Interview Series: SHOK-1

If you’ve been following the work of British street artist SHOK-1 lately, you probably recognize his futuristic, skeleton-inspired street art. He paints perfectly transparent “X-ray” bones with such a precise hand he’s carved a unique niche in the ever-evolving street art community; and he’s been at it a while, long enough to compile an extensive retrospective. These days, he’s going X-ray mad, so don’t be surprised if you run into one of his sexy, colorful X-ray paintings on the streets. I’m thinking we definitely need one in California! In the meantime, I had a moment to chat with the artist. Have a look at interview below:

LF: We’re seeing a SHOK-1 Now and a SHOK-1 Then. What’s to be expected next?

S1: I don’t even know whats coming myself past a certain point. The more you explore, the more there is to explore.

LF: How did it feel to look back at your work?
S1: Oh, it’s quite a while since I did that now. I went back through the first 20 or so years with a more educated eye and figured out which were the best bits to develop in my new work. This is what I was, now this is what I’m going to be, type of thing.

LF: That was a pretty bold move to paint the China Heart Noose. Can you talk a little bit about the challenges of a place like that, knowing that your work could get censored?
S1: I worked over there twice. The first time was a huge success, the second time things went crazy. You have no idea what is going on. It’s just so completely and utterly different there… it’s like landing on Mars. It was a huge groundbreaking project, to have Western artists painting public art in mainland China. History was being made and some sparks were bound to fly. I did my best to be strong and represent the cultures that I come from.

LF: How did the heart noose come about?
S1: I’ve been doing them for about 10 years now. Earlier on it was a thing about being an artist, but it’s taken on different personal meanings at different times. Other people have totally different meanings for it. One kinky lady came up while I was painting a big version of it and asked if it was about BDSM.

LF: What’s your most epic street moment?
S1: Whatever is coming next.

LF: How many times have you been arrested?
S1: Quite a few times but that was when I was a kid.

LF: You talk about “unspaces”…. or no-man’s land where only a few would travel. How do you find these “unspaces”?
S1: We don’t really look at the city the same way normal people do; every surface becomes a possibility, every alleyway a portal to new possibilities. It’s just an awareness, and a willingness to go where danger might lurk.

LF: So you’re going X-ray mad? Explain.
S1: The X-Ray concept is a really exciting direction that I’ve decided to focus on. There seems to be so much uncharted territory to explore.  It’s difficult, risky, intolerant of mistakes, full of meaning… I know a lot of what I’m going to do with it but new directions keep appearing.

LF: The transparency effect of the X-ray work is incredible (LOVE IT). Without totally giving away your process, can you share any tricks on getting such precise tones?
S1: It’s a combination of science and magic.

LF: What makes you happy?
S1: In an art sense? … Pulling off something that I wasn’t sure that I could do. Travelling, painting in new countries. Work out new techniques.

LF: What gets you off, literally and figuratively?
S1: Are you getting sexy with me? (laughing)

LF: How FAST do you live?
S1: C = 299,792,458 metres per second + X = faster than the speed of life.

To see more, check out SHOK-1’s website

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