Exclusive Interview with one of our Street Artists
Here, Pahnl, one of the artists involved in our Street Art exhibition, talks to Dom about his artwork and the things that inspire him. You can see his animation at the Herbert until January 16th.
Where you lay your hat: Oxford
Occupation: Artist / Graphic Designer
How long have you been involved in the Street Art Scene? What made you pick up that first can of spray paint? I first started using stencils in 2003 and I started painting in the street three years after that. A mate got me interested in it and, although he stopped soon after, my passion for street art has only continued to grow since then.
How would you describe your artwork and inspires you?
My art is an amalgamation of signage-styled figures, comics and graphic design but on a small scale. I use little characters and animals to play with spaces I find in the street, hopefully making someone smile in the process. As a result, inspiration for street work comes from the street itself and it’s rare that I’ll paint a spot that I’ve not seen beforehand because I like to tailor my art.
How did you come to work with the Herbert?
One of The Herbert’s exhibition officers, Dominic Bubb, initially contacted me with regards to a personal commission and I happened to mention an animation I was working on. At that point I didn’t know Dom worked at The Herbert, it was just a by the by sentence but it was the beginning of a fantastic experience.
How did the idea for the animation develop?
The images of a dog running around the city at night simply came to me out of nowhere as I listened to the track I used for the animation. I must’ve played the track over and over again thirty times because with every repeat, more scenes and ideas came to mind. The use of animation isn’t native to street artists but with the likes of Blu and Lichtfaktor pushing the envelope, I understood it’s potential.
After that, it was a matter of working out how I could actually portray all this idea; I considered photomontage or rotoscoping but I’ve always had a fascination with how light can be used and I came up with the idea for exposing the image of a dog into the photograph. The answer was a stop motion, long exposure animation using stencils with light. Thankfully I’m adept with a camera and I had experience with storyboarding narrative via my love of comics.
The animation was basically a combination of everything I love.
Is it true it took you over 300 hours to produce?
Give or take a day away from that total, yes. I think the idea was conceived sometime in August 2009 and I gradually storyboarded (textually), scouted locations and slowly started designing each stencil. Then from July of this year, right up until 2am on the day of the show’s launch, the work I did was more substantial as I cut all the frames, shot the scenes and edited it together.
Dogs and cats seem to feature a lot in your work, are you a fan of our canine and feline friends?
I think it’d be a bit strange of me if I didn’t like cats and dogs considering the amount of time I spend staring at them in the process of making my own work, haha.
I’m drawn to them as motifs because I like to think of them as polar opposites and I like to play them off with each other. There’s a tension between those two animals and they’re very different in nature. Dogs are messy, happy and crude, whereas cats are devious, subdued and sly creatures.
What’s next for you?
Whilst I was working on the animation, I told myself I didn’t want to touch animation for a long, long time afterwards but now it’s complete, I’m tempted to return to it sooner, rather than later. Despite the fact I spent so much time thinking, designing, cutting, photographing and editing every part of the animation, there’s something fascinating about seeing an idea come alive.
Other than that, I’m interested in dipping my toe into vinyl toy design but that will be a slow process of learning…and mistakes but I’m eager to explore new mediums for the characters and world I’ve created. I also want to start painting larger and more complex works, both on and off the street.
Where can people see more of your artwork?
There’s a lot of stuff around Oxford, albeit small, and then there’s stuff all around the country but my website, pahnl.co.uk, is probably worth a look in.
Interview by Dominic Bubb, Exhibitions Officer
Posted on 05/11/2010, in Collections, Contemporary Art, Coventry, Exhibitions and tagged coventry, Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, Pahnl, stop motion animation, Street Art. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.