Faye Oliver is one of a small but strong community of female graffiti artists taking on the boy zone that is wall-scrawling today. Her dreamy-eyed graffiti girls live in a colour-popping, ethereal, punky graffiti landscape, where there are hearts and bunny ears yet whose vacant eyes could mean a thousand different things. A Fine Art graduate, she leads workshops for youngsters in graffiti at places like the YMCA and designs jewellery and plush toys in between her work making the streets a brighter place for us all. Having been wowed by Faye’s capabilities in art when we sat at the same table in Year 5, HBAFH caught up with the talented young thing to find out what makes her tick………………
HBAFH: How would you describe what you create?
Faye: My artwork is usually very bright and bold, female characters with huge eyes often are the main focus. It is quite playful and childlike at times too! I use all different mediums such as Posca paint pens, biros, felt tips, spray paint and acrylic. I like to work on a large scale, either on canvas or on walls. Check out my website www.fayeo.co.uk for artwork or www.flickr.com/bubsbubs for spray painting.
HBAFH: Where or what or who inspires you?
F: A zillion things, like, patterns on random things or the sky, inspire me. The sky is the most mesmerizing of colours at times. Colours, patterns and interesting photo shoots of beautiful women inspire me. I am like a child when it comes to colour, I get so amazed and attracted to colourful objects. I have a colour blog, www.pinkpurplebluegreenyelloworange.tumblr.com. Going to other countries and cities such as Barcelona and Berlin and seeing the art on the streets is such an inspiring feeling. Unlike England they seem so much more liberal with art everywhere. The artists that inspire me are usually to do with their dream-like surreal characters. Mark Ryden, Fafi, Alex Pardee, Camille Rose Garcia, Tara Mcpherson, Yosuke Ueno, Yubia, Jamie Hewlett, Nikki Farquharson, The Clayton Brothers, there is so many that I could not list them all. I love finding artists work that makes me go WOW!! Female graffiti artists also inspire me a lot, as the graffiti world is dominated mostly by males. As one of the only female graffiti artists in the North East it makes me feel great to meet up and paint with other girl writers.. In March this year, about 25 female graffiti artists from different parts of England, France, Germany and Norway met up in London and painted together. This was organized by CHOCK, big up ‘GIRLS ON TOP’ crew.. This was such an amazing day! Jams are great for connecting with other people from the scene and the vibe is incredible. You can check out the video of some actionhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bV8qGGbegnA.
HBAFH: How did you start out as an artist?
F: Well, I was born, and then that was it really…
….haha no well, Iv always loved anything arty from an early age, and then I never stopped doing it. I got into graffiti at the age of 15 and that was one side of my art that changed my life. I suddenly felt like I was part of something amazing and I met loads of class people. It gave me something to focus on too, instead of going out and drinking on the streets I was painting. I was spending my money on spray paint instead of vodka…haha.
I went to Uni at Northumbria and did my degree in Fine Art. Unfortunately, these three years were not as good as I thought would be, I didn’t really enjoy the course, I think I would have been more suited to do graphics instead, but luckily I still passed even though I was hardly there.
HBAFH: Describe your ideal client.
F: Preferably a well known brand! That would be good! Someone who wants a whole building transformed with spray paint. Someone that wants loads of colour and characters and words too.
HBAFH: How much time do you spend on the average piece of art that you make?
F: It varies so much, I am quite impatient with the process of doing art sometimes. I hate spending too much time on something, I get either bored with it or end up making it look rubbish if I spend too much time on it. I like to work fast.
HBAFH: What is the most important aspect of art to you: form, colour or texture?
HBAFH: Which artist’s do you admire, living or dead?
F: I admire all the ones listed above that inspire me. Artists that are really dedicated to their work and that take things to the next step by going to the extremes like graffiti artists that paint on trains or do massive artwork on risky rooftops.
HBAFH: What keeps you going when the going gets tough?
F: In general? My boyfriend, he’s the best ever, yummy food and my friend Amber, I love her so much shes got me though some really hard times, my only tattoo on me is of her name…haha
HBAFH: Describe a perfect weekend.
Sunny! Spending time with my friends and boyfriend drinking white Russian cocktails. BBQs. Painting walls.
HBAFH: What did you want to be when you grew up as a child?
F: I remember asking the teacher when I was probably about 5 how you spelt archeologist because I thought that sounded fun. But being an artist was always top of my list.
HBAFH: What’s your favourite book?
F: I’ve never really been very good at reading books, my mind wanders. Even though I have been surrounded by books everywhere as my dad has owned a bookshop for over 25 years and I live above it. I like to look at books with lots of pictures in or read factual books. However, once when I was stuck in Berlin because the ash cloud from a volcano stopped me from coming home I read ‘The Time Travellers Wife’ and that was the best ever!
HBAFH: What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
F: Erm, When I was really really young maybe about 5 or 6 I said to my auntie ‘I can’t wait til my sisters birthday, I wish it was her birthday now!’ and she said ‘You should never wish your life away, you should treasure every moment’. I know that’s a bit deep for a 6 year old but it stuck with me. Live life to the fullest cos you only have one life so make the most of it and don’t waste time dwelling on the past!
Faye’s work will be displayed at Crumbs! Exhibition at the Holy Biscuit Gallery, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, alongside other local artists, opening on Saturday 23rd Juy with an evening of spoken and music performances. For more information see the event page on Facebook. Alternately, visit Faye’s website, Flickr or blog.