From across the Atlantic, coming to us from the gritty city of Sheffield is Coloquix, an artist who you may be familiar with because his work has popped up stateside, especially here in NYC. Who is Coloquix, what is a Coloquix and how do you pronounce his name? There's a lot of questions that need to be answered, so let's learn a little bit more about our UK mate whose art is bloody brilliant.
One of Coloquix's earliest memories of drawing, was when he scrawled the word "PEL" on his Mum's bedroom wall with a pen. It probably wasn't the smartest thing to do at the time because he also remembers the very stern look he received from Mum after. "PEL", didn't really mean anything, but it proved that he's had a proclivity for doodling and writing on things for a long time. In his teens, he took Art GCSE in the UK that involved things other than drawing which didn't sit very well with Coloquix, because he wound up receiving a grade of F, but apparently you don't have to get great grades in order to become a great artist.
He eventually moved to Sheffield and was working on his electronic music that he said was enjoyed by a whopping 50 fans worldwide and it was quite a solitary experience. So one day he wandered into an area of the city, shall we say the dodgy part of town, that was known as the "Crack Den." It was an abandoned factory filled with needles, pigeons and filth, but the building also had a lot of excellent paint on it. Coloquix was always conscious of graffiti, but when he arrived in Sheffield, the artist Phlegm was living locally and at the Crack Den was the first time he saw a Phlegm piece. It blew his mind because he'd never seen anything quite like his artwork before. Getting involved with art himself was the result of a tough year. Not long after moving to Sheffield he had a bout of extreme anxiety which was debilitating where he didn't leave the house for a year.
"In a way, the first few paints were me facing my fears in the most direct style I could imagine. Scared to leave the house? Go to a crack den! There were times when I genuinely thought my life was in danger and my heart rate would be off the chart even though I was perfectly safe. It took a few months before I realized that the cops here just didn't give a monkeys butt and by that point I'd reclaimed adrenaline. Job done." Coloquix said.
Coloquix isn't a moniker you come across every day. If you Google the name, you'll find various ways to contact him and see his art and also information regarding his music comes up. It isn't from a book or a movie, nor is it a French word.
Curiouser and curiouser... Coloquix is loosely based on his real surname. A friend of his was trying to get his attention one time while in a state of total inebriation. His drunk mate, stared right through him, hand outstretched and called out to him the name "Colin Coloquix!?!" Despite it not being anywhere close to his real name, it quickly became his nickname and has stuck with him ever since. Call it quite a serendipitous moment while being totally smashed!
He's not even sure what the correct pronunciation is. Originally the X was silent as in (Col-O-kwee), Coloquix rhymes with Grand Prix, or could it be (Col-O-Q)? Maybe one needs to be inebriated to truly know the correct way to say it. Either way, he's happy with both as long as you keep saying his name because that means you're probably talking about him and his art.
He draws and paints ladies and leaves them in places...
Professing to be painfully shy and humble, it still blows Coloquix's mind that people actively seek out his doodles. He describes the mystical ladies he draws as mysterious and has transformed a bit over the years. At first, she was just black and white, but he wanted to move away from just black and white, because too many other people were also doing that. He used to worry with having a character, that he might become a bit trapped in what he feels he's able to paint. The eyes are always closed which adds to the mystery, giving them that dreamy like quality and opens her up to interpretations. Coloquix couldn't draw her with open eyes. He tried, but he said, "They looked bloody awful." He hopes they say a lot more this way because they give her a serene vibe. It's ironic because that closed-eye serenity has come from a place of stress and foolishness. Call it another happy little accident.
"The best thing about her however is that she can essentially travel anywhere and incorporate anything she wants." Coloquix said. "She does seem to spend a lot of time with a bottle of poison and/or animals, though. Why? I have no idea."
What's the old saying? "If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?"
"If street art is put up in a forest and no one is around to witness it, does it really happen?"
How does this city boy's creations wind up in natural settings like painted rolls of cling film wrapped around trees or his ladies that appear to be floating peacefully at the bottom of a riverbed?
