- Nicole Gordon with Photos by Raphael Gonzalez
Fanakapan: Master of The Mylar
First, let me congratulate you on your first solo show in NYC this past week. It was simply wonderful to see all of your new works of art and Raphael Gonzalez did a great job at curating the show. I know you both worked so closely together for a couple of years in order to have this show come to fruition. Fat Free Gallery was packed and everywhere I looked, your pieces felt 3 dimensional even though they were all on a 2 dimensional surface.
Nicole Gordon: What first drew you to using mylar as your subject matter? As an artist myself, I see it as a very difficult medium to master.
Fanakapan: I didn't jump straight into a foil balloon style. It was an evolving process from one of the very first times I had tried spray painting without a stencil. I would say it started from around 2008-2011.
NG: What did your first pieces look like? Were they created for the streets of the U.K. or other countries you had traveled in?
F: I used to work as a prop maker for kids TV shows like Nickelodeon, MTV, BBC etc. While working for them I was asked to paint a wedding venue for a friend (from Nickelodeon). The theme at the time was "dogs and ducks" -some animals that the bride and groom felt like they wanted on the walls. I was going to paint a series of dogs- a hotdog, a balloon dog and a confused real dog - all wondering who the imposters were in the series.
When I painted the balloon dog, (my first blue balloon dog, in 2010), I noticed how 3D this looked - almost jumping off of the wall so I carried on with this " balloon style" street art, slowly getting more detailed and technical each time I painted as I learned more about the technique. This eventually led to painting rubber inflatable characters (like beach toys) and foil party balloons (a whole alphabet in fact) and eventually opened up to endless possibilities and messages for me to paint.
It seemed, and I thought I was the only person painting these letters at the time, that there happened to be others that were doing it, they just were not seen in the public as much as I was. So I truly hadn't seen anyone else doing this style of work but me.
There recently has been a lot of anger and competition within this style. I see loads of people now painting in the same or similar style. This has been definitely ruining a lot of pleasure within me that used to come along with painting these letters.
With this in mind, I try not to get stuck down with painting just one thing over and over again. Since as early as I can remember, I was drawing and painting using a number of different textures within my art, dating back years and years ago.
Now, I try to mix it up a bit with nostalgic images... balloon, plastic, glass- textures to convey certain ideas or social situations or just sometimes complete nonsense with a slight twist of humor. Many more 3d pieces are to come next year as I try to get back to my sculpting roots. The first to be seen will be a couple of collaborative pieces.
NG: To date, what has been your favorite piece and why?
F: I'm afraid I can't pick a favourite piece but maybe the ones that don't last as long -live on more fondly as I haven't had time to get bored of them before they get destroyed
NG: What cities embrace your work the most? Is there anywhere you would like to travel that you haven't been to already?
F: I think LA has been one of the most well received and pieces last there. NY is always fun but there seems to be less respect from other artists (a bit like London). By far the best location was at the top of a Swiss mountain .
NG: I am happy to see that you are open to collaborations. Not all artists are. Who would be the artist of choice, dead or alive, to work with? You can pick anyone!
F: I've liked working with a number of different artists and the list is still growing. My friend Stathis from Greece
(insane51) has been the easiest to collaborate with so far but I'm also looking forward to working with Nuno from Rotterdam when I get to Miami this year. He is one of the most dedicated technical artists out there at the moment.
NG: Please talk about how you and Raphael curated your first solo show in NYC as I do believe it was a long time in the making. How did you first meet and then bring us to last week's show please.
F: I've known Raphael since 2015 when I painted a few pieces in Bushwick . He's been on the front line of the scene for a while and without a doubt and is my favorite photographer on your side of the pond! It won't be the last time we work together, I'm sure.
NG: What is next for you Fan?
F: Next up. Orlando, Miami, LA and Las Vegas to start with and the rest, I know, will fall into place.
NG: Where can our readers learn more about both you and your work?
F: Instagram is one way to find me @fanakapan.