This time last year I had received the brilliant news that I would participate in Upfest. Upfest is Europe’s largest street art and live painting festival based in Bristol. Upfest attracts tens of thousands of visitors to the streets of Bedminster in Bristol every year and artists from all over the world come to participate so I was gob smacked when I had my application accepted.
I was so excited and also nervous. I’d applied not really expecting to get a place with the competition running high, so was amazed I was about to take on one of the biggest painting challenge I’d ever done. I was suddenly facing a whooping 4 foot by 8 foot canvas and I wasn’t 100% sure how I was going to tackle it.
I have been interested in street art and graffiti since I did an A level project in 2000 on New York artists such and Jean Michel Basquiat and Keith Harring. I moved to Bristol in 2011 and one of the most attractve things about the city was the nature of the creative community and their willingness to embrace street art as an artform and actively encourage it. I knew this was a creative city and I wanted to be a part of that.
Now, I’m not saying I had any ambition to be a street artist, I’m an illustrator and character designer who is very happy working digitally and on a small scale but I am influenced by many art forms and graffiti is a big part of what inspires me so any move towards being a part of that was something I was going to jump at.
I’d been working on a piece I called Rainbow Farts for a while and the bold bright colour and kawaii inspired characters were perfect for a big piece. However, I usually work with watercolour paints and composit digitally so figuring out how to turn this into a giant piece was going to take some thought and some practice. I decided I wasn’t going to tackle mastering a new and complicated skill like spray painting so I reached for an ol favourite. It had been a long time since I last used acrylic paint (probably since that A level project) but it felt like something achievable.
On the run up to the event I completed two practice pieces and gave one away as a promotional giveaway during the event.
I completed a 4 foot by 8 foot acrylic and Posca pen piece based on my Rainbow Farts illustration. This was a challenge for me as I usually work digitally and small scale with watercolour so using a unfamiliar material on such a large scale was a little daunting but also exciting to be part of such a big event.
I had a fantastic time and made some friends and fans and would definitely like to work large scale more often as I had so much fun doing it.
I’m very happy to announce I will be taking part again this year!
You can find out more about Upfest on the website www.upfest.co.uk.