Artist Interviews 2021
By Julia Siedenburg
Mr Cenz is a native Uk artist whose enormous murals decorate different walls in his and other European countries. Heavily influenced by a mix of different art genres, from expressionistic to Graffiti art, his vibrant and Life-like walls focus mostly on beautiful women.
No matter what age or race, Mr Cenz gives us the feeling of familiarity and connectivity to his subjects. And he not only brightens up the streets but is also very passionate about community projects that originated from his long journey as a graffiti artist.
I am so happy I got the change to interview this beyond talented artist and I hope you dear readers are as interested in learning about him as I was.
What does art mean to you?
Art is everything to me. It’s like an addiction, its always on your mind and Im not completely happy unless Im painting. It’s an intrinsic part of me which I can’t switch off. This can be a good and a bad thing but you just have to accept and manage it.
Your murals are so full of color and depth. Please describe your process and how you choose your subjects and colors.
The first inspiration for my subjects are portrait photos. I spend hours looking for the right one to use, this has to have the right lighting and intensity and be an interesting composition which I feel I can transform into something unique. My work is often a collaboration with well respected photographers.
In terms of colour this is where the portraits really become my creations. In a freestyle and spontaneous way I break down the image based on the contours, shadows and light of the face into abstract shapes and layers. The result is like a mysterious and psychedelic drug fuelled version of the original. I never use realistic skins tones as I like to transform them into their own futuristic and otherworldly beings.
My colour palette links directly back to my roots as a graffiti artist. I love mixing strong contrasting colours which shouldn’t really work together. Back in the days when you wanted to paint a piece you didn’t have much choice so you had to learn to make strange combinations work. This is still a fascinating thing for me and to make lots of different colours work in harmony and balance is one of the hardest things for an artist to get right. If this is done incorrectly it can look awful, but the right way with experience and consideration it can look amazing.
How are you reflecting yourself in your work?
My work reflects my roots as a graffiti artist though ethos, style, colour and form. This element is fundamental in my work and I feel its important to represent and educate people in the original craft of graffiti art. Also my love of music is another essential part of me and my work. For me you cannot have one without the other. When I work I have to listen to music and hopefully you can see and feel the rhythm and movement in my lines and flows.
Was art always a part of your life?
I was into art from a very young age. From as early as I can remember I was scribbling non stop. I grew up in a very artistic household, mum is an artist too and creativity was always encouraged. My Dad also loved art and took me to lots of exhibitions and living in London I was lucky enough to see early graffiti walls and murals from artists like The Chrome angels. By the time I was 11 years old I had already been arrested several times for tagging in the local are and my parents knew that I was already hooked on graffiti. So to try and develop my skills and give me a legal space to develop my mum organised my first commission on the side of a local primary school
Which artist do you look up to? Is there any particular person that inspires you?
I respect many artists who work hard and strive to be original and forward thinking. There isn’t one person in particular just a wide range of artists from abstract expressionists like Paul Klee to Graffiti art innovators like Dondi. I have always been inspired and influenced by all artwork and movements and this diversity is evident in my work.
Tell us a little about your childhood and overall background.
I had a good childhood and as mentioned before I was lucky enough to be exposed to lots of art and culture. The hip hop movement was the main thing which changed my world and blew my mind and ever since I first saw the graffiti art bible ‘ Subway Art’ I knew that graffiti art was my calling. After several brushes with the law I had to find a way to delay my skills legally so I went to college to study art and then to University as well. This is where I experimented with lots of different mediums like painting and printmaking. This learning and playing with different methods and techniques is a fundamental part of my style now. Contrasting and layering different elements from different skills acquired is what makes my work different and unique. As an artist constantly practicing and exploring is the only way to find your own path.
After I left university I began to do lots of youth work using graffiti art as way of engaging vulnerable and needy young people. It was important to me to give young people from challenging backgrounds the same artistic support and encouragement that I was lucky enough to have. Graffiti art was a perfect too to deal with important personal and social issues. Because of this I am still very passionate about community projects and murals and believe that public artwork can be a real catalyst for positive change.
In which way does street art differ from other art for you?
Well there are major differences. Street art is a derivative of graffiti art and shares the same unconventional and DIY ethos. For me street art is about bringing gallery/museum quality artwork to the streets of the communities where they don’t have to access/ability to see such traditional masterpieces. Artists working on the streets are there to inspire and enhance the lives of working people in a more relevant way.
Your murals can mainly be found in London but are also decorating walls in other cities and countries.
Yes I have been lucky enough to travel and paint a lot over the years and paint in amazing place s like Tahiti. I love to paint in new places and communities and this drives my art and passion for spreading the love and style. Obviously over the last 2 years I haven’t been able to travel much at all so its been nice to reconnect with my local area in London and create lots of murals for the community
Have you realized any differences or special aspects that stood out to you when making your murals in a different country?
Yes you have to be aware of different cultures and levels of acceptance regarding the subject matter. You have do do your research and be sensitive to local beliefs and traditions etc.
Which artist would you like to collaborate with and why?
Ah I always get asked this question and its always hard to answer as I don’t do many collaborations. To make them work it has to be done properly with thought and planning. When I do collaborate I like to work with style writers who do letters or abstract stuff. This complements my work and style well.
Where is your favorite mural located and why is it your favorite?
I don’t really have favourites as once I have finished a wall all im already thinking of the next one. I normally only like my work for a few months after its completed as I always feel that I can do better and improve. The moment an artist is fully content with their work I think the game is over. You have to keep wanting more, striving and developing. This constant press to improve can be exhausting but its always what keeps me motivated.
What is next for you? Any plans for the future?
Hopefully next year I will be able to travel properly again as I really miss that. Painting in different countries and environments keeps the ideas and energy flowing and I really feel that I need that back. I also have plans to continue developing the technology side of things which I have already been exploring with my AR filters on instagram. I have some special NFT drops early in 2022 which will be crazy. Also my plans are just to keep pushing and painting bigger and better