Its been difficult for me to write the intro to this piece. Mainly because I don’t want to sound like a gushing sycophant… So look I’ma tell you straight. Motel7, graffiti and fine artist, is epic. Epic in that she is truly and abundantly talented….sure. There’s no denying her graffiti absolutely burns with impudent color and the freshest of styles. Her fine art is an intrigue that hooks you instantly and then draws you under, below the surface, into a delightfully twisted and fun dimension thats all her own. But its more than this. Succinctly, you can like Motel or her work, or not and either way, I’ll tell you for free, she does not give a flying, blazing blue fuck. Not in an arrogant or unfounded fashion at all, she is actually a humble writer in a way…rather, this chick is herself, honest, real and true, all the way and all the time. Respect that. Now then, lets get to the interview shall we:
Q: Um first up, its been a while…so how and where the hell are ya?
Yes it has been a few years! I am good, just moved into a new apartment in Oslo, Norway. I plan to just hang out here for a year or so, see what happens! I try not to think too much about what to do in the future, if I am unable to support myself financially then its just another part of life. Artists always make a plan!Q: When talent was handed out, you took a triple share straight up, but is Motel classically trained as well?
Well firstly, i think talent only counts for half of your outcome. I think the other most important things are drive, passion and dedication. I studied at a Fine Art institution for a year, and the only thing I learned out of that was to drop out and do something else. It was probably the lowest year of my life. I was never cut out for being told what to do!Q: Do you like wearing socks?
Haha…If they are “Hello Kitty” socks, then I like to wear them…Q: Toyah - Fine Artist and Motel7 - Graffiti Artist… Clearly the two labels are not mutually exclusive for you. How do you define (if you do) yourself first and foremost as an artist?
Interesting question….I think when i meet people in bars I tell them I’m a fine artist. then when the conversation gets going, to better explain what I do, I have to bring graffiti into the picture. I consider myself just a very lucky person that fell upon these opportunities and maybe thats how I define myself - a lucky person. Saying I’m an artist is more of a joke for me, its like telling someone you drank a bottle of vodka in one go. You just want a reaction from the person. Who am I kidding? I’m not really an artist!Q: For you, whats the difference?
The difference between graffiti and fine art? Everything. its comparing a subculture to ‘culture’. Graffiti was something exclusive to vandals, trouble makers….Fine Art is what brings in the cash!(and the erm…culture)Q: A while ago, Banksy had this to say in an interview with Swindle: “Every other type of art compared to graffiti is a step down—no two ways about it. If you operate outside of graffiti, you operate at a lower level. Other art has less to offer people, it means less, and it’s weaker. I make normal paintings if I have ideas that are too complex or offensive to go out on the street, but if I ever stopped being a graffiti writer I would be gutted. It would feel like being a basket weaver rather than being a proper artist.” Do you buy that?No, other forms of Art are always important, and in no way weaker than the graffiti counterpart. I hope he is referencing his own work, and then it is a personal statement. Art is history, its the future, it is the documentation of thoughts, perspectives. Most of what we know of Turkey from 1000 years ago, medieval times, and so on, is because of Art. Here’s my idea of it: 100 years from now, those walls have been painted over, your graffiti gone over by another building, cleaned up by the government or painted over by a fellow writer. But the canvas you painted will most likely still be in someones home, a gallery or a museum. I think thats important.
Q: In your head, are your ideas immediately classified canvas/installation or wall… or do they kind of drift into one or the other as they develop? I guess I’m asking if there is a dimorphism between the two…
I guess of course they are mildly influenced by each other. I tend to keep my graffiti and fine art very separate, but of course colors, humor, everything gets mingled. My fine art is more of a personal thing. It’s my feelings, my sadness, my childhood. My graffiti is playful, fun, trying to make someone laugh, smile…..maybe its because in real life I am so good at hiding my feelings, so the graffiti is my way of saying ‘Hey I’m OK!’Q: Where do you draw inspiration from? Is your art a product of conceptual logic or an exorcism of the demons within?
Japan, Studio Ghibli
, cartoons, anything a child of 10 would be inspired by. I’m inspired by dinosaurs, video games…anything a mature artist would NOT be interested in. I live in my world, and happy to be here! No logic, just full of childish dreams….Q: Whats in Motel’s brain right now? Whats next on the canvas/wall?