These things were born out of necessity, really. Sheffield is an old industrial city which means lots of abandoned buildings and the like, but wall space was always at a premium and strangely (although I've noticed this isn't specific to Sheffield), some folk find it almost impossible to see a woman painted on a wall without adding a penis to her. (Bollocks!)...So I thought about paint that wouldn't require walls and that would be a huge challenge to anyone with a wang-fixation. The underwater ones definitely confused a lot of folk. I had people asking if I'd built a dam in order to do them, which I most certainly did not. Eventually they washed away or got covered in silt but always remained cock-free! Hurrah! - Coloquix said. (photos courtesy of artist's Instagram: @coloquix)
Coloquix has done a couple of projects based entirely on real people. He noticed early on that those who saw his pieces would comment on the size or shape of the character in a personal way or people would talk about her hips or thighs, etc. It was a real eye opener to see a make-believe character essentially being fat shamed on the internet so he decided to do a project with real humans in his style that celebrated the genuine differences we have.
"I was worried at first, not least that anyone would even want to get involved, but if it made one person feel more confident about themselves it was worth it..." Coloquix, said.
"A friend once claimed that if paint on a wall doesn't have a message,
it's pointless." - Coloquix
Coloquix feels that if you get something out of art without the message being literally spelled out for you, it's a win, but he thinks we sometimes neglect our fellow human's ability to read between the lines. He is good friends with and I quote, "the excellent" Myth, whose work and messages, he's always loved. "Thing is, whilst I agreed with his sentiment (which probably helps), it also does something pleasing to my eyes, you know?" said Coloquix. "I suppose if you can shine a light on an issue, or even get people thinking whilst also not letting it detract from the eye-pleasing, that's pretty much both boxes ticked."
"I am extremely lucky to be able to visit so many fantastic cities, but perhaps more important are the fantastic people like Myth, @mythny (now based in LA.)
For all the understandable bashing that social media gets, it's also enabled me to interact with a range of truly talented and lovely humans across the globe.
This not only keeps the creativity flowing, but also allows for trades. So I'd say it's a pretty healthy split these days between places I've actually been to and those that have been hit by my arty brothers and sisters on my behalf.
I'm absolutely up for collaborating with pretty much anyone, too! There are some collaborations which are hopefully on their way to creation as it stands.
I'm wary of sounding like I've been living in a cave for twenty years, but technology enables this and it's a beautiful thing." - Coloquix."
What is your favorite movie? A truly impossible task, but without thinking too hard over it, The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and Withnail & I would certainly be up there.
What is one tool no artist should live without?Cheesy I know, but an open mind and heart are significantly more important than the finest marker pens money can buy.
When you come to NY where are some of your favorite spots to visit?What's not to love? If I had to pick one, it'd probably be Riverside Park. I like to imagine Kerouac and Burroughs, sharing a cigarette as opposed to disposing of a body. Genuinely though, despite being mugged last time I was there, there's been no part of NY that I didn't fall in love with.
Do you have any guilty pleasures? Like movies or music that may surprise us?I feel no guilt for it, but I do watch Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves at least three times a year.
Who would play you in a movie of your life?The guy who played Eddie in Frasier, probably (RIP Moose). - (Ha!)
If you had to live anywhere else where would that be?Either NYC, Rome or Valencia. Failing that, I'd genuinely love a subterranean home out in the hills somewhere. All or nothing, please.
If you could ask our President one question what would it be?Would you like some bread with your water?
Has rejection ever affected your creative process? Undoubtedly.
If you could interview another artist who would that be? (living or dead)Syd Barrett, the original frontman of Pink Floyd. No one person from artistic history has haunted me like that guy has. I would have loved to have had a glimpse inside his mind.
What do you do if or when you ever get in a creative slump?My little trick if I'm utterly stumped for ideas for a piece is to pick a song at random from my iPod and come up with a visual representation of the title. Although this can be a challenge if I accidentally get an Aphex Twin track like "Kladfvgbung Micshk" or something.
What is the best advice you have ever been given?It's probably a toss up between "As long as you're kind, the judgement of others is meaningless" or "you really shouldn't watch your laptop in the bath, you know".
"I'm very aware of how fortunate I am to be able to do what I do and I love it dearly so you can expect lots more paint to be splashed and lots more paste to be mixed." said Coloquix. "Beyond that, who knows? Nobody has painted on the moon yet, right?"
It all started with writings on a wall and it continues today. Well, the name stands for something now: a great illustrator and artist. Here's to happy little accidents and cheers to being the one and only Coloquix.