Chris Osburn interviews SWEET TOOF
Last issue’s interview with Dscreet led to a later discussion about other graffiti artists in London. In that discussion, Dscreet suggested I contact SWEET TOOF, an artist with whom Dscreet has collaborated. I was familiar with SWEET TOOF’s work from last year’s Artist Vandals I and II shows at No More Grey and Sartorial Contemporary Art as well as from simply seeing his immediately recognizable giant toothy mouth graffiti throughout East London. What follows is my interview with SWEET TOOF.
Dscreet recommended I contact you for my next interview. Do you two have a history? Ever worked on any pieces together?
I have painted along side Dscreet on the streets.
How did you two meet?
I met Dscreet when painting around brick lane with Cept
Are there any other graffiti artists you work along side?
I work with Tek33, Cyclops, Cept148. At the moment, I am collaborating with Cyclops.
Recently, you were one of the exhibiting artists in the Artist Vandals shows. What's the transition like from street artist to fine artist? What's the distinction between the two?
I started in 1986, and I’m a bit of a graffaholic. The work is fast on the streets and the studio based work takes more time. My goal is to get my teeth into London, to hit the streets and galleries.
So, you've been a graffiti artist since 1986. How did you get into you? How has the scene changed over the past 20 years?
I got into it after watching a film called “Style Wars” by Henry Chalfant, also “Beat Street” and the book Subway Art are to blame. When I started I was into letter forms and characters. Years ago it would be skinny cap tags; today, it’s fat cap. When I started, the paint was thinner and today the paint can cover most surfaces. I still do the odd letter form piece, but now I’m more interested in what I can get my teeth into … also working with cut outs and paste-ups.
How did the tooth/mouth thing come about?
The teeth came from the childhood memories of teeth candy sweets also I wanted something simple which was quick to paint with limited colours: pink, black, white.
What's the inspiration for those men in mask paintings that were on view at the Artistic Vandals shows?
Do you mean the oil paintings or the 3D cut-out work? The paintings were inspired by graffiti writers, but then led on to bank robbers (Fool’s Gold). The 3D work was a crossover from painting the backs of billboards.
What’s Fool’s Gold?
Fool’s Gold is a theme which I’m working on at the moment (paintings of stick-up kides and bank robbers).
Why the name Fool's Gold?
I had some fool’s gold once as a child. Since that day, every time I walk into a bank I have evil ideas.
What is your interest in stick-up kids and bank robbers?
I’ve been paying student loans off for years and am still in debt. The banks are the real crooks … charging fees all the time. One day, I hope to live Costa del Sol dream.
What's up for you in the near future?
For the future, I want to get me teeth into something and take a big bite.
Chris Osburn is an American transplant living in London where he has a blast working as a freelance photographer, writer, consultant, blogger and more. www.tikichris.com