Mr Cenz Interview

Mr Cenz Interview

After the success of our first Artist Series drop with Manchester based artist, Ben Daye, also known as fromvirginiaben, we thought it was time to bring that imaginative vibe back. This time we headed to London and collaborated with Mr Cenz. We caught up with the Crystal Palace fan who picked up the artform at an extremely young age and discussed his journey and the culture, in detail...

What got you into graffiti?

It goes way back to the mid 80’s... I was probably 8 or 9 when I was first exposed to graffiti art. It came through a book, from America, that documented all the subway trains that had been painted. It was called Subway Art. That and obviously hip-hop culture. I was proper into hip-hop as were the older people in my family. I started using spray paint when I was about 9 or 10 years old.

So you just started spraying stuff from then?

It was more me experimenting with it and copying the designs I saw in the book. Learning the trade on paper first. I started experimenting in my local area, illegally, just doing tags and stuff like that. Then I went onto doing bigger pieces and I actually did my first commissioned wall when I was 11 years old at my local primary school. My Mum sorted it out for me because I’d already been arrested for the illegal stuff I’d been doing.

When you were in school did you have any interests?

Art, I was always into art because my Mum’s an artist so I was always into art, but I didn’t really find my feet with the traditional forms of it so graffiti sort of became my thing and I latched onto it.

You hear of people still getting arrested for graffiti art, what are your thoughts on that?

Most, if not all, graffiti artists started out illegally because back then it wasn’t really considered art so the only way you could develop your skills was illegally. I used to tag a lot so I got in trouble a lot for that but back then it was more like a slap on the wrists for graffiti so I didn’t even get a criminal record, but I got arrested like 10 times. I stopped doing it illegally when I was about 16 anyway because I was more into the art side of it rather than the vandalism side. That illegal element, is the root of the culture and there will always be people who do that, but like I said I was more about making art rather than the other side of it.

When do you feel you found your distinctive style?

It’s something that’s happened to me quite recently. For years, I went to art college and tried out different mediums, not just spray painting. So, over the years I’ve developed a lot of techniques and recently I’ve put all this together and I’d say it only started about 4 years ago. Then you get this new style and it’s got to happen organically and can’t be pushed, you put in a lot of work and if you’re lucky you get a style that is recognised, so I’ve been lucky.

What would you say is the most difficult technique in graffiti?

One of the most difficult things is can control. Controlling your spray-can when you spray. That said, today the paints are so good that it’s easier to do that now. It’s such a big scene and there are so many different artists out there. I’d say being original is another because you must do something different and stand out. Once you’ve got your own style and it’s being recognised anywhere in the world, then you know you’ve got there.

What’s the biggest piece you’ve done?

I’ve done quite a few, the one in Brixton, in London, is 4 or 5 storeys high! That one was big. The ones where you’re working on scissor lifts. For me the bigger the better. It’s hard because obviously, you have to draft it from A4 size to 4 storeys, there’s obviously people who will project it and sort of cheat but I like to just go in free hand and that comes with experience.

What was it like putting your artistic style on a football boot?

It was the first thing I’ve done that was actually produced. I’ve done like little customising jobs that are one offs but these boots were the first I’ve done where they actually get mass produced. Then obviously, a football boot is tiny so it was very difficult to go from producing huge murals to something so small, so I had to simplify my style down but it was a good experience!

Where’s your favourite place to graffiti?

I’ve travelled to so many different places, but I’m gonna be really boring and say my hometown, London. It’s just nice to come home. You know the place and there’s less pressure to get stuff done so I can take more time with my work. Just an emotional connection to the city.

You’re a Crystal Palace fan, why Palace?

I’ve always lived very close to Selhurst Park so Palace have always been my local team, which I believe is important. I have lots of family members who support them so it’s always been my team from a young age. I still go to games regularly with my Dad, as I used to do as a kid as well, but it’s just that family connection and local connection really.

Do you think football and art merge together?

I think they do. There’s a lot of similarities in working hard and sort of having that work ethic to get into art and football. You have to be passionate about it and be living and breathing it, to make it in both.

What makes the HALO+ your favourite boot out of the collection?

I like the shape of the boot and the contrast of the white upper with the bright colour on the side, giving that minimal strip of the art work.

Where do you see graffiti heading in the future?

Graffiti is already huge. I say graffiti but also street art, there’s lots of different names for it but it’s already the biggest artform on the planet. There’s always murals going up in lots of different places, all around the world, so there’s lots of different opportunities for it to grow and it’s only gonna continue to grow. It’s getting more diverse with the styles, it’s more technical and that’s because of the added competition so people have to come up with different work to get recognition.

Where do you see yourself going and have you got any advice for aspiring artists out there?

For me, I’m always developing technically, I really want to blow people’s minds with my work and keep progressing. The advice I’d give any young artist is switch off the internet and sit at home. Do your own drawings instead of looking at what work people have done out there. Switch off, draw more!

Writen by Concave @ 12/05/2017 08:02

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