Artist Whatisadam, co-founder of Station 16, talks anonymity and wheat pasting with Shepard Fairey
Whatisadam, more an idea than a question. A theory over an identity. Shaken, not stirred. As an urban graffiti artist who was once forged by city streets after dark, he is now a learned aficionado toying with the gallery life — a way to keep his passions lit and the future of his old school pop-inspired artwork bright.
I’m 34 years old, based in Montreal, Canada
Are you a Hulu, HBO or Netflix kind of person?
Definitely a Netflix person, the original shows are awesome!
What do you personally think is your greatest achievement thus far?
Wheat-pasting with Shepard Fairey is definitely at the top of my list right now, I had the chance to do that in Denver this past year during Crush Festival. But painting a wall in Wynwood and the Montreal Mural festival were also great achievements.
You’ve said in interviews past that ‘anonymity was really important’ in your work, but have since grown out of it. Do you ever miss that point in your career of being a ghost?
Yes, I do miss that part of my life. But being able to create public works has been really great, and it’s been fun to meet my fans in person as well.
What’s your connection to Station 16 here in Denver?
I’m actually a co-founder at Station 16; I met my business partner Carlo eight years ago when he took an interest in my street art. We’ve been friends ever since and created the Montreal Gallery (alongside Emily Robertson) and Denver Gallery together.
How has the art world treated you in respect to going from the street to the gallery?
I think the art world has a growing interest in the Street Art scene, and I’ve never had so much interest in my work as I do right now. I think it’s definitely a significant movement in the art world.
Any scary or weird moments ever happen to you while you’re up super high on scaffolding?
Being high on a lift during windy days is never a fun experience, however I did have very recent moment in Colombia. I was just in Bogota for a festival, and I painted a mural there. They had scaffolding for my 20x50 wall, but needed me to wear a harness and strap as well, which was heavy and often got in the way. The scary part was that should I fall and the harness be attached to the scaffold (the way they requested), it would likely not stop my fall, and just result in the scaffold falling on top of me. I tried to use the harness as little as possible.
You can’t really look at a whatisadam piece without thinking of old-school mid-century advertisements or even Archie comics from the same era — what is it about that style you’re drawn to?
I grew up on comics, it’s how I learned to draw also; so I guess I tend to lean on an older style of comics. I also like the juxtaposition of an Archie style comic in a modern setting where things are a little dirtier or rougher.
Who are some of the artists you really admire, either seasoned vets or up-and-comers?
I truly respect Shepard. He has been an inspiration my entire career and lives up to that in person, a great guy. Another artist is Jaune, from Brussels. He was recently with me at the festival in Bogota, I really love his work and his positive attitude. He’s really understood how to evolve his work in different setting and forms.
What is the ‘Sizzurp’ in reference to in your can series? Is it a throwback to the Three 6 Mafia song?
Definitely. When I created that image I was listening to a lot of Lil Wayne and Three 6 Mafia, and wanted to create a pop culture reference in this Canadian homage to Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup can. The image took off, and I’ve stuck with it ever since. It’s probably what I’m most known for.
Where in Denver can people check out your work?
I have two murals, one behind The Source and another in the Zeppelin Station common area. You can also find my work at Station 16 Gallery located in The Source.
Site: whatisadam.com // Station16gallery.com