Gimme The Funk – Drewfunk

Drewfunk is a rare breed, a spiritually-aware artist, tuned into balance and beliefs. His Eastern origins and upbringing have met with a Western fusion in his relocation to Australia. We took a minute to talk to him about his personal experiences of life across the two continents, love, balance and laughter…

There’s a big traditional Asian art aspect to a lot of your work, where has this come from?

It originally came from me trying to find myself in graffiti lettering, but after growing up as a Malaysian, coming into a Western-influenced society, I starting looking back into my Chinese roots.

More jump off after the jump off

So you’re from Malaysia, but now you live in Melbourne, how was the transition for you?

It was pretty natural, there is a lotta similarity growing up here and back in Malaysia. Its just the culture differences that amuse me. I see humor in culture and races.

Is it important for you to stay in touch with your heritage through your art?

I enjoy painting traditional Chinese mystical imagery and folklore, portrayed in a contemporary context, I call it Oriental funk. My great grandfather was the first taxidermist in the town and his son, my grand-uncle, used to paint and draw, but never got the chance to become an artist, because the community didn’t really recognize art…

Do you find the Western world is less in touch spiritually?

I grew up as a Christian and accepted Christ personally at 11, I think spirituality is for you as a person to find – unclouded experiences and love.

Initially, you were drawn into street art through writing and letters, how has your relationship with characters and animals progressed from this?

I personally love letters, graffiti writing for me is essential. My characters, when they’re on a wall, channelled with spraypaint, have that flow of a wildstyle masterpiece. I grew up always surrounded by animals and pets when I was in Malaysia. It came mostly from my great grandpa’s family.

Tell us about Blender Studios in Melbourne…

The Blender Studios were started up by Adrian Doyle, an artist himself, I was brought in there by both him and Regan Tamanui “Ha Ha” 5 years ago. It’s a creative hub of the city and is attached to an art gallery. It’s my lounge-room/office and everyone there is kinda like family to me.

You studied at RMIT in Melbourne, did you study art? Have you always wanted to be an artist?

I did wanted to become an artist as a little boy, because I enjoyed drawing a lot. After studying design and animation, I went back to work. I decided to quit before the year ended because I couldn’t stand the constand demands and changes from fuckin’ agencies. So I decided to come back to Melbourne and live poor, that’s when I got invited into the Blender by Doyle and Regan.

What’s the relevance of your work to modern society?

Good question, I need a coffee first… I think my works should be enjoyed by everyone, I don’t really care what people think, I just want to show light in the darkness and turn this city I live in into a garden.

Is it difficult to stay unique with your work as an artist?

Like 123klan said. Style is my message. It’s true, but style and culture is MY message.

What do you think of the Sidewayz show?

It’s the best medium to get work out. Boards are fun to paint on, and to ride. Be free and rip it! No matter if it’s the paint, pavement or snow!

Tell us about your Sidewayz board..

Its a double-headed chinese dragon, joined in the middle in a yin-yang balance. Both black and white. I see life in that form at the moment in my art. The colors of the rasta flag remind me of my path of balance and good vibes constantly in both my life and work.

Thank you so much for your time and this interview. Feel free to visit my website, www.drewfunk.com.

Check out the Sidewayz show here: www.sidewayzart.com.au