In anticipation for the launch of Italian street artist RUN's upcoming solo show at Hang-Up 'Dancer Master', we met with the artist to talk about the thrill of creating art for the street, the longevity of dance, the beauty of travelling, the challenges of bringing a trade to a different country and the core inspirations behind his unique style. Read our exclusive interview with the RUN, including pictures from inside his London studio, and if in London, come to feel the power of art and dance with us!
You started painting trains, lorries and walls since you were very young - what inspired you to take the first step? Did you work alone or did you have an accomplice?
A need of acceptance by the society, a strong ego burst. I have always worked as singular individual.
Did you encounter any trouble?
Only one. I was slapped by an undercover policemen when I was 15 for tagging in an underpass.
Was this in Italy? Was there much of a street art movement at the time? What street artists initially inspired you and continue to?
Street art in Italy started in 2000 and it wasn't called SA, Before 2000 ( in the 90's) there was a strange form of urban art very sporadic and very very underground.
Below the artist working on murals in London.
Did you paint walls before you painted paper and canvas?
I don't know.
You were born in Ancona, Italy. Are you from a big family? Are they/were they supportive in what you do?
My family has always been supportive. My mum is an artist and my dad is a wizard. My brother and sister are a philosopher and a magician. I had a very normal upbringing in a small town on the sea side in the east cost of Italy. I've been living there until I was 20's.
Is the Italian culture an inspiration for you?
Italian culture is my roots, is very important, is the poison and the remedy.
Why the move to London?
I felt in love with the weather.
Did you study art? Have you always been creative, and had a passion for the arts?
I always loved drawing, drawing is my starting point for everything. I studied art until I was 18, the rest I have been experimented in a very instinctive way. If I can go back I would have studied more.
Your first big mural was in 2003? Where was it? And why that location?
My first "big" mural was back in 2001 in a squat in the centre of Florence. The wall was in a court yard of an old building. There was policeman out side so we couldn't go out or we would lose the building. The wall painting was a protest. "We" were activists.
Was this first mural what kick-started you into the street art movement?
No there was no street art movement. There was people randomly and freely creative spreader in various city in the country. Pretty much we all used to know each other.
You have a really unique, noticeable style in the way you paint - the faces and distorted body parts have almost tribal feel. What was the core influence behind the style? Have you always painted this way?
My painting had evolved constantly. Since I moved in UK I have been interested by anthropology and body languages, dance, and languages in general. Myself even started to speak another language and constantly translating.
Music and dance is an obvious inspiration. Have both always been a part of your life? Are you open to all forms of music and dance or a particular type/genre?
I am very so much open to many genre, but I only want to listen to music with soul.
Do you play an instrument? Do you dance?
I play maracas and I dance lots.
You are also unique in the way you don't use spray paint, which is what most people associate with street art. Has this always been the case?
I don't use spray paint at all. What you think is made with spray actually is colour applied with a sponge.
You have painted murals worldwide wide, from London to China - what has been the most exciting location for you? Who is more accepting of the movement?
China, because people look with a new eye to street art. Everything is new and there are so many things to say.
What location is next on your list?
Culture and traveling is also a core influence of yours. Does travelling continue to inspire new work?
Travelling is essential for the person to keep the spirit up and feeling always humble.
Do the people you meet on your travels inspire you?
Do you think it's become more challenging to locate walls/ find work over the years, or easier?
It's easier because now I am more experienced and I know how to approach people. Also now I can show a page of a news paper talking about me painting walls and everything is more easy.People trust me more, haha.
You go about locating spaces in various ways from breaking in, to writing letters the council or landlord. Is the buzz killed slightly when you have to ask for permission?
It's life that is full of bureaucracy.
Is the thrill of working on the street generally still as strong, or because its become more acceptable and known as a movement, is there less of a thrill?
The thrill is gone, now there is the experience of painting that is more important and deep.
Some street artists work hard at masking their identity, where as you are very much a part of your artwork in the way you are involved with communities, and stand proudly in front of your works. Is it important that the public get to see a bit of you through t he work you do?
It is very hard keeping your identity hidden. At some point I give up and sometimes I play with my character, its fun. But its not primarily, the work is more important to me.
You spend a lot of time with a fresh street art talent such as Borondo and Stik, whose works are also known worldwide. Do you all bounce ideas off together?
Inevitably we talk about work/ painting / graffiti / walls / and is good when a friend of colleague use his/her critic and advice.
You have collaborated with Phlegm and Mexican artist Pablo Delgado. Do you enjoy collaboration or do you prefer flying solo?
I love collaborating. I find it fun, challenging and interesting. Street art is (probably) the first art coronet where people make walls together. Collaborating with the people you trust and you like is a super good thing.
Where do you source your materials?
Materials that I use are usually easy to find.
What's your preferred medium?
You are known worldwide as a street artist, but you also have a strong fine art influence and your next step is to display in a gallery. What encouraged this idea?
I'd like change, changes are scary but necessary.
What attracted you to Hang-Up Gallery?
It was so close to my workshop (50 metres) and also they are serious people ;)
Your work reminds me of the Matisse cutouts. Is fine art and the current contemporary art scene also an inspiration of yours?
Mainly art from the past is the main inspiration, like Fracis Picabia or Picasso, Mondrian or Miro.
A show by Joan Miro is the first art exhibition that I ever saw and it changed all my life when I was 10 year old.
Who are the fine artists that inspire you the most?
Franci Picabia, Joan Miro, Diego Riveira , Picasso, David Afaro Siqueiros, Herman Esher, Moebius and Stefano Tamburini.
Street art has a large, varied audience and appeals to all walks of life. What attracted and still attracts you to the movement?
I like the fact that street art has been made at home. There are no institutions beyond or school or teachers when it started.
What's the defining difference for you, if one, between displaying works on the street to displaying your work in the gallery?
In the gallery you can actually sell it. The gallery hasn't got 24h access.
What's been the biggest challenge in your career so far?
Finding the time to give love to both equally family and work.
What would be your ultimate street space to work in?
Would be good to organise murals around the city of London on walls of council estate or big blocks of concrete where the people live in, it might make life better for everyone.