For many years, graffiti has been confined to shady alleys and abandoned buildings. Well, not anymore. Soon, you can find street art even in luxury accommodations – including The Cullen in Melbourne!
Ben Eine, one of the world’s most prolific street artists, is currently staying at The Cullen to give one of their rooms a stunning renovation. The fifth edition of the hotel’s Street Art Suite collection, the room will feature Melbourne’s urban art culture in the aesthetic of Eine’s signature style.
The London-born creative is also taking part in a campaign called Untold. The ambitious project involves 25 of the world’s hottest street artists bringing to life an abandoned space within Richmond’s iconic Malt District.
By turning the dilapidated place into a multi-sensory and immersive art experience, the group hopes to raise US$1 million (AUS$1.29 million) for The Reach Foundation.The exhibition will be available for the public’s viewing from 21-29 April.
We were lucky enough to catch Eine during his downtime for a quick chat about his work.
You’ve done this for some time now. Are you surprised that street artists, once scorned, are suddenly so hot now within the art world?
“No, I’m surprised that it’s taken so long for people to realise the importance of what we do and the elevation, that as graffiti writers and individuals, we have made and now the things we give back to communities basically.”
Tell us where your deep interest in/passion for typography stems from? What typographers inspired you along the way?
“My fascination and my interest are in old ancient, not necessarily typography, but printing and how to reproduce something. So I’ve got this amazing book, it’s a bible, and every single paragraph in this bible is a unique font that somebody drew, that somebody carved into metal and then they printed it.
“And I’ve had this conversation with Shephard Fairey and was like, ‘Yo dude where did you get that O from, I’ve used that O’. And he’s like ‘I’ve got the same bible’. So it’s like not necessarily typographers but it’s more like the art that goes into producing something like this.
“However, I read this book and there’s this guy from New Zealand, his name is like Church or Christchurch and he has fonts. He was mental. He was mental, crazy and he would literally approach a company that he thought their design wasn’t good enough and he would reproduce their design and better and try to give it to them.
“And he did this years and no one on gave a fuck about him and then computers came out and he was like this is going to be a passing fad, he didn’t know how to use a fucking computer. And he died and no one gave a fuck about him.
“And now people like me care about the importance of this person that hand drew and did everything and his name is… *chuckles*
Tell us about the piece you’re doing at The Cullen.
“Very important art hotel part of a brand of hotels that promote and push forward the idea of contemporary art so they gave me this opportunity to paint a hotel room and I leaped at the opportunity because I’m going to have a Ben Eine suite in Melbourne. What more could you want?”
How’s the graffiti scene in London these days?
“Right now the graffiti scene in London there’s different levels of graffiti, there are people tagging stuff in the street, there are streets artists, there are people getting permission to paint.
“Right now trains are getting fucked, and that to me is what graffiti is about. Trains are getting painted and trains are running. It’s all crap but kids are doing something.”
And what do you consider to be the glory days of graffiti art (New York 1980s, perhaps)
“From my personal experience, the glory days of graffiti was sometime in the ‘90s in Amsterdam when they stopped buffing the metro. Me, Delta, Cherish, Reece, Elk, everyone.
“The best whole car I’ve ever seen in my entire life was in Amsterdam. Top to bottom a whole car and it’s a beat. I don’t even know who he is, he’s probably dead, but it was literally the most amazing, it was shit, but it had so much passion and life to it. He did whole trains for GVB.
“So for me, Amsterdam. We would go daytime, get chased out of a yard, not by the police but the fucking local people for being on a council estate and then find that train a week later and finish it, put the highlights on.”
So … (pssst) … who IS Banksy! No, really?
“Yes, it’s a sad story. He used to DJ with a black dude with dreadlocks. He was deejaying a party in New York quite a few years ago and he got shot. I think his real name was Scott La Rock…” *chuckles*