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#83 Oliver Wickham


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Tuesday
Apr092013

024 WeKillYou

 

WeKillYou is a company, and an artist, with a mandate to make you laugh.  We were fortunate enough to have a chance to talk about how the art began under a bridge, how it spread around the world, and why everyone should try living in a new place just once in their lives.  

-What inspired your early artistic creations?  

Skateboarding and Punk music. With out those two things I would defiantly not be doing this. Those worlds gave me a do it your self mentality and that attitude of if you want to do it you can. They were not about being perfect. The art on the skateboards and the album covers and t-shirts are what really planted seeds in my brain at a young age

-When did that art start to look like the WeKillYou work?

Sometime about 10 years ago, I started to glue really rough versions of the black and white monsters under a bridge by my house. At this time I had no idea what wheat pasting meant and that people around the world were doing it. I just used a recipe for paper mache from grade school. Slowly over time I started to add color and shapes to the backgrounds

-What do you have on as background noise while you work?  Alex Pardee watches a ton of movies while he paints, we like a bunch of different podcasts, and of course all kinds of music, what do you get into?

I usually have music on, full albums, rarely on shuffle. I like to pick a band and listen to everything they have made from the start to the most current. If I'm working in my house I listen to my records. I never really got into podcasts and have never had a TV where I work. There was once summer when I watched every season of Corner Gas back to back!



-One thing is apparent with WeKillYou, the characters.  When did you first create The Ajna Rebels and the Monstros?  

There are 3 types of monsters: 
The Ajna Rebels who are pretty much the bad guys with plots to take over the world. They are all linked by their third eye. They first started in 2009 with Grobold.
The Monstros who are the protectors of the city, forest, sea, and underworld. All these creatures feature the WKY logo as their face and are there to do week by people, animals and mother earth. They first started in 2008 with Monstre De Marais
Lastly are the monster that I use for paste ups and what not, lets call them Ghosts. They are like an organic matter that just fills in spaces or covers areas. They are in everything, they are on everything, they comprise of everything

-What came first, their stories or the figures?

This is hard to say. Most of the Monstros stories came about as a way to have a creature of mine fix a different thing that mindless lazy humans are destroying on our beautiful planet. Gonakadet and Architeuthis battle the polluters of the oceans and seas. Hickory Bitternut protects the animals and the forest. Ghostboy and William Palerne help bullied kids and mistreated creatures in the city. In 2009 I decided that if there was good there would also be bad and needed some creatures to to be the bad guys to the Monstros. These were the Ajna Rebels.

-You recently celebrated the 5 year anniversary of the first WeKillYou figures with Valentine's day exclusives, how does it feel to receive photos of collections from across the globe?

Im not quite sure how to describe it other than amazed. 5 years is a short time to be doing something and to see it spread to around the world to places I have trouble spelling or saying and did not even know existed, its kinda hard to grasp at times. There is some dude in Taiwan that has more of my toys than I do and has spent hundreds and hundreds of dollars on my stuff. The same for parts of the USA, England, Canada, Australia, Netherlands… the list goes on and most of the time I'm not even sure how to wrap my head around it!


-As a creator of art in all sorts of forms, including some collectible, have you ever spotted someone wearing one of your shirts in public?  How do you react to that?

I think maybe once or twice. I don't recall approaching them though. Sometimes if I see people looking at my work out on the street or taking pictures I like to just watch and see how they act. Usually they are happy and thats all I need

-You've done some incredible freelance work including album covers, something that we have always found fascinating.  What's your process for working on the visual representation of new music?

Outside of people in my life and my art, I have 2 loves; birds and music. Most of my inspiration comes from music rather than visual art. If I could strictly work with bands making visuals for their music, I would stop everything else. I collect records so holding a 12 x 12 piece of art in my hands and getting to hear its sound is …… the best! I think that an album cover and the art associated with the band can be just as important as the music at times and I'm so happy to be a part of that at times. Usually when I'm asked to do art for a band, I will listen to all their music and see what kind of vibe and imagery and fonts pop into my head when I hear it and then go from there. I tend to judge a book by its cover, and there is nothing worse than a great album with a shit cover or vice versa.

-Are you choosy with the music you will let your art represent?

Yes and no. I have done work for something I have never listened to when the project is done, but for the most part its very hard for me to crate a visual for something that I don't enjoy listening to

-Do you prefer to work on your own or are there any artists you'd like to collaborate with?

For 10 years I have pretty much worked alone, but not because i don't want to work on projects with others. Im not a big social butterfly so I don't meet that many people. There are artists I love and I would love to do a project with like Uglydolls, Gary Taxali or Space Invader, but I have not thought of the perfect thing to approach them with yet.

-Can you describe a day in the life of WeKillYou?

Wake up. Check emails and social media. Take a shower. Put on a record. Water my garden. Make breakfast. Deal with some computer stuff. Pack a lunch. Skateboard and bus to the studio. Figure out what has to be done. Spend the day doing that and being distracted and listening to music. Go to the post office to mail things. Go home. Put on a record. Relax a bit and read about birds. Make dinner or eat dinner that is made for me. Watch a TV show if there is a new episode online. Clean up. Go to sleep.

-WeKillYou is based on killing with laughter, and making the best of everything.  Was that always the intention when you started out putting those little monsters out in the streets?

Yes, since day one. The first paste up i did covered up the tags that the neighborhood kids did under the bridge. I thought it was ugly and the goofy monsters would make people maybe smile. I didn't know at this time that tagging was a "mark your territory" sort of thing, I thought it was just idiot teenagers causing trouble…. then I became one

-What inspired the move from Toronto to Los Angeles?  What do you find are the major differences?

A few years ago I noticed that about 70% of my sales were ending up out here so I thought I should give it a chance. I have always believed that every person should live some where different at least once in their live. When you go on a vacation somewhere you usually don't learn about a new culture or place, but moving there, even if it turns out to be the worst, I think its essential for people. How can you know you love where you were born and grew up if you have no where else to base it on? Oh and the weather!

There are a lot of differences that ! have been getting used to. Cars are a big one. I never owned a car and grew up taking public transit. In Toronto we have a downtown… in LA they don't really. Its such a strange city. But after spending about 2.5 years here I have found the area I love and that is NOTHING like what the media and movies portray this city like. I live near a ton of beautiful parks, lots of birds and record shops and all sorts of great stuff. I do wish there was a better garbage system here that included composting and that people cared more about recycling though!

-Is there anything you have on the way you'd like people to know about?

The one thing that I can tell you is that WKY New Era snap backs will be in the shop soon! There are also a lot more products geared for kids in the near future!

-Anyone you'd like to shout out or anything like that?


Anyone reading this, thank you!