Street Art from South Africa, with r1

I don’t know if you remember but a while a go, I started a sideproject about street art, you can read more about it in this blog post: Urban Canvas – Where Art Meets the Streets. And we are now doing street artists interviews in spanish (for the time being), so I thought it would be nice to translate the interviews to english so we can share the artist thoughts with more people.

Name / NickName:


Where are you from?

South Africa

Can you tell us something about your beginnings? When did you start, where, why?

Since my earlier years I’ve always been fascinated with public art. Street art was non-existent where I grew up, and at the time the idea of working in the street felt new, exciting and undiscovered. Exhibiting in a gallery made me feel a bit uncomfortable and I believed that art should be accessible, out in the open and not confined to a white cube space.
I started my journey with street art by drawing abstract drawings with color crayons on walls and sidewalks. It then moved on to much bigger murals and walls which I painted. Just to give you an idea, this earlier work had a resemblance to Keith Haring’s work. I eventually went to study Fine Arts and my relationship with public art completely changed; I adapted my creative output into various other directions. It has transformed over the years into multi-dimensional facets and now I do not only work with murals but with various media, site locations, installations and concepts.

Do or did you have any “mentor“?

No, I’ve always worked on my own. I usually look at other street artists around the world and mentor myself to do things differently.

Can you name a few works/artist you are interested in or you think should be checked out?

Last year I discovered a few artists that really inspire me now.
Check out: Brad Downey, Fra Biankoshock, SpY and Akay.
A particular piece that impressed me lately is by artist Arnaud Lapierre called ‘Ring’:
Check out Ring

Do you remember any particular moment that had an impact on your work?

I had a profound relationship with the making of a piece called ‘Blue Blow’. Through this piece I learnt to surrender to the elements and allow space for the unexpected. I planned the piece very carefully, but ‘Blue blow ‘turned out completely different than I expected. Careful planning resulted in ‘letting go’ for the work to become its own. It made me recognize the role of the artist as a ‘mediator’ and the importance of documenting this journey.
Here is a short story specifically based on this random process via

Are there any movies, books or music that you recognize to have affected or inspired you as an artist?

Street art documentary ‘Inside Outside’ & the 1996 art film ‘Basquiat’.
Recommended street art books: The Art of Rebellion III & Trespass.
I’m particularly fond of ambient and electronic music. There were certain artists that had an enormous influence on me as a teenager: Autechre, Aphex Twin and Orb.

What’s your favorite work so far?

My favorite work is always the one I have just finished. . The making of the piece is the most important part of the journey for me. The buzz will stay with me for a while and then slowly dwindle until I go out and do my next piece.

Do you have any dreamt place you would like to work with?

I have some ambitious installation ideas that are much larger in scale than what I’m working with now. These particular projects are designed for to change the face of large buildings.

What’s your creative process? which tools do you use or prefer? How do you work?

My creative process depends on each piece, but there is usually a common pattern. Firstly I choose or ‘discover’ the material I want to use, without knowing the intention of what to create with it. Then I let my material show me the location, where it would play a most effective role (e.g. in a derelict building, in the middle of a square, etc). Lastly, I execute the action. I plan it carefully, I take a lot of details into consideration, I develop a method, and I have a vision of how it will look, but it is commonly the case that the project can turn out different than I expected. Especially in the street there is no full control of every possible variable, so to some extent I must let go and become the mediator, the tool through which the piece acquires its own life.

Have you had any group experience or collaboration with other artist? How was that?

Not much. Over the years I preferred to work alone. I felt that I still had to figure out and develop my own creative processes, unaffected by trends or fashion.
I’m at a different stage now. Currently there are more collaborative opportunities and I feel excited to share my creative skills with others.

Can you tell us about other interests you have? Or something you are involved? Perhaps sports, music, photography…

My art keeps me busy most of the time, and I like to expand my interests within and in connection to it. However, I am also into music and cooking.

We have noticed that nowadays there is a review and revalorization of street art. For example, politicians are granting permissions to paint in specific locations or at commemorative dates, and also artists are being paid by brands for their work. What do you think about it?

There is more than one way to see the relationship between street art and the world of politics and business around it. I think the most important aspect regarding this topic is that the artist stays true to his/her own craft in the creative process. Artist needs to become more innovative to make their work visible nowadays and commercial enterprises can be another way of making art work accessible to a wider audience.

What would you recommend to someone who is giving his/her first steps in the street art?

Street art for me is about following your gut and making connections within yourself and your immediate surroundings. This creative process is about constructing a relationship and involving your actions with the environment you live in. It’s important to have an intimate relationship with this journey. Just go out and do it!

What are you working on right now?

Currently, I was selected as part of a residency program in down town Johannesburg. The aim of the project is to use the public and its surrounding resources to create an artwork that has a direct benefit to the community.

Projects for the future?

I would like to get more involved with the local community and I am also planning to work on larger installations.

Where can we find more about you and your work? (Social networks, web, etc.)

r1 website
r1 in Facebook

If you want to read the original interview in Spanish go to Urban Canvas

Thanks for reading!

Hi!, mi name is Franco Averta, i`m from Argentina. Currently I`m studying to become a Graphic Designer. I`m the founder of Concept Dezain, my design company. Contact me via email.

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