ART

Brighton Street Artist – Cassette Lord

If you wander around the streets of Brighton you may have noticed the green telephone termination boxes have been given a much needed face lift and added some colour to the city. I started to notice these last year and took a picture of one in the North Laines, which became the backdrop picture to the website. Yesterday on my way back from the beach I bumped into Cassette Lord mid flow on Dyke Road at the Seven Dials, so I stopped by for a quick chat about his work. When I asked if I could take I picture of him working, and said I will make sure his face is not in the frame, his response was “it’s ok, what I am doing is legal”. It transpires our progressive thinking council have given permission for Cassette Lord to carry out his art on old green telephone boxes in the City, and he is on a mission to get many more painted in time for the Brighton festival in May. Having dug a little deeper, I found this interview with Cassette Lord on the local rags website.

North Laines

 

How old are you?

Iím 35Ö

Where are you based?

Iíve been based in Brighton since 2001. I moved up here from Portsmouth.

When did you begin painting graffiti?

Since an early ageÖ I actually moved up here to run the Artscape Project Ė Thatís where the Artscape name comes from Ė Itís a project I was hired to run which is all about teaching and creating graffiti art on walls and murals to young offenders as community service.

How did you get into graffiti and what made you start painting?

I did a few little things in Portsmouth really, some teaching and stuff also did a lot of youth work and it seemed to be a natural development from that because young people are interested in graffiti so it was something to tie my hands to and I got good at it so I thought I might as well teach it to young people that see it as a cool art form.

How did you choose the name Cassette Lord?

That goes back a while when I used to live with six or seven other people. It was a bit of a party house and we had an invent your own superhero night so I got all these tapes and knitted them all together like a cassette uniform with belt, hat and everything: I was Cassette Lord! Itís a nickname that kinda stuck. I kinda had to resurrect the name a little bit as I was doing the stencil project (Tapes) as it seemed to work really well with it. Cassette tapes have had a real renaissance in recently. I make sculptures out of tapes, spray them white, red, blue and yellow and put them together to get a pixelated retro imageÖ so yeah thatís Cassette Lord!

There is a very fine line between those who see graffiti as art and those who see it as vandalism. What are your views on this?

Thatís a difficult question! Itís a grey area. I would have to say the 3 Cís, consent, context and content, are all key. Iím not very keen on tagging, like when someone walks home and decides to tag every wall. If you are going to do it, do it properly! Find a good wall which isnít someoneís property. Try to think about it rather than drag the scene down for everyone.

Have you ever felt the long arm of the law because of your art and if so can you tell us about it?

Yes. A CCTV police van was parked outside a club one night and I thought it would be really big of me to be able to do the van. It was a surveillance van, I would get away with it and it had the infamous words ďsmile you are on CCTV,Ē so I wrote ďSmileĒ on the sides of the van. But I got spotted and had to get out of there pretty sharpish.

When I was spray painting some of the boxes in Brighton, we had the police come up to us a few times not very happy. This was because my colleague on the council did not inform them of the project. But once the council informed them about the project they had to walk away.

There was an occasion when the police still didnít want to desist and wanted to take down everyoneís names. The young offenders group I was with got really angry as they do not have to divulge this information so it was a tricky one.

Do you write under any other names?

I have a few, M-Cube Ė just think N64 logo using a 3D M instead of an N, I also write a Gatchaman symbol as well as a diamond. And I canít forget the Transformers Autobot Symbol as well. Itís all retro!

Do you write with any crews and if so which ones?

I have done work with a few other artists along the south coast but thatís not just graffiti – itís all kinds of urban artwork, sculptures, community/public artwork. Iím lined up to do some stuff with The Beautiful and The Canned soon which is Guy (Chopper) Harrisís crew who did lots of stuff last year Ė check out their work at the Brighton Youth Centre on the basketball court just off Edward Street, Brighton.

Dyke Road, Seven Dials

 

How would you describe your style?

Definitely retro! All my artwork, even the freestyle pieces, all of them references objects, shapes and things people recognise from their childhood. Itís high contrast constructivist retro. I like dynamic lines!

Where did you paint your first piece?

My first piece was in Gosport near Portsmouth. My first piece in Brighton was in Woodingdean.

