During the week of installation for The Chicago Street Art Show at The Chicago Urban Art Society I had the opportunity to speak with several participating artists including Don’t Fret and Goons. The closing reception for the show will take place this Friday, June 3rd. If you are unable to make it to the reception, keep posted for future coverage including a video reflection consisting of interviews and footage from the show. Additionally featured this week is an interview with Joseph J. Depre, curator of The Chicago Street Art Show.
Chicago Street Artist: Don’t Fret
Nicolette Caldwell: What is your history with street art?
Don’t Fret: I’ve been making art for as long as I can remember. I first got involved with graffiti in seventh grade. All the kids in my seventh grade class chose tag names from South Park characters and I was Pip.
NC: That is really clever. So it started from when you were younger?
DF: Yeah, I grew up in the city and I remember graffiti from a very young age. I don’t really think I had an opinion about it until mid to late high school but I always remember seeing it. I don’t think it ever really occurred to me that it was illegal until seventh grade when we all go in trouble because the teacher found out. I think somebody ratted on us.
NC: What were your reactions when you found out you were invited to participate in The Chicago Street Art Show?
DF: From the moment I found out about the show I was just really stoked that something like this was happening and then it kind of just grew. Originally I think the show was going to be at a much smaller space and then it came here, which is awesome because I think it is a much better space for the show. The book coming out is also really awesome. I mean it is also the right time I think with everything that is going on both with graffiti and graffiti in Chicago.
NC: Why is this show important for people to see?
DF: I guess it kind of depends where the viewers coming from because I think for a lot of people that are die hard fans this is going to be a really cool opportunity to see a crap load of artists all under one roof doing their top notch stuff. Hopefully that would reflect upon viewers who don’t know much about graff and street art. Either way I think it is a great opportunity for us to be “under one roof.”
NC: What do you think is important about the show happening in Chicago?
DF: Like I said, “Remember when graffiti was outside?” I feel like that is kind of where we are. It is a dance because on the one hand I am really excited that everyone’s work is getting out and people are starting to turn heads and getting over the fact that it is kind of illegal but even more so understanding the benefits of it. And the show in L.A is a really great starting point for that too. And here we are a month later.
NC: Anything else that you want to comment on?
DF: I should have gone to pediatry school.
Chicago Street Artist: Goons
Nicolette Caldwell: How did you get involved with making street art?
Goons: I started street art probably like seven years ago. I didn’t do much art before then except for drawing just for fun. I did it as a hobby starting with stickers that I would put up around town. I thought it was a great hobby because right afterward you have a feeling of accomplishment and for the weeks after that anytime you walk down that space or in that area you can see it over and over again. Then I started making wheat pastes and they started to become bigger and bigger. I also started making stickers with the same character over and over—the signature red lips.
NC: So you have always been based in Chicago?
G: I have always based the “Goons” in Chicago. Although, I have taken it as far as I can possibly take it. Wherever I travel I put it up or mail it out to people. The “Goons” character is a creation out of Chicago.
NC: How did you feel when you first found out about The Chicago Street Art Show and had been asked to participate?
G: I was excited about it. I think it is time for this to happen. Street art in Chicago is often over looked and there are tons of artists here including You Art Beautiful who really blew up the whole thing. Ever since then it has been free reign. If you want to see some of the most colorful street art in the world Chicago is definitely the place to be. And this show is going to be a place that kind of encapsulates all of it into one space. It has been a long time coming and it is the perfect time for this to really volcano out.
NC: Why do you think this show is important specifically to Chicago?
G: It gets artists together. People who may have just seen an artist’s work on the street or heard of a person now gets a chance to be in the same space together. It’s kind of like a brotherhood of street art. I think it is important because it really allows a showcase to all those people who may have seen the stuff out on the streets but have not really gotten a chance to be in a gallery space where they can really admire it and get up close and personal with it.
NC: What do you think peoples’ reactions are going to be like?
G: Street art always brings out a real enthusiasm and excitement for art with out boundaries. It might be a bit drippy or sloppier than what you would see in a normal gallery but for some people that is the best kind of art that there is and I agree with that.