You probably should go to an opticians if you haven’t seen the multitude of magpies, lost socks and distinctive murals that coLor has been perpetrating in Sheffield over the last year. Busy defining and refining his styles, we caught up with him to ask him about what he does and why he does it. What […]

You probably should go to an opticians if you haven’t seen the multitude of magpies, lost socks and distinctive murals that coLor has been perpetrating in Sheffield over the last year.

Busy defining and refining his styles, we caught up with him to ask him about what he does and why he does it.

What started you drawing?

Summer holidays sitting round my Grandma’s dining table surrounded by felt tips.

Can you describe the process of starting a new piece?

Most of the time I knock up a quick sketch and get straight on it. Sometimes I’ll just pack some cans and see what comes out. If I’m working from photos I find then pieces always come out better if I grid them out to help scaling, but that’s about it. My stencil projects have taken much more planning and organisation but in short – idea, cut, chase around for weeks, paste.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

Coffee. Toilet walls. Derelict buildings. Vice(s). Sheffield. Nature.

Tools – what do you use regularly and what’s your favourite?

In books: Propeller pencil, tablet eraser, Bic yellow, Sharpie, Posca. For stencils: acetate, Lumocolor, scissors. On walls: Value mulsh, MTN94, Alien spectrals. Pink dots, grey soft, 94 stock caps.

There are lots of options on paint but I don’t like to use anything but 94. It goes on really clean, never too wet, awesome coverage, wicked colour range, stock caps are really good and it smells unreal. That said, I have very fond memories of Hycote and that smells like piss. When I was about 16 one of my mates bought 2 palettes of discontinued car colours and was selling them to us for 30p each. The death of beige and bordeaux Peugeots was a happy time for me.

What other artistic media have had an effect on your art?

Obvious stuff I guess. I like anything visual, so films and photos catch my eye. I like things that make you want to look twice. I’m not so bothered about ‘getting’ stuff. If something isn’t visually engaging first then it’s probably not for me, but anything that ticks that box – sculpture, craft, design, architecture. There’s interesting things everywhere.

How do you spend your days?

I don’t try to make any money from painting/projects so I work part time. But when I’m not working I’ll be out painting walls or planning stencil work. I’m blessed with a few local legal spots so you’ll usually find me there drinking cheap cider if the sun is shining or else sneaking round empty factories talking to pigeons if it’s raining.

Which of your recent pieces have you enjoyed the most?

Sometimes things just go well. I painted a piece called ‘Squids In’ a few weeks ago as a tie-in to someone else’s piece. I’d already been painting that morning so didn’t have anything else planned, but I just rocked up half cut and banged it out in about 40 minutes. Technically it’s a long way off my best work, but I just liked how I’d come without an idea, had a ball and left with a piece I was really pleased with.

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How has your art evolved over time?

I’m much more confident using cans now so I can think about pieces that I wouldn’t have known where to start with 10 years ago. I’m still learning though. I’ve worked my way through a few different styles to the point that I feel like I’m starting to bring them all together. I don’t think I’ll ever stop changing what I do though. It’s too easy to get into the habit of churning out the same kind of thing.

How has art in general changed since you started?

Graf and street art is much more recognised. Sheffield in particular has developed a big scene over the past few years, fuelled by lots of disused buildings full of blank walls and lots of different styles of artist using them. Still lots of politics, still people in it for different reasons. I’ll always be ‘live and let live’. If you want to hit tracks and trains, do it and and I’ll look out for that shit rolling. If you want to put your stuff in galleries for people to stroke their chins over, crack on – I’ll get the beard wax out and take a geez. Or anywhere in between. All fine.

What are you currently working on?

Walls and a stencil series of pie charts.

What do you dislike in art?

Bollocks. Beef. Negative attitudes to public art.

What makes you smile in art?

Jokes. People enjoying my work. Other people enjoying doing theirs. The sub scene of photographers and urban explorers who spend their time tailing painters to hard-to-find places and documenting what might otherwise largely go unseen. Anything that makes the world more interesting to look at.

Good advice you wish you’d been told earlier?

‘Please yourself’ is the best advice I can think of, but I’ve never needed telling.

coLor

Interview by Matt Jones.