London-based artist A.CE is about to make his American debut with PLANET OF THE A.CE, a solo show that will feature both his classic and current designs. MCG chatted with him about his roots, his thoughts on street art capitalists and his ever-looping playlist.
How did you get into street art?
I got into it through skating. It started with seeing tags and graffiti around about '89. I didn't have my own proper name until about '95. I always loved skate graphics and as I continued skating over the years I just got more and more interested in the graf and art side of the scene - it went from there really. Tags and throws became tagged stickers, which then became stenciled or more graphical. Eventually pasteups were the natural progression. Things kept evolving with other influences coming into play until I found a style and a medium I was happy with.
Who are your influences?
At a certain point around the end of the 90's I started paying less attention to graffiti and more to other work that was going on. I was into what people like Fairey, Kinsey and TLP were doing - this was big impact work which really resonated with me. I started experimenting with simple bold b+w pasteups and grew things from there, taking inspiration over the years from everything else I like: pop art, Dadaism, graphic design, skate art and collage. So really it's anyone and everyone from these movements who continue to influence what I do - Vernon Courtland Johnson, Haring, Basquiat, Peter Blake, Warhol, Cost & Revs, Fergadelic, Sister Corita, Max Ernst, etc. I'm really inspired by John Baldessari - this idea that you could manipulate found or familiar images using the information that's already stored in people's brains really made sense to me.
Ever been caught? Any close calls?
I try as much as I can to avoid those close calls!
What music are you into right now?
It's always a real random mix and it evolves. 6 Music plays out a lot of the time - good for picking up on new music. Otherwise just regular stuff, punk, 90's hip hop, prog rock, 90's dance, folk, anything. I recently listened to a lot of Dylan, Viv Albertine and The Cocteau Twins. Staples in the studio would just be stuff like The Sex Pistols, GZA, PIL, Black Sabbath, Penguin Cafe Orchestra, Bjork, NAS and Judas Priest. I'll often play a new song to death until I'm sick of it. Cosmic Jugalbandi by Suns of Arqa was one of those. It's one I like to end the night on!!
What are your thoughts on so-called "stolen" street art being sold for profit, like what we recently saw attempted with the Banksy pieces?
I don't know what arrangement these guys had with the wall owner here so I can't really comment on this particular piece, but I guess its nothing new - it happened with Basquiat and Haring back in the day. If people know the value of something, it's going to happen - right up and down the chain. People will always flock to wherever there's money to be made. To a certain extent its fair game, if you put something on the street, its out of your control after that - that's part of the journey of the piece. That said, most street art like this is better being left where it is - who wants a caged animal? At the end of the day it was a gift to the public and that should probably be respected.
How do you respond to people who compare your work to Bäst?
We might play some similar instruments but we don't write the same songs.
What's the future look like for you? What?s A.CE's next move?
I have a few other projects in the pipeline for later this year - festivals and shows in the UK, as well as some print releases both in the UK and in Canada. I'm building a new bigger studio in my back yard and I'm just going to keep developing stuff and hopefully making more work.
A.CE's solo show, PLANET OF THE A.CE, runs March 16, 2013 - April 20, 2013 at Maxwell Colette Gallery with an opening reception on Saturday, March 16, from 6pm until 10pm.