ABOVE is an international street artist who has deliberately chosen to keep his identity concealed. He was born in California in 1981 and has been creating public art since 1995Above is known for his multi-layer, full color social and political stencils, spinning wooden arrow-shaped kinetic art installations, and large text-based painted murals. Above’s artworks regardless of medium usually have a strong message or awareness about social, political or international current events. Above began painting graffiti by tagging (writing his ABOVE graffiti signature) on freight trains in California in 1995. At the age of 19, Above moved to Paris, France where he started painting his trademark arrow icon pointing ‘above.’Since 2001 Above has self-financed annual tours around the world, with each tour exploring a new part of the world and often a new medium or style of artwork. During the past 14 years Above has painted artworks in the streets of 100+ cities in 60+ different countries around the world. (more info at Above on Wikipedia)
Above’s latest public installation piece “Timing Is Everything” was featured by the Saatchi Gallery, at the Huffington Post, on the tech site Mashable, over at This Is Colossal and many more. We caught up with the traveling artist to discuss his debut RUN, past influences and much more in the 1xRUN Thru Interview below…
1xRun Thru Interview
Timing Is Everything by Above
1xRun: Tell us a little bit about this piece.
Above: The ‘Timing Is Everything’ stencil I did earlier this year in London was something I’ve been wanting to paint for about 7-8 months. With all of my stencil works they exist in a site-specific context. I had been looking for this fixed shadow and high visibility location for the past 8 months during my global travels. I finally found it in Shoreditch area of London. The rest is history.
1xRun: How long did the piece take?
Above: About 2 days to design, trace, and cut the multiple layers ready to be stenciled in the street. The stencil took under 10 minutes to paint illegally on the wall, and to get the fuck outta of there.
1xRun: Why should people buy this print?
Above: I find it’s a wonderful conversation piece. The photo is very impactful and burdens the viewer to ask questions and try and figure it out. It’s like a brief puzzle that you need to visually figure out. Even today some 3 months after I painted this stencil I get emails from people asking me how I did it, how it’s clever and how much they enjoy the fact that it changes from day to night with the shadow of the pole being visible only at night and during the day the shadow disappears. The feedback of this stencil was overwhelming.
1xRun: What is unique about this piece?
Above: The fact that the context and meaning changes literally from daytime to nighttime. In addition, each piece also has my signature on the wall stenciled in one of 3 colorways (red, blue or black) in a random spot throughout the piece making each one unique.
1xRun: Describe the print in one gut reaction word.
1xRun: When did you first start making art?
Above: since I was old enough to pick up a crayon.
1xRun: What artists inspired you early on? How about now?
Above: Barry McGee. (Twist) Picasso, Henri Toulouse Lautrec, Stephen Powers (Espo). As for now, honestly, it’s still the same as the previous question.
1xRun: Do you listen to music while you work? If so what?
Above: Absolutely, I’m hyperactive and anyone who has seen me paint either inside the studio or outside on the street knows I like to not only listen to music, but I also like to move my feet and body a lot when painting. If a song and beat is really good I’ll just start getting into it. Kinda like impromptu dancing of sorts. The music genre depends on what I’m working on. Today I painted a big piece outside and had James Brown’s greatest hits on repeat.
1xRun: If you could collaborate with any living artist who would it be and why? Any deceased artists?
Above: The filmmaker David Lynch. Why, cause he’s insane and doesn’t censor his imagination. We could do some fun projects together for sure. I got a plot of a movie I want to realize sooner than later so working with him would be nothing short of ideal. For the latter, it would be Jean Michel Basquiat. For sure him because we could make indoor works together, bomb the streets and then hit the NYC nightlife all in the same day.
1xRun: What was the first piece of art that you bought? Do you still have it? The last?
Above: In 2002 I bought a Banksy canvas from my friend who lived in London at the time. Yes I still have it. I just bought a print of an image of my homie from San Francisco, DJ Qbert. made by Ben Frost & Denial.1xRun: Where else can people find you?
Above: Website – Faceboook Fan Page – Instagram @abovestudio