At first sight, much of Irish artist Karma’s work seems overtly political. And then you take a closer look – and you realise the depth of the politics in play – radiant, shining, positivity. Woven into his critiques of capitalism and his irreverent take on some of he absurdities of modern life are a series of unequivocally life affirming pieces that step away from the visuals of witty subversion and into a celebration of the empathic elements within the human spirit. As Ireland tumbles into the bankrupt abyss, his art, his vision, his public service and his ideas are more critical than ever as they hold a mirror to the excesses of the now derelict dream. Banksyesque or not – who fucking cares… We spoke to him
How long you been painting walls?
I was thinking about it for years before I hit the streets.A combination of factors in my life all happened at once,freeing me and my mind to go and pursue happiness.That journey led me onto the streets to paint. I practiced at home first making small stencils turning them into artwork for my walls .When I felt the time was right to go paint the streets I went for it and have never looked back.It’s a way of life.
What made you choose the stencil format?
Because it allows me to produce the amount of detail I’m trying to achieve, being able to spray quickly on the streets is essential if your not into getting caught.I was also drawn towards the dedication and determination you need for such a craft.I love the whole process from start to finish.
Do you think stencil art gets the credit it deserves from the wider community?
I really think it does.
How responsive are Iocal people to your art?
Local people have been great. Ireland is bursting with creatives who appreciate street art for what it is, art.
Have you been arrested on the job?
No,I’ve never been arrested on the job but I’ve had some really close calls.So,I hope I’m not tempting fate by answering this one.I’ve been very lucky so far.
Art school or self taught?
I’m self taught but to be honest I’m always learning.I don’t think you can ever stop learning. I have to say though, it’s easy teaching yourself something you love.
We noticed your getting attention from the Irish media, does this bother you or you happy to have your face in lights?
This is not a fame game for me . If the media is writing about street art in a positive way ,then great but I have no interest in having my face in the lights
Do you do many collaborations or prefer working alone?
I haven’t done any collaborations yet but I plan on working with two of Ireland’s best stencil artists,ADW and Vango. I started this whole journey on my own which I really enjoy.I’m very happy working alone and I think most stencil artists would agree. It’s a very solitary process making and cutting stencils.If you don’t like being on your own for hour on end then this ain’t for you.
How popular is street art today in Ireland?
Their has been a hardcore of old school Graff writers going since the early 90’s in Ireland,some of which are still going strong today. But with the likes of ADW, Vango,Will St.Ledger,FINK,Maser, Solus and a load more staying active around the country, in turn keeping the scene alive,well and very healthy.
Is there any tension between graffiti writers and street artists in the big city or does everyone get along just fine and Dandy?
I’m a street art Nomad but their seems to be a very healthy respect for each others skills.Sure, at the end of the day we’re all artists, going out , doing our thing and taking the same risks.
Do you have any mentors you care to mention?
No mentors but as I said before I’m always learning. Their is nothing more satisfying then teaching yourself how do something you love.It’s a very rewarding process.
How important is location to your placements?
Location is a very personal choice for me.So,it’s very important.
Some say this is vandalism whats your response?
I say ” F**K THAT ,YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE……SO STOP COMPLAINING ” !
Are many artists creating meaningful stencils in Ireland?
Their are two very talented stencil artists producing great work for the streets of Ireland at the moment . ADW and Vango are two of Ireland’s best and most creative street artists . I have a lot of respect for both of these guys and look forward to working with each of them in the future.
How often do you go out painting walls?
If I had it my way, It would be everyday but that’s in a perfect world.Last year I was getting out one or two times a month which was great, until I really fucked up my hand putting me out of the game for months.
What fires your creativity the most?
Headspace and freedom would be the key to my creativity.I love walking around cities.It makes my mind race with ideas.
Tell us a little about your Thug Life concept…
I chose this site due to the fact that it’s down in the Irish financial center. It was at the height of the recession.Media coverage of corrupt bankers taking unjustified bonus packages was all over the place .Good people were getting fucked over and no one was paying for it. Well, fuck that.Name and shame I thought, act like a thug, get labeled a thug.That blatant disregard for your average Joe soap was the Catalyst,spurring me onto the streets of Dublin by creating my first piece ” THUG LIFE “.…!
Do you think the internet has helped push street art in Ireland or do you think its more of a hindrance?
I think it’s definitely helped not only Irish street art but street art in general.I can’t see it being a hindrance to either artist or street art lover.
Are councils buffing walls on a regular basis in Ireland?
Of course.In Dublin their seems to be a few no go zones because within hours of the paint drying it will be gone….
How long do you expect a Karma piece to stay on a city wall?
As long as it’s welcome.
How much commission work do you take on?
I’ve done a couple of pieces for my friends but that’s about the height of my commission work.
Should we expect to see your work on UK walls anytime soon?
I would love to come over and paint there ..!
Do you show at galleries?
No.The most Important thing for me is getting stuff out onto the streets.That concept is so far from reality but I’m flattered you think people might want to see my stuff in a gallery.
Are you a full time artist or do you have a bread n butter job?
Isn’t everybody’s dream to do something they love and have a passion for…Unfortunately, I’m not a full time artist .I scrape by but I’m happy !
Anything else you’d like to share with LSD readers?
You only live once , enjoy yourself, embrace the creativity that lies within us all. It’s up to you how to channel that energy but it’s there…!
Lots of love and respect.