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We speak to Vans The Omega, the godfather of Australian street art

Vans The Omega is transforming the beautiful city of Adelaide, and has been for years. He’s considered one of the most influential figures in international street art, and he’s Aussie born-and-bred.

The two-decade veteran had street art in his blood from a young age, tagging basketball courts with crayons, before graduating to spray cans soon after.

His dazzling, vibrant colour palettes, and enthralling geometric patterns are trademarks of his work – as are his use of unique use of ancient scripts.

Vans’ incredible artwork has taken him from Adelaide to Copenhagen to Egypt and Peru – and now he’s back in Australia for the spectacular street art festival, Wonderwalls.

How dynamic is the street art scene in Adelaide these days?

“We have a lot of new talent coming through in the illustration style works and typography who are taking it to the walls in larger format and inspiring the next generations.

“Adelaide has been a breeding ground for exceptional talent for nearly 30 years since graffiti really kicked off in Oz.

“Some of the originators are still painting today, while the ’80s kids are making names for themselves all around the world and using Adelaide as a base. We will never have the critical mass like Melbourne – but when we do it, we do it well.”

Your portraits are amazing. Who were your inspirations when you were learning how to paint like that?

“The entire skill set of painting these portraits comes from my graffiti letters except for the more critical side of proportions. It’s been a great learning curve pushing myself to stylise these works to what they are today.

“My recent portrait is at a site where 20 years earlier I painted one of my first competent aerosol portraits in ’96 – so I’d be lying if I said it was a new thing. Now with age and patience I build towards the true vision of the piece and feed off the environment to really capture all the essence of beauty.”

You get to travel quite a bit to do you art. What were the most fun/exciting destinations you’ve been to lately?

“I’ve just done Del Mar in Cali and Indonesia recently with a little Australia hopping in between. It’s pretty non-stop all year round at a bunch of amazing places around the world.

“Not so long ago I was flown out to Istanbul to do a graffiti piece on a Saturday afternoon. Sometimes I have to pinch myself to see where the journey has taken me.”

Tell us about your involvement in this years Wonderwalls Festival.

“A few years back I joined my homies, The Hours, who were the support team for Simon at Wollongong Wonderwalls and wanted to bring the festival to my home state and got Wonderwalls Port Adelaide off the ground a couple years back.

“It’s a great project to be a part of and I get the best of both worlds where I paint, curate and direct between the Wonderwalls events.”

You can check out Vans The Omega’s works at Wonderwalls– a 3-day mural festival in Wollongong and Port Adelaide.

Find out more about the event here.

I still love letters and this is what I got up to over the weekend @wonderwallsfestival in Wollongong underneath the legend @gary_stranger #wonderwallsfestival @ironlak

A photo posted by @vanstheomega on

Details of Bianca. A mixture of acrylic and @ironlak spray for the good people @cherrydarlingsbakehouse #vanstheomega

A photo posted by @vanstheomega on

I’ve got a great audience cheering me on and giving insightful tips on how to paint better. #canyoupaintaspideronit #whereistheunicorn #vanstheomega #birdgang #tmdees20th

A photo posted by @vanstheomega on

A really productive day painting @kaaboodelmar Such an amazing festival with lots of positive people. Thanks to everyone who made the time to come and say hi today. See you all again tomorrow #vanstheomega #kaaboodelmar

A photo posted by @vanstheomega on