Today I thought I’d talk about how I got started. I was 17 and growing up in a rough part of town, drifting a bit, when I came across an ad to join a Youth Theater. I decided to give it a go and found myself in a rather spectacular project being run by someone who turned out to be quite a visionary, though I was too young at the time to really understand that. His vision was to not just give young people in deprived areas a chance at a life in performance but also an experience of the whole spectrum. I was very introverted and was relieved to find that I didn’t have to perform on stage (though I did a few times) but that I could be involved in the behind the scenes work. During my time with them I was involved in set construction, lighting design,rigging and operation and recording rehearsals either with video or still photography. I had access to my first 35mm camera and the guy I worked with was studying photography at UCL so he really knew what photography was about compared to me. I learned about framing and composition, how to develop and expose my own prints, I was hooked!
So where does the graffiti come in? My fellow photographer was obsessed with photographing it, he had made contacts with local graff artists and he would record their pieces. We would spend afternoons going through his many books on pieces it was fantastic and gave me a real appreciation for the work and imagination of the artists. People don’t often get to see the work that goes into the pieces that get created often they just see the tags ( a name scribbled on a wall ) and think that is all there is to it, but there are some really talented people out there with something to say about what is going in the world for them, I as a young person found it inspiring. I wasn’t in any way attracted to the idea of doing it myself but I did become interested in recording it with my friend and when there were events or spaces where artists got together to do a piece I would tag along and take some stills. Now a days a lot has changed in the world of street art, we have people who sticker, stencil, tile and those who still graff and I still love to wander around and see whats out there. It’s a fascinating arena full of some really exciting and gutsy people some of whom want to communicate something meaningful about their experience and their environment. I don’t hang out with graffiti artists anymore but I do still love to photograph their work when I come across it.