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A Magazine for Sheffield

Kid Acne: Return of the Stabby Women

Kid Acne first graced our pages in December 2008, our humble first year as a magazine. Since then we have changed – we like to think for the better, but you be the judge – and so has Kid Acne. Building on his distinctive style, which takes in street-level wheat pastes, spray painted slogans, illustration, animation, music and just about anything else you care to mention, he has had great successes in recent years. We thought it was about time we invited him back to celebrate our sixth year as a publication.

What have we missed since we last featured your work? What have been your highlights of the last five years?

Wow. Time flies. A lot has happened in the past five years but in many respects, nothing has changed at all. I'm still doing my thing - printing, painting, drawing and exhibiting work. One of the highlights would be the Zebra Face animations I'd say. It's been amazing to work with so many talented people and finally bring these stories to life after creating the characters almost 20 years ago. I'd love to work on more projects like this.

What have you been up to so far this year?

I've been fortunate enough to have had three solo shows in 2014 already. The first one being Standard Practice at B&B Gallery in Sheffield, which archived 15 years of my printmaking endeavours, followed by another print retrospective in Venice Beach, California, which showcased a similar body of work.

For the London show, I wanted to do something slightly more specific. I came up with the Adaptations concept as a way of highlighting the distinction between loving homage and plagiarism, which in my view seems to have gotten lost in the art world today. Too many people take reference from this and that without giving credit to where the idea came from. I like the idea of leading people to the source. That way they can see how you've flipped it. A bit like sampling certain breaks. If the listener knows the original, then they also know what you've brought to the table.

Are you still making music alongside your art?

Actually, yes. The last album I made was in 2007, which landed me a deal with EMI, but it was a crazy, messy experience. The best thing to come out of it was to have toured around the UK and Europe supporting some of our favourite artists. After 150 shows we decided to take a break for a while and I've been concentrating on my artwork ever since. This year I finally got back into the studio, recording music again. The next project to come out will be under the name Mongrels, which was the name of our first rap group in the mid 90s. We've reinstated the group and added Sebastian Laws (New Kingdom) to the line up.

Good to see your Stabby Women characters are still going strong. Where did the idea come from and what else do you have planned for them?

I've been painting and drawing Stabby Women for over ten years. It's second nature to me now. I can't imagine life without them. The initial idea was to present an alternative to the characters I saw painted in graffiti and street art at the time. I felt there should be some strong female characters in the mix that didn't look like Lara Croft or Manga teenage fantasies. I'd really like to develop a proper narrative for the Stabby Women set in an antediluvian matriarchal society. In the meantime, they'll continue to patrol and protect the back streets of our cities.

How do your different methods - wheat pastes, murals, music, screenprinting, animation - influence each other

For me, they are all one and the same, just different ways of presenting imagery and narrative. They might not be linked thematically per se, but there's always a lineage that runs throughout my work - a stylistic cohesiveness which holds them together.

Who are your favourite artists, alive or dead

I really like the work of Todd James. I love the simplicity and humour. I've always been a fan of David Hockney, Ramm:Ell:Zee, Pete Fowler... The list goes on.

What does 2014 hold for Kid Acne?

I have a solo exhibition in Turin, Italy, which is keeping me busy. Otherwise, it's going to be a varied mix - more murals, travels, print editions and music.

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