An interview with the street artist NDA, who contributed to DIY Magic and also happens to be a really good friend. His work is bold and pops up everywhere, (just last week it was even featured on Chris Rock’s instagram feed). Keep an eye on this guy!
You are known for your large outdoor murals—what are some different considerations when working on such a big scale?
I think the main considerations are texture and environment. Scaling up the work from a sketch isn’t necessarily tricky by itself but you also need to be aware of each surfaces nuances. There’s a lot of on-the-fly problem solving that goes in to it and often times you’re forced to change your idea up based on where you’re able to put the paint and where you’re not. I think another huge factor is having to work with limited resources. Often times my murals are painted with a DIY set up. This means that you’re often on ladders when scaffolding or a lift would be more ideal. So you have to assess the situation and make sure you’re not painting too high where it’ll be hard to come back and do tight line work. Early on, I would get overzealous and paint way too high with a roller and extension pole only to discover that I didn’t have a large enough ladder to reach the top for my line work and the pieces would suffer for it.
You often collaborate with other artists. Do you have any tips on how to make a collaboration go smoothly?
I think in order for collaborations to go smoothly you have to be able to communicate with the other artist(s) every step of the way. I’ve done a fair amount of collaborating on large projects and you usually know pretty early on how it’s going to go. I feel like a good collaboration is something where all parties take risks and do something they haven’t done before. Having a set idea of what and where your stuff goes on the wall before you open a dialogue is the kiss of death for collaborative murals.
Do you have any tips or tricks for tapping into artistic creativity? Do you ever get “stuck”?
I get stuck all the time. I’m still trying to figure out methods to jostle myself back to where I want to be creatively. One thing I find helpful is to have a lot of different types of work going at once. That way if you’re bored or stuck with one project you just jump to another one. Sometimes I just get burnt out on painting. When that happens I try to take that time to plan new projects by sketching and writing down ideas. I also find that a good, long walk can help refocus my energy. I’m a fairly anxious person and recently I’ve been trying to embrace the downtime as part of the creative process. Sometimes it’s crucial.
When you’re making a piece do you try to think about the impact it will have on the viewer, or is it more a form of self-expression?
Each project is different. Self expression comes from your egos’ desire to…..express itself. It can be a very selfish, narcissistic endeavor. But conversely, you are making work in someone’s neighborhood and you have to be respectful. Each project needs a healthy balance of self-expression and community engagement. This is the constant struggle and I aim get better at marrying these two separate sides of the process as I go.
For people unfamiliar with your work: where is a good place to check it out?
I’m in the process of getting a website together so for now:
Facebook: “nda art”
I snapped this pic of NDA (left) & Iena Cruz for this collaboration they just finished. (Oh hey, that’s my bearded mug in the background!)