The second coming

I can remember the day that my love affair with the spray can was re-kindled as if it was yesterday. After going through my Acid House/Madchester/Rave phase I’d moved on again and was now listening to bands such as Nirvana. As a result I had the fashion sense to match and so looked bloody ridiculous. I was still living at home and was at the local Art College. I had planned on becoming a Joiner but changed my mind after realising I couldn’t do it for the rest of my life, this realisation striking me as I helped to put the roof on a house in the pissing rain. The house in question was part of a block of retirement flats that were being built at the top of the road where I lived. In fact they were being built on land that was once occupied by a dilapidated garage that I had vandalised years earlier. Anyway, on my way in to Art College one day I noticed that the town had been covered in tags. No one locally was doing graffiti anymore however it was a tag that I recognised and so that night I decided to contact the person who I thought had done the deed. But how, I hear you ask surely it would have taken some sort of Inspector Morse style detective work to track them down? It helped that his Dad owned a shop so I just called the shop and asked for him. He wasn’t there, but he was at his Mums so I gave her a ring (his Dad gave me the number.) I hadn’t spoken to Spy for at least three years but none of that seemed to matter as we quickly got back into the rhythm of talking non-sense and having a laugh. He was now studying art in Coventry and had recently got back in to doing graffiti. It turned out that he was planning on doing a piece the next night and wanted a look out. Hey presto! Here we go again.

The first colour piece that I’d done in years, the result of a day out with Spy. 1997

After that initial meeting we kept in touch and would meet up when we could. On most occasions this would involve a drunken painting session. A year later I hotfooted it down to Brighton to go to University and Spy moved to London to do his Masters. I soon followed him up to London so I could also do my masters and so saw a lot more of Spy. This meant I painted a lot more, so slowly I got back in to the scene. I felt a bit old for a tag so after a while I just started painting Mr.O, it made sense as I’m a Mr and my surname begins with the letter ‘O’.

Trackside hit in Camden. The first time I did graffiti in London. 2000

Quite like this one. Says MO which is basically my initials. Tottenham, London. 2000

First time I wrote Mr.O, there wasn’t much wall space left which is why the door also got painted over. 2000

Trackside hit that you could see from the train as you came into Euston Station. 2001

Another trackside piece near Euston Station. 2001

This was done whilst I was back in Wales and was pretty large. After doing this I walked to a different part of the area with Spy and put up the dub below. All in all a good nights work. 2001

Although this is only a silver dub it’s possibly one of my favourite hits. When I was first into graffiti I always wanted to do something on this wall as it’s right next to the motorway and everyone can see it. I never did it when I was young as I thought it was far too risky as the motorway is always busy. This night we just went for it, Spy putting something up next to this.

The last time I put up letters. This one is in Stoke Newington, London. 2001

After a while I started to get quite disillusioned with putting a name on a wall. I also started to really hate the politics that surround the movement. As it’s based on a hierarchy problems arise, attitudes form and after a while you start to become effected by these attitudes. It didn’t seem like fun anymore. My biggest change of heart though was that I started to find graffiti quite alienating. Graffiti is made for other writers, therefore it is usually only other writers that can read what you have put up. It’s pretty impossible for your average person on the street to understand. Yes they can appreciate it but they cannot read it. I decided that I wanted to stop doing letterforms and concentrate on images instead.

The first image I came up with and wanted to put up was the bald character. This was actually a result of going bald myself, so it is a self portrait. I wanted to let the world know that you shouldn’t be ashamed of going bald and so I decided to spray it on the walls of London. You shouldn’t grow a comb over, you shouldn’t buy a wig, and you shouldn’t wear a hat. You should just shave it all off and walk tall. People probably didn’t know that this was my reason for doing this but at least they could engage with a character that appeared on the street and told them to ‘Walk Tall’. They could make of it what they wanted. Even if it just made them smile..