’t help but ask: what do you love about Liquitex Spray Paint?
That’s easy: in the studio, it seamlessly
mixes with my paint markers and acrylics. Intermixability is marvellous and
means I can properly colour-match, too.