Thursday, August 11, 2011

Interview: Philjames

(Surry Hills, Sydney)

Philjames is a Sydney artist who creates works that can be playfully satirical yet world-weary.

He has been an enigma to me for his willingness to communicate through street art, while being somewhat difficult to find.

I eventually found the man - and he was happy to be interviewed for this blog. Enjoy.


Hi Phil, so who are you?

My name is Philjames. This is my art name anyway, as a kid my dad called me Philjames so I use that as a kind of "nom de plume", a sort of nod to my family.

When did you start making street art?

I started making making art for the streets during my time as a student at the National Art School around 2001-ish. I wasn't using the name Philjames then but I was majoring in printmaking and had access to all the screenprinting facilities so I was doing a lot of postering. I followed Juxtapos alot and I guess the work of OBEY really inspired me back then. I kind of fell out of it after a few years and got back to it I guess five years later after a stint in Tokyo.

Not long ago you pasted two Warholesque posters near the Ray Hughes Gallery. Were you sending Hughes a message?

Coming back to it was kind of born of frustration with my dealings in the art world. Ive mentioned in other press stuff that I feel alot of people feel ill-at-ease in a gallery environment, and from a commercial standpoint my work didnt really sit well in it either, so I thought I would take the art to the people (without trying to sound too righteous!).

What part of Sydney are you based in?

I'm currently based around Paddo, which is why my work centres around that area, it's nice to be able to walk around and check the progress of the work.


What have you been working on lately?

I'm currently working on a show for Damien Minton Gallery in Redfern and of course putting together a few pieces for the streets also, so I'm pretty busy with my job as well so time is pretty full on.

Are you involved in any upcoming exhibitions? When was the last exhibition you were involved in?

I just came back from a stint in the US where I had a show in Montreal with mixed results commercially, but it was a great experience. Anyway I'm currently broke, in love and working my arse off back to LA!


What drives you to make art in the streets?

The drive to make work for the streets is the drive to make work at all. Its what Im best at, its all I wanna do and I get a great sense of satisfaction from doing it. The feedback tends to generally be positive but ultimately its like therapy for me. I just feel an urge to do it.

Have you had issues with pedestrians working in the street?

With the art is a cunt posters yeah, I was sending a message I guess, Im not gonna name names or tread on any toes but certain events took place that were a little disappointing and I felt they could have been handled better, but the real message there is that art, like any creative field, is a tough racket, often you'll get bent over and sometimes you have some victories but yeah, its tough to make a living and everyones a critic. As I said before, it serves as a kind of therapy. I think a certain "somebody" was responsible for painting out the "ART" on that poster to make it read "Philjames is a Cunt". I thought that was great. To establish some kind of reparte with the public is a great result for me, it actually strengthened the work so thank you, (you know who you are).

What will keep you busy in 2011?

From here on in 2011 is gonna be busy. A show in September at the annex space of Damien Minton on Elizabeth Street opening on Sept 21 and then pick up my shit and head back to LA to get the girl (her name is Flo btw and shes the shit!!). So yeah its time to get biz-zay!

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