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10 Minutes with Component

Component is a well-known Auckland-based stencil artist who has been active in the New Zealand art scene for over two decades. Widely regarded as one of the pioneers of stencil art in New Zealand, the artist has gained international recognition for his unique style and approach to the medium.

Spanning from mounted stencil works to public murals, Component’s work is characterized by intricate layers of stencils, carefully cut by hand and applied to a variety of surfaces. Exploring a diverse range of subject matter from pop culture icons to abstract motifs, his works utilize bold color and shape to interrogate New Zealand’s socio-political structures.

As we prepare for Component’s upcoming solo show “Living in a Loop” at Fiksate Gallery, we are excited to delve deeper into the artist's creative background, practice and collaborations, an example being his participation in the influential Auckland-based art group “Cut Collective”.

Sitting down with the artist, we gear up for an engaging conversation about Component’s impressive career and the exciting new works set to appear on our gallery walls.

Can you tell us about your background and how you first became interested in stencil art?
During my time in New York and London in '97 and '98, I had my first encounter with the vibrant world of graffiti, stencil art, street stickers, and paste-ups. While growing up in Auckland, New Zealand, I had also witnessed similar art forms in the Ponsonby area. The hip-hop culture played a significant role in shaping my interests, and since I was deeply involved in music, I began DJing and collecting records, starting my journey into the world of art and self-expression.

How do you approach research when working on a new project? Are there any particular sources of inspiration that you draw from?
When starting a new project, I typically begin with an idea or an emotional connection to a specific theme. I find inspiration from various sources, including fellow artists who encourage me to explore different approaches to stencil making. My personal interests and experiences often serve as a starting point for my work. Additionally, social issues or subjects I am passionate about might inform and influence the direction of my creations. Music-related themes have also been a significant source of inspiration for me.

Can you walk us through your creative process, from the initial idea to the finished piece?
My creative process involves multiple stages. Firstly, I sketch out my ideas and then seek reference images to further stimulate my creativity. These references help me develop mood boards or reference documents, which provide a more detailed framework for my work. Once I settle on a specific image or a combination of images that work well together, I move on to creating the stencils. This step involves various processes, such as digital work, redrawing in software like Procreate, and refining certain parts or integrating elements from my drawings or concepts using Photoshop. To ensure accuracy and make necessary adjustments, I create a smaller A3-sized version of the artwork, allowing me to evaluate the scale and make any required modifications. After finalizing the colors, I move on to creating a larger version, particularly if the artwork is intended for a wall. The completion of the stencil-making process is the most time-consuming part, while the actual painting phase tends to be faster

Your work often incorporates bold colors and graphic shapes. Can you talk about your use of color and how it contributes to your overall aesthetic?
While my recent works showcase a newer style with bold colors and geometric shapes, this approach is not always present throughout my portfolio. Previously, my stencils predominantly featured black, white, and grey tones, highlighting a more graphic and bold aesthetic. Introducing color into my art signifies an evolution in my artistic development and represents my desire to continuously grow and expand my style.

You have collaborated with several other artists and designers on various projects. How do these collaborations come about, and what do you enjoy about working with others?
Collaborations with other artists and designers often arise through mutual interests and shared creative visions. These partnerships can be established through networking, introductions, or even organic connections within the artistic community. Working with others brings about a sense of synergy and the opportunity to merge different perspectives, techniques, and ideas. I find great enjoyment in the collaborative process as it fosters creativity, encourages learning from one another, and enables the production of unique and diverse art pieces that transcend individual boundaries.

One of your notable works is a large-scale mural on Karangahape Road in Auckland. Can you tell us about the inspiration behind this piece, and what it was like working on such a large scale?
The mural on Karangahape Road in Auckland holds significance for me as it provided an opportunity to contribute to the visual landscape of my own city. The inspiration behind this piece stemmed from the vibrant culture and diverse community of Karangahape Road itself. By incorporating elements of the local atmosphere and the street's unique character, I aimed to create a mural that would resonate with both residents and visitors. Working on such a large scale was an exhilarating experience. It required careful planning, adaptability, and the ability to translate my intricate stencil work into a massive artwork. The process involved meticulous attention to detail and collaborating closely with a skilled team to ensure the mural's successful execution.

Are there any particular themes or concepts that you find yourself returning to in your work?
While my artistic explorations cover a broad range of themes and concepts, I often find myself gravitating towards social issues, personal narratives, and cultural representations. These themes allow me to engage with viewers on a deeper level, spark conversations, and highlight the interconnectedness of our human experiences. Through my work, I strive to evoke emotions, raise awareness, and encourage dialogue about relevant and meaningful topics

You have exhibited your work in galleries and museums throughout New Zealand and overseas. Can you talk about the differences between creating work for the street versus creating work for a gallery space?
Creating artwork for the street and gallery spaces present distinct considerations and challenges. Street art offers the opportunity for public engagement, allowing art to reach a broader audience and become an integral part of the urban environment. It requires adapting to the existing surroundings, incorporating elements of the local culture, and considering the public's response. On the other hand, gallery spaces provide a controlled environment where viewers can experience art in a more curated setting. This setting allows for a focused and intimate engagement with the artwork, offering a different perspective and aesthetic experience. The gallery context often demands careful presentation, curation, and interpretation of the artwork to enhance the viewers' understanding and appreciation.

What can audiences expect from your upcoming solo show with Fiksate Gallery? Are there any particular themes or concepts that you will be exploring in this body of work?
In my upcoming solo show with Fiksate Gallery, audiences can anticipate a collection of artwork that delves into the intersection of urban culture, personal introspection, and social commentary. I will be exploring themes such as identity, community dynamics, and the influence of popular culture. Through these works, I aim to provoke reflection, challenge perceptions, and inspire dialogue. The artwork will showcase a blend of my signature stencil style alongside experimentation with new techniques and visual elements, providing a fresh perspective on my artistic evolution.

Looking forward, are there any particular projects or collaborations that you are excited about exploring in the future?
Moving forward, I am eagerly looking forward to embarking on new projects and collaborations that allow me to push the boundaries of my creative practice. I am particularly excited about opportunities to collaborate with artists from diverse backgrounds and disciplines, merging different art forms and exploring the intersectionality of various mediums. Additionally, I am keen on exploring public art initiatives and projects that engage with local communities, as these endeavors provide a unique platform to foster connection, promote dialogue, and contribute to the cultural fabric of different places.

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