Gnasher interview

Our Venom collaboration with graffiti artist GNASHER

In October 2018, GNASHER collaborated with Arts to celebrate the film release of Venom. GNASHER created a piece of work within a few hours that is now available on Arts as an exclusive canvas print.


A conversation between Arts Creative Director; Andy Harper and GNASHER, 4th October 2018.

Why Graffiti?

Andy Harper: You’ve been writing for a long time now –  how and why did you get into Graffiti?

GNASHER:It was 1987, I was 13 (years old)… I was into skateboarding at the time… doing all the things you do at that age to get the girls…

Trouble is I was terrible at skateboarding!  The first time  I went out writing & picked up a can I was hooked.  I think I sold my skateboard in the end for practically nothing… Went out and bought some ink, started going out with some older kids and writing everywhere – on everything that I could.

I was writing words to begin with but I quickly realised that I wasn’t that good and characters became my thing – B-Boys, wizards,  all that old skool stuff… It stopped around 1993 I think.  I kept getting busted.  So I went back to collage and started a “normal” life.

Things Have Changed

So how did you get back into it?  How did old skool graffiti transition seamlessly into your photo-realistic murals?

I was years later that I some old mates approached me and asked me to paint. I wasn’t sure, but they all told me: “things have changed – there are legal walls now”.  So I started painting these big legal walls and started to really fall in love with it again.  It’s become an evolution of what I do… I was working as a graphic designer, as a retoucher, so I brought those new skills to my game… I still work fast  but I don’t have to worry about looking over my shoulder all the time. After that I got commissioned to paint someones shop, and suddenly it all kicked off and I haven’t stopped painting since then. 

Smash the Work out Quick!

I’ve personally watched you take a whole weekend to complete one of your huge murals when we had our tent at Strawberry Field Festival in 2012 and you came and painted for us.  Is that a typical for a piece now?

No way,  I am much faster now! I bang stuff out in one day – MAX. I can’t afford to be slow anymore.   I really enjoyed that piece, people still comment about it now.  Nowadays I do a lot of commissions and events.  It’s all paid – even the festivals pay.  It’s work for a wage – I smash the work out quick. Having said that it would be great to do something for myself once in a while.

The Exploitation is Sad to See

How do you feel about artists being exploited & street art being used for the gentrification of cities?

I’m all for it.  I mean, I got no problem with gentrification – it’s all part of progress, it’s evolution right?

But the exploitation is sad to see. Like the whole thing with Dele Alli & Boohoo recently – they just took photos of other peoples work and didn’t credit the original artist. Basically if art is created legally and in a private space, you can’t rip it off.  The public are still under the impression that all graffiti art is illegal, therefore they can take it and use it for their gain.

What Right do I Have to be Angry?

I have heard about the Boohoo court-case  It’s great to see how artists are fighting back.  There is a real grey area with copyright – it feels like things are slowly changing though to favour artists. How do you feel about it and does anyone ever rip your work off?

All the time. I’ve seem my work on phone cases, art prints, even duvet covers. The way I see, most of the time I’ve been paid for the job and my art is in the public domain, so what right do I have to be angry?

I’m a Huge Comic Book Fan

Your latest collab with Arts is sick!  Are you a Venom fanboy or a fan of Marvel or Superheroes in general?

Thanks. Yes, I’m a huge comic book fan. I really like all the 80’s stuff too.

How do People even Do That ?

How long did the Venom piece take?

A couple of hours. I really enjoyed it as I know the character well – I am a big fan!  I think with this piece, I could just let go, be in the moment and when you’ve got that freedom the whole thing comes together really effortlessly. 

To be honest, the most painful bit was positioning the camera for the video. I mean, how do people even do that? I had my camera on a broom handle, I kept knocking it, I mean how do people do it?  Surely there’s got to be something better than that!?

I Got a Wife Looking Over my Shoulder

Is speed part of the process?  Do you always work fast?

Oh yeah, super fast. I mean when I was writing back in the day, speed was everything. You write slow, you get caught.  And I got caught quite a bit so you learn to work really fast.

Nowadays I got a wife looking over my shoulder all the time so that’s all the incentive I need to be quick!

GNASHER’s Symbiote is available now as an exclusive boxed canvas print. Get it NOW!