Interviewed by: Tom Munday
Image credit: All images property of Daek William
If you spend a day wandering through Perth’s Central Business District and Northbridge, you would more than likely see several of acclaimed local street artist Daek William’s work. Growing up in Perth’s Northern Suburbs, the city has become an expansive and unique canvas for him to experiment with. The 31-year-old’s raw energy and passion have helped him become one of the country’s most promising young talents. His love of art aided, along with eight other artists, the creation of Last Chance Studio in 2009. His private commissioned works also include Lot20, Bar Five, and The Causeway. Bigger still, 2013 saw Daek produce a 100-meter artwork for Chevron Oil and Gas on Barrow Island.
Now, Daek’s large-scale street art has spread across the world, with installations/projects shown in saucy, scintillating locales including New Zealand, London, Brooklyn, Detroit, and Indonesia. Daek’s work conveys the social and cultural tones coursing through each city, stories from local citizens fuel his undying creativity. This year, Daek will be working on a second exhibition with Linton and Kay Galleries. Writer Tom Munday chatted with Daek about his start in the industry, his inspirations, and globe-spanning reputation.
1. What was your first foray into art? When did you release you wanted to pursue it as a career?
Two stages in my life I remember doing art was more important to me than following the pursuit of…we will say a normal career. One stage was in high school where, there and then, I decided not to follow my usual timetable of most-likely below-average maths and home economics and learning to sew. I decided to stay around the art block and take up on my interest in graffiti. I remember my art teacher wearing see-through dresses and no bra. This probably damaged me in a beautiful way and thus why most of my artwork is female related. The second stage was where I thought to myself I was going to be the best graffiti writer the world had seen. My short fall on that was I could not do good tags or letters. So, eventually, this guided me to doing ‘street art’. I have never pursued this as a career. I just really enjoy painting over what my life probably would have been, some kind of filing cabinet.
2. Your work uses a wide array of materials to create a variety of effects, what is your process for each piece?
I would say just because I primarily paint with brushes I am inspired by everything other than my genre of work – I’m actually really keen to be an architect or a designer of some kind. Unfortunately, I haven’t got the on-paper skills so I generally just fumble it all together. Very professionally and elegantly, I push to use new materials and integrate. The process is, generally, ‘wouldn’t it be awesome if’, then I go do it.
3. What types of stories and subjects/messages do you like conveying through your work?
My mind races and I want to put everything in a painting. So I usually surround a painting from an interesting person I meet and their stories that influence me. For instance, an inspiring character I have met over the last year, Adam Mada – this epic magician from NSW – helped me out with a commission. He is inspiring and mysterious so I’ll be working with him again learning about the world of magic and taking bits and pieces and ideas and turning them into a painting. It is a way to connect with the person and understand them through painting.
4. You have premiered your work around the world, how do Australian art crowds compare to that of other countries?
Australia is on it for art, it’s a great scene. Perth however is behind the times, but slowly crawling into the light. But don’t get me wrong, this place is great. You can’t just compare it to anywhere else that has a bigger population and a bigger thirst for artists. But with every pro there is a con; in America you can become world famous art star and everyone will see your work and you make lots of money. The con to that though is everyone is there. There is more artists there than people in Perth.
5. What have been some of your career highlights, so far?
Definitely painting Sean de Paul’s portrait for Atlantic records [pause] and meeting all the people who inspire me to keep creating and blow my mind with their own talents [pause] and having a rad gang last chance with my homies Sean Morris Ian Strange, Kyle Hughes-Odgers. BFFs!
6. What can we expect from your next solo collection with Linton and Key?
The next solo will be an intimate collection of fantasy-reality, some fun quirkiness and possibly a touch into my deep dark world of feelings. That may leave people absolutely not wanting to be my friend…or they will love it.
7. How important is the balance between your vision and that of the people/groups you paint for?
Well, mostly, it’s about making people believe my vision is what they actually wanted in the first place [laughs].
8. You are a massive hit on Instagram, how important is it to keep up with social media trends?
I used to think it was important. I think Instagram is quite a trick, in the world people go by the number of followers rather than the content. I’ve seen this happen from people with more followers but terrible content getting better opportunities. I’m skeptical, I always click on the 15k to see if they are buying followers. Which recently I did and it was pretty humorous, good on them though for fooling the world and getting ahead in life. Fake it until you make it!
9. Street art, to a certain extent, is still perceived negatively, do you think the public’s perception of art has changed over the past few years? How could it change in the future?
I think that perception isn’t there at all, if anything the street art fad is over and now we just call it public art. Mostly, street art was guys from a graffiti background doing day spots. Now people who have no knowledge of graffiti are street artists – even fine artists do street art. There’s no edge to it at all. It’s completely accepted over the world, it’s big business and there’s festivals everywhere for it. The only thing that holds a perception is graffiti, that’s a good thing, and people attach it to public art, mostly because they both use spray cans. Graffiti is good and getting up is still a wonderful art.
For more information, and to look at several of his works, visit: http://daekwilliam.com/