LSD Magazine interviews JPS

Issue Eight – Walls of Perception November 23rd 2011

Bouncing back from the chemical abyss with creativity as his sponsor and vigorous output as his redemption, Jamie Paul Scanlon (JPS) has been smashing a multimedia shaped hole in the walls of Weston and the paper thin facades of the big Society. Playing a slightly dangerous game with Banksy similarities that he both plays to and has foisted on him, though with Banksy as a cultural phenomenon in his own right that demands comment and reinterpretation – who’s to say he’s right or wrong. What is for damn sure is that JPS’s work transcends any of those parallels, not least through his non stencil based work where cut up and collage spin headlines and social fault lines into the visual mix, and probing takes on the hidden underbelly of society’s flaking veneer ripple through his Broken Britain themed pieces. Harsh and uncompromising, his work has a stark directness to it where trapped, gun toting media villains loom large in iconic film poses and crack pipes, spoons and works offer up an emergency escape route. There can be no doubt that having fully recovered from his years wandering on nihilism’s edge, we are seeing only the beginning of his artistic potential, but we caught up with him for a chat right here, right now

How long you been creating art for the streets and what was your first street action?

I’ve only been doing stencil stuff for the past year and a half prior to that when I was heavily drinking I was doing the odd bits of graffiti but nothing special, my first stencil gained press because i wanted to do a tribute for a murdered friend so i put his face around all his old haunts.

Everyone has personal reasons for choosing the correct medium for presenting their art. What made you choose the stencil format?

I was inspired when I went to a Banksy exhibition, its a good medium of getting a nice piece up quickly. I pretty much keep the street stuff separate to my exhibition work where I use mediums of drawing, painting and sculpture although I’m always interested in new techniques

There’s no denying Banksy has a great mind for street art but how do you feel about your work being constantly mistaken for Banksy pieces?

I consider it an honour that people mistake them for Banksy and it gets the work publicised. I’m actually pretty new to it so I haven’t concentrated greatly on ideas just practicing really, although I have a lot more up my sleeve.

We know in Hackney there was talk of covering a piece you recently did in perplex plastic. Would you consider this act an honour or counterproductive to your cause?

Having a piece covered is cool because you know the authorities want it preserved – that’s another reason why I deliberately confuse people because if they mistake it as a Banksy it becomes acceptable.

Considering your face is in the public domain do you fear arrest by police for past pieces?

I should fear arrest I suppose but at the same time it would be interesting to see what sort of response happens considering one minute they’re protecting your work, can they then charge you as a criminal for it? I know eventually I will get caught but I don’t fear it – there’s too many anonymous street artists, I like to put a face to the carnage lol

Most graffiti writers and street artists are considered antisocial to government bodies and even general members of the public. In your opinion what lasting impact has street art graffiti had on our culture?

I think street art has become a lot more accepted over the past few years. I don’t think tags will ever have a place in society but if something is inoffensive and brightens up a wall then the majority of people welcome it.

We all sympathise with just how hard making a living as an artist really is in the real world. Is this how you put bread and butter on the table full-time?

Yeah I’m currently a full-time artist unfortunately it doesn’t put much bread and butter on the table, i went bankrupt on 31k a few years back and have battled a drink and drug problem for years, so I still haven’t got a bank account which makes it difficult for me to sell work. I’ll get my life together soon I hope.

How has art helped your past addictions?

Art has definitely saved me from what was a very dark part of my life, although those years are now responsible for some of the work I produce. My advice to anyone with addiction would be too get a hobby or sport or something they enjoy because when you stop there is a massive space in your day that you need to fill, the biggest help of all is having a focus, and you must treat it as one day at a time – its a long road to recovery and you have to walk it a very long time. The greatest thing I could achieve myself is freedom from all that junk but when you start getting noticed, fresh temptation is thrown your way. Also I would like to give special thanks to Mason Storm for taking me under his wing and never giving up on me, heís a fantastic artist and a really good person.

We loved the Wayne Rooney piece, how did the girls respond at the parlour and do you think Rooney had a chuckle?

Wayne Rooney was done for Premier Barbers. I have to do about 6 players overall, but I couldn’t resist putting him running into a massage parlor, the girls came out with a cuppa for me and loved Rooney, could have gone either way though, because I didn’t have permission. I expect some of the other players I do will appear in places that reflect there private lives, Rooney was probably my best move to date because for once Banksy wasn’t mentioned

You clearly put a lot of thought into your pieces, tell us a little about the little girl with the Oscar?

The Oscar Girl taught me a lot about how people read what they want into things, the stencil was cut during the Oscar ceremony and I thought Banksy was set to win…………then he didn’t, so for a couple of weeks it was considered useless, but eventually I decided to whack it on a wall anyway i wasn’t expecting the massive coverage it received, by sheer luck during the time it was just lying about as a stencil a little girl named Lara Egan dropped her fathers oscar, so some believed the piece to be a portrait of her, others said that Banksy was comparing the Oscar to a toy, but I can confirm no thought was put into that piece at all, i also got  a lot of stick for using what was a Banksy girl, that in a way was what made me do new Banksy

You’re not one to shy away from social political commentaries alas your pieces on Raoul Moat, Damilola Taylor and even Broken Britain. How much of an impact has these issues had on you directly?

I tend to soak up certain incidents and sometimes need to express them through art, Iíve not had an easy upbringing and have seen a lot of bad things, i came up with the concept of doing Broken Britain in order for myself and other artists to vent how they felt on that subject it was a very successful show the first was in Bristol then went to London, although the Raul Moat piece looks like a tribute its not, its titled Preventable because so many mistakes were made.

Street art was considered an art-form from the very off whereas graffiti wasn’t generally recognised as art for many years. How do you think the future will look back at this particular period?

I think that it will continue for a long time and hopefully the councils will allow more stuff, i personally don’t like painting legally and avoid paint jams etc, although I do like working with other artists I’m undecided whether I’m a street artist and don’t consider myself a stencil artist,  just do what I enjoy mainly.

Do you enjoy doing shows and are any planned for the near future?

I love doing the shows and intend to do more, the next one is in London with AK47, Mason Storm,  Cartrain, Vagabond,  T.wat, Silent Bill, Cunni Outsider Art who are all great artists, hoping to do some stuff in L.A soon and next year a possible Broken Britain uncut because I would like to do a much harder hitting show, I spent 12 years wasting my life so I intend on actually making something of myself.

What would you like to be doing more of in the future?

The street stuff will continue, the shows will continue and I hope to continue beating my demons. Iím not worried about my identity being known perhaps it will eventually change the course of things, either that or I end up in jail.

JPS Facebook Page

Issue Eight – Walls of Perception November 23rd 2011