It’s no secret that the world is made a more inspiring place through creativity, and whether you’re using oil paints or GIF files, it’s all about engaging in the artistic process. As part of their Absolut Blank project, Absolut have given three of the freshest image-makers on the planet a blank canvas in the shape of one of its bottles and asked them to get inspired.
Absolut has always challenged conventions through creative collaborations with artists such as Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, Damien Hirst, and more recently Ellen von Unwerth and Spike Jonze, and now Absolut Blank ushers in a bold creative collaboration with a new generation of artists. Three of these are Neal Fox, who lives in London and creates what he calls “a bacchanalian pop culture mash-up of icons” (he is creating visuals for the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ upcoming tour); Gabriel Dubois, a graffiti artist who imports clean, meandering lines and geometric shapes into the medium; and legendary graf-tagger Cyclops, whose work has moved from disused trains and buildings in east London to art galleries in the last few years. Here we ask just what makes these three maverick artists tick.
Dazed Digital: When you were asked to take part in the project, did you already have something in mind?
Gabriel Dubois: I never really have a plan when starting a new work. Each piece formulates itself depending on the first initial steps taken. Of course I had images flash through my mind when thinking of the project but for me it is exciting to not know what will occur and allow the process to be the guiding force.
DD: Your pieces are very bright – is colour is important to you?
Gabriel Dubois: Colour does play a big role in my work, as it is a huge stimulant for me in my day to day life. The combinations I use are are everywhere in my immediate environement. Everything from advertising to the local fruit stand below and the clothes worn by passersby are influential.
DD: Can you remember how you got into being creative?
Gabriel Dubois: I had an early exposure to art making as I spent a lot of time in my father's studio as a kid – thats probably where I first started farting around. Later I got into graffiti as a teenager and it continued from there.
DD: What are your hopes for the future?
Gabriel Dubois: I hope we can get our shit together and start taking better care of this planet. I also want to make some more paintings and live in the woods.
DD: Do you have any advice you could impart to young artists?
Gabriel Dubois: If you find something that works stick with it, mold, hold, lose the luggage, take her for a spin and take your time, it’s a lifelong procedure.
Dazed Digital: It is interesting that you have chosen Vince Taylor, the lost 1960s rock’n’roll singer, as the inspiration for your work.
Neal Fox: I just read about him in a book about David Bowie. Vince Taylor was supposed to be the inspiration for Ziggy Stardust because Bowie met him once on the street; he had lost his marbles and thought he was a god from outer space. I liked the idea of him as this lost figure. At the time he was quite influential – he came up with songs like “Brand New Cadillac” that the Clash covered later on. I liked the idea of him thinking he was an alien space god, so I drew him like one.
DD: What has been your biggest inspiration as an artist ?
Neal Fox: Most of my drawings feature my grandad’s ghost going on a cosmic journey through pop culture and meeting a cast of icons and iconoclasts – from Shakespeare to William Burroughs. My grandad is kind of a totem figure who helps my brain end up in unusual places.
DD: Where does your aesthetic come from?
Neal Fox: I guess I am drawn to dark, twisted edges and extremes. I loved 2000AD and Robert Crumb when I was a kid and I think that turned me into a deviant for life.
Dazed Digital: How did you become a street artist?
Cyclops: I got into graffiti as a kid, and it’s been something that’s just always been around me. When I was young there were older kids who had been to New York and brought it back with them. People like Sweet Toof and Tek 33 played a big part in all of that.
DD: What made you to decorate the bottle/canvas the way you did?
Cyclops: I just did what I usually do...
DD: Were there any particular influences you drew upon when designing the bottle/canvas?
Cyclops: Frances Farmer, Lindsey Lohan, and Amy Winehouse.
DD: Does your work still have an element of danger to it?
Cyclops: Not really any more – only that I work at the expense of having a social life. I might die by falling on a pencil and no one would know for weeks...
DD: What is the golden rule for any artist?
Cyclops: Do your own thing. You can have all the talent in the world and unless you can find a way to do what it is that you do to the limit, it won’t work. I’m still finding out how to do that.
Text by Will Mudie
Photos by Letty Schmitterlow
The artworks will go up on Cordy House in London, 87-95 Curtain Rd, London, EC2A 3BS. Cyclops and Gabriel Dubois' pieces are already up and Neal Fox's artwork will appear on September 15, 2011. Three lucky readers will find a golden ticket in the October issue of Dazed & Confused, winning one each of the three artist’s exclusive artworks. Dazed October is out this Thursday... To see all 3 videos please visit facebook.com/ABSOLUTuk.