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Interview & Coverage – Dalek (James Marshall) “Surface Fetish” a collaborative exhibition with Buff Monster, GR Gallery, NYC

November 8, 2019
13 min read

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So James (Dalek), quickly give people who don’t know who you are a one minute background?

One minute background as in… Maybe Buff can do that.

About you?

Yeah, I don’t know, what do you want to know about my background?

Well let’s start with your your name, it’s James Marshall?

Yes! I’m James Marshall, also known as Dalek.

You have worked both as James Marshall and under the moniker, Dalek, right?

Yes, and now it’s just back to Dalek, pretty much, it’s easier for branding purposes.

You have your space monkey which I guess would be your trademark symbol/character?

Yes, space monkey is my trademark character, but the geometric work has kind of taken over in recent years, and now it’s kind of getting it to a mixture of both.  I’m just trying a little bit each direction keeping from getting too bored with one thing.

So, some background of where you are from. Are you a trained artist, or learned it all on the streets?

I grew up all over from a Military family, so up and down the east coast, overseas, lived in Chicago and New York.

Now you’re LA based?

No, I’m in North Carolina.

How long have you been there?

Been there about 12-years or so… But right now I’m in New York City!

Exactly! I’m here with you at GR Gallery on the lower side of Manhattan and you’re doing a show with the one and only, Buff Monster. How did you guys get together? This is the second show by the way, check out the coverage from the last one here.

Yes I’ve known Buff for years… I mean long time going back. So, the gallery owner came to me and he had been asking if we wanted to do a show and he asked me how I feel about doing a show with Buff and I said, “yeah, that would be great.” It’s just that show was done on such short notice.

The first one?

Yeah, it was just kind of thrown together and there wasn’t a lot of new work and wasn’t too well planned out.

You had some great ideas in there though!

Yeah, it was fun, but I don’t like it when things feel rushed. We talked about doing a second iteration, so that we could do it more properly.

And here we are.

Yep, here we are, and I don’t know if there will be another iteration of this anywhere, but I mean it still has room to grow, so you never know.

I mean you have collaborative works like the print right?

Well there is just a collaborative print. There’s no other collaborative works this time around, so that could be something to focus on if another iteration of this saga happens.

It’s a really beautiful print it priced extremely low for everyone. It’s available online now.

Yes it’s available online through GR, and there are not a lot of collaborative prints we do together so grab one while you can.

Carlo McCormick

I’m going to grab one for sure.

Yeah it’s a good one to have.

So, the work for this show was specifically designed for this second show then since you wanted to be a little more prepared?

Yeah, I mean some of the work came from a show I did a few months ago, but I knew I was doing this show and so I purposely held some some stuff back…sometimes, I’ll do that, where I just make sure I’m going to have some inventory left so I don’t have to paint an entire new body of work.

Right. So, you have some of your Test Prints I guess you would call them. Which are really cool because they are basically originals at the end of the day, or one of a kind I should say?

That’s just all experimentation that started with the company I was printing with in Texas who made a couple for me. I really liked the layering and the translucencies and how it came out, and so now we have been experimenting with doing them a little more purposely, and over a longer period of time.


Right, and I know you’ve been putting them up on your site recently, which is really fun. The real question I have to ask you is when are you making the Shower Curtains again?

I have a Shower Curtain sample at home actually!

I had one many years ago and it disappeared over moving a bunch of times, and I miss it.

We’re going to put a new one up; it’s a fabric this time instead of a clear plastic liner style.  The print quality is so much better because we just use on demand printing now so we get a good all-over print.  Yeah I should put it up for pre-order soon.

Awesome I’ll definitely be watching for that one to drop.

We got some pillows and blankets and other things we are doing through on demand as well. 

So, back to the show at hand, is there a theme for you guys, or was it just get together and make some art?

No this was just a kind of let’s get together to do stuff. I think the plan was to do more collaborative work, and I didn’t have the time so I kept telling Buff “I’ll get to it… I’ll get to it”, and I still haven’t gotten to it (laughing).

@drrevoltrtw @dougyfesucks

I mean trying to get to you this week was super tough because you’re so busy.

Yes, it just gets hard, and things are unpredictable, and we were trying to get together more to work in the gallery, and then got lots of stuff done, but I ended up having meetings and you know… life happens.

Shit happens…

Yeah! I didn’t even get a chance to do half the stuff I wanted to do while I was here.

So, your process for these works, the originals at least are done by hand in your studio, but you do have a background of Street Art, or strictly studio design work?

I started with graffiti in the early ’90’s, and I did this through the late ’90’s, and kind of slowly transitioned to canvas.

The whole Cinderella story, you know, the street artist who finds his way to gallery shows?

I guess, I mean it was before Street Art was really big, you know there was graffiti. I think Phil Frost is really the first person I’d say that was doing Street Art that I wouldn’t identify as graffiti, and I’m certainly not an expert in that territory, but I just know what I saw back then. For me, it was Phil’s work and Shepard’s (Fairey) stickers that paved the way for me.


Did you ever work with Phil or Shepard?

Shepard became a mentor to me when I lived in San Diego. I met him and he really helped me out. I liked his work, but it didn’t relate to what I was doing in a lot of ways, but he helped me create my style through his mentoring. Mostly at that time, it was just meeting people through doing stuff on the street, and learning from each other. I mean, I never really had any idea where things were going to go, I just kept doing my thing.

I remember the first time I saw your work where it was billed under James Marshall. It was a show you did at Hurley Gallery in SocaI with a giant wall sized canvas, I think? The canvas was all geometric shapes with loads of different colors. No space monkeys or anything like that.

Yeah they cut it up and sold it in squares.  That was pretty early on with that style and that was awesome to do as an experiment. To, kind of, look at cropping through other people’s eyes and play with compositions, and color, and stuff. That was the beginning of playing around with large scale canvases for sure.

I heard it was super fun to point at the part you wanted and watch them cut it and stretch it for you. Other than that anything people should know about your process, or the show, or what is coming up for you in the future?

I don’t know. I’m more focused on stuff at home, and I have commissions, and some mural projects to finish up. There won’t be another show for probably another year or so.

So, buy the work at GR Gallery now or you are going to have to wait?

Yeah, wait… I mean, preparing for a gallery show like this is exhausting, so it will probably be 18 months to 2-years… but we’ll see. 

Any funny stories of you getting into trouble while painting on the streets or anything like that?

I don’t think I ever got in trouble actually.

Any close calls?

Yeah, there were a couple where we got chased out of yards or something like that, but it was never more than that, it was more entertaining than anything.

I’m surprised because you’re a big dude, like 6’ 5” at least?  Can’t be too hard to spot painting on the street?

6’ 6” and 6’ 7” in shoes yeah.


It’s funny because everybody like me and Buff, who are around 5’ 10” look tiny in photos next to you.  I think you said Buff looked like a child next to you.

Yeah my kids are all bigger than Buff.

How tall is your wife?

She’s 5’ 10”.

I would look like a miniature person hanging out at your place! But seriously, I really appreciate you making time. I know you have literally not stopped all week preparing for the show, which everyone should check out before it closes. Anything you would like to plug before I let you go?

Well I have my Instagram @Dalek2020 which is my main feed and then @DalekDesigns is more for the product. So we’ll post prints there first, special one off things. @DalekDesigns is a platform just for products so we don’t exhaust people on the other feed with it, but also it acts as a way for fans to get first dibs at my prints and merch.

@danadynamite @buffmonster

All Photo’s & Text Copyright 2019 Matthew A. Eller.  Follow me on Instagram @ellerlawfirm

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