Young artist from North London, Stazzy smiles in awe with his hot chocolate as he’s asked to unravel the roots of his passion for art: “I leave eyes till last. Only because my auntie told me ‘eyes are the key to the soul”.
Words: Asma Qureshi, Subeditor: Desta Wondirad
Stazzy: I used to draw for people all the time. It was never serious, I never put my all into it, not until I was 21. I thought if I’m gonna take a career…which choice do I take? What am I good at? I’m a better artist than I am a rapper.
Do you still rap now?
SP: I could probably rap now, but I’m not going to rap to you in your interview. Hahahaha.
I see, but have you ever thought “I can do both?”
SP: Yeah, I thought of doing exhibitions where you’d have my music playing with my art on the walls…but at the same time I know I am a better artist than I am a rapper…so I thought there’s other ways of including the music in the art. And if I was to do something now, I’d do spoken word and art.
My first impression of your artwork was stencil, is that the style you go for?
SP: I don’t think I have a style. I met a guy on the road and we talked in the café. He was saying it took him 25 years to find one. I would say I haven’t found my style yet. I’m influenced by a lot of different things, but I haven’t found a style.
Why did you get into illustration?
SP: When I was a kid, most of the drawings I’d do, wouldn’t be realistic, or life studies. I used to do a lot of graffiti, so naturally characters came with the graffiti. And then after social media became the way to promote yourself for anything, I decided if I’m going to do anything I can bang out illustrations quickly. So I just done loads of illustrations put them up on my Instagram and then lo and behold people started following- liking pictures and so I thought I’d take it on from here. That was a good starting point, it wasn’t too technical it was more imaginative.
It was more creative for you?
SP: Yeah, cos I’d just do things from the top of my head, it was just anything I’d fancy drawing- I’d create it and if I didn’t like it, I’d change it. It could be adapted.
What do you think about the popularity of digital art?
SP: I think it depends on who you’re trying to appeal to. I think with our generation, or the younger generation, they much prefer something that’s digital. In my eyes young people prefer something more refined, prints. Whereas an older person with their own home would want an original piece. Now with painting, I only do one of ones. So if you’ve got that, no one else is going to have it. Whereas, digital art is for the masses: prints, logo designs, illustrations; it’s a good way to get yourself out there but paint is something that can last a life time. No matter where the painting goes, there’s only one of it.
You mentioned, social media is a good way to promote yourself as an artist.
SP: Yeah that goes for anything.
Do you think you can be an artist offline?
SP: Yeah, but my problem would be is that I don’t have the academic qualities. I didn’t go uni for art, didn’t do well in school or in college. I got a really short attention span so I never really liked painting in the style of other people, I always wanted to do stuff that I wanted to do.
Academics doesn’t matter, does it?
SP: It doesn’t but in that case it would be ‘who you know’ but if you don’t know anyone then…I believe it can be done outside of social media. You just have to find a spontaneous or niche way of putting it to people. I didn’t want to limit myself and I feel that if I put myself on social media, that way anyone can see my stuff.
How do you portray yourself?
SP: I try to be myself. People want to know, you are a part of that painting, and you are your art. For instance, you wouldn’t paint something that is against your morals. If it was something racist or homophobic you might not paint it because it’s not you. On social media I try not to offend anyone. People want to know you’re human, people want to know who’s behind the art.
That’s really deep.
SP: I try to be deep, I’m a deep guy.
How do you want your art to be recognized?
SP: I just want to leave a legacy. I want to leave something behind that people will always recognize that it was from a certain time in a certain culture. Hip hop, Grime, street culture , ‘urban’ whatever you want to call it. I want people to look at it and go ‘that’s how it was back then.’ The only way to do that is, galleries or on walls…I want to enter that portrait artist of the year. I want to do it 2017.
Why not next year?
SP: Because next year I want to spend a year doing portraits. Right now im in the process of developing a style, and on my social media people will follow this journey till I find my style.
Do you have any artists that inspire you?
SP: Loads, Kors. I like young artists and use them as a way of creating something different from them. The two I really like are, Davo Howarth and Funny Tummy. Once Funny Tummy posted something like “I want to get the layers as thin as possible”. THen Davo commented like “you’ve given me an idea”. Next day, Davo’s painting was made all from the tube- as thick as possible. It’s like a game.
…Andy Warhol, Basquiat.
SP: I did the “Psychedelamals”. I was inspired by Big Sean’s music video to “Beware” again: Hip Hop, a massive influence. At one point he’s in a heat signature. I thought I’d use these heat signature colours and create something different.
Do you enjoy to commission besides financial reward?
SP: When there’s commissions I have to put them completely to the side and do something from my mind and empty space. The biggest reward is when someone is really happy when they see what I’ve made for them. I had a friend who lost his cousin to cancer, and I did that commission for free. When he saw it he was almost in tears. That was a greater feeling than any amount of money I’ve made from paintings.
So quality comes from an emotional connection to the painting?
SP: Yeah definitely. But it can be a flaw, you can be playing with the painting forever.
There’s a lot of effort put into your artwork, so do you ever get pissed off with minimalistic art, like a blank canvas selling for a ridiculous price?
SP: I saw a post one time saying “that’s not art, I can do that” but underneath it said “you didn’t do that” Tracy Emin. You wouldn’t buy her bedroom, even if it was going for £10, I wouldn’t buy her bedroom. But you have to remember the work that went into that. She slept in that bed for a certain amount of time.
No one else has done that. That’s what art is about, doing something that no one else has done.
Whatever you do, don’t turn a blind eye to this incredibly creative artist, who’d not only dedicated but produces art which is truly irreplaceable.