Another sterling interview from Helen Soteriou, this time one of our favourites, Copyright. Thanks Helen!
Can you tell me about your background?
I’ve been painting with spray paint for the last 10 years but I’ve been into art my whole life. I got the name Copyright and started painting roses about the same time, 5 years ago in 2004.
You have a unique style. I call you the romantic graffiti artist because you spray pink roses everywhere. How did this come about?
Yeah, on the streets I mostly do the roses. I’ve done loads of ’em now. I try to put them on the Sh*ttiest walls or down dark alleyways. The first one I ever did is still probably my fave, it was painted coming out of a hackney council rubbish bin that was overflowing. I try to brighten up places with ’em, it’s just a small touch that can make a big difference.
What does graffiti mean to you?
To me, it’s a constructive thing, it’s not about vandalism, quite the opposite, it’s about putting stuff up that people might enjoy. Hopefully some of it means something to someone.
Where can we see your work? Do you have a favourite place where you have left your mark?
Not really, just depends where feels cool or where I’m hanging out. I used to get a lot of work up in Stoke Newington, Brick lane and the Shoreditch areas of London.
You can still see some bits in Bristol and Newcastle, and some recently in Harajuku and the Shibuya areas of Tokyo.
Do you ever worry about getting caught or do you like the thrill of the chase?
It can definitely be a rush. I try not to think about getting caught.
Quite a few artists are paste postering their work now, do you see yourself going down this route?
Yeah it’s something I’ve done and will still do with my work. I try to mix up pieces with a combination of freehand, stencils and paste-ups. The combination makes wicked textures greater than the sum of its parts, it just depends what works for which piece, or what I feel like. Always happy to experiment with different techniques and mediums, especially mixing them up to create new looks.
Graffiti has become so mainstream now that big corporations are looking to collaborate with street artists. Do you think that artists who sign-up with them are ‘selling out’?
Difficult one, I don’t think it’s as black and white as that, depends what it is, I’ve done t-shirts and I think that’s cool. It’s completely up to the artist what they want to do, we all got bills to pay so if that’s how somebody wants to do it then that’s their biz.
You have left little gifts of painted spray cans all over the city for people to find. Why do you do this?
Probably for the same reason I paint the roses, just simple little things for people to find and hopefully enjoy.
I read a story somewhere that for Valentine’s day one year you sprayed pink roses along the route your girl friend took to work. Is this true?
Yeah that’s true, wasn’t all the way along the route. I didn’t have that long to do it, just a few, but was down a dark route I’d never been before. I usually like to visit my spots a few times before I paint ’em, and it’s a spot where a lot of random people hang out at night, was kinda sketchy.
Is there a holy grail for graffiti artists – a place where everyone would like to leave their mark?
I still want to paint Barcelona, been meaning to get up there for years, think I’ll try to do that soon, that’s def a place with a lot of street art history.
You have just come back from Tokyo. What was that like? Is there a lot of graffiti in Japan?
Yes. There is quite a lot there, some real amazing stuff too… and lots of international artists. It’s an amazing city, visiting somewhere like that is like a massive playground, but the police are really strict though.
Where can people see / buy your work?