With his signature “no outline”, colourful characters, Malarky has been slowly redecorating the grey security shutters of East London since 2010. Mark Rigney tracked him down.

Mark Rigney – You come from an illustration and skateboarding background, could you tell us how you got interested in Street Art?

Malarky – I started making hand made stickers in 2003, having been influenced by skate graphics, and began sticking them up in [different] places for a little fun. Then in 2005 I began painting letter pieces with a few friends. I traveled loads, painting more and just generally having fun. At some point around 2008 my letters started turning into characters and then it naturally evolved into just painting characters.

MR – Has your move into the street altered the methods in which you now produce your studio work?

Primarily I paint outside, studio work is always second to street painting. I will mix up acrylics and emulsion to match colours I use in spray paintings. My fills have been adapted to make it harder for a tag to stand out over it, so these techniques became part of my style and I’ll use them if I’m painting in the studio.

MR – Barcelona seems to be a city you spend a lot of time in, do you think the city has contributed to, or influenced the distinctive style of work that you are producing?

For sure, I love the city, the energy and the vibrance of the scene, with some sort of combination between the laid back vibes, the looseness of the law (pre buff ).

MR – Large White Vans and silver security shutters would appear to be your preferred canvas of choice. What’s the attraction of these surfaces?

I painted my first full shutter in 2008 in Barcelona, I loved everything about it, the rawness of the corrugated metal, how the surface had no time for tiny details and cutbacks, it forced me to change how I approached painting and I started using more bright block fills and simpler characters. As for vans, it’s just amazing to see your paintings running around the city – you get a good flick, they last for a long time, they never get buffed and only die if they get gone over.

Photo: ©Virginia Barr

Photo: ©Virginia Barr

MR – Have you had any feedback or responses from the general public to your work on the street.

Haha yeah aside from the moaners, people generally seem to like it, kids seem to be into it. I think they can relate to the characters more, and see them actually as animals or monsters on the street rather than judging it as ‘street art’ and I prefer that.

MR – Do you think the forthcoming London Olympics Games will have any affect on your street work this summer.

Yeah I guess, they will try and buff more and more and it will die a little. Already the canal is looking less colourful, plus I know some shop owners have been asked to clean their shutters or foot a bill up Roman Road. I try to paint places that avoid this, trucks are good for this as are rooftops. I’ll probably hammer a few spots just before and they should hopefully run for the duration of the games.

MR – 2011 seems to have been a big year for Malarky, with exhibitions at High Rollers and Tony’s Gallery plus a TV commercial! What were the highlights of the year for you.

Painting shutters in Madrid in February was fun and the exhibit with Billy at High Rollers Gallery was awesome. The highlight probably was painting trucks in Barcelona when I was living there, at one point I had 8 or 9 full colour trucks running and that felt amazing.

MR – What lies ahead for 2012?

Paint more shutters and trucks, travel to more places, have fun and drink beers.


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