My Dog Sighs is an Artist based on the south coast of the U.K. His style is characterized by the combination of melancholic, and often naive portraiture, with the use of found materials including abandoned food cans; an unusual choice when considering traditional street art ideas of painting or pasted walls. Initially, stemming from the desire to interact with true public without causing permanent damage to public and private property. After 10 years of giving his art away for free as part of the now infamous “Free Art Friday” project, My Dog Sighs has, this year, finally found himself strapped in to a well-deserved meteoric rise. With international following, and 3 sold out shows, the artist is fast becoming an important figure on the contemporary art scene.
Street Art United States caught up with the artist for a brief Q&A.
Could you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m a kindergarten teacher by trade but art has always been my passion. From an early age I was one in class that could draw. The passion stuck.
I’ve been painting on the street for ten years and making a livelihood from it over the last two.
How or when did you start doing street art?
I came into it quite late in life. I was married with a young family and stumbled on some street art online. I knew I instantly wanted in on it. But it wasn’t about territorial pissing. I loved the inclusivity of art shown on the street. Not just people looking for art. And I loved the way the work interacted with the urban landscape. So every Friday, on my way to catching the train to work, I took a painting out and placed it on the street for someone to stumble across. Freeartfriday was born. I didn’t have much money so I had to find things to paint on. Card, wood, tin cans. Whatever I could find. By finding trash on the street, bringing it back to the studio and returning it, I wasn’t adding any extra litter to my environment. I’ve been putting work out every Friday for ten years now.
Could you please tell us about your recycled art project?
It came off the back of freeartfriday. I needed things to paint on. Free things. I don’t want to add litter to my environment so I found stuff and used that. It adds a narrative; a history to the work which i like. To find an old rusty flattened can is like finding treasure.
Is there a message in your art?
My work is quite melancholic. This comes from my desire for each piece I leave to find a home. My thinking is that if I make the work look lost and lonely and desperate to be taken off the streets, people will be more likely to have their heart strings plucked and want not to pass it by.
How do you feel about the role of the Internet and social media in making your work more accessible to the public?
Generally my work is a discourse between the piece and the finder. A one on one experience. But social media Gives many people the chance to share in the experience (even if they’re unable to actually find it themselves). My street work isn’t huge walls shouting for people to look. It’s small, hidden, personal. The web makes it as big as any mural. As big as your screen.
Have you painted in the USA? If yes Where? And how was your experience like?
I haven’t yet but I’ve recently shown work in Chicago and have just secured a show in downtown New York. I’m hoping to find some good spots to paint and leave a few freeartfriday cans.
Street art is still considered vandalism, how is it for you to go out and paint in the street? Did you ever have any problems with the law?
Pretty much all my street work is placed temporarily on the street for people to take away. If I’m painting a wall where I shouldn’t be I generally paint in broad daylight and look like I’m doing it officially. Nothing makes you more invisible than a high visibility fluorescent jacket and a taped off coned area.
What about body paint? How did you get into that?
Lol. I have a friend who’s a nude model photographer. Sammy-Jo the model was keen to get involved so it happened. My wife was less keen. Lol. It’s funny and my wife still doesn’t believe me when i say it, but once I’d got over the fact a beautiful naked women was walking round my studio, she just became another canvas. Albeit with interesting and unusual undulating surfaces.
What are your views on human rights, racism and injustice? Wow. Where did that question come from?! My work encompasses tenderness, romance, sadness in loss and features faces of every culture. I think that says how I feel.
What is the best advice you have ever had about how to be creative?
Do it for no other reason than your heart tells you to.
What is your favorite piece of art you created and why?
There are a few key pieces that were turning points in my creative journey but generally by favourite is the last piece I produced. I love the way each thing I do informs the next.
What are your plans in the near future?
I’m working on two big shows in the autumn (new York US and Bristol UK), I’ve been asked to create lots of work for a big music festival ‘Bestival’ and I’m always producing new work for freeartfriday.
Any words of advice for aspiring new artists?
Don’t let the TV win. Get off the sofa and do it. Not tomorrow, not later. Right now!!
SAUS would like to thank the artist for taking the time and answer a few questions and wish him luck in the future.