MR. CENZ

ARTIST INTERVIEW

PAINTER

Mr Cenz has been scribbling on surfaces since 1988 when he first discovered hip-hop culture and graffiti art. He soon became obsessed with this new and exciting art form and after a few brushes with the law he decided to find ways of developing his skills legally. Since his first commissioned mural at 11yrs old he has continued progressing and experimenting with his art through college and University. This has led to a career as a professional graffiti artist with several solo shows and high profile commissions internationally. 

His distinctive work can currently be seen all over the streets of the world, especially in his hometown of London. It features layers of intricate and flowing letterforms, shapes and line work, which are abstracted in a unique and aesthetically pleasing way. His style is full of funk and movement and fuses different skills together such as photorealism, illustration and graffiti letterforms. His work is open to individual interpretation and has been described as “surrealist graffiti art for the soul”. He works hard to make sure each piece he creates is very individual and distinctive in its quality. His influences range from the old school graffiti artists that inspired him as a kid such as Dondi and Mode 2 to abstract expressionist painters like Paul Klee and Roger Hilton. 

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Tell us a little about yourself?

Around 1984/5 I was exposed to the whole Hop Hop culture through my cousin who was a breakdancer. I was completely compelled and fascinated by the whole scene, the music, the dancing and of course the art. Once I saw the book ‘Subway Art” (The graffiti art bible) which documented all the subways cars painted in New York I was completely blown away and I felt like I had found my artistic path. I learnt my trade by copying every piece from that book until I could create my own letters then I hit the streets. 

 

What's your earliest memory of art?

I grew up in a very artistic household thanks to my mum really as she is an artist too and was always being creative. My Dad also loved art and took me to lots of exhibitions and living in London I was lucky enough to see early graffiti walls and murals from artists like The Chrome angels and the London giants in the flesh.  

 

Who inspired you to be an artist?

Well it was always in my blood and very natural to me. There wasn’t one particular person who inspired me, it was the encouragement and influence of both my parents that allowed me to pursue my path. Then obviously as I grew older and studied art and artists it was always clear to me that their dedication to their craft was the life I would lead. 

 

You have a pretty distinct colour palette that is bold. What drove you to these colours?

My colour palette links directly back to my roots as a graffiti artist. I love mixing strong contrasting colours which shouldn’t really work together. Back in the days when you wanted to paint a piece you didn’t have much choice so you had to learn to make strange combinations work. This is still a fascinating thing for me and to make lots of different colours work in harmony and balance is one of the hardest things for an artist to get right. If this is done incorrectly it can look awful, but the right way with experience and consideration it can look amazing. 

We love the layers of your work. We could stay staring at the dimensions of the work. How did you develop your style?

Well my style has been developed over years of experimenting. From the moment I started messing around with spray paint back in 85' I was always trying to do something different and looking at the more forward thinking graffiti artists. It was all about techniques for me and I spent hours mastering things like the classic graffiti shine. There is no shortcut to getting a style its takes a lot of hard work and dedication and has to come organically without biting. The original graffiti ethos of being original and not biting has been lost unfortunately and so many people just copy and paste bits of others artists work. Having an original and unique style is everything and feel blessed that I have been able to discover mine. 

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Who were some artists that influenced your work and you admire?

This is always a tricky one as I have so many different influences for all different types of art. Obviously from back when I started it was the graffito pioneers from New York and London (some of which I mentioned above) but later on when I studied art I began looking at looks of abstract, expressionist and surrealist artists like Paul Klee and Miro. Right now I admire people who are doing something a bit different like Sat one, Vesod, and remi rough

 

If you could collaborate with any artist dead or alive, who would it be?

Oh another tough one as I don’t collaborate often as it has to be the right person for it to really work and it takes a lot of planing. It would have to be somebody abstract and rocking the same future funk so maybe Futura or Rammellzee. 

 

Do you think inspiration comes at it’s own time, or you have to work to find it?

It can of course just come naturally but to to keep it flowing you have to make the sacrifice and dedication to your art. This then coupled with hard work and positive feedback should give you the foundation to keep progressing and developing. 

 

We are giving you an open platform. What do you want to tell the people out there?

Well firstly I want to say to young artists to turn off the internet and dig deep. Spend more time drawing and experimenting without looking at other peoples work and hopefully someday you will come across your own uniques style. Remember biting is WAK. 

 

 

For more about the artist:

www.mrcenz.com

 

 

Instagram:

@mrcenzone

 

 

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