Have you done many collaborations with artists overseas or travelled abroad for your art and if so then where is the most exciting or interesting place you have painted?

Yeah I did Optimus Prime breaking through a wall in Barcelona with a break-dancer mate of mine. Years ago I went to the Benicassim Festival in Valencia and we had a few days spare in Barcelona. So we got a couple of cans from a local shop and over there you can just rock up to the walls, put your cans down and start painting.

What are your feelings on the graffiti and street art scenes in the UK at present?

When I first moved here in 2001, there was a real explosion of graffiti. Itís really good at the moment. Itís a brilliant scene in Brighton! It has kind of dipped in the last couple of years when the Brighton hip-hop festival lost funding from the arts council unfortunately. I can only describe the scene as tarmacing over weeds and it just starts growing back again! Itís a nice attitude in Brighton and the fact that the council have given me all the phone boxes to do. Progressive is the word I would use as they try to manage it instead of fighting and pushing it underground.

Dyke Road, Seven Dials

Have you done much commercial work and if so what would you say was your most well known piece?

The tapes I suppose. A few of them are on Flickr and Iíve noticed that some people are collecting them which to me are really encouraging so I quite like it when people feel they can take ownership of them. The tapes are probably the most popular work to date. When Iím painting murals and stuff with young people we always get members of the public of all ages saying ďthat looks betterĒ, ďthat looks niceĒ but just in terms of pure feedback I would say itís the tapes because itís a small object that suits the shape of the box and people tend to like the tactile bright colours and shape. I suppose itís pretty different too as most of the time, stencils are at the bottom of a wall. I think itís rare to find something really well chosen and the image perfectly suits what it is on. I remember I did a piece in Portsmouth in an alley where itís difficult to put stuff up due to CCTV. So I got a ladder, got right underneath the camera and painted a robot using the camera as its head. Itís rare you see graffiti that uses these objects so well.

Is there any one point in your career you would class as Ďyour big breakí?

Coming to Brighton and running the Artscape project. Being out there in the height of summer with othersÖ

Have you ever had your work displayed in a gallery and if so is there any one show which stands out from all the rest?

Yeah, we had an exhibition of all the tape sculptures in a charity shop as they provided all the tapes. I have a few pieces in pubs and bars, usually manga artwork.

Do you see yourself as an artist or a graffiti writer?

I see myself as artist as the term is more encompassing. Saying graffiti writer confines you a bit. I see graffiti art as art not vandalism.

Do you see graffiti writers as writers that have a message to share?

I find most graffiti writers are mainly about style. They try to empty all their ideas out of their head, trying to get the latest freshest idea out or finding the latest shape to work with their piece. Finding new ways to apply their ideas. Basically getting something out before someone else thinks of it!

There seems to have been a sudden surge of interest in graffiti and street art recently, why do you think this is?

Itís becoming part of the mainstream culture. Sheer persistence has helped graffiti artists get recognised and become accepted as an art movement in its own right.

Which other artists work do you admire?

I went to Zurich to see Diamís work. Itís what I aspire to, amazingly light sourced shadowed 3D. I also like Claes Oldenburg, the American artist, takes a tiny object and makes a massive sculpture. Iím very inspired by pop art and I think the tapes fit the pop art style.

Which other artist would you most like to work with if you were given the chance?

Alex Young who did the Tron Piece Ėheís a brilliant illustrator as well as graffiti artist.

What is your preferred medium for making marks with?

Fat Markers!

What is your colour of choice?

Red.

What is your favourite surface to paint on?

A nice piece of concrete wall preferable or good bit of framed wood.

Do you have a favourite piece of all time?

The Super Tanker that Diam did.

Can you tell us one thing about you which most people wouldnít know?

I used to do Capoeira.

What kind of music are you into?

All kinds really, Iím into Beck, Jazz, Old School Hip-Hop, Run DMC, Grandmaster Flash etc.

What are you working on currently and what plans do you have for the future?

Well as I mention the The Beautiful & The Canned as well as displaying my cassette based artwork at an Artists Open House (12A Springfield Road, Brighton).

