Lovepusher stands out from the crowded painting world, with his unique style, his message and his many words when you talk to him. Here at ILG we got the chance to catch up with the busy man in between his shift from 2016 to 2017 and this is what he had to say:
ILG: Please introduce yourself?
Lovepusher: My name is Lovepusher. I’m from London, England. My artistic work is based on 3D typography. I started painting graffiti in 1995 after being greatly inspired by an old New York wild style mural situated in close proximity to my school. The beauty and elegance of the wild style piece was so captivating that I desperately wanted to emulate it on paper. I remember during a class, maybe a day or two later, I wrote the name of my then Church, ‘St Boniface’, in a rudimentary version of what I had seen on the wall. Surprisingly, after that one sketch I was instantly hooked.
I later moved to another school located in Wimbledon, South West London. This was perfect for two reasons, the first being my classmate and true friend was a graffiti writer. He knew other writers, educated me on graffiti and took me out on my first missions. Secondly, Wimbledon not only had a favourable B&Q (hardware store) and train yard, it also had great tube and train connections to get around the city. It was a great writers bench where you were always guaranteed to meet writers night and day.
From 1995 to 2003 I changed my tag once but I always maintained a classic London style. It was my personal belief that a good London style was the foundation of the London graffiti scene and in part would help make the scene stronger. I was in no way a prolific writer like many of my good friends but I’ve always been content and happy with my contribution to South London graffiti.
In the year 2003 there was a major change in my personal life, which had a radical impact on the type of graffiti I was painting. As a result of what I can only describe as a spiritual awakening, I literally went from painting what purists would describe as ‘real graffiti’ to more legal orientated walls. My style also went though a metamorphosis, changing from classic London ‘style writing’ to modern day three-dimensional typography.
Looking back at the early days with more mature eyes, I should have known just how powerful and addictive graffiti really was but I suppose I was young and obviously had no idea of how seductive the ‘graffiti culture’ could be.
ILG: It’s 2017, what have you been up to for the past year and what are your plans for the future?
Lovepusher: Every year, life, health and opportunities just seem to go from strength to strength… 2016 was no exception. I started 2016 off in Paris as the city has the perfect energetic qualities that I like to take advantage of. I love using Paris as a hub to make plans for the year. Everything I set out to accomplish in 2016 came to fruition. This included personal health goals, as good health, both mental and physical are the seeds of achievement and success. One of the great highlights of the year was joining SBB crew from Berlin. I have a unique fascination with German people and culture, so to be initiated into this crew seemed quite fitting. It’s a wonderful crew made up of good people with a broad spectrum of creativity.
For 2016, I also set out major productivity goals relating to how many pieces I would paint, as well as a sustained level of ‘hyper creativity’, in other words never doing the same painting twice and striving to make constant change and visual diversity a strong element in my oeuvre.
During the year of 2016, I also placed more attention and focus on hand drawn illustrations. The digital format, of course would always be more practical and less time consuming but there’s something I honestly love about working with mixed media on paper. Obviously, there is the tactile, kinesthetic element, but also observing how grains and textures from inks, felts and paints work together in unison to create a beautiful image is very rewarding. In relation to this, I created a beautiful line of 13 illustrations based on the Celestial bodies. I was exceptionally happy with how they came out and feel I may produce a second set of illustrations continuing where I left off.
2016 was also another strong year of travel. I think I visited something like 10 International cities officially, with highlights obviously being Berlin, New York, Hong Kong and Miami. A side note was visiting the small town called Perusic in Croatia. The initial reason for visiting Perusic was to paint a mural with the talented Slaven Lunar in memory of the visionary and my personal inspiration Nikola Tesla. I remember it being a wonderful place with culture, good food, history and great people.
I once again started this year (2017) off in Paris and made a specific number of plans to cover the year. To find out what they are you’ll have to stay tuned…
ILG: There has been a shift in your art lately, from painting the word Jesus previously, it seems like you are now painting all sorts of words, tell us about this shift?
