VNAussie Damo recently managed to catch up with Melbourne based Swerfk during a fleeting trip to Canberra and discussed influences, why Melbourne is apparently better than Canberra and throw up…
DW: Who is Swerfk? Talk us through your style?
Swerfk: I like stupid little weird drawings with textured inners and clean outers. I paint scenes of nonsense packed with little details, most often in some sort of cartoony funk style. Hard to explain. It varies.
DW: Can you tell us a bit about your early years and how you got into art?
Swerfk: I got into art by tracing ‘Looney Toons’ off the TV as a young’n and then would pass them off as original ideas to my friends. Got into tagging in toilets & textbooks in high school, later on I went to Art School in Canberra where I really got into screen printing posters, which changed my style up at that time. Somewhere in there I also started painting walls, which was pretty much inspired by collaborating with friends and it has become a bit of a thing now, that I do sometimes.
DW: What or who are your influences as an artist?
Swerfk: My initial influences in art would come from my love for 80’s & early 90’s cartoons, and my nerdy obsession with collecting things. I am inspired by John K the ‘Ren & Stimpy’ guy, R. Crumb, Matt Groaning, who ever was illustrating the ‘Odd Bodz’ cards, Charles Schaultz and more recently artists like Yok & Sheryo, dxtr the weird, Horfe & Dmote have been coming up with some very cool stuff.
DW: Tell us about your process, from concept to finished product?
Swerfk: Sometimes I will have a solid idea I want to put down. I will reference images from pop culture, or architecture or whatever and I will take certain aspects to add to my pictures, particularly in my backgrounds and stuff. Other times I just have no idea and just start at the bottom of a page and work my way to the top, piling information on top of each other ‘things on top of other things’.
DW: You recently moved from Canberra to Melbourne. Can you tell us how the cities differ as far as their attitude to street or public art? What would you have changed about the Canberra scene when you were here?
Swerfk: Canberra is a really pleasant place its very conservative and everything is in its order, the art scene in Canberra in strong but the want for ‘street art’ is not even comparable to Melbourne’s walls and ally ways. There are to many things I would have changed there to list. Melbourne has a lot more room to move and there is loads of inspirational artists getting up here, you only have to ride your bike a hundred metres along the track side to realize why Melbourne is the shit!
DW: How do you maintain enthusiasm for what you do? What keeps you going?
Swerfk: I don’t know where it comes from but it keeps on coming daily, like fruit juice.
DW: If you could collaborate with any living artist who would it be and why?
Swerfk: I always wanted to skate with Tom Green for a day, Hangout with Bill Murray and paint a massive wall with Mark Bode in New York, because I think his style would merge well with mine and it would be freakin’ sweet.
DW: What have you got in the works for the rest of the year?
Swerfk: Heaps of painting on paper this year, really enjoying the illustration stuff at the moment and hopefully organize a mid to late year show some where in Melbourne? Heading to Vietnam later this month to Meet up with ‘Murial’, Frenemy, and some other dudes to paint some walls over there, so pretty excited about that! Flooding Melbourne with my throw up… yuck!!
DW: Where else can people find you?