UK Street Art had the pleasure of catching up with the Don Corleone of stencil art, Logan Hicks, before his first solo UK show opens at Black Rat Press this Thursday (July 3). To hear all about his old studio next to Shepherd Fairey‘s, his desire to simply paint beautiful women and his thoughts on the raging Nike vs Adidas debate (we sort of made that last part up), check the full interview out after the jump.
Welcome to London Logan, it’s great to have you here. If we start from the beginning, you grew up in Baltimore and were originally a screen-printer before becoming a stencil artist, can you tell us how you got into screen-printing? And why you ended up jacking it in and moving to California?
Yes, and no. I can be a slob in some respects. I guess I need something that I can focus on, so stencils provide that for me. As they say, everybody is good at something. For me it was stencils. Stencils felt natural. It came fluidly to me. I had been screen-printing for years, and stencils were a modified version of that. It just worked out for me. I tend to be very regimented in my thoughts, morals, ethics, approach, so I guess that the steadfastness of my character physically manifests itself in the stencils I do. But if you were to look at my surroundings (house, studio, car, etc) you would see that my surroundings do not benefit from my obsessive approach. I like to think that I am just like my art. Gritty and dirty.
You’re also renowned for choosing particularly gritty images for the subjects of your work, is this a conscious decision or are you simply, naturally more inclined to urban spaces?
I am just drawn to the grittiness. I have always been drawn to the struggle that the city provides. I seem to focus on those situations where the city has the potential to become an obstacle. In my head I envision this situation where the city and man are in this perpetual battle to exist independent of each other. it is just what catches my eye. The system of order that the city demands. The framework of behavior that is necessary within the urban environment. I wish I could paint beautiful women all day and be happy with it, but for some reason I have been cursed with the uncanny ability to focus intensely on things like rust, staircases, subways, buildings and decay. Lucky me. Haha.
HDR photography is a process whereby a shot is bracketed. One photo has a normal exposure, one photo is under exposed, and one photo is over exposed. This ensures that all the detail of a scene is captured. Then those three photographs (there can be more than three photos also) are then merged into one photograph. Basically the photos pick the areas with the same tonality and detail. There is an equal amount of detail in the shadows, and the highlights. This is what gives it the surreal feel, but it is photography nevertheless. It has this hyper-realism that I really like. It has that same abundance of detail that my stencil work has.
For years people had suggested that I display the photos that I use to make my stencil work. The suggestion never resonated with me until I found the HDR photography. I stumbled onto a few HDR photos online one day, and was on an immediate quest to perfect the HDR process. That was almost a year ago, but I have put in double time trying to get it right. I began to find that some photos were best used for stencils, and others worked well simply as photos. Over the past year, the photos have continued to evolve, and I have become happy enough with the results to display them. This show at Black Rat marks the first time I have displayed them.
I am so excited I can barely contain myself. I feel very confident with the new work. For years I have felt like I mastered the art of doing a piece here and there, but I never really got to sink my teeth into doing an entire show. I have spent the better part of the last 6 months in the studio creating these works. Although strong sales would be the icing on the cake, I can sit back and relax now that I know I did all I could.
Unfortunately I am only over here for a short time, so I dont know if I will have the time to do much street work. Because of the complexity of my work i am somewhat limited in how quick i can put my work up. The whole ‘hit and run’ approach doesn’t work well for me. I’d like to leave my mark a bit, but I will just have to see how it goes. I am bringing a few murals with me though in case anything presents itself while I am there.
London really is a different world right now in terms of the art scene. I think that many people, myself included, are waiting to see how things pan out. I would like to see a little of the hype die down and see if things stabilize. Regardless, there is an energy that is different here than any other place I have visited. I am just happy to be included in the whole thing.
As far as other people, there are a few people that I like. One that comes to mind is this obscure stencil guy named Banksy. He might be able to pull a living out of this stencil thing if he sticks with it. Same for this Nick Walker chap.
Cool we’ll, ahem, look out for those two, thanks for the tip.As well as the UK scene, the world’s urban art scene seems to be going from strength to strength, how do you feel about this and do you feel part of it? Are there people internationally that you particularly admire or on the flip-side think are unnecessarily overrated?
It is a bit hard to figure out where i am in for this whole thing. On one hand I feel like I am a part of the urban art scene because of the medium i use, but when i step back and look at my subject matter, and my process, I question how much I am really a part of it. I dont really know. I just figure I will just keep making the work and others can figure out which round hole this square peg fits into.
Do I think there there are people that are overrated? Hell yes. tons of them. But me naming names doesn’t do anything to further the scene I am a part of. I would rather focus on the positive people than try and ‘out’ the untalented ones. Just wait 5 years, and see who sticks around. Time is a harsher judge than I am.
Many thanks to Logan for this interview.