a collection of words and images dedicated to my love: street art.
Friday, November 20, 2009
Friday ProFile: Josh Sutterby
Today, Josh Sutterby paints on the streets and in galleries, but his first artistic inklings pulled him towards comics. “I used to draw these comic books with these really weird creatures called the Alpha Males,” he explains. “They were a dominant force on the planet.” When he picked up a spray can, he adopted Alpha Male as a pseudonym. As his style evolved, so did his name, changing to Alfa and then back to Josh Sutterby. “When I think back, I really wish I had chosen something different,” he regrets, “but once you’ve gone under a name for a while and people start to know who you are a bit more, it almost seems silly to change it.”As a kid, Sutterby spent hours drawing at his kitchen table. Growing up on a farm, his mother encouraged her boys to be active instead of passively watching TV. “She would only let us watch it a certain amount every day,” he recalls. “At the time, I’m sure we moaned about it but looking back, it was the best thing she could have done for us.” As a kid, he dabbled in graffiti, but moving to London catalyzed this interest into an all-encompassing lifestyle. “I met a group of guys in South London who were really into street art and graffiti,” he says. “They were really inspiring. Eventually, we became Sooper Dooper Crew. Being in that kind of environment was amazing: drawing all day, then hitting the streets and tracks at night, getting up to no good.” No matter what name he paints under, you’ll recognize Sutterby’s style. His dark and twisted themes pervade each piece.“Initially, originality was a massive problem,” he explains. “I was constantly asking myself, ‘Am I being original?’ Eventually, I just got used to the idea that you have to just do it your way and fuck what anyone else thinks.” Painting allowed him to travel the work, bombing in London, Barcelona, Amsterdam, and everywhere in between. Travel is a great perk, but being an artist isn’t always easy. When he’s not facing the dangers of street painting, he’s fielding criticism for his indoor and commercial work. “It’s very easy to jeopardize your integrity as an artist by doing jobs for corporate industries,” he acknowledges. “I’ve been judged by other people for doing commercial stuff, but without those jobs I could never further my career as an artist. There’s always gonna be haters; you just have to roll with the punches and do your thing.” The hustle paid off for Sutterby and today, he’s able to rock the artist gig full-time. “I’m really grateful to be able to do what I like pretty much when I like it,” he confesses. “It’s great not to have to go and work some shit job you hate for no money five or six days a week. I’d like to be a little less lazy when it comes to painting, though. I’ve just done a show in Brighton and am now working on my new show which is to open early December at the print house in Dalston, East London.” What’s the key to artist success? Sutterby believes the answer lies in constant practice. “I find it harder these days because I’m more particular about the subject of my art and I have less time to sit and draw, but when I was younger I used to be able to sit and draw for hours just from my imagination. I think it’s really important for artists to dedicate a certain amount of time to sit and just draw, whether it’s from your head or from life. It’s hard to put into practice and it’s quite time consuming, but it’s so rewarding in the end.”
Thanks so much, Josh! For more info about Josh's show and work, take a look at his blog. That's all for now; see you next week!