Léelo en castellano
Be Free is a Melbourne based street artist and filmmaker whose works can be seen in Australia, New Zealand, United States and Spain. Is currently working on the movie ‘INDY KIDZ’ together with the also street artist Suki.
You were born in Adelaide, but started your artist career in Melbourne. How important was this change for you? Why was it in Melbourne where you decided to become a street artist?
For me, I wouldn’t really ever call art a career, art is more about everyday life. Moving to Melbourne was something I had wanted to do for a long time, it has more of all the things I love; art, skateboarding and music. I guess just being surrounded by so many creative things made me want to immerse myself completely in a world where all you do is create something.
Melbourne is currently one of the most well-known cities in the world regarding street art, and many people have praised its legal approach on the subject. Is it really a good framework to develop street art? Why?
I feel people in Melbourne are really open minded and support the arts, which makes it an awesome place to be. I do feel like we live in a bit of a bubble and you forget that there are some places that really hate street art/graffiti but I do think the arts are slowly getting more accepted and that there is more government funding for projects, which is great.
One of your works’ main characters is a girl which you’ve painted using many different techniques and contexts. Where did this girl come from? Why is she such a strong inspiration to you?
I always see her as the inner child in us all, I think she is a reminder to us to never lose that place inside you and have fun with life and a be a bit crazy sometimes.
Did you choose a name for her?
I have always just called her ‘B’ but I have heard people give her other names which I think is really cool.
You’ve painted this girl in very different sizes, from really small stencils to building-sized graffitis. Does it change much the approach to your work depending on the size of the project?
I think size is a game changer; I love painting life size because I feel like she is real and is able to have people interact with her and her environment. I feel large scale murals have less of that personal connection, just like when you see a band at huge stadium, it’s cool and sounds great but you’re so far away from the people up on the stage.
Sometimes you add physical objects to your works, such as cards or strings. You’ve said on several occasions you liked the idea of bringing your character “into this world”, and thus the use of these elements. I was particularly impressed by some of the works you did inside what seems to be an abandoned house, where you took several strings from ‘B’ and projected them all over the place. Have you ever thought that maybe, by using these 3D techniques, you’re not just bringing ‘B’ into our world, but also taking us to hers?
Yes, it does kind of work both ways. Some of the projects I worked on where I’ve been in an abandon house for a couple days, it starts to feel like I’ve slipped away from our world and into a different dimension. I can’t really imagine what it would be like to coming into that space from someone else’s prospective.
Besides Australia, you’ve also worked in the United States, New Zealand and Spain. Why did you pick those places in particular? How did you feel painting so far away from home in cities like New Zealand or Madrid, where dozens of international artists seem to talk to each other through their work?
I haven’t really painted in the States, I did do a couple of paste ups in Michigan while visiting family but that’s about if for America. Madrid was awesome! Suki and I just wanted to travel together and both were keen on Madrid. I had been talking online with a great artist ‘Por Favor’ about travelling over to Spain. So we packed our bags, which we filled 80% with paste ups and 20% with clothes and jumped on a plane. It was awesome to have someone like Por Favor to show us around Madrid, we went on a massive pasting mission in the middle of the night with about 7 of his friends; it was probably the loudest mission I’d ever been on. Great Times!
I was lucky enough to get asked to come to New Zealand to paint, I had never been but had really wanted to for quite some time. It was super good; I was looked after so well and got to hang out with Phlegm and Pixel Pancho who are right up there as my favorite artists. I got to paint two walls in Dunedin but I also went out at night on pasting/painting missions.
I thinking when you’re so far away from home, if you’re with the right people and have a good vibe about the area you’re staying in, it makes all the difference.
Also, you’ve directly worked together with several other artists such as Suki or Erin Greer. Is it difficult to make combined street art projects? How do you pick the artists you decide to work with?
Normally it’s fine because they are friends that I work with. The great thing about working with people is that it’s the time for you to be really open to new ideas and try things you may have never thought of and work in ways that you may not normally work in, it’s a lot of fun and you can also really grow as an artist.
Recently Suki and you have been working on an independent film called Indi Kidz. What can you tell me about this project? How was it born? How come two Melbourne based street artists ended up making a movie together? This is such a great idea it just puzzles me.
This is the synopsis for the film…
‘A tightly-knit group of misfit kids orchestrate a cunning plan to rob a milk bar. Armed with their wits; B, Lola and Max have the guts to execute every kids dream.’
I’ve been in love with film for a long time, I really wanted to bring my character into film and write stories about her and her friends. I think film is the best, it has all things creative that I love working with, like music, art, movement and story.
Yeah it does seem strange that two street artists are making films together but also feels very natural at the same time. I love working with Suki, we both have different ideas about characters and stories but when that’s brought together it makes for a better result.
This short film that Suki and I are about to release was a side project to a feature movie that we had started to write. We thought it would be a good idea to write and film a series of shorts on the way to making our feature film; it’s a great way to really grow into the characters we are working with.
What are your projects after this movie? Would you like to keep working both on cinema and street art?
Yes and yes, we are already writing a new mini-series which we will be filming in 2019 and still on the way to writing a feature film.
I’m not planning on doing any art shows until 2020 but I’m really going to focus on painting in the streets, it’s going to be loads of fun!
Opening photo: Be Free, Madrid.