PIECES by PAW
22 June 2020 by Sancho Murphy
PIECES is an exhibition by PAW at Sancho's Dirty Laundry, showcasing works consisting of abstract 3D pieces of his panel style artwork along with sneaker customs, posters, sculptures and framed artworks. PAW is a street artist from Davao City, Philippines who resides in Canberra. His artwork consists of Worms and Lilies, which are enclosed on panels, with an
ever-watching eye making the artwork alive.
PAW is not too phased about what something is or isn't - he just does, driven by experimentation and pushing his own limits. A real positive dude always willing to give things a go from painting commissioned pieces to organising youth workshops. After speaking with him in preparation for this interview, perhaps a large part of his eagerness to participate in almost any project stems from not taking opportunities for granted, especially coming from the Phillipines where illegal graff is often met with harsh jail time - the sentence depending on the police officer's attitude at the time; walls are secured by commissions or asking the wall owner's permission and paint supplies are limited to the local hardware brands.
In this interview, we talk about what it is like moving from the Phillipines to Australia and following your drive to create in a different playing field, touching on influences and differences. Special thanks to CBR legends BURROWS DIGITAL for lending a hand on the process video and HAYDS for letting us use his track.
Can you tell us a bit about your background? Where were you born? Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Davao City, Philippines. I’m a self-taught artist learning from experience and experimentation. I started drawing in my younger days when I get bored in class. I use to draw my teachers and my classmates faces in cartoons. My classmates would buy my drawings but most of them want it for free haha. I learned to experiment when I saw the designs of skateboard decks, and that is how I got into cubism.
When I got to college, I got side tracked playing in a band. I seldom draw and paint and just played music. We played psychedelic noise at gigs using our homemade gadgets. It was when one of my friends introduced me to graffiti and where to buy local spray paints that got me back to making visual art again. One of our guitarists, OVER, and I would play in gigs and after playing and a few drinks, we would go out and paint in the city. After that we can’t stop painting.
When and where did you first paint in a public space? What motivated you to hit the streets with your distinct style?
My first one was in a big wall in my parent’s backyard. I didn’t tell them, I just bought paints and started painting the wall. To my surprise when they saw it they loved it and want me to paint all the concrete walls outside the house. Then I started going out painting with my friends in the city.
I always want to create my own style when doing something. In music, we make our own instruments by using circuit bending and lots of experimental stuff. We just want to make a unique sound for fun. And that goes same with my artwork. I want people to recognise it just by seeing my unique style.
When you paint outside, do you work from a sketch or freestyle?
When I go paint I mostly do it freestyle because the letters that I make are mostly abstract. When I go painting with friends I always want to pick the last wall so I wont know if my piece is small or big. I only do a sketch when it’s commissioned work or if I have a limited amount of paints and need to be mindful of it.
You are originally from the City of Davao in the Philippines, and move about from there to Australia. What is that like? What are the ‘scene’ similarities/differences with graff/street art/art/creative expression?
Yeah, I had a hard time adapting when I first came here. Back in Davao, I was always out, playing gigs, painting, and full-time graphic design work. But when I moved here, I had no job and got broke, because of the tuition and visa haha. It was like going back to zero.
The scene in Davao is difficult when getting descent spray paints. We only have the local paints - Bosny, Lazer, Parlux and those local caps. But that’s cool cause you can play with unwanted drips and mostly use roller paints when going out. It didn’t stop the locals to hit spots and develop their own style. It’s hard to get descent spray paints and caps before and that is how I developed my style having thick lines to thickest, fills and less thin lines. Here in Canberra there are a lot of legal walls so it was easy for me to go paint without knowing anyone before. But yeah, now it seems there is less random pieces around the city and more government planned/approved pieces in the streets than what I‘ve heard and seen in the photos before.
You are part of WADAB Locals - a group from Davao City, Philippines. Tell us more:
Yeah. Wadab Locals was formed when group of locals went out and had some beers. We are a mixture of different disciplines like graffiti, street art and paste-ups. We hang out to have fun, to meet new people, share different style, chill and most importantly the beer.
We want to help the local scene in Davao City. We started selling spray paints and caps in the city and we want to give more supplies to the locals cause its hard to find the right supply in the city. We also want to make events where we invite other people from other places to visit Davao City to meet the locals. We had one last year, Piece Talks 2019, we invited MOEK, DEVO and DREGS to paint with the Locals. We hope to make more events like this to unite the writers from Davao and other places.
What are the paint stores like in the Philippines? What materials are currently available? How do the stores sit within/support the community?
The paint stores in Philippines are great but because the country is made of different islands, it’s hard to deliver them. That’s why me and OVER started one in our city. We are selling spray paints and caps and hope to sell more supplies in the future. The local community is supportive in our city. Most of the scene supports each other’s local products, which is why I love the city.
You offer many different graphic services; people can buy your prints, and you also offer murals and brand design, on top of 3D and animation. Tell us more about the evolution of your work; what are some cool projects you are working on at the moment? In particular the augmented reality stuff?
Every work I do is based on experimentation. When I see ideas around me, I try to incorporate it with my artwork. When I make a graphic design and interior design projects, I always imagine how I can apply the project with my artwork. That is how I started applying Augmented Reality and animations to my artworks. Now I’m trying to make sculptures and testing it with the Augmented Reality technology and I’m just experimenting stuff so I’m not really sure what will happen.
OVER x PAW
Do you make every-day? Could you ever decide to stop making and do something else? How essential is creating to your personal wellbeing?
Not really sure about that. But yeah I can’t imagine myself doing something else. As I like to experiment with things, I always want to create something unique so I’m not sure if I’m going to stop.
Please describe some interesting memory facts of yourself....... ANYTHING really! Do any particularly memorable experiences stand out? Do you have any stories where you got into trouble?
I have a lot of interesting memory but not sure what stands out haha. Maybe that time when my friends and I tested our prototype downhill drift trikes, 12 midnight in a downhill highway. A lot of ten-wheeler trucks and cars were on that road that night but we went ahead driving with the same speed as the cars in the highway. A lot of memorable things happened when we were testing those prototype drift trikes, some got us in trouble and some taught us some lessons.
Are there any particular artists who inspire you? Your favourite artists?
I would say Don Pendleton. His skateboard artwork inspired me to do cubism artwork. When I was in high school while skating with my friends, I saw one Alien Workshop skateboard with this line art graphics at the bottom. And I realised at that time that there are ways to make your own style of artwork, because I only thought that drawings are just copying peoples faces and landscapes or making cartoons I didn’t think you could do art by making abstract straight lines and fill colours. After that I started experimenting with lines, fills and shadows.
PAW is currently exhibiting and selling hand painted abstract 3D pieces, along with sneaker customs, posters, sculptures and framed artworks at the Dirty Laundry pocket gallery (located in the shop's front window). Because of the Covid-19 lockdown interruption to our store routine for the months of April & May, we have extended the exhibition to the end of June.
If you see something you like but would love it customised or perhaps you want something made-to-order, the artist is available for commissions!