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ROID: More Than Ever

The south London graffiti artist on leaving the streets for a proper gallery exhibition

With a decade-long history of getting up in his hometown and all over the world, 29 year-old south Londoner ROID has got pretty golden graffiti credentials. This weekend he makes his debut in the citadel of high art, with a show of dazzling technical brilliance and weird trippy digital-looking glorious colourful fun. ROID has spent the last ten years building a solid international reputation for insanely well-executed, properly boundary pushing vandalism, attracting the attention of transport police, art fans, and legendary American graffiti crew MSK, who made him a member in 2009 (kind of a big deal). We talked to him as he prepared for his great unveiling…

I’ve been using animation inks and an airbrush a lot, so I’ve been looking at airbrush art from the 70s and 80s

Dazed Digital: So these paintings don’t really look much like graffiti, do they? Have you gone off it?
Graffiti’s still my passion, and it’s still the thing I get out of bed for. Going out to paint is still the one thing that gets me most excited. But I just find myself spending a lot more time in the studio now; more than ever. The way I feel is that I want to approach the art scene in the same way that I approach graffiti: just push as hard as I can and explore it, and hopefully, eventually find something I’m satisfied with. I say that, but I know I’m never ever going to be satisfied by my work.

DD: Who would you say this new stuff was influenced by?
I’m super into a lot of Japanese graphic design. Like Tadanori Yokoo: his sort of like collage screenprints. That kind of layering, and that graphic illustration crossover really interests me. I’ve been using animation inks and an airbrush a lot, so I’ve been looking at airbrush art from the 70s and 80s. Katsuhiro Otomo, who did Akira: I love him. I’ve got so many influences, and I think that’s certainly in the way my graffiti looks, all these influences, drawing them in and trying and create my own thing out of them, and applying them to the image.

In these paintings, I’ve been trying to make them look in places like when you do a straight line with a brush tool in Photoshop and it comes with these weird repetitive marks, like glitches. I’ve tried to filter those sorts of things through my other influences, like weird graffiti and that. I want them to look almost like videos cutting into each other, with glitches, and things repeating. But it’s all done by hand, and it all takes fucking ages.  
ROID: 'MORE THAN EVER' runs from the 1st – 3rd of June at The Truman Brewery, Brick Lane