I am busy working on a group show we are having here in Oslo, Norway
. I also have a solo exhibition in Amsterdam
, next year February, and a few shows I can’t talk about yet. I am always painting on walls, every week, twice, three times where I can, and constantly evolving my knowledge of graffiti. I have been traveling extensively the past few months, painting in New York, Minneapolis at a female graffiti convention
, Paris, London, Bristol, Trondheim, Stavanger and Oslo. There is talk of Prague, and I am going to London at the end of the month for more graffiti! Traveling is important, and if you have enough money for a ticket, and a friend in another country, I advise everyone to do it.Q: Yeah, you’ve got some interesting heritage (Irish/Norwegian if I remember right) and you’re traveling all over right now….How is this affecting your art?
I am always with the impression that traveling is good. Whoever said ignorance is bliss is an imbecile! My art has changed dramatically over the past few months. its good to get fresh perspectives. See the world!Q: NYC and Bristol…Damn! These are the birthplaces of two very different but turbo influential graffiti styles…What was it like painting there? How was the scene?
The Bristol scene is a lot more new, fresh. I saw amazing graffiti and street art while there… very inspiring. New York is the birthplace, and what most people consider the mecca of graffiti. Of course every writer feels the need to come here, and pay their respects.Q: Does music inspire your art? Whats on your ipod?
Very much! right now I am listening to a lot of Reverend Horton Heat
, Slim Cessna
, Squirrel Nut Zippers
, The Specials
, The Sonics
, Aus Rotten
, Toxic Holocaust
, Lamb of God
, The Doors
, Michael Jackson
, 80’s mix(??!!) Grieg…Q: Hold up, Grieg? Edvard Grieg? The composer chap?
Yeah…Q: You’re odd.
Haha, I just looked at my “most played” on my itunes… quite a bizarre mix there! Humor in some of the country music I mentioned has a huge impact on my fine art work. The disturbing nature of the girls I paint, the way it looks all pleasant, but something sinister lays deep….I love that shit!
Q: I’ve heard you say a couple of times that you are grateful to be paid for doing what you love….and no doubt thats the way it should be. But how is the Art industry going to ever going to come right? By that I mean, most every artist believes their work should be readily accessible (and thats also kind of the very basis of street art) yet thats exactly the opposite of the way the fine art industry works - the rarer a piece, the deader an artist blah blah…. and at the other end of the spectrum huge multi-nationals are more than happy to pay street artists for designs (and associated cred). I see one common denominator here and thats money… Where do you think a happy medium lies and how to achieve it?
The biggest thing I learned about being a graffiti artist is to stay true, and keep it real! Don’t agree to something you don’t believe in! I really don’t look into it that much in the end, as i said before, I’m just kinda fooling everyone! I’m just me, I’m not trying to rock the latest fashions, or be hip to whats going on. I just paint. You want to buy my work? Sure here you go that’ll be so and so much! I think what we have to keep in mind is that there are loads of artists doing the same thing. Just enjoy the ride!
Q: Looking at your latest work, its clear that your style lends itself to some mad illustrative possibilities. In that vein, is software driven vector art something you intend to explore?
Sure, and its a slow process. I am teaching myself, so its more of a tedious development. I’m incredibly slow with technology! I am working on some clothing labels for a friend. its fun, but I choose painting over computers any day!Q: Quick shots, here we go…
..Self Building or Self Destruction?
Self destruction!Relevance or Aesthetics?
RelevanceFamous or Nameless?
NamelessSex or Drugs?
Sex and drugs!Tattoos? Who designed yours?
Davey Jones, or Diamond Dave. He works at Sins of Style
in Cape Town, South Africa. He is very talented. I also have a tattoo by Lee Herbert at Sins of Style. He is a graffiti artist too, and amazingly good at doing black and gray tattoos.Art and Spirituality?
Spirituality is for hippies. suffering and self hate is lovely.Motel’s average day?
Drinking, art, parties, music, food, laughing, candles and this bloody computerQ: Where can someone get hold of you / your art?
You can see more of my art at www.motelseven.com
, or you can see my flickr at www.flickr.com/motel7wk3c