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Moniker Art Fair: Penny

Talking Victorian sweet shops and 19th-century freak shows with the stencil artist

It's a busy week for art and design in London, what with Frieze, Pavilion of Art & Design and Moniker Art Fair all fighting for attention. With its characteristic "artist project spaces", Moniker showcases experimental art as the perfect antidote to the more frenzied events and openings taking place this weekend. The east-London-based fair is sponsored by watch firm G-Shock's G-Shock's 30th anniversary celebrations, and one of the Moniker exhibitors, Remi Rough, is also a judge for the G-Shock 30th Anniversary Awards, which will take place in London next week. On the evening, upcoming talents in art, fashion, sport and music will be awarded £3,000 cash prizes to help their development, while a Spirit of Toughness award will give £5,000 to someone who’s made an impact on society despite facing significant obstacles in life. The Moniker Art Fair is focused on contemporary multi-disciplined art and promises to both introduce new and exciting names as well as established giants. Ahead of the event, we spoke to Penny, an artist using money as the backdrop for his stencil-cutting.

I wanted to create an environment that was a cross between a Victorian sweet shop, a 19th-century freak show and an 80s amusement park, and to paint artwork that would sit comfortably within it

Dazed Digital: How did you first get into stencil art, and why is it your preferred method of working?
When I was at college studying graphic design I was too poor to print my work professionally, but when you're hard up you get creative about how to produce your work. I began cutting stencils and spraypainting. I loved that I could meticulously plan an image, and as long as I cut accurately, I could paint it exactly as I imagined. I very quickly became obsessed with the level of detail, how far I could take stencilling and what the possibilities and limitations might be. I'm still discovering them ten years later, so even after all this time it's very exciting. For me the process is as important as the finished piece.

DD: What are the themes that run through your latest show/project?
For Moniker Art Fair I wanted to create an environment that was a cross between a Victorian sweet shop, a 19th-century freak show and an 80s amusement park, and to paint artwork that would sit comfortably within it.  

DD: What are you currently inspired and obsesssed by?
Aside from being obsessed with cutting holes in paper, I'm a total geek in plenty of other areas. I used to put iTunes on shuffle when cutting stencils, but after a few hundred hours I became bored of listening to my music. It all just seemed to blend into one generic song. So I started downloading Open University lectures. I listen to leading thinkers talking about geopolitics and history. I download science audiobooks. I listen to cable news channels from America. It’s all inspiration… it will all find a way into one of my images somewhere down the line.

DD: Have you worked with Moniker before? What are you most looking forward to about the fair?
I haven't – I'm popping my Moniker cherry this year! They've promised to be gentle with me. I'm not really one for art fairs, as they can seem a bit stale and lifeless at times – white booth after white booth. But Moniker has a totally fresh approach: having artists theme their booths, so it's much more artist-driven, rather than gallery-driven. And hopefully it makes more of an experience for visitors. Everyone's a winner!  

DD: What's next?
Apart from some side projects my main focus is my next solo show. I'm planning something very big (although the work may be very small!) for late next year. It may seem like a long while away, but my work takes so long to cut that the planning needs to start now. Hopefully it'll be worth the wait!

More info on Moniker Art Fair HERE