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Creative Portfolio: Will Robson-Scott

From Pearly Queens to Estevan Oriol and illegal London graffiti culture.

Fresh from the LA-to-Miami-in-eight-days Gumball Rally and a joint show with Estevan Oriol, Londoner Will Robson-Scott celebrates the launch of Crack+Shine, a new book exploring the insights of London’s outlaw graffiti artists. Coincidently at the time of writing it’s the 25th Anniversary of Subway Art, the seminal NYC graffiti book by Martha Cooper and Henry Chalfant and its launch at Black Rat Press... Crack+Shine, through in-depth interviews with a candid insight, the book gives a voice to a sub-culture frequently stereotyped by the media and overlooked in favour of “street artists”. Robson-Scott documented the majority of the 40 featured accounts and with the launch of the book will be exhibiting Crack+Shine at the Village Underground, Great Eastern Street on July 17th.

Dazed Digital: Please introduce yourself.
Will Robson-Scott: North Londoner born and bred, spent a few of my formative years in NYC, grew up skateboarding listening to Nirvana then found hip hop and punk, the usual anti-establishment angst ridden teenage years, then found photography by accident. Now spend a lot of time waiting to take photos of people who don’t want their photo taken.

DD: What was the first photo you took?
Will Robson-Scott: The first photo I remember taking that was any good was at the May Day demonstrations in 2002, someone put an "out of order" sticker on a policeman’s back and I got one frame but it came out pretty nice, then got threatened with arrest but all was fine.

DD: What was the last photo you took?
Will Robson-Scott: The last photo I took was of the Pearly King and Queen of Finsbury. It sounds like I made that up, but I was taking some photos at a summer fair (gangsta) and they were collecting for the orphans.

DD: When did you decide that photography was what you wanted to do?
Will Robson-Scott: I only started photography because a friend of mine did a course and said it was easy and as I didn’t want to do A-levels, my mum also thought it was a good idea. The point where I thought I could actually make a nice photo was at the May Day demo I mentioned earlier. I remember feeling all wound up and ready for anything shooting that day, and being very nervous processing the film, but the results made me feel like I could take a decent photo.

DD: Where else in the world inspires you?
Will Robson-Scott: America is very inspiring, its vastness and strangeness. America for me is very much about extremes, from its patriotism to the size of their burgers.

DD: What’s the story with Crack+Shine?
Will Robson-Scott: Crack+Shine was really born out my project Ego Bombing, that I’ve been working on for the best part of four years. The project tried to give an insight into the London graffiti writer, it sort turned into a survey of the writers who have been active ILLEGALY in London. I was approached then to explore what I had already been doing for Crack+Shine this turned into a sort of collaboration between me and the publisher. C+S is a homage to London writers and is the first book of this calibre.

DD: What’s your most commonly used set up?
Will Robson-Scott: I use a few depending on subject or job. My Mamiya is my favourite camera, but I use a 5D for most commercial jobs, and usually use natural light.

DD: Can you talk about clients and jobs?
Will Robson-Scott: My favourite client and job without a doubt was being invited on the Gumball Rally this year by Rogue Status. Rogue Status are a US clothing brand that do not fit into the usual bracket of labels. I shot a daily diary for them and then uploaded it to the www.smogcheck.com from the car which had a mobile internet server. We drove from LA to Miami in eight days going through the Dirty South. It culminated with an exhibition of mine and Estevan Oriol’s photos back in Venice Beach the following week.

DD: Are your photos more escapism or realism?
Will Robson-Scott: I guess they are more realism as most my work is situations or locations that are not manufactured. There are no assistants, no set builders, no stylists...