We all know him for his wide murals painted around the world. Small houses on giant’s back, class struggle and pretty superhero kids staring at the blue sky. We reached Fintan for a chat about his art, his early days and his upcoming projects. Take your time and enjoy this exclusive conversation.
Hello Fintan, first of all, tell us something about your upcoming work. What are you into at the moment?
Right now I am in Perth working on a mural for Public Festival. Despite the rain on my first couple of days, Its been great.
Kids, houses, flying objects… How did you decide upon some of the re-occurring themes in your work? I mean, is it something do you control or is it subliminal in a way?
Nostalgia plays a big part in my work and I draw a lot of influence from cartoons and children’s books. My childhood memories and personal experiences come through a lot in my work, I also like to link personal experience to broader social issues like climate change or class struggle. However in some works I feel like I am telling stories that I don’t fully understand, there is definitely an element of chaos or the subliminal in my work as well.
For some reason when I look at a lot of your pieces, I see things that remind me of a backpack. Yeah, stop laughing, it’s like I could feel the weight on my back, and I think it’s related to the sense of time passing, and the flying characters you had in your walls. It’s a big struggle you represent in your artworks, we live somewhere between the past and the future and we don’t know what will happen the next second. Is that just me or is that represented in the work?
Yeah I guess my works often tell stories of displacement, Climate change and immigration. Transition, movement and uncertainty are important in my work.
“The Pyramid” piece is a real shot. A stunning composition and a great perspective with the urban context. How did you reach the final result, I mean, the “arrow wall” was something you were searching for or it was a random choice?
I had done a small work on paper that I was quite happy with at the time. Then I was invited to paint a festival in Aalborg and they sent me a photo of that wall. I liked that the wall was shaped like an arrow and that added meaning for me, I played around in photoshop and the piece fit perfect so I went with it.
All of your outdoor production is pretty immense and sprawling at times. Do you enjoy working large as opposed to working smaller? Make me smile, tell me some about the hardest part of your large scale painting passion.
I am getting tired of painting big walls actually. It can be pretty draining and logistically very difficult. That being said it also has its rewards. I think next year I am going to focus more on studio work though. I am becoming frustrated with the two-dimensional aspects of walls and want to branch out more.
If you could change one thing about being an artist, what would it be?
What kind of music do you listen to while you’re working?
My taste is pretty varied. I was always a hip-hop head growing up so that still dominates my playlist. Coming from Brisbane punk has been an important part of the cultural fabric of my city. So some Proto-punk bands; The Saints and Death, have been on heavy rotation today.
Let’s talk for a while about the past, how was your beginnings in graffiti? What do you see when you look back?
I grew up in Brisbane, My city always had a reputation as a cultural backwater so the street art and stencil craze really took a long time to reach my city compared to Melbourne and Sydney. However, Brisbane always produced incredible hard-edged graffiti writers and people like Pubes, Dorps, Seiko, Sofles and Kasino have contributed internationally to graffiti in big ways. Bombing and painting trains really dominated the scene in my city for a long time and ‘street art’ was almost non-existant. I got sucked into that lifestyle at a young age and my bombing career lasted 10 years before I moved onto other things. Looking back my early years were just really fun, I didn’t take things seriously then and painting wasn’t a career. I also have a lot of incredible stories from that period in my life.
Is it something you are comfortable with, or would you like to erase your earlier works?
I wish I could show more of my early works but its all pretty incriminating. For legal reasons I don’t show any of my early works under my real name.
If you look at those pieces, do you see something completely different from now? How has your work evolved over the years from when you were beginning?
When I started out I was obsessed with letter structure. Now, as you know, my work is almost completely figurative.
Small curiosity, when you were 13, what did you want to be?
When I was a kid I really wanted to be a scuba diver. I didn’t realize that that wasn’t actually a job. By the time I was 13 I was already painting graffiti so the wheels were in motion.
It seems like traveling in your life has taken you to a lot of interesting locales.. Favorite country or city visited.
My favourite trips last year were to Moscow, Buenos Aires and Djerba, I like to visit places that are a little different to what I am used to.
Quick reply. Something you’ve always wanted to do, but have yet to.
Ride the Trans Siberian Railway.
Something you want the world to know about you.
I hate coffee.
Something that annoys or frustrates you about people.
I like people. A lot of things frustrate me about humanity in general though, greed, selfishness etc etc.