London-based Vibes is widely recognised as one of the best graffiti writers working in the capital today.
With over a decade and a half of history behind him, 2013 has been one of the busiest yet for the artist, with his fourth solo exhibition taking place in August and the blossoming of his Any Surface creative agency.
After randomly bumping into him painting the wall of a Hoxton bar (don’t judge us), Trap grabbed the chance to bring you a look at some of his work and a few words with the man himself…
For those unfamiliar with what you do, who is Vibes?
Born and bred in London, my name is Will Vibes and I’ve been painting walls publicly, privately, commercially, legally and illegally, for over 15 years.
You recently curated a four-day show in London, Forward Motion. What was the idea behind this?
Forward Motion was my fourth solo show. I hadn’t done one for a while, so decided it was time to put something together. My last two shows had been hosted by existing galleries, but with this one I wanted to do something different.
I managed to get my hands on a disused old burrito bar on Great Windmill Street in the heart of Soho. The place wasn’t in a healthy state; everything was completely covered in grease, head to toe, rats’ shit everywhere… To really put the pressure on, I had one day to convert the shop into a respectable art gallery.
We went in like 60 Minute Make Over, de-greased the shit out of it, sterilized the shit out of it, literally, built a new shop interior, painted the inside and outside of the building and hung 29 canvases.
The main challenge was to curate the whole show over a few months and then make it all happen in 24 hours. I knew I’d achieved what I set out to do when people on the opening night asked me how long this ‘gallery’ had been in Soho.
And you’re now heading up your own creative agency, Any Surface. How’s that working out?
I created Any Surface as a small collective of skilled artists based across the UK. Painting large-scale murals is a true passion. As well as graffiti, I also like to paint other styles of murals from trompe l’oeil to more fine art pieces.
I paint walls for a living as well as leisure; making a difference in any environment through the application of putting colour to a blank wall is something I’ll never get tired of. Any Surface has developed at a quick pace with some really exciting new projects in the pipeline.
Finally, looking back over your career as an artist, what piece are you most proud of?
It’s to hard to say any one in particular; I take a lot of pride in all aspects my work. I’ve worked on a lot of community and youth murals across London that make a positive difference to areas and have found a lot of satisfaction in doing that.
When I first painted a track-side piece at the age of 14, spending all night working on these letters that were twice my height and longer than my back garden, and then seeing it from the train with my mates on the way to school the next morning – that was a very proud moment.
All the way up to present-day murals, graffiti and painting publicly gives you a lot of self confidence and a massive sense of achievement, it’s a great character builder and through dedication, persistence, blood, sweat and tears, it’s built me to be who I am and what I represent today. That in itself is what I am most proud of.