Interview: Mason Storm

Mason was born in London and have been a native for 40 years. He never attended a ‘normal’ art college, his artistic education began when he was about 12 or 13. One night while attending his local youth center, his Judo class was cancelled and so he wandered into the art class where his friend was doing classes. He continued wandering in and out every night for about 15 years.
Art always remained a passion, however, he left it to one side while he began a career that was very much removed from the world of art. He cannot reveal all the details of his career path, however these are the edited highlights:
• Judo/Self Defense Instructor
• Freelance Security Contractor
• Security Consultant/Freelance Intelligence Analyst
• Journalist specializing in Intelligence/Espionage/Terrorism
• Law Graduate
• Barrister
As a distraction, Mason took to creating sculpture and was asked to take part in a show, and from then on he has gradually returned to art.
Mason’s work has been considered controversial and provocative, however he never try to be controversial in his subject matter just for the sake of it, there is always an underlying reason for the work he produces.

He is probably best known for his mask, as it has become a trademark, hiding his identity whilst creating a mystique which helps with promotion and publicity. He began wearing it when in 2010 he said he was going to reveal the face of the artist Banksy in an oil painting. The whole campaign was nothing more than a big marketing ploy, and it worked. The supposed unveiling of Banksy courted a lot of negative publicity, and the occasional death threat, nothing he hasn’t encountered many times in his previous life, but he knew the fact that he was remaining anonymous would annoy his followers even more. Secondly in his previous careers, he has met and dealt with some extremely dangerous men. There is no risk to his security, but he would rather the two worlds never meet.

Special thanks to Carolyn for putting me in touch with Mason, and below is what Mason had to say:

Mason StormTell us about yourself and how did you start on the art scene?
I started doing art when I was about 13 at a local youth center with a friend, the guys who taught there were students who were working their way through their degrees at some of the most prestigious art colleges in the world, the Royal Academy, The Royal College and Saint Martins. So basically I didn’t get formally trained, you just kinda hung out with friends and picked things up…learning by osmosis.

That was my next question, whether you had a formal arts education?
If you had a problem there was always someone to help. So you just said I can’t get this right or why does this happen and someone would just say try this, you tried it and it worked. They were great days, I really miss them. Although those tutors are good friends and we still see each other which is nice, as a young man growing up around professionals and highly talented artists, you’re learned a lot and grew up quick, I matured as a person and as an artist.
How much does your art affect or influence your everyday life and are there any role models or artists who inspired you?
I wouldn’t say art influences my life in a profound way. I have lots of hobbies and things I like to do, art is just there, like a job, and sometimes it feels like a job, sometimes it feels like the worst job in the world and other times it’s the thing that keeps me grounded but it’s always there. I suppose the way it affects me is that I am constantly observing and constantly taking mental and physical notes, I may see something or hear something and think, wow that idea would work great in this or that old masters composition, then I will go back to watching the TV or pushing weights or hitting the bag, or opponent 🙂
I love the old masters, dusty old pictures in old galleries are my big inspiration, but having said that, I am also big into the contemporary realists both painters and sculptors.

Breaking Bad Circa 1900Has your style developed throughout the years?
Well I suppose I don’t have a style, you would be hard pressed to look at a painting and say that’s a Mason Storm! I am a copyist, or a thief if you like, I copy others’ work and add my own elements generally so my style is their style, sometimes it can be a sharp linear thing like a Caravaggio or a more heavy wet on wet like Rembrandt, I try to emulate their style and handling of the paint, it’s impossible to get it 100% but I try. And if all comes to all I can then make a living doing forgeries!
I never would!!
well not again! 🙂

Is there a message in your art?
Yes, yes there is… BUY ME YOU BAS**ARDS!!!! LMAO

Is art your main source of income?
It’s one of my main sources, I have several, probably equal to my others.

Which are?
Hmmmm, Well I do security consulting, threat assessments that kinda thing. I am also involved with the ‘legal’ profession. However those others are limited to the time I take doing them so art takes up the majority of my time.

You are talented on many levels.
Jack of all trades master of none as we say over here.
New Yorks Finest
Tell me something, there is a rumor flying around that you know and worked with Banksy, could you confirm that these rumors are true?
I can neither confirm nor deny that rumour.

Okay moving along! So have you done any street art? If not, would you consider it? Also what do you think about the street art movement?
I haven’t, apart from a few paste ups during my Banksy period. 🙂
I think the movement is great, it brings people together and they have fun and they are being creative, they are also being bitchy and jealous and back biting but they are also friendly and inclusive, a microcosm of life I suppose. There are some great street artists and some not so great, same with any of the creative industries.

BanksyWho are you favorite street artists? And why?
Well, Banksy reigns supreme because of what he did for the genre, then Mr Brainwash for his ‘I don’t give a fuck if you hate me’ attitude. There are so many out there that I loose touch and to mention one of my friends and not all of them would get me a kicked ass, so anyone with the balls to put it up illegally I hold in high esteem.
I don’t condone vandalism because that’s what it is (that was my legal disclaimer). LMAO!