New England

 

 

16 Comments

  • Jay Gatz
    23/04/2011 - 19:55 | Permalink

    cassette lord is a piece of shit; he writes over other, better artists’ work with this commissioned, incredibly repetitive and stale bullshit. This is not what street art is. its about real wildstyle and evolving constantly to create amazing, relatable works of expressive art. as a graffiti writer, i see cassette lord or ‘martin’ as a weak imitation of what real graffiti is and would rather have bird shit on the green boxes. at least that has some diversity. he should stop what he’s doing because he is making brighton into a toy town designed to impress tourists. doing street art with the backing of the council defeats the point and takes credibility away from artists who put loads on the line to do what they do. i hope he stops soon so i can have my city back

    • 23/04/2011 - 23:05 | Permalink

      Thanks for your opinion….although just sounds like politics you are talking…just to shed some light from an outsiders perspective “the non-clued” person like myself to the world of street art, personally Jay when I see a piece of street art (I use the word graffiti for a less artistic approach to writing on walls) I would not usually be aware of whether that piece was council approved or not, so I am not tainted by this “street code” that seems to be stopping some people enjoying it for what it is. It is simple like in music, there is good and bad, I know what I like and I know what I don’t like …same rule applies to visual art…as soon as you put politics around the subject you end up clouding judgment and suffocating. As for cassette lords artwork …I personally like it …as do many other people …I hope it continues.

    • Jane
      08/10/2011 - 13:41 | Permalink

      Think someones a little jealous of someones amazing artistic skills :)

      • 08/10/2011 - 15:17 | Permalink

        personally I don’t think there is too much to be jealous of ….lets face it …it is basic stencil art …we are not talking Picasso here are we….but he does seem to have ruffled a few feathers though by the sound of it .

        • Jane
          15/10/2011 - 21:05 | Permalink

          Then why don’t you go and do it?

          • 16/10/2011 - 08:00 | Permalink

            I don’t have enough time on my hands to be honest Jane. I have quite a few creative hobbies already.

            I sense from your reply, you are pissed about my comment, sorry if it came across that way…was not intended. But I was just stating an observation….and if you go deep inside your soul, I am sure you would agree that spraying about three colours on to cupboard cut outs, is less complicated than the Michelangelo painting of the Sistine Chapel. That’s what I meant by there is nothing to be jealous about. xx

            But it is not to say I like the work any more or less.

  • Doesn't Matter
    18/05/2011 - 07:17 | Permalink

    He should be actively pursuing more wall space for Brighton, we’ve lost loads of spots over recent years and Blackrock looks like it’s gonna go now too.
    If he really wants to contribute to the scene down here he should be using his connections with the council to get us new spots to paint at. The council are trading on the ‘cool factor’ by commissioning huge pieces for the tourists while they’re shutting down all the spots where the writers learnt their craft, typical politicians, short sighted nonsense, where’s the next generation gonna come from? The whole reason we have a decent scene and decent artists is entirely due to the tolerated spots that were once rife.

    • 18/05/2011 - 21:50 | Permalink

      sounds like a good idea…maybe if he reads this your message will get through to him ..who knows. I personally don’t know much about the local scene …I just happen across art in various locations and take a pic if I like it …like in the North Laines etc, not actually seen the works at Blackrock, I shall take a ride down there and have a gander.

  • Doesn't Matter
    19/05/2011 - 06:42 | Permalink

    I urge anyone with an interest to pick up a copy of ‘Brighton Graffiti’ if you can find one (try Amazon). The book came out a couple of years ago and documents the scene from the mid 80′s and clearly shows the input the ‘tolerated’ graffiti spots had on our scene and artists. If we lose them now then we will have no next generation.

  • Craig Turton
    16/10/2011 - 19:37 | Permalink

    Well I just love his stuff which brightens up some very dull street furniture. And if you’re reading this C Lord, I’d love to commission you to do some stuff for my new house.

  • Kevin Duala
    14/11/2011 - 19:50 | Permalink

    Hi Cassette lord. I am doing up my daughters bedroom. I live in Brighton and wondered if you could do a wall for her, for a fee obviously. Look forward to your reply

    Kevin

  • Kevin Duala
    14/11/2011 - 19:51 | Permalink

    How can I get intouch???

  • 25/01/2012 - 14:15 | Permalink

    I was excited and proud to wake up and find a fresh new cassette lord opposite my window this month! Thanks dude! x

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