One of London’s best-known and most active street artists, Stik has been creating his elegantly stark stik characters for over ten years. On his recent trip to New York City, Stik found a home for his Stik people up in the Bronx and at Bushwick Five Points. We were delighted to have the opportunity to pose a few questions to him:
When was Stik born?
In the early part of the century.
Who is he/she/it?
My little meditations…my way of transforming the complex into the simple. Stik is a loud whisper.
Why did you decide to get Stik up on walls and share him with others?
I wanted to keep him safe. I’ve always been drawing living things, and I didn’t want them to stay on paper. I feel they are safer on the streets. And it is also my signal to the world that I exist – somewhat in the vein of a graffiti artist. The street is like a theatre. When I get up there, I join the dialog. My art becomes my voice.
How do you decide which walls to hit?
When I walk by a column or wall, I try to imagine Stik there. I like the idea of giving a personality to a wall that will be visible to others.
What about the risky aspects of what you do – both physically and legally? Why are you willing to take such risks?
It’s a matter of putting my mark on the land. And when I’m painting, I feel connected to the wall. I feel safe. It’s my sense of entitlement and ownership. There is also a social purpose to what I am doing. Advertisers tag public spaces to push consumerism – it’s almost as though they can buy and sell our lives. People are the products. I’m pushing aesthetics. I feel as though graffiti writers get the rap for the frustration folks feel towards the advertisers.
What if a major corporation were to approach you and ask you for their use of Stik for commercial purposes?
That has already happened. My answer is, “No.” I will not allow companies to use my image to sell products.
How have folks responded to Stik?
They love him. They respond to his simplicity. I like watching people’s reactions to Stik from my studio window.
Tell us something about your style.
It’s always been simple, and it seems to be getting simpler as time passes. I appreciate simplicity.
What are your feelings about street art in gallery settings? Are you comfortable creating Stik on canvas or paper and selling him?
I keep the street street and the gallery gallery. The gallery can be a whore house, but it’s an honest living.
What brought you to NYC?
I wanted to meet people in New York. I want to find out what real New Yorkers are like. I want NYC to fess up and show me its vulnerability.
Has it? What do you think of NYC?
It’s still a big scary beast of a city, but if you’re lucky, it will roll over and let you tickle its tummy.
I have a couple of big social projects coming up in the UK and other countries. And I plan to return to New York in the near future.
That sounds great! We are already looking forward to your next visit.
Photos by Lenny Collado, Dani Mozeson and Sara Mozeson