Street artistry sometimes straddles the line of either political, artful or a bunch of taggers making a building more ugly than it is, but the above mural from street artist Alex Lehours has made an impression on many walkers of the Sydney suburb of Sydney. The piece advertising the release of Deadpool on DVD, Blu-ray & Digital HD packs a punch not only as a bold piece of street art, but also gives a jab to the current political shenanigans going on right now in Australia.
We spoke to Alex about the piece and his ideas behind the piece.
Give me a history of your association with street art. How did you get yourself into it?
Thinking back way back – I started out as a graphic designer. I was working full time there and one of my wife’s cousins wanted me to do a mural for their office. I’d always been interested in painting in school and doing some drawing when I was growing up.
So, I did this first job at the mural and I just fell into it. One mural job came up, and then another job popped up. So I got away from the graphic design desk job and then more into the mural art. It started with interior offices and that sort of thing. It then moved more into the street art side of things. A natural progression, really.
That’s where I am today. It’s just one of those things – the right place at the right time. Like I’ve said, I’ve always loved painting. It’s just felt natural to head that way and see how it went. So far, so good.
Is there a different method you have to take when you paint indoors as opposed to outdoor art?
The only real major difference is obviously the surrounding area that you are dealing with. An indoor mural obviously is a little bit easier, a little bit more confined space I guess. You know the boundaries that you’re working in. Whereas an outdoor mural – which I personally enjoy a lot more – is a more challenging process.
You’ve obviously got different things to deal with. You’ve got the weather, you’ve got the street, you’ve got people around. There are a lot of things that you can’t control. With this job, you had traffic around. You have foot traffic too. It all adds to the whole process of getting the job done.
In terms of looking at the artwork itself, it’s not too different. I pretty much have my same process. I have my concept already mapped out and I just basically tackle an indoor or outdoor wall the same way. You don’t have any control over just those added variables.
This artwork was one the corner of Albion & Bourke Sts. in Surry Hills, Sydney. The area is busy like you explain and there is a lot going on. Can you tell me what the challenges were of putting this artwork up in this particular position?
The biggest challenge was the pedestrians around. We started on the Friday evening beforehand. Usually I go the night before and sketch up the basic line work. That’s probably the one time I need the most space around me. I do it at night because there are less people around. I need to step back and work out sizing and composition and all the rest of it.
The whole process though from that sketching – on the Sunday and Monday, and finishing it off on the Tuesday – was about managing other people around. You’re aware of your own space and what you’re doing but you’ve got to be very careful of the other people around. It’s all about safety.
I had two other guys on the project with me and so they were looking out through the days, we had witches set up trying to make things safe. The major difficulty is that people are using the street. We just try to not get in the way.
You mentioned there that you started on Friday night because of the lack of people, but you have the disadvantage of doing it at night. How do you deal with the lighting then? Do you bring your own lights?
We just had some lights, but in actual fact, the streetlight was adequate enough. We had some floodlights anyway and the corner of Albion and Bourke Sts. was a café. I know the guy who owns that café. That’s how we got the wall ‘over the line.’ He was there helping us power outlets and storing our materials for the days after. That was an added bonus and helped a lot.
Have you seen Deadpool? What did you think of it?
I actually really enjoyed it! I’ve always been into superheroes and the comics. I’ve enjoyed some of the superhero films that had been released lately but I enjoyed this one because it broke all the rules. It wasn’t your typical “good guy saving the day” film. I actually really enjoyed it. I thought it was very funny and cheeky.
Have you read the comics?
My younger brother had a few of the Deadpool ones, but I didn’t know much about him to be honest before the movie came out. I obviously did a bit of research before I did this project, but there wasn’t much familiarity with the comics beforehand.
Having to kind of formulate someone else’s art into your own creativity must also require some flexibility on your part. You’d figure out the shape of this superhero, and adjust to the style of how the character is drawn. Do you find that a challenge as well?
I don’t find it a challenge. I actually enjoy it. It’s always great when a few different creatives coming together to come up with the overall concept. I actually usually like working that way. It was quite an easy and very similar process to the way I usually go about every other job.
No real major challenges here and every thing that happened went the way that I would usually go about doing something anyway. It was all-good really.
Was it interesting to include the political messaging in the piece? Obviously, with the country in an election lead-up, it got me wondering how much you think street art can influence political messaging.
I think you can have a great influence. That’s the beauty of street art. An artist may have a particular message that you want to put across, and once you put it out on that public and large scale, like on a wall, I think it’s got a really good chance to communicate that message to a wider audience.
We actually had a few people come past while we were setting up. We were putting up all the political posters that sit behind the painting itself. They actually thought we were part of the Liberal government putting up advertising promoting them. We had to tell them that it was for something that was a bit cheeky and a bit quirky. It got a few people talking and debating.
There was one guy who stopped as they walked by and said “Oh, what are you doing, you’re wasting your time in this area. You’re not going to win and the rest of it.” We explained that it was an art piece and not something promoting a party.
I think in a way, that’s the beauty of it. It sort of sparks different ideas across different people. That’s how people get talking about it all really. It was interesting particularly when we were working on it.
The artwork can be viewed on the corner of Albion & Bourke Sts. in Surry Hills, Sydney. You can follow Alex on Instagram at @alexlehours to see more of his work. Media was also by @billyzammit and production was by Authority Creative.