Lovepusher: Yes, there has definitely been an amazing shift in my paintings and this has been extremely good and positive. I began writing Jesus in 2003 as a result of my spiritual enlightenment. It was an amazing time of personal transformation and one that I definitely needed to go through. The spiritual awakening in 2003 really opened my eyes to introspection, education and a greater awareness of the causes and effects of my daily choices and actions. It made me a better person for which I’m very grateful. When I began writing this message, I set myself a goal to paint this message around the world. I suppose it could be classed as modern day evangelism, using graffiti as the vessel. As time went on, the strength of my graffiti allowed me to travel the world, never once imposing my then thoughts or beliefs on any individual, as I totally abhor this action but rather allowing the quality of my artwork to do the talking.
For thirteen years, I travelled the world painting this message, touching places like America, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Asia and Europe. All of these travels, coupled with the global reach of social media, helped me to finally realize that I had actually achieved my 2003 goal. This left me at a crossroads… having achieved what I set out to do, do I continue trudging along writing the same message or do I explore other avenues? For me, there was no question that I would have to explore other avenues in order to grow and evolve as an artist.
I felt that writing the same five letters for thirteen years, personally called into question my creativity and diversity. As I knew each of the five letters intimately, there were no hidden variables and although in some cases this proved to be really advantageous, deep down I always knew there was only so much I could do with the same five letters before it would become extremely monotonous for someone who is ‘hyper creative’. The reality of painting continuously new words in the form of new, never duplicated designs just seemed logical from a creative standpoint.
Words can never be dismissed as something simple as they are the foundation of all languages on Earth. Each word I select, design and present to the world is not randomly plucked from the ether but rather carefully selected based on semantic properties and letter composition.
ILG: What sort of reactions do you get from people with your artwork and message?
Lovepusher: I’ll split this answer into two parts. The first being the artwork and then the message.
I’ve had nothing but positivity regarding my artwork and I mean that from the general layman on the street with no prior knowledge of graffiti, to the fine art collector. I don’t thrive off compliments or flattery but I suppose it is nice when someone appreciates your take on reality through the artwork you create. I’m extremely passionate about my graffiti-art and pour so much love and enthusiasm into every line, fade, marking or brush stroke. This passion is really evident when you see my works in person. I strongly believe that if you put love into what you do, people will see it and even if they don’t like or support you, they can on an intrinsic level appreciate someone who deeply cares about what they’re doing.
Regarding reactions to the message, again it’s been so overwhelmingly positive and in many instances it’s actually been quite moving. To think that a simple message that I was writing would have the ability to the reach out to so many people on so many levels, is quite a lot to take on board. I have received personal messages from people all over the world showing gratitude for me expressing myself so boldly and inspiring others. There is also so much more that has to remain confidential in respect of the many strong and bold people who decided to confide in me with their personal problems. For me, this is powerful stuff, it shows that art can truly build a bridge to every man, woman and child around the world; empower them, enrich them and provide hope for us all, especially in our darkest times.
ILG: Travelling, it seems like you are on the move constantly, tell us what your motivation is, and the different experiences in different locations?
Lovepusher: It doesn’t really feel like I’m constantly on the move but I suppose it’s all a matter of perspective. The motivation to travel really stems from my youth, however as time has progressed, my reasons for traveling have changed. When I was young, my father travelled a lot to New York because of his job. When he’d return, he would bring back amazing stories of the Big Apple that where so captivating, you could use them for a 1980s Pan Am commercial and be assured to generate an increase in flight sales. The wonderful stories from a traveling father coupled with being enthralled as a child watching the fictional adventures of action heroes like Indiana Jones and James Bond helped instill a desire to explore the world. So, I suppose the initial motivations to travel were adolescent in nature; simply looking for new experiences and adventures but with maturity, my reasons for traveling changed as I became more interested in the human condition. I wanted to know what it truly meant to be ‘human’ and I figured the only way to understand this would literally be to travel the world, meeting people from all walks of life. Books and the internet will always be a great way to learn about the world and the nature of man but nothing beats the hands-on experience of directly engaging and learning about different cultures, practices, religions, languages and so on.
