Mr. Sprinkles is an artist from New Zealand, who works with everything from spraypaint to tattoo guns. The semi-retired b-boy just featured heavily in Sydney’s Outpost street art festival and works primarily on commissions, tattoos and the progression of his own style. His many-faceted characters strive to portray the multitude of different selves within each of us and the bonds of family and friendship that make up our lives.
VNA: So, Sprinkles, you’re not originally from Australia?
MS: Nah, born in Palmerston North, in New Zealand, probably considered a country town, but I moved to Wellington, where I pretty much spent most of my life.
VNA: When did you first start painting?
MS: I first picked up a can when I was about 11 and tagged my woodshop class at school, I got busted about 5 minutes later, given detention and made to clean it off, but I still managed to get 2 cans out of the class and bomb on the way home too! I’ve been doing it a long time, from those humble beginnings as an 11-year old tagger, that’s me.
More after the jump…
VNA: Tell us a little bit about your art, what influences your work?
MS: I come from a graff background, doing heaps of letters and pieces. I’ve always had a fondness for characters, but didn’t really get into it ‘til I fell into a group called The Movement here in Sydney and met a lot of really talented artists who’ve helped me progress and perfect my talents. I still love pieces in graff, but a lot of it’s focused on my characters and what I try and get across with them now. Most of that is really just different depictions of people and the heaps of different personalities you can take on in life to fit in. One person can be so many different people, depending on who they’re around, acting different ways to fit in with that particular group at that time. Everything I do is sort of centred around that. Essentially they’re still the same person and, over time, regardless of how many different people you try to be, you’ll eventually be found out for the person you really are.
VNA: You’ve got all these animal heads in some of your artwork, is that a representation of these different personalities?
MS: I’ve been having a massive think about this lately, for the longest time I was just doing work and I didn’t really have much thought behind it. So I sat down and thought about why I do what I do; most of it is centred around family and friends. You go through life and you always have your wing man, there’s always someone who’s right there with you throughout the whole thing, just riding the wave of life with you, that’s why a lot of my characters have that other thing with them, it’s like a duo, there’s one dude with another dude, in some way, shape, or form, kicking around. It’s kind of cultural, I’m Cook Island, I’m Maori, and half of my family is Chinese too, I try and work a little bit of that into my art as well.
VNA: Nice, I’ve found that there’s a strong sense of brotherhood and spirituality over here, especially coming from New Zealand.
MS: Yeah, the hair in my pieces is inspired by one of my best friends that I grew up painting with. He always used to do these amazing patterns that were full of colour and lots of detailed lines, but then he stopped painting. We each chose our different paths and I chose to do something that I loved, he chose the career path, setting himself up in life that way. Painting with him, I had some of the best times of my life, so by painting similar patterns, I’m painting with my best mate.
VNA: That’s fucking sick!
MS: That’s all relevant to brotherhood. The Movement as a crew are all really positive people, they celebrate all mediums and they don’t limit anything, whether you’re working with cans, stencils or pens.
VNA: What are The Movement based around?
MS: It’s a really long-standing group of people in Sydney, so much so, that it’s hard for me, as such a new member, to even explain it’s beginnings, I only really know the people I’ve encountered and a little of what happened before them. But as it stands, it’s mostly being kept afloat by SMC3, he’s a major driving force behind The Movement, alongside a few others, like John Doe.
VNA: You were part of Outpost, did you get something back from that as well?
MS: Definitely, it was great just being part of such a major event at a time when street art is coming into its own and being appreciated after such a long period of negative reflection. To have an opportunity to play a role in bringing it into the light, showing it’s not just vandals – not saying that vandalism is necessarily a bad thing, it’s all about having a voice – it’s artists having a voice to speak to the masses. There was a show that came on the coattails of Outpost, which was the highlight of my year, including works by myself, Heesco, E.L.K., Shida, and a guy called Sofles, who I’ve followed from the beginning. To be in his presence was humbling, he’s such a humble guy, for someone who’s achieved such success in his field, he’s still such a real person. Also Slug was in the show, that dude’s been a budding street artist for the longest time, he’s been getting up everywhere, in high-traffic spots, and no-one knew who he was, this was his first major exhibition.
VNA: So what’s next?
MS: All sorts, outside of all the jobs and shows, it’s nice to take time out and paint for fun. Just taking that next step as an artist. A French b-boy, Lilou, from Pokemon Crew, once said to me ‘For me, breaking, I see everything everyone’s doing and I just want to do it better. I just want to keep going up and up and up. I don’t ever want to stop.’ That really hit home for me, that’s what I want to do with my art, I’m never happy with anything I ever do, ever. Regardless of how many people love it, I’m always like nah, I can do it better.
VNA: Stay up Sprinks. Peace!