What are your thoughts on the way the internet is influencing the artworld?
The internet is a revelation and a curse. It gives everyone a platform to show their work to the world, whether the world wants to see it or not is another thing. If the internet did not exist, think of how much poorer the world would be for those people who would never have seen my work! LOL! The internet is also a curse, as it allows people to rob your work and pass it off as theirs and sell your prints , it also allows people like me to abuse the old masters, so it’s a 50/50 deal, some good some bad. The other problem I see is the proliferation of crap art, so many people want to get into the ‘art game’ because they see the fabulous life us artists lead and they want a piece of it, rather than doing a proper job…not that they shouldn’t try!
It’s just art has become a trend, set by style setters and trend makers and people see it on the web and think ‘oooh today I’ll be an artist!’
Then their rich mates open a gallery and suddenly they are a gallery artist, and the trend setters splash it all over the web and we have a self-perpetuating nightmare. Until the next trend is skinny jean wearing bearded coffee shop owners, then us artists can re-claim the profession.
Old School Hustler
What’s next for you? What shows or projects do you have planned?
Well I want to get to the states, to live and work, LA would suit, nice climate! I am looking for a solo show or 2 next year if they’ll have me, however after this interview I am doubtful! 🙂
I am also involved with a film director in a joint project called ‘Immortal Beloved’ which I am very excited about, it will be an artistic world first, as long as Damien Hirst doesn’t get there before me.
We intend to get a donated body, and then show that person’s whole life story in film and pictures as you walk through the exhibit. Then at the end you have a choice of walking into one of 2 rooms. One will have the actual dead body and the other will have a life like statue of that person as they wished to be remembered from any period of their life. Your choice is to remember them as they wanted to be remembered or as they actually are. Then when it’s over, we will take everything associated with them and the body, encase it in resin and bury it at a secret location.
So if they are found in a 100 years’ time, the world will know all about them and be able to exhibit them again and then re bury them. So they are known for hundreds maybe thousands of years. We get to give someone immortality. The idea is proving very problematic, but we will get there. It’s also proving very expensive.
Actually I am starting to creep myself out now, its late and dark here and there’s a storm outside. 🙂

Equal Opportunities?Who do you think will donate their body? You would actually ask the person before they die?

WOW!! Blows my mind!
We did have a Russian guy who was a ‘business man’ in the loosest sense, who I met whilst doing some bodyguarding a long time ago. He loved the idea, so he agreed, and then he died and then his associates effectively held the body to ransom. So after about 18 months and many thousands of pounds we told them to turn the fridge off and do what they wanted with him. So we are on the hunt for the next donor.

Freaky stuff!!
That’s me! 🙂

Did you paint Banksy’s parliament?
I can neither confirm nor deny that particular rumour!

Off topic, what are your views on racism and injustice?
Racism is prevalent in our society and it stinks to high heaven! That’s if you believe there is a heaven, which I don’t.
Injustice is everywhere, from the arsehole parking attendant who gives you a ticket that’s not required, to local governments who squander tax money on bullshit ‘fact finding’ missions to exotic locations (Wikipedia it ya thieving bastards), to people allowed to go to prison because someone didn’t want to be made to look incompetent… there is a lot of injustice in the world.
There is also a lot of beauty and caring and fluffy stuff in the world too!
All The Presidents Men?
What is your views on the Israel/Palestine conflict?
I think the views on the dispute are polarizing and often over simplified. In any dispute each side thinks it’s right, add into the mix territorial elements, religion, and race and you get a conflict that has long since lost its remit, the actual reasons for fighting become lost in a cloud of anger and innocent people suffer. I know good honest caring people from both sides of the border, in my ‘other’ job I have met positively evil murderous bastards from both sides of the dispute. It’s a long running debate that can’t be resolved by the war machine, but with courageous people on both sides willing to talk and as we have seen time and again, one side makes a concession the other breaks it then blames the other, the problem is cyclical.
America and the West need a strong ally in the Middle East and that’s why they back Israel, if the shoe was on the other foot and the Palestinians held the power, it would be a different story, just like they are thinking of ‘talking’ with the Taliban in Afghanistan. People say that it’s tribal in the Middle East, it’s just as Tribal in the West, one day Colonel Gaddafi is our ally, the next we are watching gleefully as he gets killed, the same with Saddam during the Iran/Iraq crisis, just like the Mujahedin in Afghanistan when they were fighting the Russians, it’s all about who can we get the most out of, at any given time. It’s a sad fact of life…or death!

Henry VDo you like music? What kind of music do you listen to?
It’s a cliché but I listen to everything, Rock, Rap, Country, Sould, Reggae, Ska, Classical, Motown, Elvis, love the 50’s and 60’s Sinatra, Classical, Dub Step, Metal, you name it I have it somewhere! I like the Peruvian Pipes, Kodo Drummers from Japan awesome.
I said classical twice, makes me look sophisticated! 🙂

Finally, any words of advice for aspiring new artists?
Just don’t give up, when the galleries say “no thanks” realize they have no idea what they are talking about. Art is never about talents, art is whatever you can get away with!

Great chatting with you man!
You too my friend! Have a good one, whatever that may be!

Mason Storm

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