There are strong misconceptions and stereotypes about so many places and people around the world, in part due to a few backwards media agents who spread redundant, xenophobic ideas throughout the world. These agents only seem to be concerned with scaremongering to ensure that we all remain divided, living in fear of our friendly global brothers and sisters. There have been several places that I have visited around the world, where I was initially warned by inexperienced people not to visit. Bearing in mind that all of these people had never visited any of these places I’m referring to, it just seemed surreal that they felt qualified to inform me on whether visiting these countries was the right or wrong thing to do…obviously these people believe everything they see and read in the media.
Today, when you turn on the television and watch the news, you’re bombarded with a tsunami of negative stories regarding countries from all over the world. It’s more than enough to put even the most ardent traveller off, let alone those who are merely considering traveling. In my experience, it is in no way as bad as the media depicts…yes, there are a few countries that are going through war and radical changes but on the whole, the world is a beautiful place made up of wonderful countries and good people; you just have to travel to see this.
ILG: Sketching and painting, can you describe your artistic process and how you go about things?
Lovepusher: I start by thinking about what it is exactly I am trying to communicate to the audience. This would normally be in the form of a story or an important aspect of design. Once I have this to mind, I begin jotting down rough ideas on paper of how best to depict this story visually, using only letters. After several sketches, a final rough draft is fashioned. Using this final rough draft, I create a fully rendered version, which is then transferred to my IPhone.
When approaching a wall painting, I like to sketch the first lines, then prime around the sketch using a high opacity emulsion. Then very much like the old renaissance masters, I like to work from the background to the foreground. The nature of my style is three-dimensional. This requires utilizing the knowledge of light, shadow and perspective to create the illusion of depth and volume on a two-dimensional plane. I select specific tones ranging from light to dark and paint using a technique pioneered by Leonardo DaVinci known as ‘Chiaroscuro’.
ILG: Where is your inspiration coming from these days?
Lovepusher: Everywhere. To sum up my inspiration as being down to one or a few specific things would be to sell myself short. I draw inspiration from every single aspect of life. I simply connect the dots by bringing ideas together in an eclectic juxtaposition, which I filter, refine and later present to the audience as a coherent story or composition of letters.
ILG: Social media, what’s your personal philosophy and how do they affect the painting movement?
Lovepusher: Social media is a highly subjective matter. As with anything there are always the pros and cons of using a service, technology or whatever it is that you utilize in the attainment of your personal goals. There are multiple reasons to advocate and support the use, development and evolution of social media but one must also be mindful of the potential of there being a subversive element ever present within these online platforms. To ignore this stealth element is really to our own detriment. The mass unawareness of the deeper workings and effects of online platforms is easily achieved, as many social media companies nicely dress up their applications and present them as a great way to augment and add value to our normal lives, while at the same time failing to highlight the psychological aberrations closely linked to the prolonged use of these online platforms.
Social media on the other hand, has proven to be extremely viable for artists and creatives alike. The global reach of social media is unparalleled, eclipsing radio, newspapers and even television, with its power obviously coming from its shear versatility. For example, an artist can paint a picture, write a text, present a short video and can do all of this globally in real time. There are endless possibilities opened up by the effective use of social media.
ILG: Future goals, what’s on your bucket list?
Lovepusher: To visit Antarctica.
ILG: Describe a great day for you, what did you do?
Lovepusher: I woke up, went for a 5k run, came home and had a shower, jumped in a cab to Heathrow Airport, boarded an Etihad flight, landed in Dubai, enjoyed the food, culture and great people.
ILG: Any last words?
Lovepusher: While painting, try to protect your health by wearing the correct protective gear to limit the body’s absorption of harmful chemicals.
In life, love yourself, stay young, happy and never stop exploring…
ILG: Do you love graffiti?
Lovepusher: Imagine a hierarchical pyramid with all of the positive emotions and affirmations linked to graffiti steadily rising to an apex point with love resting at the top, my relationship with graffiti would be above that!