In a relatively short urban art career, Fin DAC has defined and perfected an atypical paint/stencil style that ignores the accepted visual language of street art almost completely – he calls it Urban Aesthetics (a modern-day take on a 19th century art movement).
Hailing from Cork (Eire), Fin Dac lived the majority of his life in and around London. Self-taught and non-conformist, his influences range from dark graphic novels through to the works of Francis Bacon and Aubrey Beardsley.
He has painted/exhibited alongside respected artists such as Goldie, Nick Walker, Jamie Reid and Jef Aerosol. But in general, he shies away from the scene, keeps his own counsel and shun the typical life of a street artist.
His commercial work includes commissions for The Royal Albert Hall, Armani, G-Star, Red Bull, Jaegermeister and London 2012
He is also Artistic Director at urban/digital art brand Beautiful Crime.
Hey Fin how is it going? For people that don’t know you or your work, could you give them a little bit of background?
I’m a non-educated, late-starting, Irish urban artist known for painting Asian/ethnic women in an unusual spray paint style.
Do you recall your first memories on your interests in art?
They would be from childhood. Apparently I was drawing before I could work but obviously I don’t remember that far back.
A lot of street artists started as graffiti writers, then developed their styles and became street artists/muralists. How was it for you starting up and what took you to the streets?
I started pretty late. I was never into graf or tagging. My interest in street art and in particular stencil art came about simply because I was surrounded by it in London and honestly thought I could do better than the majority of what I was seeing. I still to this day have no clue why I thought that because I knew nothing about spraying or stenciling… but it turned out to be true.
Some artists claim that street art and graffiti fall under the umbrella of illegal work, while murals are more commissioned, therefor legal and understood as painting. Do you agree with these distinctions or not? And why?
Graffiti certainly came from a place of illegality and remains mostly true to that even today. Street art for me was just a boys club: guys messing around with their gang of friends etc… I didn’t see much desire to imporve in the lower echelons of the scene when I started. Muralism is a different beast entirely… for me, myself and others like me, are simply the acceptable face of street art, the people who’s work doesn’t necessarily challenge that much, is easier to understand visually as opposed to graffiti and street art and the people who’s work translates to other environments like the gallery world more easily.
Do you consider yourself a muralist/street artist? And why did you choose the streets to express yourself?
I dubbed my work Urban Aesthetics a long time ago precisely to different myself and my work from street art. I guess I’m a muralist but using that term I think demeans what I put into it. I certainly don’t produce imagery that I think is only going to work in the public environment… there’s a whole load of concepting to understand how the images will work in various formats. Plus I don’t just paint a design on any old wall or surface. Most factors are carefully thought out and that can often allow the wall itself to tell its own story through my work. A muralist sounds too much like an artist-for-hire.
While some claim the physical danger of working outdoors makes women reluctant to participate, do you think women are changing the status quo of street art which is kind of still a boys’ club?
I personally don’t see things on those terms at all. The boys club was something I myself never wanted to be a part of and that’s why I remain on the outside of the scene to this day. There’s girls like Faith47, Lolo, Hueman and many more that have been on the scene for a while and are producing some of the best work. They shouldn’t be judged on their sexuality. That said, the problem comes with those female artists who use their looks and sexuality to further their careers… as long as those types are supported by other females on the scene then it will forever act as a negative counterpoint to all the good that the great artists do.
Is there something you wished you did and now regret you never did it?
I regret that I didn’t start my art career earlier I guess but that was unavoidable. But I don’t make decisions now that I regret… everything I do is based on instinct and those instincts have served me well. Sometimes it bothers me that I’m on the outside looking in a lot of the time but that’ll only be for a split second: the fact is I’m the one who’s made the decisions that have ultimately led me to where I am today so I have no reasons for regrets.
The internet innately separates the creator from the audience. What are your thoughts on social media, and how it helps or hurts artists today?
I was a web developer working in digital advertising before I became an artist, so I was only too aware of the power of getting your online presence right. I think it’s one of the main factors as to why I was successful. Engaging your audience and maintaining that engagement is hard work but worthwhile. But we live in a throwaway society so if you have expectations as to how your work will be viewed and received then you’re likely to be constantly disappointed. For me once I’ve done the work and posted I leave it to take on the life of its own that it’s meant to have. If something blows up then great but if it’s ignored that’s ok too… I don’t do this for likes and shares.
Outside of the creating realm, away from screens, what activities occupy your time? Is it difficult to find a balance between “work” and “play”?
There’s no such thing as balance in my life… it’s impossible to have that approach when you’re consumed by something.
What’s something about you that would surprise our readers?
That I used to be a DJ.
What can we look forward to seeing from you next? What collaborations, shows or projects do you have planned?
Nothing right now. I just literally got back from 4 months of travelling so the next few weeks will be all about planning the next year or so.
Any words of advice for aspiring new artists?
Sure: don’t let the fear of doing something stop you from doing it… the greatest rewards come at the end of that fear of failure. Work hard, don’t expect anything, the world owes you nothing so don’t treat it like it does, keep your ego in check coz if you don’t the world will do it for you. Keep your mind on your own work.
Thank you Fin Dac for your time and wish you the best of luck in the coming year!