Interview with Dixon / Royal (2007)

we just compiled a short email interview with dixon / royal whose works are scattered everywhere in barcelona. his colorful installation with parts of streetlights and things that he finds in the streets and his neat hand drawn images of money sacks and severed hands are very addictive. his favourite colors are orange, green, canary yellow, baby blue, blood red, black and white.

- June 2007



:when did you start doing streetart and why?

I started making art for the street and in the street in 1995 or so. I came to graffiti without the Wild Style influence of it's american origins. A friend from Ottawa, Canada, the city where I grew up, introduced me to it. I started doing it with spray paint but it made me way too nervous so I stenciled for a short while. Stenciling wasn't my thing so I started making art on garbage and putting it back in the street. Things like televisions, shelving doors, boxes, etc. Tango was my street name at that time until I heard that the cops were looking for me.

So I changed my street name to royal. When I changed my street name I also changed to postering and stickering and it's something that I still do today.



:you are very active with two different styles. how did you come up with them and whats their message?

royal and dixon are my street names. Around the time I started poster and stickering in the royal style, I started some thing new with a paint brush and paint. One day, just outside of my work space downtown, I saw a post cover on the side walk (utility post cover) that had fallen off. I took the cover with me and painted on it but I couldn't use the royal name to brand it because it wasn't at all a similar style.

As I looked around the work space, I found a marker on the table and on it in big letters was written, dixon. The idea of the postcovers was too interesting to pass up. I knew it was some thing different so I went with it.

In terms of the styles and what they mean.... Dixon is pure pop art (popular imagery). I take imagery that I like from all sources copying and altering it and making it my own visual style. It has a wide range of mutations of style but always very colorful and graphic.

The Royal style comes from a basic illustrative style. Hand drawn. Very few times do I photocopy or stencil. This particular style always has some thing to say about all the things that effect me on a daily basis. Things like high rent, world issues and general social decay.




:one or two years ago, laws haven been passed in Barcelona to have a much cleaner city. did these laws effect the street art scene? would you say the city has changed significantly from this time on?

The laws effected the graffiti scene in Barcelona like a nuclear bomb in a china shop. Where there was freedom of expression and coexistence of art in private space, now there is zero tolerance.

Coming from Canada where the cops are 10 meters tall and have bullet proof vests to the more tame Barcelona cop with a word first before ever reaching for the billy, it's still a great place to paint and poster - sticker and stencil. The unfortunate, or perhaps fortunate, depending if you're a pessimist or an optimist, is that you have to paint more often. You gotta be busier now because the art doesn't last. Gray and beige walls everywhere. It's sad but true. The shop shutters are the gspot in Barcelona.




:what to you do in your free time?

I have no free time. I guess I sleep or go to the beach but even then I'm thinking of what I will do next.



:what are your thoughts about the commercial side of street art? do you reject it or go along with it?

This is a great question. I used to believe that selling out was TERRIBLE and that it was as close to selling your soul as you could get. Now I realize that you can profit in the market of art...doing what you want and pay your bills so you can make more art. A long time friend of mine called it buying in.

In my opinion, the problem lies in when the artist loses her/his creative genius. Basically mass producing the same image over and over and over again just to make more money to make more PRODUCT/shit art. I look at what has become this graffiti industry and I look at the icons and I feel ashamed to be affiliated with the street art scene.

Obey, Missvan and all the others that have a team of Chinese slaves working for them make me wanna quit this graffiti thing. When I see a made in China Tshirt selling for 60€ I wanna run and scream. When I see that kind of shit, I feel ashamed. I guess that is the Hip Hop, first world way. Hard, Tough and Get Payed but I don't believe it. I know that it can be done in a very different way.

I love artists that don't stop making amazing art that inspires every time you see it. An artist always taking chances and reaching to the future really turns my fuckin' crank. Artists like Banksy. OTHER who makes his own shirts and screens his own hand made books. Mr.Kern rockin' amazing murals and canvases...mind blowing stuff with color. Hey, if artists who are supposed to be cut from different cloth than normal society, visionaries, and they can't alter an industry that they have created, then the world is doooomed.



:who influenced you and your art?

When Evoke first showed me the world of graffiti, he first showed me TWIST! I wasn't sure what his work was all about. I tended to not like it. Years later I was knocked out by it. He also showed me Margaret Kilgallen who was Twist's wife. Amazing work too. So inspiring to me. At the time I was also influenced by some guys from my home town who's group does live painting at music shows. They are called Heavy Weight. They paint amazing large format canvases in 3 to 4! Their street stuff inspired me a lot. Labrona and Other who paint freights in Canada. Evoke who is always on the move changing and evolving. Dave Cooper who is an amazing illustrator and painter and nothing to do with, Wild Style never had anything to do with me. I was influenced by art and then graffiti art.



:do you think you will ever quit doing street art?

Hahahahahaha I'm 39 now. Why stop! I'll never stop. It's a big part of my life. It's a main artery in my system. I need it to live. Call me back in 40 more years and we'll see where I'm at.


:which street art-actions or artists have especially been to your liking recently?

I like a ton of artists...Lately, Mr.Kern(france), Ark(greece), 0331c(moscow), Ethos(brazil), Evoke(canada), Nelio(australia) and Isoe(slovenia)