Mishfit street artist

Bubble Gum Apocalypse Exhibition

We caught up with local artist Mishfit to discuss what it means to be a street artist and the inspiration behind her new exhibition after the recent ‘apocalypse’.

How did you get into street art and when did this start?

Street art found me 20 years ago, straight out of art school. It was a natural progression from doodling in sketchbooks to doodling on the back of toilet doors in nightclubs (sorry!), and then out onto the street… I then swapped marker pens for spay paint and paste-ups, and away I went, leaving my mark across Brighton, London and Australasia as I travelled. I painted my first proper mural in Melbourne in 2003, which unbelievably, is still there today!! 

I moved back to the UK to discover a thriving street art scene with loads of exhibitions, paint jams and festivals going on across Brighton, London, Bristol and Europe. And as street art began to be more accepted as a valid art form, the scene got bigger and bigger. It was a crazy exciting time with an amazing community of artists!

Being a female street artist at the time really was a rarity, and quite often I would be the only woman painting at the jam, or in the exhibition. At the time, I didn’t really notice any point of difference, apart from the odd comment like “not bad…for a girl”! But as I got older, I realised how much I struggled with the egos and politics of it all, and how I wasn’t comfortable with that way of operating. In the end, I bowed out of the scene for a while, taking some time out to work on my confidence and mindset, to let myself play creatively, and to flex my technical life drawing and painting skills, in order to find a creative path on my own terms, without the restrictions of fitting into a certain genre or scene.

I am now back at it, which feels so great! And I am also combining my street art experience with a more fine art approach for my canvas-based work. This allows me to be much more experimental with my mark-making, using spray paint, brushes, rollers, scrapers, found objects, and even my hands. I’m hoping to bring this more experimental approach back to my street art at some point. I’m also learning to use oil paint, which has been an amazing adventure and has really elevated my painting. 

Describe your style and inspirations.

Throughout my work there has always been a strong theme of fierce female energy, big hair and smouldering looks, with a hint of cute. Ultimately the aim of my street art is to brighten people’s day, but also to reclaim the female figure in street art as more than just a pretty face.

My earlier work was heavily inspired by Japanese culture and aesthetics, with cute robots, geishas, and octopuses featuring heavily in my work. 

When I had my “break”, my style definitely developed into something more refined, elegant and considered. My more recent work has embraced the forces of nature, with big luminous cloud formations becoming a signature trademark over the last few years. Bringing clouds into my work has really allowed me to experiment with colour and form. They have an otherworldly ethereal quality to them, apocalyptic yet hopeful, which is very enticing. To me they represent human emotion and it has become a really powerful visual language to play with. Colour and contrast is a really important part of my work. I’m not interested in capturing natural or realistic tones. I LOVE neon and I’m not afraid to use it! I like things to have a fantastical feel, to be a little weird and dreamlike. I aim to create paintings that people can lose themselves in.

My inspirations come from all corners of culture, history and the natural world. I draw from the Old Master paintings, Japanese wood block prints, 70’s sci-fi book covers, 80’s futurism, dystopian movies, architecture, astro and quantum psychics, mountains, volcanoes, oceans, sunsets and everything in between. But I guess the common thread is drama and contrast, and anything that helps human beings understand each other and our place in the world. Current events have also played a massive part in my inspiration since the pandemic. My previous collection “The Lost Embrace” was all about reclaiming the moments of human contact we all missed out on during the pandemic, through paintings of hugs floating in clouds. It was an amazing way to process our collective experience and I was blown away by how well it was received.

What was the inspiration behind your new exhibition Bubble Gum Apocalypse? And where can we see this?

Bubble Gum Apocalypse is a brand new collection of paintings that explore the madness, frustrations and hope of the last few years, or at least poke fun at it. Because let’s face it, if you don’t laugh, you cry, right!? For a while there, it was the end of life as we knew it, whilst our own experiences were commoditised and played back to us through TV and social media. People were losing their grip on reality. The whole thing felt so surreal, like we were all in a film about a long, slow boring apocalypse, which everyone coped with in different ways. There’s a big place for humour and irreverence in art and I wanted to explore that in this collection. Using an eyebleedy colour palette and painting titles such as “Hot Mess” and “Wake me up when it’s over”, this collection is striking, thought-provoking, and utterly relatable. 

The exhibition is at Gallery40 in The North Laine from 11th – 20th November.

Gallery40 40 Gloucester Road Brighton BN1 4AQ

More Info here – www.eventbrite.com/e/bubble-gum-apocalypse-exhibition-by-mishfit-tickets-445962735547

Free Admission. Come and say Hi!

What was your largest mural?

My largest piece to date is the 8m x 10m mural on the side of CoApt down Lewes Road on the corner of Franklin road. It was so much fun to paint and it felt great to contribute to brightening up Lewes road. I would love to go bigger though, so if anyone has a MEGA wall, let me know! 😉

What has been your most challenging commission or art piece?

Every piece has its challenges. But one of the most challenging was probably a commission in one of the stunning regency mansions on the seafront that had just been renovated. This involved painting on internal scaffolding over a massive staircase, and despite having dust sheets covering everything, constantly living in fear of dripping spray paint on the fancy carpet, or newly decorated Farrow & Ball walls below. Working in this kind of professional environment can be very stressful, but it all turned out great!

And on the flip side, years back, a crew of us quietly let ourselves into a super creepy abandoned Victorian mental asylum to explore and paint – only to be interrupted by the police, (called out for an unrelated incident,) who had become totally lost in the labyrinth-like building. They were terrified and asked if we could show them the way out! We politely obliged. They did the decent thing and didn’t book us! But for a few long minutes, I really thought we were screwed.

Street art is becoming more of a rarity. What are your views on the street art scene in Brighton?

Given that Brighton prides itself on its creative spirit, it’s ironic that the council has really turned its back on street art in more recent years. They have made it harder and harder to paint, with on-the-spot fines being issued by private security firms. The result is less decent street art and graffiti, and a marked increase in tagging. It’s mad really. Subsequently, I’ve started painting more up in London in places like Leake Street where you can paint any time, and Penge, where The London Calling team are liaising with local shop owners and property developers to secure walls for street artists. It’s an amazing project that has totally transformed the centre of the neighbourhood and made it a real destination for street art fans. I really think a project like that would be amazing for Brighton. There are some incredible graffiti and street artists down here, and, on the whole, the locals are really enthusiastic about it. It’s a real shame it isn’t supported more by the authorities. And now that Black Rock (Brighton’s legendary wall of fame) is set for redevelopment without any proper provision for open painting space, it’s just going to lead to even more tagging in town, because the kids won’t have anywhere to practice! Facepalm.

Can people buy prints of your work and which ones are the most popular?

As yet, I’ve never done prints of my street art as it somehow seems out of context. But I do limited edition giclée prints of my paintings, and these can be purchased along with original artwork through my website www.mishfit.com. So far, The Lost Embrace prints are super popular. Along with the new collection which had its debut at The Other Art Fair in London In October.

Find out more at www.mishfit.com

Or Follow on Instagram @mishfit_art

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