This interview was written by Global Street Art, creators of the Walls Project: paint the city you love!
The Owls of New York: an Interview with Never
If you walk around New York for long enough you’re bound to bump into large crying owls, the hallmark of Never’s work. Never is a talented and prolific artist with a flair for characters and text work. The more you see his work the more you get the sense that at some point, something somewhere went deeply wrong and painting became an outlet. We catch up with Never to find out more.
More after the drop.
There’s a City Full of Walls You Can Post Complaints At
I started drawing comic book characters when I was 7 or so. When I hit my punk-rock skater days I quit drawing. After I was done going through puberty I started taking notice of graffiti art. Being involved in the skate culture exposed me to graffiti spots and after I permanently jacked up my knee from skating I had to quit and channel that energy into something else, so graffiti it was! .
‘Never’ had no meaning at first, but I grew into the name. I gained the nick-name “Mr. Never Satisfied” from my friends for how overly critical I am of my own work. The name stuck.
My key influences are everything that goes wrong in my life. There were periods in the past when I was trying to make political statements with my work by painting portraits of corporate criminals who were always overlooked by the media. Nowadays my painting is just a form of self-exorcism. I just completely quit caring. I paint for myself and I paint what is true to myself. Whenever something shitty happens to me, I channel it out onto walls. That’s probably the best way that I can explain it.
Why crying owls? It’s a long story… I’ve been in a bit of a slump for the past year; I’ll just leave it at that.
Why the $1.28 price tag appears on a lot of my work? I’ll just state that I have always had a really nasty habit of selling myself extremely short and I think a lot of genuine artists out there should be able to relate to that. I have always put a lot of energy into painting and never really gotten anything back from it other than self-gratification. Putting so much priority on my personal art in the past turned me in to a stressed out and extremely self-absorbed person. I’m changing that about myself and I guess the price tag is my way of getting that out of my system. As for where it came from, I’d rather leave that bit of info for people who know me on a personal level.
I studied design at a University in my hometown of Atlanta. Luckily I didn’t go to an art school so I’m not paying off student loans for the rest of my life. In the last year I’ve become really obsessed with hand-painted typography. It’s challenging to me because it’s the opposite process from painting graffiti lettering. With my graffiti style, it was more about flow. With typography, it’s more about structure. I felt my graffiti style was getting too redundant as well as my owls. I haven’t been able to motivate to draw other figures, so I started obsessively drawing out phrases that pop in my head as a way to communicate my thoughts and feelings.
My art has developed a lot over the years. It evolves slowly over time. My motives change, my style changes, etc. but the drive to keep doing it never goes away. Sometimes I wish it would though… I’m trying to push my design skills right now more than anything. I’ve been playing the “starving artist” roll for a long time and it’s beyond time I find some stability in my life.
Right now I get no enjoyment from doing work on canvas. I also feel like when you are creating work hoping it will sell, you are dumbing down your work. Not to say I’m one of those bitter pricks who is mad at anyone trying to make a living off of what they love. It’s just not what I enjoy doing and I’m not trying to build hype up around my name, so I rarely do it.
I paint wherever I go, it’s impossible for me to travel anywhere and not have an over-whelming urge to leave something behind. I currently live in Brooklyn, NY. I enjoy it here; there is a lot to be inspired by. Living here makes me feel I am connected to the rest of the world, because I meet people from all over. I love that. In Atlanta, I felt like it was always the same old shit. That’s why I was glad to leave when I did. As for what people think of my work, if me painting my depression onto walls makes people feel better about themselves then great. If they hate it, that’s great too. Makes no difference to me.
As for police, there are a lot of them in NY, and they are assholes. Watch out for them! You’d think they have more important things to do then bust people for painting walls, but apparently they don’t! I’ve painted in Barcelona, Berlin, Milano, Tuscanny, Venice, San Francisco, Seattle, Miami, St. Louis, and various other cities along the east coast of the US. I really enjoyed Barcelona and Berlin while I was there. The creative community in those two cities is amazing. I’m not trying to take my art anywhere in particular. I just hope in the future I can make a somewhat steady living and be able to travel more. My personal art will continue to progress as I progress as a person. I don’t really have any expectations. By the way, my favorite color is black.